Edith Wharton Essays

The Age of Innocence

New York Society, in Edith Wharton's Age of Innocence (1920), is paradoxically immortal and mortal. Like the Olympic pantheon of mythological Greek antiquity, New York Society cavorts and carouses, bickers and condemns while it feasts on ambrosia...

The Age of Innocence

It has been said that the true power of beauty is felt most deeply by those who have caught but a glimpse of its potential; those able to see its ethereal quality without demanding more. Perhaps, some have said, the fragility of aesthetic beauty...

The Age of Innocence

“Ah, don’t say that. If you knew how I hate to be different!” (Wharton 69). Ellen Olenska in Edith Wharton’s Age of Innocence is, to Newland Archer, the perfect example of an exciting rebel to the mores of society in the New York aristocracy. He...

12th Grade

The Age of Innocence

Newland Archer is not only a well-read intellect, but an introspective thinker who deeply considers his own life. One concept that Newland consistently struggles with is his understanding of “reality”, and a major journey exposed through Wharton’s...

College

The Age of Innocence

Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence [1] and Alice Walker’s The Color Purple [2] both paint a portrait American culture in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This culture appears to be male, with no room for the female as any...

College

The Age of Innocence

In The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton paints an intimate view of New York culture in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Wharton does this by masterfully presenting a slice of New York, focusing on a few intricately developed...

12th Grade

The Age of Innocence

“It’s worth everything, isn’t it, to keep one’s intellectual liberty, not to enslave one’s powers of appreciation, one’s critical independence?” (164). Questioning the concepts of true freedom and liberty, the overall theme presented throughout...

Ethan Frome

It is under the most repressive limitations that the strength of one's character and one's ability to defy and transcend such limits can truly be measured. This idea is confirmed in Edith Wharton's novel, Ethan Frome, the story of a young man...

Ethan Frome

Typically one of the subtler parts of a novel, setting usually serves as a frame that supports the plot and characters. In Ethan Frome, however, Edith Wharton reinvents the use of setting as an integral element of the story. She weaves the...

11th Grade

Ethan Frome

Although by definition, a classic tragedy takes place when a character’s downfall is the direct consequence of a personality flaw, Edith Wharton’s novella Ethan Frome rejects this concept. As a story written by an author schooled in naturalistic...

College

Ethan Frome

In order for a successful society and government, true emotions and feelings must be expressed at the essential times. Manipulation is constantly used worldwide in areas such as advertisements to movies. They act as unfair persuaders to make a...

House of Mirth

One of the tragedies in The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton is that Lily Bart is unable to marry Laurence Selden and thereby secure a safe position in society. Their relationship fluctuates from casual intimacy to outright love depending on how...

House of Mirth

Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth creates a subtle, ironic, and superbly crafted picture of the social operation of turn-of-the-century New York. In her harsh expression of community, she succeeds in portraying a world of calculation operating...