House of Mirth

Values Of the Society Depicted in The House Of Mirth

In Edith Wharton's The House Of Mirth, money is the most evident and most basic value held by the characters who populate the author's turn-of-the-century New York. Essentially, money is valued for only one reason - it provides the means by which those in possession of it may do as they please. But it is valued as such in two distinct ways, by two distinct types of people: those who think about money, and those who do not. "I know there's one thing vulgar about money, and that's the thinking about it," Simon Rosedale tells Lily Bart in chapter fifteen of the first book, before adding: "My wife would never have to demean herself in that way." Rosedale is one of those people who are in such a position that they do not have to think about money; though he has climbed his way up the social ladder and has increased his wealth little-by-little, he is at a point where, financially, he does not need to keep track of every last dollar in his bank account. If he would like to wear new clothes or to display new rings on his fingers, he may purchase those items with no concern for the amount debited from his savings. Lily, on the other hand, cannot afford such luxuries. She tells Gerty Farish in chapter...

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