The Age of Innocence

A Critical Analysis of the Ironic Title of Edith Wharton’s “The Age of Innocence” 12th Grade

Edith Wharton’s choice of the title The Age of Innocence for her novel is jam-packed with irony with regards to innocence and our understanding of it—naivety, harmlessness, and lack of guilt. The book depicts cases of irony related to innocence, such as factual innocence, insincere innocence, even ironic innocence. The irony of the title is brought into perspective through aspects and facets, including Edith Wharton’s own life, the era in which the novel is set, and the characters she uses in the book. In this paper, an illustration of the paradoxical nature of Edith Wharton’s title, The Age of Innocence, is brought into perception using a multifaceted approach.

Wharton wrote the book having survived twenty-five years of an ill-fated marriage where she had learned how to and endured her spouse’s affairs and other business barbarism. She had by then divorced and moved to society more complaisant of divorcees— Paris. Focusing on her childhood, growing up as a child, Wharton was belittling of a society that had its primary focus on emphasizing the innocence of girls, where girls were kept protected, sheltered, harbored, and preserved from the impediments associated with life.

Edith Wharton’s characters in The Age of Innocence also...

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