Teacher Guide

The Age of Innocence Lesson Plan

Introduction to The Age of Innocence

The Age of Innocence is widely regarded to be Edith Wharton's finest novel. Published in 1920, the novel was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in literature in 1921--the first work by a woman to ever win the prestigious award.

The novel is set in "old New York," the visually extravagant yet socially strict New York society that existed before the first World War. The story centers on Newland Archer, a young man deeply enmeshed in the New York upper class. Newland is engaged to the pure, lovely May Welland, who comes to represent one possible future for him: a conventional life trapped by society. As Newland progresses through his engagement and marriage to May, however, he finds himself...

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