Thursday, April 8, 2010
Edith Wharton's House of Mirth has been, for me at least, a kind of revelation of the social constraints that Lily has been affected by. The fact that she is a member of "higher society" at first seems like a blessing, due to the company with which she can surround herself, and the availability of money. However, this same restraint has led her to depend upon a certain lifestyle, involving large amounts of money. Her habits of vacationing, gambling, etc have become an important part of who she is in this novel, and as such, there is no way for her to marry solely for love. This is one of the issues in the book that I find mildly disturbing. For a person's lifestyle of these activities to be more important than a quest for love is disappointing to me. If it weren't for this attitude towards money, and consequently, class, Lily Bart would have been in a good position to marry Selden. But since he was just not up to her monetary standards, she deemed him unfit. It seems to me that this is, or should be, discussed as a problem in society, rather than a component.