Thursday, April 8, 2010

Lily Bart

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.


  1. I agree that the money component in the high society is definitely a problem for both the women and the men. Everything, so far, points to Selden and Lily being a good match, but it can not happen because Selden does not possess the amount of money that would require someone like Lily to allow the two to be together.

  2. She does deem him unfit, in a way, but she also seems to believe that Selden isn't really interested in the "real" Lily, without all the flashy background that a wealthy society can give her. She tells him something like that in the first scene, yet he resists believing it.

  3. I think you have just been looking for a pursuit of love in this novel in the wrong sense. For me, I see Lily Bart as devoted to finding her true love. Only, I don't believe a man is what Lily is looking for, longing for. I think Lily Bart dies for her true love, money.

    Seth P. Anderson