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Internal and External Conflict in the Age of Innocence by Wharton Essay

Archer Newland faces a huge internal conflict with having to marry May and being in love with Ellen at the same time. This conflict is never resolved because all around Newland his friends including Ellen, have made everything so confusing to him that he ends up feeling lonely all over again. Newland doesn’t want to be scandalous because it wouldn’t be proper to show his true feelings towards Ellen. However Newland hints them in many ways. When Medora comes up to Newland and mentions Ellen’s name, as he is meditating, he is surprised to find that his heart jumps. So she is _but she’s got to come home first to pick up Ellen.

Ah – you didn’t know Ellen had come to spend the day with me? Such fol-de-rol, her not coming for the summer; but I gave up arguing with young people about fifty years ago. ”(page 138) Ellen’s aunt tells him that Ellen is staying at the Blenkers in Portsmouth. “Run down and fetch her, like a good grandson, this pretty lady will describe the party to me, she said; and Archer stood up as if in a dream. ”(page 138)

This shows the internal conflict that Newland faces to hide his feelings for Ellen. Archer stood up as if in a dream” he can’t believe that he is finally going to see Ellen again and that Medora is asking him to go get her. He is in shock! Reality hit Newland later on “in the pagoda a lady stood, leaning against the rail, her back to the shore. Archer stopped at the sight as if he had waked from sleep. That the vision of the past was a dream, and the reality was what awaited him in the house on the bank overhead” (page 139) This passage shows us imagery of Ellen “leaning against the rail, her back to the shore”. Shows how he is admiring her looking out at the water.

Again he is in shock “ the sight as if he had waked from sleep. That the vision of the past was a dream, and the reality was what awaited him in the house on the bank overhead” he felt like none of this was real at first until reality hit him and he was looking at her from a far. He just couldn’t believe it. Newland puts in his head that if it is meant to be Ellen will turn around see him and come up with him. “Archer waited till a wide space of water sparkled between the last reef of the island and the stern of the boat; but still the figure in the summer-house did not move.

He turned and walked up the hill. ” (page 140) Newland gave up and turned away. He gave up on waiting, gave up on Ellen. “All night he lay awake in the big chintz bedroom at May’s side, watching the moonlight slant along the carpet, and thinking of Ellen Olenska driving home across the gleaming beaches behind Beaufort’s trotters” (page 141) Newland couldn’t sleep he spent to much time thinking “all night he lay awake”. He was laying next to May while thinking hard about Ellen “in the big chintz bedroom at May’s side” “thinking of Ellen”.

This shows the internal conflict he is dealing with himself being married to May but in love with Ellen. He stares into the moonlight which shows he is in deep thought about this situation. Newlands internal conflict causes him to lie to May and Mrs. Welland. He tells them he is going to spend his afternoon going to look for a new horse to buy “Archer said that he thought of hiring a run-about and driving up the island to a stud-farm to look at a second horse for her brougham. ” (page 143) but instead he goes to the party.

He was not sure that he wanted to see the Countess Olenska again; but ever since he had looked at her from the path above the bay he had wanted, irrationally and indescribably, to see the place she was living in, and to follow the movements of her imagined figure as he had watched the real one in the summer-house” (page 144) Newland was curious of where she lived, he wanted to know what it looked like “to see the place she was living in”. Through Newlands internal conflict he feels empty.

We see this when he says “He simply felt that if he could carry away the vision of the spot of earth she walked on, and the way the sky and sea enclosed it. The rest of the world might seem less empty. ” (Page 144) He uses imagery to show how the sky and sea are trapping the world “the sky and sea enclosed it”. When Newland visits the party he finds a pink parasol. He thinks the pink parasol he found in the Blenker’s garden is Ellen’s. “But instead, he crossed the lawn and turned toward the box-garden.

As he entered it he caught sight of something bright-coloured in the summer-house, and presently made it out to be a pink parasol. The parasol drew him like a magnet: he was sure it was hers. He went into the summer-house, and sitting down on the rickety seat picked up the silken thing and looked at its carved handle, which made of some rare wood that gave out an aromatic scent. Archer lifted the handle to his lip. ” (Page 145) Newland is admiring this parasol because he feels it was a symbol of something once close to Ellen.

This causes him to want to be closer to it and feel closer to Ellen “Archer lifted the handle to his lip”. His description of the parasol shows how much thought he puts into something that has to deal with Ellen. Throughout these chapters Newland faces these internal conflicts and try’s to resolve them. The external conflicts around him help to make the internal ones more difficult. Newland hides his feelings everyday. We see that deep down inside he still wants Ellen.


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