The House of Mirth Essay
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Lily Bart is simultaneously a product and a victim of the society she was born into. She cannot choose between two possible ways of living: to hunt for wealth or long for love and understanding. She was taught that her goal of life was to find a wealthy man and become his wife. She can choose only among those who either have no social status (Rosedale), are married (Trenor), are boring and not interesting for her (Gryce), or have no money (Selden).
2. As the story progresses we understand that money is not everything in this upper class of society the main character belongs to.
One must behave a certain way, be friends with certain people and have a free admission to certain houses. Everybody watches each other and then discusses the details with the rest of elite. This is the society where everybody will struggle to death, step over others, use and abuse others but to get what one wants. We see how Lily’s friends treat her and this is not the way how friends treat each other.
It is not allowed to meet with a man unless you have a chaperone. If a women is married, she has to be discreet, besides women must be more precise in their appearance than men.
3. One social group I know (my parents belong to it) has ist “unwritten rules”, too. Among these are: not to stare people and not to point to people; not to ask for favor; to drive an expensive car; not to be late. There are also rules about dressing up like: not to wear jeans if it’s not casual day to work and not to ask woman’s age. 4. While reading the book I felt really sorry for people who lived at that time when they could not be free but had to live the way the society has determined for them.
I felt quite happy for the present and for myself that modern rules are not that terrible, although some of them are worse that in the past. I also felt sorry for the girl herself: being all alone among people who just use and abuse you, knowing that your only fate is to try to please a wealthy man whom you do not necessarily like but whom you need in order to live a normal life.
1. Wharton, Edith. The House of Mirth. New American Library; Reprint edition (February 1, 2000).