House of Mirth is a 1905 novel by American author Edith Wharton. It tells the story of Lily Bart, who belongs to the high society of New York City, which came at the turn of the last century. Wharton paints a splendid beauty, who is raised and educated to marry well. Both socially and financially, are reaching their 29th year, an age when her young blush is coming to a close and her marital prospects are becoming ever more limited. The House of Mirth traces Lily’s two-year social descent from privilege to a tragic existence at the margins of society. In the words of one scholar, Wharton uses Lily as “an attack on an irresponsible, greedy, and morally corrupt upper class.”
Before being published as a book on October 14, 1905, The House of Mirth was serialized in Scrapper magazine, which began in January 1905. It attracted a readership among housewives and merchants alike. Charles Scribner wrote to Wharton in November 1905 that the novel was showing “the fastest sales of any book ever published by Scrapper”. By the end of December, sales had reached 140,000 copies. Wharton’s royalty was worth more than half a million dollars in today’s currency. The commercial and critical success of The House of Mirth brought Wharton’s reputation as a leading novelist.
Due to the novel’s commercial success, some critics classified it as a genre novel. However, the clergyman of Wharton, rector of Trinity Church in Manhattan, wrote to tell him that his novel was “a terrible but just ego of social misconduct that begins with stupidity and ends in moral and spiritual death.” (310)This moral purpose did not fall on the literary critics and critics of the time, who went on to classify it as a novel of social satire and etiquette. Carol Singley stated in her introduction to Edith Wharton’s House of Mirth: A Case Book, “[The House of Mirth] is a unique blend of romance, realism and naturalism, [and thus] transmits the novel’s narrow assortment of manners” Is. ” The second published novel by House of Mirth Wharton was and its first two novels, The Touchstone (1900), Sanctuary (1903) and a full-length novel, The. Valley O The Decision (1 9 02). . His later important novels are Ethan Fren (1911), The Custom of the Country (1913) and The Age of Innocence (1920), for which he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1921. These works influenced a host of American writers for two generations. These include F. Scott FitzGerald (The Great Gatsby), Sinclair Lewis (Main Street), John O’Hara (Appointment to Samaria), and Louis Auchincloss (The House of Five Talents).
Background, theme, and purpose
Wharton considered several titles for the novel about Lily Bart; two were Germans for his purpose:
A moment’s ornament appears in the first verse of William Wordsworth’s (1770–1850) poem, “That Phantom of Delight” (1804) described an ideal of feminine beauty:
He was a ghost of happiness
When he first glanced at my gaze;
A lovely feeling sent
To be an instant ornament:
Her eyes as the stars of the twilight fair;
Like twilight, too, her dark hair;
But all the other things about her being pulled
From May-time and cheerful morning;
A dancing figure, a gay image,
Shocking and panicking, to bother.
- Clacknive: She was a phantom’s delight, the first verse (1804)
The “ornament of a moment” is the way Wharton describes Lily’s relationship to her reference group as a beautiful and well-bound socialist. Her value only lasts as long as her beauty and good relationship with the group remains. By entering the story around a portrait of Lily, Wharton was able to directly address the social limitations imposed on her. These included the upper crusted social class, in which Lily was born, educated and bred.
Wharton chose the final title for the novel, The House of Mirth (1905), taken from the Old Testament:
The heart of the wise man is in the house of mourning, But fools have a heart at home.
- Ecclesiastes 7: 4
The House of Mirth makes the social context just as important to the heroine for the development of the story’s purpose. “Mirth” as opposed to “mourning” also reflects a moral purpose as it underscores the narrowness of a social set that not only worships money but uses it solely for its own entertainment and gratitude Does for The novel takes place at a time when old New York high society was rocked by exceptionally wealthy people who were affected by economic and social changes, such as the Guild Age (1870–1900) drought. Wharton’s birth around that time of the Civil War dates back to less than a decade. As a member of privileged Old New York society, [e] she was qualified to be described authentically. She was licensed to criticize the ways the New York High Society of 1890 sensed the accusations of jealousy induced to come from a lower social caste, he accused her co-workers of being naive about them. The spear has lost its spirit. Ancestors.
Wharton explained his choice of The House of Mirth in 1936 and a reprint of his major subject:
When I wrote to the House of Mirth, I had two trumps in my hand, without knowing it. One was the fact that in the nineties New York society as a novelist was yet a field that had grown up in that small hothouse of tradition and traditions; And second, that these traditions and conventions had not yet ceased, and were peacefully considered unprofitable.
- Introduction to the 1936 edition, The House of Mirth 32-33 
Wharton felt that no one had written about New York society because he had not given anything worth writing about. But he could not stop it because he felt that some value could be mined there. If only the author could dig deep below the surface, some “‘ stuff o’ conscience ‘could be found. She spontaneously went on to declare:
[I] Despite the fact that I have written about completely insignificant people, and they have been ‘dated’ by an elaborate stage-setting of manners, furniture, and attire, the book is still alive and now on this list Has received the honor of joining. Oxford University Press. . . . Such people always rest on the basis of wasted human possibilities and I feel that the fate of the individuals who embody these possibilities should be trivialized over my subject.
- Introduction to 1936 edition, House of Mirth 33
The central theme of The House of Mirth is essentially the conflict between who we are and society tells us what we should be. Thus, it is believed that it is as relevant today as it was in 1905. If its only subject is the excesses and life of the rich and famous, then it is doubtful that it will remain popular till then. The House of Mirth continues to attract readers from a century after its first publication, presumably due to its timeless theme. That Lily Barr’s life and death matters to modern readers is that Wharton succeeds in his purpose: to make society so relentlessly materialistic and self-serving that it is carelessly destroyed by what is most beautiful and Is faultless.
Lily Bart, a beautiful, but weak socialite, is going to a house party in Belmont, the country of her best friend, Judy Trenner. Her pressing task is to find a husband with the money and status necessary to maintain her place in New York society. Judy arranges for her to spend more time in the company of Percy Gris, a potential suicide but Lily is boring. Lily was surrounded by elegance and luxury – an environment that she believes she cannot live without, as she has learned to “fret”. The loss of his father’s wealth and the death of his parents left him an orphan at the age of twenty. Having lost inheritance or a caretaker guard, she accepts life as a ward of her strait-less aunt Julia Peniston, from where she receives an irregular allowance, a fashionable address, and a good meal, but little direction. Or upbringing. Lily despises her aunt Julia and avoids her whenever possible, relying on her for both necessity and luxury.
Additional challenges to her success in the “wedding market” are her advancing age – at the age of twenty-nine she has been on the “wedding market” for over ten years – her penchant for gambling on the bridge lends her beyond Is leaving with. Paid, his innermost desire to marry with his wealthy friends, love as well as money and status, and his craving to be free from the claustrophobic blockages and routines of upper-crust society.
A threat to Lily’s reputation exists because of her modesty and her tendency to push the boundaries of acceptable behavior. For example, on her way to Belmont, she visits her unmarried friend Lawrence Selden’s Manhattan flat while waiting for two hours by train. While exiting the building, he was confronted by Mr. Rosdale, who is known to a Jewish businessman. Attempting to cover up the appearance of an insincere, she makes her gaff worse by telling a blatant lie: she pretends to consult her dress-maker. It turns out, this is not the only time Lily is caught in one. The obvious lie: He has a habit of misjudging himself and getting caught.
The House of Mirth Novel by Edith Wharton
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