We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton Essay Sample

essay
The whole doc is available only for registered users OPEN DOC

Get Full Essay

Get access to this section to get all help you need with your essay and educational issues.

Get Access

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton Essay Sample

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton was published in Europe during a time of profound and permanent changes (1920’s), but ironically its set in 1870’s aristocratic New York rigid society that is in many ways the antithesis of modern Europe. The Age of Innocence, then, stands as a study and critic of Old New York that saw itself as the pinnacle of civilization, but Wharton undercuts this picture by comparing its stiff societal customs to those of the most primitive tribes. The passage (pg 34-35) relates to the critic of Wharton, explicitly in the theme of love; described in third person omniscient the fragment focuses on Archer’s thoughts about to what extent is his fianc�, May, is an “artificial product” of Old New York Society. Through the use of violent diction, tribal images, the allusion to other literary novels, and the images of May; Archer attempts to move away his frank love for May, mentally, from the society of “mystifications”, but however, when the cards are down, he realizes that she is just another finished product of it.

Newland’s violent diction towards Old New York society expresses his rejection towards it. Newland, verbally attacks Old New York’s rituals with the intentions of backing away his “sincere” love for May from the phoniness and artificiality of it. Words such as “artificial”, “fictitious purity”, “is not” “simpleton”, “ass”, and “smashing” echo through the entire passage, which draw and enhance Newland’s critiques against the, “elaborate system of mystification”.

Newland uses “ass” and “simpleton” to describe Larry Lefferts and Gertrude in a clear and bold indication that he and May are not like them, characters of the system of Old New York. The violent diction that Newland uses is strong and concrete, nothing like the “hieroglyphics” or “arbitrary signs” that Old New Yorkers use. Like this Archer bashes out of the mysterious ways of the system and critics it “frankly” and “sincerely”, like his love for May. Moreover, Archer continues his critique of Old New York society by describing it with tribal diction.

The tribal images with which Newland describes the rituals of Old New York society show his disgust for it. These tribal descriptions are used as a way to place his love for May in a higher ground than that of the tribal Old New York. Firstly, Newland describes Old New York society as a “hieroglyphic world” or a “system of mystifications”. Both descriptions lower the refined status of New York society. No longer is it bright and elegant, but inscrutable and foggy like hieroglyphics and mysterious systems. Newland does this deliberate to create a clear contrast between hazy Old Society and his “frank” love for May to prove to himself that May does not belong to the system. Secondly, Archer also portrays Old New York society’s ritual for announcing the engagement of the daughters as “quite as, in the books of Primitive Man [where] the savage bride [is] dragged with shrieks from her parent’s tent”.

This image juxtaposes the engaging of “courteous” people and of “primitive man” as the same, without any contrast. Newland’s demerits Old New York society by comparing it to “primitive man” with customs that make the “savage bride shriek” and by doing this his purpose is to, again, place his “straightforward” love for May above the mentioned images. Finally, Newland describes Old New York society as “a conspiracy of mother and aunts, and grandmother, and long-dead ancestress.” This image is to a great extent comical since it comes to mind the aristocratic women all dressed up sitting in a circle around a bonfire, like an ancient nomad tribe figuring out what to do next. Newland’s intentions are yet again to ridicule the Old New York system to separate him and May from the system.

Additional to the use of diction and images for Archer to back away his “frank” love for May there is also the use of the Allusion to other literary novels. Newland Archer uses the literary works, “The Idyll’s of the King”, “Ulysses” and “The Lotus Eaters” to measure how far away May is from Old New York society. Newland says that May had gone as far as ridiculing “The Idyll’s of the King”, a cycle of twelve narrative poems by English poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson; whose predominant scene is a character dying for love in a river bed.

This, off course means that she defies the status quo of Old New York society since, “The Idyll’s of the King” was a popular collection of poems among aristocrats. Nevertheless, Archer notices that May doesn’t goes as far as admiring “Ulysses” and “The Lotus Eaters”, characters with controversial vices, but yet deep meanings to them that go beyond what Old New York society thinks about. The fact that May cannot understand the virtues of both “Ulysses” and “The Lotus Eaters”, reveals that she may be affiliated to Old New York society, even if Archer tries desperately to color her in a different color than that of the aristocratic system.

Even though Newland tries to differentiate May from Old New York society, his final image about her is that in the depths of her “innocently-gazing soul”, she is just another “artificial product” of Old Ney York. The passage main purpose might be Archer’s efforts to distance his love from Old New York, however his finally image about May is that under her purity and innocence she also belongs to the tribe of Old New Yorkers.

Archer tries to be, “delighted in [May’s] radiant good looks, in her health, her horsemanship, her grace” and “straightforward, loyal, and brave”, as ways that separate her from Old New York society, but she ultimately is – under her “frankness” and straightforwardness – an “artificial product…cunningly manufactured by the conspiracy of mother and aunts.” May ultimately is a homogenous, marketable, product of frankness and innocence, manufactured by the proud conspiracy of aunts and mothers. Therefore the final images of May show how Archers attempts to separate his love for May from the intangible and fake truth of Old New York society; the essence of May was created by the systems of “hieroglyphics”.

Throughout the passage Newland Archer attempts to breakaway his love for May from the tribal rituals of Old New York society, but he ultimately realizes that she was always part of it. The passage from Edith Wharton The Age of Innocence uses aggressive diction, tribal imagery, the allusion of other works, and an Image of May to show Newland attempts to mentally separate May from Old New York society, but however in the conclusion of the passage he finds out that May belongs to the system.

We can write a custom essay

According to Your Specific Requirements

Order an essay

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

Realism and Feminism literature

Kate Chopin was one of the best writers of the Realism and Feminism literature movement. Kate also wrote with a “local color” fashion to employ Cajun/Creole culture into her works that she always admired in Louisiana. Some of Chopin’s best work includes “The Awakening”, “The Story of an Hour”, “The Storm”, and “Desiree’s Baby”. Desiree’s Baby is a short story set before the American Civil...

The 19 organ Praeludia

The 19 organ praeludia composed near the end of the 17th century form the heart of Buxtehude’s work and are ultimately considered some of his most important contributions to music literature of the seventeenth century. These compositions are sectional that alternate between free improvisatory sections and fugal sections, all make heavy use of pedal as well. Buxtehude’s preludes also represent the highest point in the...

Captivity narratives american literature

Question: Both captivity narratives were written by women. In your opinion, does that give a unique perspective towards the natives? Do not forget to explain your answer. Finally, which narrative did you prefer and why? Captivity Narratives What shapes our viewpoints of other people? I believe that there are many different ways for us to have a viewpoint of something or someone. In the two...

A review of the literature

A review of the literature to critically explore the value and purpose of reflective practice. Reflective practice is essential in any working environment, when referring to it professionally it can be described as a tool to develop knowledge (Parker,2005). During professional practice, with children, improvements can always be made. By reflecting, a practitioner can effectively establish what improvements can be made for when the same situation...

Kinds of Children’s Literature

A lot of books are published for students each year, so it is important for teachers to know how to select the very best of these for their learners.The teacher has to take care to the age of the learners, then their interests, their level of language, and cultural background. The extracts that are chosen are supposed to be applicable to the life, emotions, experiences,...

Get Access To The Full Essay
icon
300+
Materials Daily
icon
100,000+ Subjects
2000+ Topics
icon
Free Plagiarism
Checker
icon
All Materials
are Cataloged Well

Sorry, but copying text is forbidden on this website. If you need this or any other sample, we can send it to you via email.

By clicking "SEND", you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy. We'll occasionally send you account related and promo emails.

Your Answer Is Very Helpful For Us
Thank You A Lot!

logo

Emma Taylor

online

Hi there!
Would you like to get such a paper?
How about getting a customized one?