Essays On The House Of Mirth
This use of the woman as scapegoat is also a way of warning others to behave as the group decides and is drawn from a centuries old patriarchal code that deems female sexuality to be dangerous and unnatural. Consider the ways the subject of equality between the sexes is negotiated.
Lily has a mantra that consists of her railing against the unfairness of life for the poor marriageable girl.
Beneath the desire for spending, she cannot bear to be indebted to Trenor and although she knows she must marry a wealthy man to maintain the life she wants, she sabotages her own attempts at ensnaring Gryce. Consider how the elite of society are represented in this novel and make references to the title.
As Victoria Glendinning explains in her Introduction (: 1993), the title is taken from Ecclesiastes: ‘The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth’.
By contrast, Selden is a lawyer and is still accepted by the set even if he is wearing a shabby coat.
As Lily rightly points out, women in her group are invited to dine for their appearance as much as their presence.
The fools that populate this work appear to do little more than entertain each other and maintain the hypocritical values they choose to live by.
The pleasure comes from the enjoyment of opulence and the discomfort of others.
The distant, sometimes witty narrator withholds clear judgment. Until her final weeks, she is consistently unable to choose between an immoral life of wealth and a rebellious life of morality and intellect, and the waffling costs her everything.
Much of the critical response to the novel has focused on this question. Yet there is also some grandeur in her rise to moral superiority as she straightens out her affairs before her death, and critics have sometimes complained that the novel becomes positively sentimental in its closing pages.
One senses, however, that Lily is not fully to blame even for her worst lapses in vision: The choices available to her, as a woman, are few, and the chances to see beyond her world are nonexistent.
Lily comes to see that those of her set do not recognize the continuity of life; instead, they are like atoms that whirl away from each other. Expand on the reasons why Lily becomes ostracized from her set.
Because her set value appearance over everything else and because of the hypocrisy associated with male and female sexuality, she is ostracized because of the rumors that she has had a relationship with Dorset and has taken money from Trenor.