the age of innocence analysis

10-19-2020

Services. Nothing’s done that can’t be undone. Ellen, as a sophisticated, independent thinking woman with nerve enough to leave an abusive husband and sue for divorce, represents change. Don’t you see? This leads to May’s game playing with Newland in Florida that forces him to make a decision about who he wants. When Newland and Ellen realize their feelings for each other are too strong to ignore, they decide to consummate their love. Postponed. Ellen has returned home a dazzling, determined young woman who shows up her cousin, May, without even trying. By August, a year later, Newland and May have settled into a fashionable if boring life in New York, living in a wealthy part of town and spending summers with the rest of the rich in Newport. Not in the least arranged. MRS. MINGOTT: No, to be sure. Edith Wharton's novel The Age of Innocence captures a moment in time, New York in the 1870s, a period frequently referred to as the Gilded Age. © Copyright 1994-2020 Write Brothers, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Her past is shrouded in rumors that she had lived with the secretary in Paris before returning to New York, and she is on the verge of being shunned by New York society. As a member, you'll also get unlimited access to over 79,000 Mrs. Mingott never leaves her house, but is aware of all society’s doings. Newland believes that using his knowledge of how to conduct oneself in society will solve his problems: He does the right thing to consult society’s reigning couple, the van der Luydens, on New York’s boycott of Ellen; he sends lilies-of-the-valley to his fiancee every day to show his devotion to her; he knows which neighborhoods are “fashionable” for Ellen to live in, and which are not. He can’t continue to be a closet liberal, and must act upon his true feelings or lose her. | {{course.flashcardSetCount}} MAY: I’m not sure I do understand. Newland considers himself intellectually above his peers because of his extended travels abroad, and his exposure to sophisticated modes of behavior. You can be, too. Her faulty thinking causes her to underestimate her family’s capacity for conspiracy that eventually forces her and Newland apart. She struggles with her precarious status among her family and friends. I told Henry he really must rescue you. And she’s still not. ARCHER: Well, that’s it. In spite of her desire to live her own life, she can’t hurt her family and May. Newland falls in love with Ellen, but feels obligated to May and his family. HENRY VAN DER LUYDEN: ...as long as a member of a well-known family is backed by that family, it should be considered final. Although he finds himself unsatisfied with his marriage, Newland has a capacity to gauge his emotional being in regard to his environment. “[...] a slim young woman… with brown hair growing in close curls about her temples and held in place by a narrow band of diamonds. Ellen’s focus on arranging things to please herself, causes Newland problems. ELLEN: Ah, it’s really and truly a romance, then. ELLEN: Possible? When Newland wants to them to run off together, Ellen focuses on what that would mean: ELLEN: I can’t be your wife, Newland. Ellen often acts on impulse, and when she becomes unhappy by the thought of a future of hiding her true feelings from family and friends, she breaks down and cries in front of Newland. Startled, May tells him that if there is "someone else," he may have his freedom. Unfortunately, the qualities that make Ellen unsuitable for New York society, draws Newland to her. Although Ellen has pointed out the obvious, hard fact that she is still married, Newland’s view on their situation is: ARCHER: Ellen. He is attracted to May’s continental cousin, Countess Ellen Olenska, who appeals to his intellectual mind and sense of adventure. She was the first woman to be awarded this honor. Once his belief is confirmed, this knowledge enables them to finally act upon their love for each other. She becomes a beacon of enlightenment and change. I’m still free. p. 1). Ellen directs her efforts toward keeping up the appearance of a respectable young woman, and by doing so Newland loses the love of his life: Even though Ellen loves Newland, she supports his marriage to May, welcomes him into the family as a cousin, and sends the newlyweds a wedding present of antique lace; she immediately removes herself from Newland’s reach by avoiding the wedding; she allows herself to be sent away to Europe, and after the dinner relates to Newland only as May’s husband. Ellen moves to Washington D.C. to avoid contact with Newland; leaves her grandmother’s house in Newport the moment she sees Newland’s carriage arrive; visits with friends in Portsmouth; travels to Boston to field an offer from her husband to return to him. Mrs. Mingott and Mrs. Welland are struggling in their campaign for Ellen’s acceptance in society; Newland gets resistance to his efforts to advance his marriage to May; Ellen is winning tiny victories in her battle for personal freedom, but she’s losing ground on the big issues; May moves steadily in upholding social protocol concerning engagements. One's reputation too often is paramount, and who we are is rarely as important as how we are seen, who others believe and require us to be. She tests Newland and tells him the true state of affairs between Ellen and her husband: MRS. MINGOTT: Why in the world didn’t you marry her [Ellen]?

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