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The House of Mirth

The House of Mirth

by Edith Wharton

The House of Mirth Analysis

Literary Devices in The House of Mirth

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

When reading House of Mirth, keep an eye out for words like "flood," "water," "drown," "submerge," "sink," "float," and "ocean." You'll find a slew of references to drowning and floods and the like...

Setting

Social context is the most important thing to keep in mind while reading House of Mirth. Lily's world is one in which women, and their activities, are extremely restricted. If Lily wants to keep he...

Narrator Point of View

Most critics have concluded that the narrator's voice is that of Wharton's – that all that commentary and those incisive little asides represent the voice of the author. The tone of the autho...

Genre

House of Mirth is a great social and historical account of New York's elite in the late 1800s. Because Wharton grew up in the environment she's depicting, the portrait she paints is rather accurate...

Tone

For someone so thoroughly entrenched in the social elite, Wharton maintains a sense of perspective – and a sense of humor – while portraying the crowd she knows so very well. This is on...

Writing Style

Wharton's prose is as proper and intricately gilded as the furniture in the Trenors' drawing room. In the Victorian era, everything from cleavage to ankles to furniture legs were hidden, and, simil...

What's Up With the Title?

The title comes from a line in the Hebrew Bible, Ecclesiastes 7:4 to be more specific: "The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth." In other...

What's Up With the Ending?

If you're interested in reading about Lily's death, its ambiguity, the various ways to interpret it, and the implications of those interpretations, go ahead and check out her "Character Analysis."...

Plot Analysis

Since The House of Mirth was published, critics have been complaining about its lack of conventional plot structure. Basically, the novel is more a series of episodes than it is a seven-part Classi...

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Lily isn't very happy with her life.Lily feels unfulfilled. Her life is boring and she expects that it will get even more boring as it progresses. She looks to something better, and that something...

Three Act Plot Analysis

Lily thinks she wants to marry Gryce, but Selden's arrival complicates her decision. When she decides to go on a walk with Selden, she sacrifices her chances with Percy. At Jack's wedding, this los...

Trivia

In addition to her writing, Wharton was known for her skills in interior design and landscape architecture. She designed and decorated much of her famous Massachusetts home, The Mount. (Source)Whar...

Steaminess Rating

Let's just say it's for "adult themes." Considering House of Mirth is full of seduction games, you'd think that there would be some talk of sex. But this is the tail end of the Victorian era, which...

Allusions

Ecclesiastes 7:4 (The title)Jean de La Bruyère (1.1.95) (2.12.3) – a French essayistSarum Rule (1.2.31) – a Latin liturgyOmar Khayyám (1.6.7) – a Persian poet and philos...
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