The House of Mirth
How we cite our quotes:
She smiled up at him frankly. "But I don't think you dislike me – and you can't possibly think I want to marry you."
"No – I absolve you of that," he agreed.
"Well, then – – ?" (1.1.57-9)
Lily and Selden have a candor and frankness in their rapport lacking in any other relationship seen in House of Mirth.
It had always seemed to Selden that experience offered a great deal besides the sentimental adventure, yet he could vividly conceive of a love which should broaden and deepen till it became the central fact of life. (1.14.9)
Does Selden's love for Lily ever reach this pinnacle of his idealism?
But she is dangerous – and if I ever saw her up to mischief it's now. I can tell by poor George's manner. That man is a perfect barometer – he always knows when Bertha is going to – – "
"To fall?" Miss Bart suggested.
"Don't be shocking! You know he believes in her still. And of course I don't say there's any real harm in Bertha. Only she delights in making people miserable, and especially poor George."
"Well, he seems cut out for the part – I don't wonder she likes more cheerful companionship."
"Oh, George is not as dismal as you think. If Bertha did worry him he would be quite different. Or if she'd leave him alone, and let him arrange his life as he pleases. But she doesn't dare lose her hold of him on account of the money, and so when HE isn't jealous she pretends to be." (1.4.42-6)
Bertha and George Dorset's relationship is representative of a typical marriage among society's elite. It's no wonder Lily isn't looking forward to joining that big tea table in the garden.