The House of Mirth
How we cite our quotes:
The brutality of the thrust gave her the sense of dizziness that follows on a physical blow. Rosedale had spoken then – this was the way men talked of her – She felt suddenly weak and defenceless: there was a throb of self-pity in her throat. But all the while another self was sharpening her to vigilance, whispering the terrified warning that every word and gesture must be measured. (1.13.56)
Lily's moral self feels weak and defenseless, as she has been compromised. But her other, social self is the one that is concerned for reputation, not for scruples.
Moral complications existed for her only in the environment that had produced them; she did not mean to slight or ignore them, but they lost their reality when they changed their background. (2.2.3)
Lily's moral transformation is not yet complete, as she still feels she can run away from pressing moral issues. By the end of the novel, however, she will overcome this form of self-delusion.
But for the present, if he clung to her, it was not in order to be dragged up, but to feel some one floundering in the depths with him: he wanted her to suffer with him, not to help him to suffer less. (2.2.53)
This passage makes us wonder if George really was completely innocent in Lily's social demise, or whether he played a part – maybe even a subconscious one – in sacrificing her.