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The House of Mirth

The House of Mirth


by Edith Wharton

Mr. Lawrence Selden Timeline and Summary

  • Selden is struck by Lily's beauty in the train station. He takes her back to his place for tea, where they discuss her need to marry and his cousin Gerty Farish.
  • Selden shows up at Bellomont to see Lily, but Bertha stakes her claim on her former lover.
  • He later ditches Bertha to hang with Lily, effectively ruining her chances with Gryce. He and Lily openly discuss the fact that she can't marry him because he has no money.
  • Selden bumps into Lily at Jack and Gwen's wedding.
  • Selden attends the living portraits party with everyone else, notes Lily's beauty, takes her aside, and decides that he wants to marry her. The next day, he sends her a note arranging to meet her the following afternoon.
  • Meanwhile he has dinner with his cousin Gerty, completely unaware that she's in love with him. All he wants to talk about is Lily.
  • That night, he witnesses Lily fleeing Gus Trenor's place. Angry, he stands her up and leaves for Europe.
  • In Monte Carlo, Selden bumps into Carry Fisher and the other New Yorkers she's with. She tells him all about Lily's activities in Europe, and Selden runs away so he won't bump into her.
  • He still bumps into her anyway.
  • After the Dorset mess begins, Selden advises Lily to get out while she can. He helps George as a lawyer and encourages the couple to reconcile.
  • When Bertha throws Lily off the yacht, Selden gets Jack Stepney to take her in for the night.
  • Back in New York, Selden finds out that Lily is working for Mrs. Hatch. He tries to rescue her, but Lily refuses his help.
  • Lily goes to see Selden the night of her death. She thanks him for everything he's ever done for her.
  • After she leaves, Selden realizes that he loves Lily and wants to marry her. He goes over to her place early the next morning, only to find her dead.
  • Selden goes through all her stuff and pieces together the story about Trenor and Lily's debt. He respects and loves her more than ever.