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The House of Mirth

The House of Mirth

by Edith Wharton

Respect and Reputation Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #7

Now, with a start of inner wonder, Lily felt that her thirst for retaliation had died out. If you would forgive your enemy, says the Malay proverb, first inflict a hurt on him […] (1.10.39)

Does Lily ever forgive Mrs. Dorset? Does her refusal to use the letters for blackmail have anything to do with forgiveness?

Quote #8

It was pitiable that he, who knew the mixed motives on which social judgments depend, should still feel himself so swayed by them. How could he lift Lily to a freer vision of life, if his own view of her was to be coloured by any mind in which he saw her reflected? (1.14.44)

Good question, especially considering that Selden's view of Lily continues to be colored by others all the way through House of Mirth – until she lies dead on her bed. It's arguable that Selden can't really love her, at least not completely, until this moment, when she exists only for him instead of for the eyes of society.

Quote #9

Selden saw two persons emerge from the opposite shadows, signal to the cab, and drive off in it toward the centre of the town. The moonlight touched them as they paused to enter the carriage, and he recognized Mrs. Dorset and young Silverton. (2.1.46)

This scene forms a foil with that in Book I, when Lily flees Trenors' house and Selden spots the figures in the dark. Of course, what's sad is that Bertha really is guilty, while Lily was not – yet the latter is the one to suffer through scandal as a result.

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