The House of Mirth
by Edith Wharton
The House of Mirth Respect and Reputation Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Book.Chapter.Paragraph)
"The fact that you don't want to marry me. Perhaps I don't regard it as such a strong inducement to go and see you." He felt a slight shiver down his spine as he ventured this, but her laugh reassured him. (1.1.63)
Even a casual conversation between friends is restricted by certain rules. Selden and Lily each must consider what they can and cannot say while conversing with each other.
Lily, with the flavour of Selden's caravan tea on her lips, had no great fancy to drown it in the railway brew which seemed such nectar to her companion; but, rightly judging that one of the charms of tea is the fact of drinking it together, she proceeded to give the last touch to Mr. Gryce's enjoyment by smiling at him across her lifted cup. (1.2.18)
How is this encounter over tea with Percy different than the tea Lily just shared with Selden?
Mr. Gryce was undoubtedly enjoying Bellomont. He liked the ease and glitter of the life, and the lustre conferred on him by being a member of this group of rich and conspicuous people. But he thought it a very materialistic society; there were times when he was frightened by the talk of the men and the looks of the ladies, and he was glad to find that Miss Bart, for all her ease and self-possession, was not at home in so ambiguous an atmosphere. (1.5.3)
Gryce is right to identify that Miss Bart is "not at home," but he incorrectly identifies the source of this discomfort. Lily's ennui stems from a deeper dissatisfaction with society itself, not with the small indulgences of the crowd at Bellomont.