The House of Mirth
How we cite our quotes:
If Selden had come at Mrs. Dorset's call, it was at her own that he would stay. (1.5.8)
Does Lily want Selden, or does she want power?
How dreary and trivial these people were! Lily reviewed them with a scornful impatience: Carry Fisher, with her shoulders, her eyes, her divorces, her general air of embodying a "spicy paragraph"; young Silverton, who had meant to live on proof-reading and write an epic, and who now lived on his friends and had become critical of truffles; Alice Wetherall, an animated visiting-list, whose most fervid convictions turned on the wording of invitations and the engraving of dinner-cards; Wetherall, with his perpetual nervous nod of acquiescence, his air of agreeing with people before he knew what they were saying; Jack Stepney, with his confident smile and anxious eyes, half way between the sheriff and an heiress; Gwen Van Osburgh, with all the guileless confidence of a young girl who has always been told that there is no one richer than her father. (1.5.11)
This seems to be Wharton's view of society peeking through a variety of her characters' perspectives. She assigns this tone to Selden, but allows Lily access to it in certain, key moments.
That walk she did not mean to miss; one glance at the bills on her writing-table was enough to recall its necessity. (1.5.23)
If Lily's desire to marry a rich man truly is out of necessity, can it be judged as immoral?