The House of Mirth
Women and Femininity Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
Lily pushed aside her finished work with a dry smile. "You're very kind, Judy: I'll lock up my cigarettes and wear that last year's dress you sent me this morning. And if you are really interested in my career, perhaps you'll be kind enough not to ask me to play bridge again this evening."
"Bridge? Does he mind bridge, too? Oh, Lily, what an awful life you'll lead! But of course I won't – why didn't you give me a hint last night? There's nothing I wouldn't do, you poor duck, to see you happy!" (1.4.59-60)
Lily's ability to manipulate does in fact cross the gender line.
Though Evie Van Osburgh's engagement was still officially a secret, it was one of which the innumerable intimate friends of the family were already possessed; and the trainful of returning guests buzzed with allusions and anticipations. Lily was acutely aware of her own part in this drama of innuendo: she knew the exact quality of the amusement the situation evoked. […] Lily knew well enough how to bear herself in difficult situations. […] But she was beginning to feel the strain of the attitude; the reaction was more rapid, and she lapsed to a deeper self-disgust. (1.9.3)
If Lily could re-live that Sunday afternoon at Bellomont, would she really do anything differently?
Mrs. Peniston rose abruptly, and, advancing to the ormolu clock surmounted by a helmeted Minerva, which throned on the chimney-piece between two malachite vases, passed her lace handkerchief between the helmet and its visor. (1.9.11)
We talk about mythological references in House of Mirth in "Symbols, Imagery, Allegory," and here is yet another. In this case, Mrs. Peniston is being associated with the Greek goddess of wisdom and warfare. She does indeed play the part of an older/wiser character to Lily's relative naiveté.