Lily Wharton Character Analysis

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In The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton, two characters who at first appear different from each other have many common attributes. Lily Bart and Simon Rosedale face similar challenges within society, and both must come up with ways in order to overcome their dilemmas. Society consists of established and wealthy people in New York. As Mr. Rosedale tries to break into society, Lily spirals out of it. Even though Lily and Mr. Rosedale have many differences, the experiences that they go through make them similar characters. For both characters, jewelry is a way to show off their wealth when they are around those in the upper crust of society. Mrs. Peniston is furious when she learns that Lily has gone into debt. Mrs. Peniston says to Lily, “‘you…show more content…
Lily believes that she must manipulate men, who are wealthier than she is, in order to move up in society. When Lily is on the train ride to Bellomont, she orchestrates a plan to bump into Mr. Gryce. Even though Lily finds Mr. Gryce boring, she knows that he is rich. Lily manipulates Mr. Gryce because “when a girl has no mother to palpitate for her she must… be on the alert for herself”(21). Lily believes that if she married Mr. Gryce, all of her financial troubles would be solved. She says, “a girl with such extravagant tastes and no money had better marry the first rich man she could get”(83). Trenor then comments on how “if she had married Gryce she would have been surrounded by flattery and approval”(83). After Mr. Gryce marries Evie, Lily believes that marrying Rosedale is “the only honorable solution of her difficulties”(243). Similarly, Mr. Rosedale also believes that marriage would solve his problems. He says that he has enough money to break into society; however, he does not have a wife. Mr. Rosedale believes that the “two things [he needs are] money, and the right woman to spend it”, and he comments “I’ve got the money… and what I want is the woman”(173). Mr. Rosedale has “no other reason for marrying [Lily]”(236) other than for love. Both Rosedale and Lily are set in their beliefs that marriage will solve their problems; however, neither of them
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