The Age Of Innocence By Edith Wharton: Literary Analysis

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The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton is widely considered to be a masterpiece, both at the time it was originally published, and now. However, people’s views and comments on the work became drastically different over time. When the novel won the Pulitzer Prize in 1921, the judging committee stated that it presented “the wholesome atmosphere of American life and the highest standard of American manners and manhood.” (McCrum) On the contrary, today, in many people’s opinions, this novel became an ironic criticism on the old American society and culture.
It is easy for us to see the wrong things in that old New York as presented in the story: the double standard for women, the hypocrisy that infects almost the entire upper-class society, and
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As early as in 1905, an actor named Clara Bow had already risen to fame as a flapper, and it didn’t take long before many other women start to imitate her styles. ( Articles which remarked flappers positively also started to appear as of 1919. (Chronicling America) Therefore, it is reasonable to include the cultural changes and the new values represented by the Flappers as an important piece of background information when evaluating Wharton’s…show more content…
However, that situation doesn’t last forever. As time passes, generation iterates, people’s values change as well. Although the society doesn’t grant Olenska a medal, nor any form of recognition for her forward-thinking, the social norms, the popular ideals do change to a set of beliefs similar to those once held by Olenska. By the end of the story, the effects of those social changes are so drastically apparent that, when Archer’s eldest son, Dallas marries Fanny Beaufort, or “a Beaufort 's bastard,” as Lawrence Lefferts would call her, gives a second guessing to this marriage with a girl from a once infamous household. (Wharton,
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