Ironic Symbolism In Edith Wharton's The Age Of Innocence

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Ironic Symbolism in The Age of Innocence:
Name That Transformation
Imagine living a life in a pre-destined, high-class society – a place that decides if one’s job, marriage, clothing, housing, and lifestyle are worthy of approval. Envision the struggle that must come about each person has they try to decipher the real meaning of their life and where their happiness truly lies. The ideas of identity and individuality are ongoing themes uncovered in Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence. The variety of characters and the names given to them significantly differ from one another purposefully to show the different struggles each character faces. Ironically, each character’s literal name in Wharton’s The Age of Innocence foreshadows the figurative and satirical transformation each person undergoes as they battle to find their
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Throughout the novel, rules of society and conformity are constantly tossed around. It becomes difficult to understand how a person could find happiness in a place that scorns originality and foreign aspects. However, the names given to characters (and the alternations as the book carries on) tend to foreshadow the life each character will ultimately live. May Welland inhabits a simple live of innocence and ignorance; however, when she becomes May Archer, her life gains an underlying layer of wisdom and understanding once she hits her target and “wins” her competition. Ellen Olenska’s foreign nature foreshadows her inability to truly conform to New York’s society and her ultimate departure. Lastly, Newland Archer’s name signifies his strong desire and dreams (of a new life with Ellen). Each of these names, along with other peripheral character’s surnames, ironically show how a person’s lifestyle can change as one finds who they truly are and what is meant for them in
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