The Search For Independence In Lily's The House Of Mirth

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The search for independence can be a tedious task and individuals may go their whole lives looking for it and being unable to find it. This is true for that of Lily Bart in The House of Mirth written by Edith Wharton. Lily is not content with the life she now lives and craves an independent lifestyle where she does not have to rely on others for social and financial support. Yet by further analyzing the text Lily’s search for independence leads to her ultimate demise.
In the first chapters of The House of Mirth Wharton establishes various conditions that Lily desires. She is in search of wealth, social prosperity, and marriage. But Lily’s craving for independence is an added aspect that cannot go overlooked. The craving is established early on, in chapter three of the text. Lily is seen longing to, “drop out of the race and make an independent life for herself” but yet knows it would not be a fit lifestyle for her because “she hated dinginess as much as her mother had hated it, and to her last breath she meant to fight …show more content…

She has no one to lean on for financial support and is forced to become part of the working class. At first Lily embraces it because independence is something she has been searching for throughout the novel. There is even an instance when Rosedale offers to help her, claiming: “ ‘I’d set you up over them all-I’d put you where you could wipe your feet on e’m’ ” (Wharton, 300). Rosedale offers Lily the ultimate social standing upgrade. She has the ability to live the way she has always wanted to, yet Lily turns down the offer. It poses the question of why she did so. It could be interpreted that Lily wants to stay independent in every sense because in the past when she has relied on others, such as Gus Trenor or Bertha Dorset, she experiences betrayal. Again supporting that Lily believes she will be happiest when she only has to depend on

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