Class And Status In Edith Wharton's The House Of Mirth

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The House of Mirth, written by Edith Wharton, chronicles the ups and downs of Lily Barts’s life as she struggles to find her happiness, but ultimately ends tragically with her death. Michael Tavel Clarke gave his critical analysis of the novel in his article, Between Wall Street and Fifth Avenue: Class and Status in Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth. The article was published in the spring of 2016. In his article Clarke points out the limits that marxist criticism has when it analyzes Wharton’s novel, promotes Max Weber’s theory about the distinction between status and class, and how Weber’s theory can be applied to Lily Bart’s quest to find happiness. Clarke begins the article by pointing out to the reader that there are two realms in Wharton’s novel, one realm being Wall Street and the other being Fifth Avenue. Wall Street is the realm that is made up of a crude world focused on money and economics while Fifth Avenue is the world that is the more occult world of high society and status. Clarke writes that the distinction…show more content…
I was focused solely on Lily and her struggles. After reading this article and listening to Clarke’s opinions of Rosedale struggling like Lily, just in a different way, I believe if I were to read it again I would have a different perspective of his character. I also treated this novel like a love story in the sense that Lily was struggling between the conflict of marrying someone that was wealthy enough to solidify her belonging to the higher society versus her marrying someone that she is romantically attracted to. Clarke makes a very good argument that she is actually struggling between marrying a man with wealth or marrying a man that she believes has a social status she can be happy with. Clarke didn’t necessarily change my mind in anyway but definitely made me think about the novel and its characters in a way I hadn’t
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