Theme Of Allusions In The Age Of Innocence By Edith Wharton

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Many authors, no matter the context, use allusions to help strengthen their point or illuminate a certain aspect of the text that they wish to be more noticeable; Edith Wharton is such an author, and her novel The Age of Innocence is no exception. From the allusions that even the most casual reader could pick up (for instance, when Wharton references certain areas in New York City, such as Broadway or Washington Square) to the historical and biblical allusions littered throughout the book that sometimes require a reader to look up information, every single allusion Wharton selects to use in the novel is well thought out and chosen for a specific purpose. This careful thought is especially clear with her multiple allusions to Pompeii and her referencing of the Bible passage Jeremiah 2:25. By incorporating these two specific allusions into the text at different points in the novel, Wharton further emphasises the theme of doomed love and also comments on whether or not it is truly possible to love someone in a society which is strictly controlled by an obscene amount of rules and rituals.
On August 24th in the year 79 A.D., Mount Vesuvius erupted over a
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Manson Mingott, saying that “the immense accretion of flesh which had descended on her in middle life like a flood of lava on a doomed city had changed her…” (22-3). This is the first time we as readers are introduced to Mrs. Manson Mingott, and from the start it is evident that she is a larger character than most others in the book, both physically and in personality. The fact that Wharton refers to Mrs. Manson Mingott as being buried underneath her own flesh is telling only when considered in the context of the other allusions to Pompeii, where Pompeii represents society and its rules. Despite the fact that Mrs. Manson Mingott tries to defy society’s rules, she is just as trapped by the confines of society as anyone
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