The Role Of Women In The Age Of Innocence By Edith Wharton

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Edith Wharton’s Pulitzer Price-winning novel The Age of Innocence, published in 1920, is set in 1870s New York. The era, also known as the Gilded Age, was a time of great economic growth, especially in the North and West, while the South still faced repercussions of the Civil War. In this essay, I will mainly focus on the position of women in the society and how the society established its control over them. (Whitin this broad context)?? The American Civil war ended in 1865 with the abolishment of slavery. While the agricultural South lost, the winning side underwent industrialization and urbanization. The progress mainly depended on transcontinental railroad, natural resources such as iron, stream and electricity, and later on technology,…show more content…
Moreover, despite general economic growth, there were periods of crises and the progress was also accompanied with harsh living and working conditions and unemployment. This resulted in the founding of corporations, which could control both the production and the market, as businessmen feared overproduction would lead to deflation (declining prices and falling profits). Over time, larger corporations developed through mergers. The leading corporations were Rockefeller’s The Standard Oil Company in oil and Carnegie’s in steel, whose economic and political power influenced the whole economy. The corporations was influenced by “Social Darwinism”, a system where the growth of large businesses merely signified a survival of the fittest. In the system of aforementioned crises (1837, 1857, 1873) only the rich were secure and the small, less powerful businesses were destroyed, bringing about poverty for working people, “while the fortunes of the Astors, Vanderbilts, Rockefellers, Morgans, kept growing […]” (Zinn 2005,…show more content…
Much like in Victorian England, women had certain expectations to meet to make them acceptable and respectful citizens. The main goal in a woman’s life was to make her marry a respectable gentleman, whom she would take care of, bear children to in exchange for her protection. Their position in the household was to aspire to be an ideal woman, the so-called ‘Angel in the House”: she was to be devoted and submissive to her husband, passive, powerless, meek, charming, graceful, selfless and self-sacrificing, chaste and pure; this point I will present with the help of Edith Wharton’s novel, which illustrates this point splendidly through the characters of May Welland and Ellen
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