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The Age of Innocence

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Madeline Pearce

on 17 April 2013

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Transcript of The Age of Innocence

A Review of... The Age of Innocence By: Madeline Pearce "The Age of Innocence" was written by Edith Wharton and was published in the year 1920 (Brief) Newland Archer is a lawyer that lives in the late eighteen hundreds in New York.
Newland is happily engaged to a young woman
At first, Newland believes that marrying his fiancee May is exactly what he wants for his life.
However, when May's cousin comes to town and tries to pursue a divorce in New York against her family's wishes, Newland begins to doubt the things he knows
He is assigned to deal with Olenska's case to try and persuade her to go back to her husband
As Newland spends more time with Olenska, he is shown that there may be more to life then what New York society would have him believe. A trailer from the 1993 film adaptation Edith Wharton But who exactly is ? Edith Wharton "A classic is classic not because it conforms to certain structural rules, or fits certain definitions (of which its author had quite probably never heard). It is classic because of a certain eternal and irrepressible freshness. " born in 1862 into an extremely wealthy family in New York
her family moved to Europe for five years when she was four years old
When back in New York, she was educated by a private tutor after her debut into society in 1879, her family went back to Europe
in 1885, she married Edward Wharton and they moved back to New York although they ultimately divorced in 1913
she became extremely interested in interior and landscape design and even designed and helped to remodel her own home
also, she had many books being published after the divorce: she moved back to Paris to live permanently
when World War I started, Edith Wharton assisted refugees and orphans in Belgium and France
she created hostels and schools for them as well as found jobs for women
she passed away in 1937 and was buried at Versailles, France before the divorce: Influences grew up with the same society with the same kind of people in her book
analyzing the world she knew
characters, especially Newland, were much like herself.
because the book depicts the environment she grew up in, we know that her personal circumstances influenced her while writing her book Quotes from Edith Wharton on Writing Edith Wharton has her own book on writing called, "The Writing of Fiction" The Opening Chapter Edith Wharton starts us off in the Opera while "Faust" is being performed.
She then introduces us to several of her characters-- some major, some minor
she takes care to introduce the setting and the personality of the people that live in it
She develops two of her major characters, Newland Archer and May Welland How it Works.... The Function Emphatic Positioning Plot and Character Development The Rest of the Novel Summary Chapter one is set up this way most likely because an opera is the perfect place for society to not only take part in a privileged activity but also to watch one another and judge each other from their boxes. Where they sit in the opera also say something about where they stand in society. Both Newland's and May's characters are beginning to be developed. We also get a strong idea of what the few steady characteristics are amongst the rest of the ruling class society. Newland Archer May Welland "a tender reverence for her abysmal purity." (6) "She dropped her eyes to the immense bouquet of lilies-of -the-valley on her knee, and Newland Archer saw her white-gloved finger tips touch the flowers softly." (5) "...a young girl in white with eyes ecstatically fixed on the stage-lovers...a warm pink mounted to the girl's cheek..." (5) White is a symbol of purity and innocence. She blushing at the sight of the lovers in the Opera. "There was no reason why the young man should not have come earlier....But,....[he] was perfectly aware that in metropolises it was 'not the thing' to arrive early at the opera" (4) "...natural to Newland Archer as all the other conventions on which his life was moulded: such as the duty of using two silver-backed brushes with his monogram in blue enamel to part his hair, and of never appearing in society without a flower...in his buttonhole." (4) "Newland Archer felt himself distinctly superior of these chosen specimens of old New York gentility; he had probably read more, thought more, and even seen a good deal more of the world, than any other man of the number." (7) "He did not in the least wish the future Mrs Newland Archer to be a simpleton. He meant her (thanks to his enlightening companionship) to develop a social tact and readiness of wit enabling her to hold her own..." (6) lilies-of-the-valley are a symbol for sweetness, humility, and the return of happiness, and perfect purity she is pure and untouched by the cruelty of the world he is very savvy and conforming about the customs of his society he respects women and believes that they should be considered as equals "Beware of monotony; it's the mother of all the deadly sins" ". . . the typical novel usually deals with the gradual unfolding of a succession of events divided by intervals of time, and in which many people, in addition to the principal characters, play more or less subordinate parts." The last line of the first chapter is "For a moment he silently scrutinized the attentive group out of his filmy blue eyes overhung by old veined lids; then he gave his moustache a thoughtful twist, and said simply: 'I didn't think the Mingotts would have tried it on.'" he is important in his society Structure Complications Last Line The last chapter is such a beautiful way to end the story. It is bittersweet. the protection and promotion of family against scandals
women in the ruling class do not have as many rights as men if they want to be accepted.
the suppression of unpleasant things
Countess Olenska, after living in Europe for so long, represents a totally different society then that of the elite NY Favourite Lines Overall Impression Bucket List? Yes- but only to a specific audience Rating? for myself, 7/10
for the average modern reader, 3/10
for the book in it's time period 9/10 Dialogue and breaking:
"'I mean: how shall I explain? I -- it's always so. Each time you happen to me all over again.'" It follows the mythic structure pretty closely. How? Ordinary World - The old New York society
·Call to Adventure - Newland is asked to take on Ellen Olenska’s divorce and try to stop it.
·Refusal of the Call -He denies the offer at first because he's not sure he agrees with it and doesn't care to get involved with Ellen
·Meeting the Mentor (Wise Old Man or Woman) -His boss talks him into it and invites him to dinner afterwards to discuss how it should be done
·Crossing the First Threshold - After he agrees to take the position, he goes to talk to Ellen at her little house
·Test, Allies, Enemies: Test: He begins to develop feelings for Ellen during his engagement to May. Allies: May' and Ellen's Grandmother Mrs. Mingott and French tutor that helped Ellen to get away from her husband. Enemies: everyone in society Periodic sentence structure:
"beauty ~ a gift which; in the eyes of New York, justified every success, and excused a certain number of failings." Imagery through extended metaphor:
“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 from a plump active little woman with a neatly-turned foot and ankle into something as vast and august as a natural phenomenon.” Long and short sentences:
“Catch my death! But I’ve caught it already. I am dead - I’ve been dead for months and months.” There are tons of valuable insights that makes this novel so important ·Approach to the Inmost Cave - Newland and Ellen's true feelings come out
·Supreme Ordeal -Newland deciding whether or not to marry May- he does when Ellen turns him down
·Reward (Seizing the Sword) - He save two families from the scandal it would have caused.
·The Road Back - His feelings for Ellen makes him need to see her an May knows this. He treats May without a lot of love, Ellen moves back to Europe
·Resurrection - Newland dedicates himself to May and has a family
·Return with the Elixir - he goes to Europe but doesn’t go to see Ellen "At that, as if it had been the signal he waited for, Newland Archer got up slowly and walked back alone to his hotel."
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