The Brief Description Of Society In The House Of Mirth

In Edith Wharton’s novel, The House of Mirth, the beautiful Lily Bart is torn between finding happiness through wealth or through love because she unfortunately cannot have both: however, these factors are a result of her life and how she will continue to live, financially stable or in true happiness. The society in which Lily lives in is based off two things: wealth and marriage, more so finding wealth through marriage, and these are the two things that Lily is striving for. However, Lily struggles with finding the man that cannot only grant her marriage and wealth, but also true love, which is why she passes up many offers of matrimony and continues to struggle in the elite social class in which she resides.

Societal security is crucial in the life of Lily Bart, as she is a twenty-nine-year-old woman, who although has very important social and family ties, is still not married and therefore cannot confirm her place in the New York upper-class. The standards for the society in which she lives are simple, search for a marriage that will provide a surplus of wealth and rank, for the more money you have the higher you are in society and the greater the chance of a happy life you will live. To this, Lily is no stranger; her whole life she has been surrounded by the upper-class and she has only known marriage to be condoned by beauty and everlasting by wealth. These set standards in the society that she lives, however, have caused Lily to struggle to settle for a man who can grant her wishes true and provide her the life that she was born to live.

Although keeping her social status alive is important to her, Lily believes that a marriage is more than what she has been taught. Lily knows that she must find a husband, but she is never able to settle because she knows that none of the men are deserving of her love. She uses the excuse of being able to find someone better than what she has so she may cover up her beliefs in what she thinks is morally correct for a marriage: love; this is where society takes a toll on her.

Lily begins to struggle financially, finds herself escaping manipulation and then is completely betrayed and shunned from society because of her choices to be moral, something that is not recognized in the lifestyle others around her live.

Due to the agonizing pain that never being truly accepted brought to her, Lily came to the realization that she “wasn’t meant to be good.” She retired trying to rebuild her social status and found herself living a, “meaningless life,” without a husband or money. However, true love had not finished looking for her, but it was too late, the fear and loneliness that was brought to her life caused her to overdose “accidently” and she then passed away as a man, the next day, was ready to take her in and love her, just as she always wanted.

In conclusion, Lily Bart and the society she lived in did not match up. She was a woman who believed in more than glitz, glamor, and reputation, to characterize who you were but was still drawn to hold up the standards because of her upbringing. Not being able to be who you truly are because of what society determines is an uneasy feeling, mentally and emotionally and it is what Lily Bart had to face. The rules she had to follow in order to remain at the top were rules that she could not uphold because of her own beliefs and it caused her to give up a life that she was not able to really live.

07 July 2022
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