Free Will and its Place in "The House of Mirth" Analytical Essay by Scotland

Free Will and its Place in "The House of Mirth"
A look at Edith Wharton's attempt in "The House of Mirth" to reconcile choice with predeterminism.
# 2129 | 2,569 words | 3 sources | 2001 | US
Published on Feb 16, 2003 in Literature (American) , English (Argument) , English (Analysis) , Women Studies (General)

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This essay is a comprehensive look at Edith Wharton's first successful novel, "House of Mirth". It. argues that the novel is less about the disparity in social class than it is about the juxtaposition between structure/predeterminism and free will. It includes several character analysis of the major players, including Lily Bart and Lawrence Selden, and cites several critical texts in an attempt to further argue its thesis.

From the Paper:

"One of the main problems with Lily's personality is that her desire to join the ranks of the elite society is at odds with her desire to escape the boredom of it. In the second chapter of the novel, she reflects on her lies to Mr. Rosedale, thinking, 'Why must a girl pay so dearly for her least escape from routine? Why could one never do a natural thing without having to screen it behind a structure of artifice?' This epigram fully illustrates the paradox of Lily's existence. She is almost fully committed at the outset of the novel to marriage to a wealthy socialite, even if she doesn't love him. But always there is some part of her that yearns for the freedom to make her own decisions without being judged for it. The irony is that while Lily knows she would pay dearly for her little deviations from the elitist norm, she really has no idea how much she will pay in the end."

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