The Age of Innocence Short Essay - Answer Key

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1. What is the setting for the story and the first chapter in particular?

The story takes place in New York City in the early 1870's. The first chapter begins in January, and the setting is the Academy of Music in New York City during a production of Faust.

2. Who is Ellen Olenska?

Ellen Olenska is May Welland's cousin. Ellen married a foreign French Count but had recently left him and returned to America to take refuge with her family. It is said that Ellen's husband was an awful man who treated her very badly. It is also said that Ellen ran away with his secretary.

3. Describe the Beauforts and their place in New York society.

Mrs. Julius Beaufort was once Regina Dallas, a descendant of a prominent family, but herself poor. Julius, her husband, was a foreigner from England. Within two years of coming to America and making the unlikely match with Regina, he became a prominent member of society, accumulating much wealth and inhabiting one of the grandest residences. That had been over twenty years ago. It was well-known that he was the one that ran the household, not his wife, which was the norm. It was also well-known that Beaufort kept a mistress. Either his wife did not know or had resigned herself to the fact.

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