Edith Wharton Writing Styles in The Age of Innocence

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The setting is so dominant an element in The Age of Innocence that it almost becomes a character. Through detail and lush description, Wharton brings to life the social world of the wealthy in 1870s New York. The environment is so critical to the work that Wharton opens the novel with the grand scene in which everyone is dressed in their finery for the opera. This immediately alerts the reader to the novel's dramatic setting. Because the modern reader is unfamiliar with the "trappings" of old New York, details of the carriages, visiting practices, and attire provide a much-needed context for the story. James W. Tuttleton in Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume Twelve: American Realists and Naturalists comments, however, that modern readers are less interested in the details of daily life in old New York than they are in "the spiritual portrait of the age," which is another...

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This section contains 1,065 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Age of Innocence Study Guide
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The Age of Innocence from Novels for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.