The House of Mirth Essay

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Korb has a master's degree in English literature and creative writing and has written for a wide variety of educational publishers. In the following essay, Korb explores the types of power that Lily Bart holds and does not hold.

In the first scene of Wharton's masterpiece The House of Mirth, Laurence Selden queries Lily Bart, "Isn't marriage your vocation? Isn't it what you're all brought up for?" Lily replies with a sigh, "I suppose so. What else is there?" This brief, simple exchange underscores one of the most crucial truths to the tragedy of Lily Bart. As the characters who populate Lily's world accurately understand, a young woman's sole calling at the turn of the century was to marry, and in Lily's case, to marry well. In this era the country was firmly entrenched in "the cult of true womanhood," which called for a woman to devote herself...

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This section contains 1,692 words
(approx. 5 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The House of Mirth Study Guide
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The House of Mirth from Novels for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.