The House of Mirth Social Concerns

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Before The House of Mirth took the literary world by storm, Edith Wharton's writing garnered little attention; most reviewers considered her first works amateur efforts. The House of Mirth's overwhelming success proved that Wharton was not a dilettante. Though her position of privilege (Wharton was born and remained a very wealthy woman) slowed her rise to literary fame, it gave her an excellent vantage point from which to observe and critique the mores of America's upper crust. Unlike Jane Austen, Wharton was a writer who wrote novels about a high society to which she actually had membership. Wharton notes the advantage this membership gives her in the text of The House of Mirth: while Lawrence Selden and Lily Bart (the novel's heroine) languish on the grass at Bellomont, Selden notes that "the people who take society as an escape from work are putting it to its proper use...

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This section contains 1,142 words
(approx. 3 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.