Edith whartons the house of mi

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 12th grade February 2008

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Lily Bart, the central character in Edith Wharton's novel, The House of Mirth , was born into the fringes of high society in late nineteenth century New York. She developed a, "lively taste for splendour"(page 30) and a fear of, "dinginess".(page 35). Everything within this social circle is measured in monetary value, people and things alike are treated as commodities. This is the only way of life Lily knows, and without the financial means to sustain herself, Lily is destined to be a victim of this commodification of people and objects. Victim is defined in the Oxford Concise Dictionary , as a, "person or thing harmed or destroyed in the pursuit of an object or in gratification of a person". Commodifiaction is defined as "the action of turning something into, or treating something as a commodity" and commodity is defined as, "an article of raw material that can be brought and sold".

It was Mrs Bart who had raised Lily to value the finer things in life and fear the "dinginess"(page 35) that she associated with those who did not have money, or those who did not choose to spend their money on luxury. When Mrs Bart died, she died, " ......of a deep disgust. She had hated dinginess, and it was her fate to be dingy"(page 35). But Lily's mother alone is not solely to blame for this want, Lily says of her need for luxury, ..I suppose (it was) -in the way I was brought up, and the things I was taught to care for. Or-no I won't blame anybody for my faults: I'll say it was in my blood (page 226) Although Lily felt that she should not blame anyone else for her high tastes she does not blame herself. She uses the excuse that...