The House of Mirth, Edith Whart, Passing , Nella Larsen, women identity, twentieth century, novels, psychological modernism
The House of Mirth (Edith Wharton) and Passing (Nella Larsen) are novels presenting female characters struggling to fit into the 20th century society. At the time, women were not very independent and had almost no means to earn a living. In The House of Mirth, Lily Bart's parents died and in order for her to acquire a secure place in society she has to marry for money not for love. Lily is raised to use her beauty for economic gain. Marriage is the only way for her to satisfy her material desires and ultimately belong to the society of the new rich in New York City. In the other novel, Passing, Irene Redfield and Clare Kendry are two light skinned women. Both women were born African Americans but were light enough to pass as white. On the one hand, Clare passes completely and married a racist white man. On the other hand, Irene lives in Harlem and marries a black doctor.
[...] The three women Lily Irene and Clare have split identities and they all end up very lonely. The choices that they have made were very damaging to their souls. They could not live on the margins of society, psychological modernism pushed them to belong to a place where the three of them ultimately fail and eventually die. Both novels show the emptiness of the early twentieth century society and the damage it does to the women who tried to fit at all cost. [...]
[...] The other part of Lily's identity is an independent woman, a woman who wants to be free. The only character in the novel who gets a chance to see that part of her is Selden. When Lily is with him, she feels free, she tells him everything even her smoking habit “It [smoking] is not considered becoming in a "jeune fille à marier "and at the present moment I am a "jeune fille à marier” (Wharton 68). Lily loves being around Selden but he does not have significant wealth and cannot serve as a practical husband for her. [...]
[...] The House of Mirth In The House of Mirth, Lily Bart lives among the new rich in New York City. The new rich spend a lot of money on highly visible, though often useless goods and their only intention is to advertise their wealth. In the novel, both men and women attain their sense of identity via visible goods. In this society, men are producers and women are consumers. Lily was brought to believe that middle-class women are the consumers of luxury goods. [...]
[...] Race The thing that bound and suffocated her” (Larsen 152). Clare lives a double life; she intentionally and methodically decides when she is white and when she is black. Evidently, Clare gets advantages from passing but she deeply knows that she betrays her black heritage. III. In both novels In the novel, Irene and Clare are in many ways mirror and complete each other's identity. On the one hand, Clare's friendship with Irene reconnects her with the African American community. [...]
[...] The House of Mirth (Edith Wharto, 1905) and Passing (Nella Larsen, 1929) – Women identity issues in the early twentieth century The House of Mirth (Edith Wharton) and Passing (Nella Larsen) are novels presenting female characters struggling to fit into the 20th century society. At the time, women were not very independent and had almost no means to earn a living. In The House of Mirth, Lily Bart's parents died and in order for her to acquire a secure place in society she has to marry for money not for love. [...]
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