Like most Wharton novels, The House of Mirth examines the conflict between rigid social expectation and personal desire. Lily Bart is adept at playing society's games, which expect her to achieve an advantageous marriage. Yet, torn between her desire for luxurious living and a relationship based on mutual respect and love, she manages to sabotage all her possible chances for a wealthy marriage. The Age of Innocence is set in upper class New York City in the 1870s, and centers on an upper class couple's impending marriage, and the introduction of a woman plagued by scandal whose presence threatens their happiness. Though the novel questions the assumptions and morals of 1870's New York society, it never devolves into an outright condemnation.
by Edith Wharton
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