“The House of Mirth” analysis part one.

Annotated Bibliography


Baker-Sapora, Carol. “Female Doubling: The Other Lily Bart in Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth.” Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism 194 (1993): 371-394. http://www.gale.cengage.com. Cengage Learning, Fall 1993. Web. 15 Nov. 2012.

In her essay, Female Doubling, Baker-Sapora examines the conflict portrayed in The House of Mirth between the image of women as works of art or decorative objects as opposed to women’s attempts at self-actualization. Lily, the main character is seen throughout the book as a demi-goddess with perfect features and of soaring grace. However, indirectly, the author keeps to her level in women’s society and “doubles” the main character as a female liberator. Similar to the work Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, where the main character has a double role, so too in The House of Mirth, Lily’s role is doubled both as a sexual being and as an advancer of women’s independence. I believe that it IS clear from Wharton’s work that the main thrust of the story is Lily’s vying for attention as a human being as opposed to just a sex symbol.

Barnett, Louise K. “Language, Gendre, and Society in The House of Mirth.” Connecticut Review 11.2 (1989): 54-63. http://www.gale.cengage.com. Summer 1989. Web. 15 Nov. 2012.

In his essay, Barnett posits that The House of Mirth develops the theme that society functions as a character rather than simply a setting against which the story is told. Barnett brings many proofs as such and through many different modes. For example, each stage of Lily’s movement down the social ladder produces a potential male rescuer, and though none is disinterested, none is villainous. Where her former good women friends abandon her, these men reveal themselves reluctant to believe the worst and willing to help her. This theme has been discussed many times from a variety of writers and seems to be a thread through Wharton’s other novels as well.

Blackall, Jean Frantz. “The House of Mirth: Overview.” Reference Guide to American Literature (1994): n. pag. Web. 15 Nov. 2012.

Wharton draws her title from Ecclesiastes 7:4, “the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.” Lily is repelled by crudity and ugliness, whether in physical objects or drab lifestyle. But under duress of monetary issues as well as social ambition that she has, Lily is willing to give up that scrutiny. This particular work should most probably have been first in the list of reviews as it is a basic overview of the entire novel. However I felt that due to its’ simplicity it should be of the last to be noted.

Clubbe, John. “Interiors and the Interior Life in Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth.” Studies in the Novel 28.4 (1996): 543-564. http://www.gale.cengage.com. Cengage Learning, Winter 1996. Web. 15 Nov. 2012.

Clubbe draws upon Wharton’s famous interest in interior design to discuss the correlation in The House of Mirth between Lily’s interior physical environments and the struggling development of her inner life. Wharton established herself as an authority on interiors with her writing of the work- The Decoration of Houses, written with the noted Gilded Age designer Ogden Codman, Jr. From that time forward Wharton’s fine-tuned readings of interior space became a signature aspect of her writings. Clubbe brings numerous proofs to his position on Wharton’s work, and there definitely is some connection between the two. However it is this reviewer’s opinion that the focus of the book was never meant to be in that direction, and that it can be construed mainly as a sidebar of the novel.


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