Saturday, August 3, 2019

Representation of Manners :: essays research papers

Representation of Manners   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  The novel of manners is a novel that focuses on the customs, values, and mindset of a particular class or group of people who are situated in a specific historical context (Bowers and Brothers 5). The context tends to be one in which behavior has been codified and language itself has become formulated, resulting in a suppressing or regulating of individual expression. Often, this type of novel details a conflict between the individual’s desires and the ethical, moral, economic, or interpersonal mandates of society (Bowers and Brothers 5). The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton is a novel of manners concerned with the subtle nuances of behavior and standards of correctness portrayed by the upper-class of New York in the late 1890s. In the novel, Wharton uses the genre to depict Lily Bart’s struggle to maintain individualism while conforming to society’s expectations.   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  The novel of manners developed in the 19th century as authors explored the place of women in society and the social effect of marriage (Bowers and Brothers 4). These authors wanted to show in particular the problems that come with marriage as well as with the problems of conforming to society. The world of the novel of manners was perceived as a woman’s world, viewed from a woman’s perspective (Bowers and Brothers 4).   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  The genre developed four specific conventions in the 19th century. Out of the four, three of the conventions are represented in The House of Mirth. One of the conventions was that the protagonist of the novel was usually a single woman looking to get married. The second convention dealt with the woman’s understanding of the socio-economic class within the novel. This was an important factor because it determined whom the woman would marry. The third convention found in The House of Mirth was the novel ending with the marriage or death of the protagonist, the case of Lily Bart, death. The House Mirth portrays all these conventions in the novel but instead of Lily conforming to society, Lily attempts to develop her own self-identity and independence.   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Lily Bart, the protagonist of The House of Mirth, was an unmarried 29 year old woman who desired to be a social success â€Å"[or] to get as much as one [could] out of life†¦Ã¢â‚¬  (Wharton 81). Her mission was to marry a relatively wealthy man, thereby ensuring her financial stability and a place in the higher levels of New York society.

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