Presentation on theme: "THE AGE OF INNOCENCE Edith Wharton. (January 24, 1862 – August 11, 1937) Edith Wharton was a Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist, short story writer,"— Presentation transcript:
THE AGE OF INNOCENCE Edith Wharton
(January 24, 1862 – August 11, 1937) Edith Wharton was a Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist, short story writer, and designer. Many of Wharton's novels are characterized by a subtle use of dramatic irony. Having grown up in upper-class pre-World War I society, Wharton became one of its most astute critics. In such works as “The House of Mirth” and “The Age of Innocence” she employed both humor and profound empathy to describe the lives of New York's upper class and the vanishing of their world in the early years of the 20th century. In contrast, she used a harsher tone in her novel “Ethan Frome” to convey the atmosphere of lower-class rural Massachusetts.
Novels The Valley of Decision The House of Mirth Ethan Frome The Age of Innocence The Children
Main Characters Newland Archer - The novel's protagonist, a wealthy young lawyer married to the beautiful debutante May Welland. He is in love with May's cousin, Countess Ellen Olenska. Countess Ellen Olenska - May's cousin and Mrs. Manson Mingott's granddaughter. she married a Polish count, which she left. Upon her return to New York, she is not accepted easily by the upper class, but to Archer, however, she is free and truly alive. May Welland - Archer’s wife. She appears to be unassailably innocent. She remains a loyal wife even after she suspects that Newland is having an affair with Countess Olenska. Mrs. Manson Mingott - Grandmother to May and Ellen. She is an old aristocratic lady who wields great influence over the New York clan.
Other Characters Henry and Louisa van der Luyden - The descendants of pre-Revolutionary Dutch aristocracy, this elderly couple is the last word in social authority. Julius Beaufort - A British banker and one of the most important and lavish hosts of New York entertainment. Regina Beaufort - Julius Beaufort's wife and Mrs. Manson Mingott's niece. Mrs. Archer and Janey Archer - Mother and sister of Archer. Socially timid, they love to gossip and they are devoted to Archer. Lawrence Lefferts - The arbiter of good taste and moral values. Also a huge gossip and an unfaithful husband. Sillerton Jackson - The expert on the families that make up New York society. Medora Manson - The eccentric old aunt of Ellen, who raised her after the death of her parents. Mrs. Lemuel Struthers - A woman on the fringes of New York society. Count Olenski - Ellen's husband, a dissolute aristocrat who drove Ellen away with neglect and misery.
Plot Newland Archer is happily anticipating his marriage to May Welland. But with the return of May’s cousin, Countess Olenska, everything changes. Archer and May befriend her. As Archer comes to know the Countess, he falls in love with her, and becomes desillusioned with his fianceé. When Countess Olenska announces her intention of divorcing her husband, Archer persuades her to remain married. Archer realises that he is in love with the Countess, and asks May to shorten their engagement. But when he tells Ellen that he loves her, a telegram arrives, announcing that the wedding will take place sooner.
Plot After the wedding, Archer's memory of Ellen fades. Later on, while in vacation in Newport, he is reunited with her. Back in New York, she and Archer agree to consummate their affair. But suddenly, Ellen announces her intention to return to Europe. May throws her a farewell party. After the party, she announces to Archer that she is pregnant and that she told Ellen two weeks earlier. After 25 years, the Archers have had three children and May has died from pneumonia. Archer’s son convinces him to go to France, where they arrange to visit the Countess Olenska. However, at the last minute Archer sends his son alone to visit her, content instead to live with his memories of the past.
Themes the struggle between the individual and the group; appearances are seldom synonymous with realities; New society versus old society
Quiz How is The Age of Innocence characterized? A social protest novel; An autobiography; A social critique; None of the above.
At the end of the novel, why is Beaufort shunned from good society? His many illicit affairs are discovered; He supported Ellen Olenska's decision to sue her husband for divorce; His business affairs collapsed after some shady speculations; None of the above.
Who is Mrs. Manson Mingott? Ellen Olenska's grandmother; May Welland's grandmother; A spirited and corpulent old aristocrat; All of the above.
Where do May Welland and Newland Archer officially announce their engagement? At the Opera; At Beaufort's annual ball; In St. Augustine; None of the above.
What brings on Mrs. Manson Mingott's stroke? The effrontery of Regina Beaufort's request that Mrs. Mingott support her husband after his financial scandal; Ellen's refusal to return to her husband; A ham sandwich; None of the above.