The thoughts about The Age of Innocence | Teen Ink

The thoughts about The Age of Innocence

January 8, 2019
By Figaro BRONZE, Zhejiang Hangzhou, Other
Figaro BRONZE, Zhejiang Hangzhou, Other
3 articles 0 photos 0 comments

The book The Age of Innocence was written by Edith Wharton, one of the most famous female writers in America. She lived from 1862 to 1937,  and was a winner of numerous awards including three nominations for the Nobel Prize three times. During her lifetime, she published 19 novels and 11 short stories collection. The long novel The House of Mirth , which published in 1905, made her one of the most popular authors in the beginning of the 20th century. In most of her novels, the stories are usually told from the view of an insider. This method portrayed realistic living conditions of New York’s privileged class at the end of the 19th century in her novels.The Age of Innocence was printed in 1920, and in the following year, made her the first female winner of the Pulitzer Prize.

      The book is a story about conflicts between rules, traditions, love, and freedom. The upper class youth Newland Archer is engaged to a lady of equal position May Welland. When they are about to announce their engagement, Newland meets May’s cousin, the Countess Ellen Olenska, who is considered a loose woman by upper class society because of her divorce from her husband. The youth is subsequently fascinated and attracted by the countess’s sincerity and purity. But under the pressure of traditions, Newland Archer continues with the wedding with May. However, for Newland, his loveless marriage only heightened his pain, and Ellen becomes his only hope in the darkness. When he finally decides to elope with Ellen, though May becomes pregnant.  When Countess Olenska recieved the news, she leaves Newland for Paris alone without a second thought. Newland is left no choice but to do his duty as a husband and a father. Years later, after May passes away due to a disease, Newland goes to Paris with the companionship of his son. It is revealed that his journey is due to  May’s last wish: she wanted to fulfill her husband’s desire, which was buried deep inside his heart long ago. In spite of this, Newland loses his courage to face his true love when she is just in front of him.

      Although Edith born in the upper class of America in the 19th century, she still was the craftiest critic at that time. The Age of Innocence doubted the traditional etiquette in the late 19th century New York society, but it didn’t criticize the rules in public.

      In my opinion, Newland, May and Ellen are all victims of the society rules. The background of Edith helped her a lot to finish this book. By the contrast, it also declares the decadent of the environment that even the people in the system cannot stand it anymore. It is hard for me to not make connections with the world I am in now. Nowadays, although the differences between classes have been blurred, the results of those tiny difference is still very obvious.



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