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Dramatic Irony In AGE Innocence

Dramatic irony occurs when the reader knows past or future occurrences which make it easy to recognize the contradiction in a character's conversation or activities. This article will explore how and to what effect the literary technique of dramatic irony has been found in portraying the main issue of discord between characters and their particular societies in the books The Age of Innocence and The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton. This turmoil is both external and internal. Sometimes the culture disapproves of the behaviour of the average person and ostracizes the individual or exhibits its displeasure, while at other times the character is a dilemma whether to listen to the public opinion or the voice of his / her own mind. This can be done through a thorough literary study of the works involved, and also by the reading of critics' and Wharton's own writings on her behalf two novels. Wharton uses character types' conversation and actions, narrator's reviews and the occasions of both novels to produce dramatic irony. This can help in the conveyance of key topics, characterization, plot development and providing a windows into two different societies of top class New York in the later 1800s.


Novels of manners allow the reader to delve into the worlds of modern day cultures, providing a far more enriching experience than factual research. Edith Wharton's works are attractive for his or her vividly descriptive prose and mildly derisive view of the societies/ cultures depicted. What problems plagued the outwardly perfect top class New Yorkers of the past due 19th century? INSIDE YOUR HOME of Mirth, Lily Bart is torn between her innate morals and wants and the route that she has been taught to take by public impression, while in The Time of Innocence, Ellen Olenska and Newland Archer are tossed into turmoil, sometimes resenting the constraints and petty troubles of the society and at other times bowing willingly to its guiding hand. In studying the conflicts, you'll be able to start to see the restrictive dynamics and other areas of both cultures -their ideals, the role of women, and their outlook on issues such as marriage and divorce. Since both rebels are participants of the societies they criticise, readers have the ability to regard population from the within as well as the outside, as they think about societal norms. Through the entire novels, the audience is made to take cognizance of recent and future happenings to feel the impact of a specific series or situation. Thus, Edith Wharton effectively uses dramatic irony to point out one of the key issues in her novels-the clash between individual choice and society's unspoken rules.

Marriage and Love

"If she did not marry him?" Lily Bart asks herself as she pursues Percy Gryce. She actually is supposedly "certain of him and certain of herself", but the "if" in her head is the first indicator of her departure from society's goals. The dramatic irony is based on the actual fact that the audience is well aware that Lily actually has no desire to marry Percy Gryce, but Lily herself is unacquainted with this fact. Eventually, "her own irony" slices "further" for she actually is the one who desired the marriage, yet it is she who consciously drives Gryce away. This occurrence marks the beginning of the constant clash between what she would like to do and what she actually is likely to do. Lily's question after she loses Gryce-"What wind flow of folly got powered her out again on those dark seas?" is ironic because the "wind of folly" is the one and only herself. The metaphor also unveils the frivolity of modern culture, as the quest of life minus the comfort of money and a hubby is considered "dark seas". It portrays the scope of the women's dependence on men. The problem of marriage comes up once again when Rosedale asks for Lily's palm during her exclusion from world. Lily must "stop and consider that, in the stress of her other anxieties, as a breathless fugitive may need to pause at the cross-roads and make an effort to make a decision coolly which decide on take. " The simile brings out the tension in the situation and there's a clear turmoil between Lily's "intuitive repugnance" and "years of social willpower". Ironically, it was previously Rosedale who was determined by Lily to give him a permit into society. the power of modern culture is highlighted here-it can make or break a person. Rosedale eventually rejects Lily, as in the time that goes by between his proposal and her answer, "he had attached nearer to the goal, while she possessed lost the power to abbreviate the remaining steps of just how. " Achieving a posture in contemporary society is represented as a vacation spot; the steps stand for the progress of individuals. The importance of social status is brought out and the unforeseen turn of incidents creates irony since the reader can compare Lily's desperation with her prior dismissal of Rosedale. Lily realizes this, and completes Rosedale's remark of "You then thought you may do better; now-№ with "You imagine you can?". The well-defined dramatic irony shows Lily's descent in modern culture and the materialistic behaviour of individuals. They are willing to give second goal to love and friendship for the sake of looks. The caesura demonstrates Rosedale is ashamed of the shallowness that he is now a part of. In the twist of cosmic irony, it is the person she snubs who helps her in her time of need. When Lily visits Selden, she smiles, recognizing the irony in the problem. "Then she decided to marry Percy Gryce-what was it she was planning now?" The reader can notice the similarity in Lily's situation now and per year ago-marriage is her only way out, and she actually is position in Selden's living room. The audience wonders if she'll finally bow to the dictates of culture and marry Rosedale or tread her own way. Throughout the course of the e book, Lily also struggles with the thoughts that she has for Selden, a man not rich enough and who does not care and attention enough about high world to be of value in Lily's public climb. They share a dialogue, and Selden passes his judgement on Lily's quest for Gryce and everything she is striving for through it-money, name and a sociable life. She amounts up: "Then your best you can say for me personally is, that after attempting to have them I probably shan't like them?" "What a unpleasant future you foresee for me personally!" In a cruel twist of dramatic irony, his words foreshadow Lily's future. Selden sometimes appears as an intuitive identity who can see through Lily's ambitions. "He foresaw that I will develop hateful to myself!" she explains to Gerty Farish. Lily's true character is exposed through her exclamation. She grows up disillusioned with the shallow, materialistic life her friends lead. This is seen again as she creates an evaluation between Gryce and Selden at the dining room table. Wharton brings out the irony of the problem by highlighting an undeniable fact, which the reader is well aware of: it is this contrast which is her "undoing". The move towards Selden that Lily seems distracts her from the task of marrying Gryce, which ultimately leaves her by themselves, and penniless. Lily's walk with Rosedale become symbolic in the light of her preceding walk with Selden, which "represented an amazing air travel from just such a climax as today's excursion was designed to bring about". Lily herself highlights the "ironic distinction to her present situation", thus creating remarkable irony. In the long run, it is with some sort of tragic irony that Selden resolves to declare his like to her the day after she dies, considering, "It was strange that it hadn't come to his lips sooner-that he had let her move from him the night before without having to be able to speak it. But what does that matter, now that a new day acquired come? It was not a phrase for twilight, but also for the day. "

The theme of forbidden love works through Age Innocence as well, where Ellen and Archer show up in love despite Archer's engagement and consequent relationship to Ellen's cousin, May. That is first foreshadowed when Archer muses on Ellen's alleged romance with her husband's secretary, thinking that "Full and idle and ornamental societies must produce a lot more such situations; and there could even be one when a woman naturally hypersensitive and aloof would yet, from the drive of circumstances, from absolute defencelessness and loneliness, be attracted into a tie up inexcusable by normal expectations. " As the reader is aware of, but Archer does not, this is precisely what happens between Archer and Ellen down the road in the book. The author uses this considered Archer's to compare New York society to European ones and indirectly comment on it. The adjectives "rich and idle and ornamental" also identify New York culture, while "naturally delicate and aloof" characterize Ellen. The sentence provides some justification for the partnership that is to build up between your two characters, so that the reader is able to see their side as well as society's. May initially won't hasten her and Archer's wedding, supplying him an opportunity to leave her. May is the normal young New York woman, and the actual fact that it's her sharing with Archer that, "when two different people really love one another", "there could be situations which will make it right that they should-should go against public view" adds a display of situational irony to the omniscient remarkable. May is speaking of Mrs. Thorley Rushworth, an older girl with whom Archer experienced had an affair. Tension is established when she does not mention names, simply referring to "two people", but Archer and the reader initially believe that May has guessed about Ellen, for the advice is well-suited to Ellen and Archer's situation. There is a concealed criticism of population in this ironic word, for although May says that modern culture bends its guidelines for real love, it generally does not in the case of Ellen and Archer, choosing instead to send Ellen out of its tight circles. Archer uses May's refusal to implore Ellen to put conventions away and be with him. "She's refused; that provides me the right-№ he begins, but Ellen slices him off to affect him, as well as the reader, with a pointed bolt of remarkable irony. "Ah, you've trained me what an ugly term that is, " she says, reminding the reader of Archer's staunch adherence to conventions when he convinces her not to get a divorce although she has a right to, by expressing that though "legislation favours divorce", "social traditions don't. " This once again brings out the idea of a parliament governed by world, as well as old New York's frame of mind towards divorce. Ellen evidently recognizes New Yorkers much better than one of their own. Finally, Archer fulfills Ellen alone a couple of years once they part. They sit down at a restaurant, "close mutually and safe and shut in; yet so chained with their individual destinies that they might as well have been half the earth apart. " Although their literal propinquity is clear, Wharton reminds the audience that they are in very different worlds figuratively. The verb "chained" implies unwillingness on both parts, while also hinting at the power that society holds over the individual. This sort of remarkable irony, known as tragic irony, is slow yet again when Archer and Ellen be seated next to each other in May's brougham and interwoven with cosmic irony: "The precious moments were sliding away, but he had forgotten exactly what he had supposed to tell her and could only helplessly brood on the enigma of these remoteness and their proximity, which seemed to be symbolised by the actual fact of their sitting down so near each other, and yet being unable to see each other's encounters. " This word serves as a conclusion of Wharton's strategy. She uses symbolism to convey Archer and Ellen's predicament. The words "remoteness" and "proximity" are contrasting, highlighting the disappointment and sorrow of the character types' circumstances. Ellen too increases the tragic irony, expressing, "We're near each other only when we stay far from one another. " This paradox also helps to bring out the almost ridiculous wretchedness of the moment.

The Struggle within the Character

The conflict between your individual and culture is partly caused by the struggle between two sides of Lily's identity. While one part of her lusts after the money and electric power associated with New York's elite, another part of her yearns to be free from the clutches of materialism. Initially, Selden is only "aware that the qualities distinguishing her from the herd of her sex were chiefly external: as if an excellent glaze of beauty and fastidiousness have been put on vulgar clay. " The simile shows Lily's superficiality and artificiality. Ironically, Lily's the audience soon recognizes difference is inside as opposed to the exterior, when she voluntarily strays from the beaten route of relationship and comfort. Lily is also compared to an orchid when she works together with a charitable organization. "All this was in the natural order of things, and the orchid basking in its artificially created atmosphere could round the delicate curves of its petals undisturbed by the glaciers on the panes. " This, unfortunately, does not hold true on her behalf. There may be some verbal irony in the metaphor, but it's the dramatic irony that comes through most powerful, for Lily, unlike the orchid, will not survive untouched much longer. She has been feeling, and will continue steadily to feel the responsibility of poverty. The metaphor also displays the nature of society, for this is also like the orchid, untouched by truth and struggling to see anything beyond its world. Wharton employs symbolism to unfurl the remarkable irony, as Lily makes a decision to marry Gryce and thus enter interior societial circles, but believes that her friends possessed earlier "symbolized what she was gaining, now they stood for what she was giving up. " This disillusionment is further developed when Lily also feels a "vague sense of inability, of an internal isolation", and carries on throughout the book. Although Lily herself "hardly recognized what she had been seeking", the reader realizes that she wishes liberty from society's constraints as she later won't be tied down by matrimony despite having to stay poor and ostracized. The theme of freedom is touched upon here.

Newland Archer too shows a rebellious streak, which sometimes appears first when he visits Ellen's home, although he thinks that "she should be aware of that a man who's just engaged doesn't spend his time calling on married women". This is also the beginning of the irresistible pull that Ellen and Archer feel towards each other. The writer also reviews that, if Archer experienced cared to look within himself, "he'd have found there the wish that his partner should be as wordly-wise so when eager to please as the committed female whose charms experienced held his extravagant". Ironically, Ellen comes through as "wordly-wise" and "wanting to please", rather than his real wife, May. The love between Ellen and Archer is foreshadowed at the starting of the novel. When Archer enters the florist's, he perceives "a cluster of yellow roses. He had never seen any as sun-golden before, and his first impulse was to send these to May rather than the lilies. However they did not look like her-there was something too rich, too strong, in their fiery beauty. " He instead sends these to Ellen and his impulsive action foreshadows his interest towards Ellen. Therefore, the bouquets become symbols, the roses located for Ellen and the lilies, using their purity and innocence, May. Archer feels that "Little or nothing about his betrothed delighted him more than her resolute determination to transport to its utmost limit that ritual of disregarding the "unpleasant" where they had both been brought up. " Remarkable irony is established as he later comes to resent her exactly for this. When she warns him to close the windowpane, saying, "You'll capture your fatality. ", Archer recognizes the irony in her words and feels, "But I've captured it already. I am dead-I've been inactive for weeks and a few months. " Archer's change in values shows his persona development; he now feels the monotony of any contemporary society that cannot face actuality. In yet another case of remarkable irony, Janey, Archer's sister, is at night about past occurrences. Soon after Archer unsuccessfully makes an attempt to persuade Ellen to marry him since May won't pre-pone the marriage, he obtains a telegram from May agreeing to postpone the wedding. Archer realizes the twist of destiny and throws "backside his mind with a long have fun. " Janey's question, "But, dearest, why do you retain on laughing?" further emphasises the irony by repeated recommendations to his laughter.

The Direct Turmoil with Society

Ultimately, Lily discovers herself cast out of societal circles. Her destitution is ominously foreshadowed from the start of the book. Lawrence Selden is "struck with the irony of suggesting to her such a life as his cousin Gertrude Farish got chosen". It really is impossible to assume this sybarite as anything but rich. The audience, however, recognizes a new kind of irony-dramatic-for Lily does later lead a life even worse than the depressed, poverty-stricken Gertrude Farish's. However, her real troubles start when she gets "The Dorsets' invitation to move abroad with them". Although it appears to "come as an almost miraculous release from crushing challenges;", it is but a precursor to even greater difficulties. Lily does not yet know this, however the reader does. A similar type of irony is seen in the narrator's comment that "The actual fact that the money freed her briefly from all minimal obligations obscured her sense of the greater one it symbolized. " Lily later comes into arrears and public disgrace anticipated to her borrowing from Gus Trenor. When Lily profits to Bertha immediately before Bertha accuses her of having an affair with George Dorset, she actually is "more than ever alarmed at the possible results of her long absence. " Ironically, Lily innocently fears for Mrs. Dorset's reputation, when it's her own she should care for. There is certainly some situational irony as well, since the reader also expects Bertha to hesitate for her reputation, but she actually is "in full command word of her usual attenuated luxury". Pity for Lily is created, as her kind characteristics shines through, while Bertha sometimes appears to be cunning and fake. "Dnouement-isn't that too big a phrase for such a tiny event?" she asks, little knowing that the occurrence is big enough for the term, while the reader shares this knowledge with Bertha. Bertha's remark to Lily, "Perhaps I must say hello" holds dramatic irony as the audience is informed that it's your day Lily is usually to be trashed of her friends' good graces. The writer points this out through the key phrase "with a faint touch of irony" prior to Bertha's word. Once more, Bertha's malicious nature comes across. Lily finally sees herself "probing the very depths of insignificance" and "courting the approval of men and women she had disdained under other conditions". Lily Bart, once "a physique to arrest even the suburban traveller hurrying to his previous train" and make a "standard sense of commotion" by her mere occurrence, has been reduced for an inconspicuous speck. The audience is fully able to appreciate the tragic irony of the novel's bottom line through the stark distinction.

Ellen Olenska clashes with the highly standard New York setting from her entrance as she brings with her peculiar Western ways and the scandal of experiencing left her husband. "Oh ages and centuries; such a long time, " she says at first, "that I'm sure I'm dead and buried, and this dear old place is heaven;" Although she will not know it yet, NY turns out to be not heaven for Ellen later on as her ideals and lifestyle constantly clash with the conformist culture. Ellen's comment shows her to be always a very liberal girl, expecting a culture rooted in traditions to forget its differences with her, and creates some curiosity about her. Archer warns her, "with a display of sarcasm", that "New York's an awfully safe place", but she calls for him virtually. The reader is able to discern his interpretation, being conscious of her following exclusion from contemporary society. Ellen is evidently very innocent, emphasised by her exclamation on New York: "If you knew how I like it for that-the straight-up-and-downness, and the big honest labels on everything!" Little will she realize that most things stay unspoken here, such as the "ritual of ignoring the "unpleasant"". When Ellen finally realizes this, she admits, "NY simply meant calmness and freedom if you ask me: it was approaching home. ", but the reader can appreciate the dramatic irony in the narrator's comment: "simple-hearted kindly New York, on whose greater charity she experienced apparently counted, was exactly the place where she could least hope for indulgence". Ellen also feels that she is "conforming to American ideas in asking for her liberty. " However, American ideas are the opposite of this, as world is aghast at her desire to have a divorce. There is no freedom for the ladies of NY, and the status that a relationship brings is esteemed. Primarily, Archer too expresses his forwards thinking through his violent "I am hoping she'll!", but he's later the one who convinces her never to just do it with it, declaring "our legislation favours divorce-our cultural customs don't. " The power that society keeps over even an open-minded man and women's lack of freedom is express here. If the van der Luydens sponsor Ellen's welcoming party, Archer notices "many of the recalcitrant lovers who had declined to meet her at Mrs. Lovell Mingott's. " Only once an influential family supports Ellen, contemporary society rallies behind her. Its hypocrisy and shallowness is observable here, and also in Mr. van der Luyden's remark: "it's hopeless to anticipate folks who are accustomed to the European courts to troubles themselves about our little republican distinctions. " Absurdly, this is precisely what they expect of Ellen as is seen throughout the book, from enough time she actually is persuaded to remain married until the time she actually is sent out of New York. At one point, Mrs. Welland miracles, "I ponder what her destiny will be?" Archer adds the irony by reminding the reader of what her destiny actually becomes towards the finish of the novel: "What we've all contrived to make it". Lawrence Lefferts experienced once remarked, "our kids will be marrying Beaufort's bastards. " Archer's child marries Fanny Beaufort, "who got appeared in NY at eighteen, following the loss of life of her parents, had won its heart and soul much as Madame Olenska got received it thirty years previously; only instead of being distrustful and scared of her, society took her joyfully for awarded. She was pretty, amusing and attained: what more have anyone want? No person was narrow-minded enough to take a rake against her the half-forgotten facts of her father's recent and her own origins. Only the the elderly kept in mind so obscure an incident available life of NY". The entire extract is significant as Fanny's reception is a stark compare to Ellen's. It also implies how much society has modified over one generation. Lefferts' statement ultimately comes true. In a novel replete with irony, Wharton leaves the reader reeling.


The conflict between the individual and culture is the key concern in both novels, but you'll be able to bifurcate this. There is the direct clash between the individual and people of world, for example, Ellen's seeking of divorce, and there is the internal struggle where the identity is torn between conforming to society's rules and pursuing their own thoughts, such as Lily's problem concerning her marriage. It is not only character types' talk and actions that induce dramatic irony, but also narrator's responses and the plots of the books. Through the history, Wharton occasionally includes cosmic irony and tragic irony, that happen to be closely linked to dramatic. In cosmic irony, the opposite of what is expected occurs, while in tragic irony, a tragic situation is disclosed to the audience, but not the character. By creating these kind of irony, Wharton brings out symbols, key styles and personas. She manages not only to build a lucid picture of the societies of the time, but through her biting commentary, allows the audience to fully understand and critique them as well. Wharton's works are also filled up with situational and verbal irony and it would be interesting to explore these inside your home of Mirth and The Age of Innocence, as well as in her other novels dealing with ideas of culture and human characteristics.

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