SUBJECT AREA Arts entertainment
CREATED ON 8th January 2018

Article on Naturalism in The House of Mirth

Naturalism in The House of Mirth Challenging the rigorous confines of literary naturalism, which hold that "the human being is merely 1 occurrence in a world of chemical phenomena" (Gerard 418), Edith Wharton produces in The House of Mirth a publication which irrefutably introduces the human creature as being subject to some naturalistic destiny but which conveys a looming feeling of hope that one may succeed over circumstance and environment if a person possesses a particular strength of will or a simple faith in human potential. Due to Wharton's little deviation from naturalistic conventions, a literary debate exists among critics concerning the legitimacy of seeing The House of Mirth as a novel which embodies naturalism. Some arguments argue that naturalism does not play a vital function in the novel because of the simple fact that such a substantial internal battle belies itself within the split being of Lily Bart and since Wharton focuses so intensely on this particular conflict, a discord which appears compared to the naturalistic idea of inevitability (Gerard, 4 1 0). Really, Wharton's works are much less critically concerned with naturalistic topics as are the works of London, Drieser, or Zola. However, it is apparent that undertones of both naturalism, and stronger overtones in many situations, are present throughout The House of Mirth. Wharton creates characters who are victims of their environment, controlled by animal-like instinct. Proof of this is located from the very first page, even when Lawrence Selden succumbs to an "urge of interest" (6), into the very last page, even if Selden realizes that Lily had "achieved to him in every struggle against the sway of her surroundings (255-56). By producing a protagon...

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