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In The Writing of Fiction, Wharton acknowledges that “the first page of a novel ought to contain the germ [seed, essence] of the whole” (39). Watch the film based on this novel made by Martin Scorsese.
However, toward the end of the book, we see changes in his character, reflected in his suggestions or thoughts about doing things that people from the elite New York society wouldn’t consider.
Newland Archers follows the rules that have been set to him by the elite New York Society.
Newland Archer seems to have many layers to his personality, and in a way May represents the proper, formal, and routine part of society that he knows so well, and Ellen seems to represent the part of his personality that wishes to be free of all rules and explore the world before him.
Ultimately, fate seems to force him back into the rules of society in which he grew up in, showing a pattern that one can’t seem to escape.
- Newland Archer desires to be a free soul in old New York, differing from those around him.
May Welland’s actions and naivety help Newland realize he wants to break away from the norm of society.
Ellen offers a fresh change to Newland’s monotonous lifestyle; she shows Newland the excitement of going against the moral code....
[tags: The Age of Innocence] - With success, modern day culture has taken strides in illuminating the oppression perpetuated onto women, but a conversation centered on the oppression of men is nearly nonexistent.
For those interested in some critical readings, Carole Singley has edited a critical edition of this novel with Riverside.
The book The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton presents a glance into the society of old New York, as seen through the eyes of the main character, Newland Archer.