09 May

The House of Mirth chapter 8

Lily Bart and Gerty Farish are looking over the display of wedding gifts at the Stepney wedding reception.  Gerty is enjoying the evening, happy for the newlyweds.  Lily does not catch the bouquet; she catches a serious case of envy.

Wharton crafts a beautiful description of the bride’s jewels, and then she writes the sentences which turned me against Lily Bart.

The glow of the stones warmed Lily’s veins like wine.  More completely than any other expression of wealth they symbolized the life she longed to lead, the life of fastidious aloofness and refinement in which every detail should have the finish of a jewel, and the whole form a harmonious setting to her own jewel-like rareness.

I’m so disappointed in Miss Lily Bart.  Jewelry “warms [her] veins like wine“?!  ugh.



1 Comment

Posted by on May 9, 2013 in The House of Mirth


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One response to “Jewels

  1. retiringreader

    May 9, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    I finished the book earlier in the week. Toward the end Lily wonders if nature or nurture has made her what she was, and we would certainly have to add the constraints of society and culture to the list of what has shaped her. Wasn’t that Wharton’s purpose in writing that novel? If Wharton is describing her American culture accurately (and some say “The Age of Innocence” was her attempt to apologize for her harsh portrayal in “Mirth”) then it is a sad commentary indeed for women in general, for single women in particular, and for the men who were their husbands, fathers, and brothers.


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