House of Mirth Essay

The House of Mirth ends with the accidental death of Lily. Book two of the novel chronicles Lily’s gradual expulsion from society after a false rumor spreads that she has had an extramarital affair. Unable to fulfill her desires of marrying a wealthy man who could provide her with money, love, and happiness, Lily goes into a deep depression and mistakenly overdoses on chloral. Through Lily’s death, Wharton is sending the message that money does not bring happiness. Lily spent her entire life seeking for wealth when wealth was already staring her in the face. Lily’s wealth was found in Selden. Selden could provide Lily with true happiness, a wealth that made her appreciate life for the small things and the luxurious things.

Edith Wharton’s “The House of Mirth” mainly describes the need of a woman to be married to a wealthy man and how she attempts to find the most appropriate suitor. “The House of Mirth” also observes the tedious physical and mental decline of a young woman who, because of her own weakness and indecisiveness, falls from social distinction into poverty and griminess. The story presents a cruel measure of reality and ends quite sadly. Instead of marrying and living happily, Lily weakens slowly and commits suicide, possibly unintentionally, as a way of evading a lower-class humanity in which her upper-class needs cannot survive. Lily's life is the exact opposite of dignity or beauty; she had many chances to live the kind of life she dreamed of, but lost it all.

He looks over her check stubs and finds one for nine thousand addressed to Gus Trenor. Selden puts all the pieces together. Lily must have indeed taken money from Trenor in the past, but it's clear that the moral weight of owing him money was too much for her to handle. For this sense of obligation, Selden admires her once again. Selden looks back to Lily, still lying on the bed. He feels as though fate has contrived to keep them apart all these years. Still, he's happy that he loved her...