04 December 2018
All that Glitters is not Gold
The Gilded Age was the name of time period in America during the later nineteenth century, from 1870 to 1900. The name of the Gilded Age came about as during the time there were numerous problems with the American society, yet they were covered up by a light gold gilding. The irony in the Gilded Age moniker, with society appearing perfect but being anything but golden during the time, is addressed in Edith Wharton’s novel House of Mirth. The novel applies Gilded Age issues by incorporating high societal positions being occupied by immoral people, an emphasis on the importance of money, and Lily Bart’s social demise.
The social elite during the Gilded Age is shown to immoral in the novel. Characters such as Gus Trenor and Bertha Dorset are shown to have a lack of integrity in the way they act towards others, especially Lily Bart. Gus Trenor makes unreciprocated sexual advances towards Lily. Although Gus acknowledges that “[he is] not talking the way a man is supposed to talk to a girl,” he goes as far as trying to “touch” Lily. This attempt at sexual harassment and sexual assault is a clear indication of the immoral values of both Gus and the larger elite society that he belongs to and represents in the novel. Also, Bertha Dorset is another character that is indicative of the lack of morals and ethics of the larger elite society of the Gilded Age. Mrs. Trenor, a friend of Bertha, recognizes her as a destructive individual yet remains befriended to her because Mrs. Trenor believes that “[i]t’s much safer to be fond of dangerous people.” The use of characters such as Gus Trenor and Bertha Dorset in the novel and the roles that they play demonstrate...