The Moviegoer February 10, Haunting, powerful, passionate: The plot is a romantic triangle that ultimately drives a wedge between desire and duty: On the eve of his wedding, Newland Archer Day-Lewis finds himself in thrall to the married Countess Olenska Pfeifferwho reciprocates his feelings yet persuades him to follow through with the wedding to her cousin, May Welland Winona Ryder.
May's cousin, the Countess Ellen Olenska, joins her. Archer and the Countess knew each other as children before she had gone to Europe and married a Count. Now, she has returned to her family in New York amid scandalous rumors that she had divorced her husband and run off with his secretary.
Archer's male friends gossip about the Countess, and Archer is irritated by the scandal that Ellen is bringing upon his future family. In fact, he and May decide to announce their engagement earlier than planned in order to show May's family in a good light.
New York society does not know what to do with Ellen. On one hand, she is a member of one of the most powerful families. On the other hand, she is extremely eccentric and defies the rules of society in many ways.
When Ellen's family decides to throw her a welcome party, almost no one attends - a sign of society's low opinion of her. When Ellen plans to get a divorce from her husband, it is too much for New York society to take.
Archer's boss asks him to talk to Ellen in private, and to convince her not to go through with the divorce. Archer, wanting to stay out of the mess, reluctantly agrees.
As Archer learns more about Ellen's painful past and her miserable marriage to a husband she did not love, he feels closer to her. Ellen opens his eyes to the stifling New York society in which he has always lived.
When she agrees to cancel the divorce, Archer is not completely relieved. He has begun to think more critically about society's view of acceptable marriages, and of divorce.
More importantly, he thinks about Ellen long after he leaves her home. They form a friendship, and Archer feels freer with Ellen than he does with anyone else, especially May.
He even follows her to Skuytercliff, the vacation home of their family friends. Here, he realizes that he cares for Ellen as more than a future cousin.
The thought scares him, and he escapes to St. Augustine, Florida, where May is vacationing with her parents. Archer tries unsuccessfully to convince May that they should have an earlier wedding.
It is only after he returns to New York that he realizes that he truly loves Ellen, and wishes to be with her. Immediately after this realization, Ellen and Archer receive word that May and her mother have agreed to an earlier wedding only a month away.Book Discussion Questions: The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton.
Posted July 9, by MPPL. SPOILER WARNING: These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points, if you have not read the book. The Age of Innocence is a part-nostalgic, part-satiric recreation of the surfaces of New York City.
This teacher's literature guide includes information about author Edith Wharton and discussion questions. The Age of Innocence Edith Wharton Edited by Stephen Orgel Oxford World's Classics. The Age of Innocence is a love story, and a minute dissection of old New York society in the s.
Its brilliant anatomization of the snobbery and hypocrisy of this wealthy elite made it an instant classic, and it won the Pulitzer Prize in - Edith Wharton’s novel, The Age of Innocence, has an ironic twist to the plot of the story.
The official definition of irony is: the expression of one's meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect.
The Age of Innocence, a novel written by Edith Wharton in , demonstrates the polished outward manners of powerful wealthy families of the s New York.
The novel offers a good opportunity for cultural studies of an American society at the end of the nineteenth century.
ii Fire and Ice in The Age of Innocence Alisa M. DeBorde Abstract This study will explore the dichotomy of culture and psychological landscape in Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence. To lay the foundation for this study, I first.