Wharton Essay

Wharton Essay-90
Both a meticulously thorough examination of a complex social structure and a brilliant character study, it offers a compelling exploration of the effects of social conformity upon the individual.

Both a meticulously thorough examination of a complex social structure and a brilliant character study, it offers a compelling exploration of the effects of social conformity upon the individual.As the novel opens, its heroine, twenty-nine-year-old Lily Bart, has achieved the height of her powers: Beautiful, intelligent, charming, and sought after, she has nevertheless reached a turning point, knowing too well that society has no place for an unmarried woman past her prime.Similarly, Newland Archer, imprisoned within the narrow behavioral confines of old New York, is also imprisoned by prejudices and lassitude.

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A product of her society, “at once vigorous and exquisite, at once strong and fine . As Lily can neither totally accept her society’s values nor be hypocritical enough to survive without doing so, she finally must perish.

Lily’s fall from social grace is incremental rather than precipitous, occurring gradually as she makes small compromises in order to survive.

The principal theme of Wharton’s fiction involves the individual in society: how personal relationships are distorted by societal conventions, the clash between changing characters and fixed society, and the conflict between nature and culture.

Wharton therefore stands a bridge between an older, more established nineteenth century world and the world of the twentieth century, which placed increasing emphasis on individual experience.

So, we were not at all surprised to see that Wharton has maintained the prompt for its first essay, which requires applicants to explain their professional rationale for wanting to go to Wharton.

(Note that by contrast, HBS does ask candidates to spell out “Why HBS?

, for example, abounds in anthropological terminology, as the protagonist, Newland Archer, reveals when reflecting that “there was a time when . Similarly, in , structured as a series of scenes that reflect the social status of its heroine, Lily Bart, Wharton meticulously records even the finest lines between classes, noting that “the difference [between them] lay in a hundred shades of aspect and manner, from the pattern of the men’s waistcoats to the inflexion of the women’s voices.” Although no such subtlety of detail exists in the very different world of , a nevertheless fixed and immovable social structure offers the novel’s protagonist no avenue of escape from his equally barren business and marriage.

In all these novels, the elaborate rituals that sustain a culture protect tradition and stabilize the society, but they also constrict the freedom of the individual within that society.

Although not involved in the feminist movement of her day, Wharton’s preoccupation with the limiting effects of societal restrictions on the human soul necessarily invokes feminist issues, for women especially suffered under this society’s narrow boundaries.

Lily Bart, for example, finds her options severely limited because of her gender; even taking tea alone with a man in his apartment results in social condemnation.


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