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Analysis Essay II 3 Women faced many limitations on their sexuality in the 19th century and The Awakening The House of Mirth and A New England Nun all seem to have a part in describing the restrictions women faced The form used in the three stories used some specific conventions in the 19th century First the protagonist is usually a single woman looking to get married Second socio-economic class must be a factor in determining whom the woman will marry Third the novel must include many scenes that portray the proper and improper way to act within high society and also outline differences and relations between classes And finally the novel usually ends with either the marriage or death of the female protagonist During the late 19th century this type of novel was one of the most popular novel genres Wharton adapted the form in her own way to better suit the New York society Wharton creates a social circle comprised of elegant New York snobs Class mobility is a large factor in The House of Mirth which shows the attempts of Lily to assimilate herself into the elite group only to slide down the social scale into the working class before her death A marriage to Percy Grice Lily decides at the beginning of the novel would be the best way to assure her of good social standing and a steady income But by the end of the novel when Lily is poor she sees herself as worthless One by one she had detached herself from the baser possibilities and she saw that nothing now remained to her but the emptiness of renunciation 298-99 For Edna Pontellier the protagonist of The Awakening independence and solitude are almost inseparable The expectations of tradition coupled with the limitations of law gave women
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