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Word Count: 487
Social Order Versus Personal Fulfillment In the regal and superficial high-class New York world presented in The Age of Innocence there is one particular unchallenged rule of social order This rule of complete social grace has been instead of branded in stone been impounded deeply in the minds of every generation raised under the canopy of money and fashion The desire for etiquette is so overwhelming that it manages to suppress the simple human yearnings for personal fulfillment otherwise enjoyed by those not imprisoned by clothes or cash This conflict between society and human emotion is extremely prevalent From the beginning of the tale the description of old New York and its inhabitants seems rigid The people are bent on their customs and beliefs From the promptness of the Beaufort Ball the inflexibility of decorum including dress meals and room presentation and all relationships personal or business The severity of the conformity makes the presence of radicals such as Ellen Mrs Mingott and even Newland fodder for subversive scandal and gossip But these radicals are merely people who are unyielding to the harness of the rich They have attempted to achieve their own satisfaction however unsavory to the rest of the order Ellen and Newlands personal feelings for each other are passionate burning and intensely primitive The impact an unmasked relationship would have is extremely far-reaching It would be devastating to Newlands wife May The waves would also be felt internationally by Ellens husband in Poland Newland and Ellen would be ostracized by the entire upper-rank ruining not only their own lives but others as well The complex set of rules and regulations that accompany living in such a society is analogous to a house of cards If one card is disturbed the entire thing may crash down The effect of diversion is foreshadowed by the treachery of Julius Beaufort He
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