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The Use of Tragedy and Symbolism in Edith Whartons Writing Edith Wharton uses symbolism and the many aspects of tragedy of human life as major elements of her writing She uses different forms of tragedy in her writing Marriage society and other elements all contribute to a theme of imprisonment Symbolism also creates a mood of disappointment in much of her work Edith Wharton uses many aspects of tragedy in her writing Imprisonment and confinement are just two ways that tragedy is portrayed in her writings Walton 63 Society is a major form of imprisonment In many of her novels society is what limits her characters to a world of lost hopes and dreams Wharton frequently describes upper-class life to be lonely and bitter Fracasso 44 Edmund Wilson wrote She combines with indignation against a specific phase of American society a general sense of inexorable doom for human beings Howe 17 Society completely controls the characters in The House of Mirth It is a novel about the victims of rival classes that were not strong enough to play the game as it should be played Howe 35 The game should be played roughly and without mercy It is unaccepted for a person to drop out of society One must endure and smile properly till the game is over Howe 38 Old New York is shown as a place of betrayal and failure Lily Bart has no money therefore she is confined to a life of failure Unger 312 Money is what makes or breaks people in society Edith Wharton tries to show through Lily that society has power to destroy those even with character McDowell 52 It is ironic that a world that could make Lily Bart so beautiful could also make her life so limited In The Custom of the Country Undine Spragg does not have the social background to live as she wants to live She uses sex to
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