As the pain that can be told is but half a pain, so the pity that questions has little healing in its touch. What Lily craved was the darkness made by enfolding arms, the silence which is not solitude, but compassion holding its breath.
What was I doing with a novel published in 1905 (* realized that makes it 109 years old) on a composed winter evening? I was being besieged by the extraordinary similarity, the stark ugly truth that never really changed over the century.
The agony of a strong, independent woman; Lily Bart so evidently the victim of the civilization which had produced her, that the links of her bracelet seemed like manacles chaining her to her fate. The House of Mirth traces Lily’s story, she has just turned 30, and for the society her independence and her ideas about marriage aren’t very becoming. She chooses riches and a life of luxury over love or maybe she succumbs into the vortex created by the ideas of an ideal life as conceived by New York’s nouveau riche; the calm and uneventful life of a settled young lady, married to man of a social standing . A relationship in which a woman should be purely invested whilst the man was free to do as he bid. A wayward man was treated no different but a woman with independent thoughts and outright opinion was ousted like a screw or cog in the great machine …called life, and when… dropped out of it …found [I] was of no use anywhere else.
Edith makes the protagonist fall from grace, without giving a thought to the psychological effect it might have on her potential readers. We helplessly read on for a silver lining to form around the grey cloud that has enveloped Lily. Love eventually comes to her rescue, but only when her soul has been smothered by the very society she once belonged to.