On the Conflicts Reflected in the Character of May Welland in The Age of Innocence毕业论文_英语毕业论文

On the Conflicts Reflected in the Character of May Welland in The Age of Innocence毕业论文


摘 要




1. Introduction ———————————————————————————–1

2. Demonstration ——————————————————————————–3

2.1 Inner conflicts of May Welland ———————————————————-3

2.1.1 May’s safeguarding conventions but refusing to be a complete “great lady”—-3

2.1.2 May’s artificial innocence and innermost sophistication —————————4

2.2 Relational conflicts of May Welland —————————————————-5

2.2.1 May’s conflicts with her husband Newland Archer ———————————5 May’s declination of the role as “a perfect wife and mother”——————–6 May’s fighting against Newland’s extra-marital affair —————————-7

2.2.2 May’s conflicts with Ellen Olenska — the other female protagonist ————–7 May as a social etiquette guarder vs. Ellen as a rebellious “new woman”——7 May’s splitting up Ellen and Newland in a subtle way —————————-8

2.3 Societal conflicts of May Welland ——————————————————–9

2.3.1 May’s conflicts with the stifling social background ——————————–10 Acting as an elegant lady but having her own thoughts ————————-10 Rebelling against male-dominating thoughts ————————————-11

2.3.2 May’s conflicts with bondages of the upper-class in Old New York ————-12 Breaking the rule of silence as a traditional woman —————————– 12 Protecting interests of the upper-class but not dominated by them ———— 13

  1. Conclusion ————————————————————————————14

Work Cited ————————————————————————————–16

Bibliography ————————————————————————————17

On the Conflicts Reflected in the Character of May Welland in The Age of Innocence

1. Introduction

Edith Wharton (1862-1937) is one of the most famous American female writers in the 20th century. She was born into a socially prominent New York family. She never attended school and was educated by governess and tutors privately at home for the only career: marriage. At an early age, Wharton showed a marked interest in writing and literature, but it was discouraged by her family. Nevertheless, she finished her first novel at 14 and published a collection of verses two years later. In her long writing career, Wharton has created a lot of brilliant works, including 19 novels and 11 collections of short stories. The House of Mirth (1905), The Custom of the Country (1913), and The Age of Innocence (1920) are her three full-length masterpieces. Most of her novels are set in the early 1820s’ upper society of “Old New York” with which she is so familiar and Wharton makes a nuanced picture of its social traditions, customs, moralities and values. The Age of Innocence which she published in 1920 was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, which represents the peak of her novel creation, winning high praises and attracting constant attentions of the critics. William Lyon Phelps once wrote in his essay As Mrs. Wharton Sees Us: “The appearance of a novel like The Age of Innocence which is written by an American is the luck of the public. This is one of the best novels in the twentieth century, adding a permanent luster to the literary palace. ” (Phelps 56)

In the novel The Age of Innocence, the male protagonist named Newland Archer is a promising young person of the upper class, his dress, manners, even his responses to the outside world, are exactly the same as the social conventions of the “Old New York”. He believes that he must keep his mind concealed more knowledge than that could have been contained in five cartloads of book so that to satisfied his vanity because he is so rich. Thus he reads scientific books and literature, or cutting-edge academic information on the second floor of his spacious room while his mother and sister stay in the small room downstairs. His fiancée, called May Welland, is a good traditional girl, born in a wealthy family with a high status. She is beautiful and lovely, but this beauty of her is gradually regarded by Archer as just a formality, which could put much pressure on him. May is not considered by him as a specific person but a typical form. She is a person who is suitable for playing the role of the God of morality or Greek Goddess and whose blood is also embalming fluid. The woman Archer loves is May’s cousin —- Ellen Olenska. She has the opposite personality against May. She is enthusiastic, lively and brave, possessing a great deal of experiences and having no pressure on family reputation. She has been living beyond Archer’s life and is always like a kind of fresh air around him. In contrast with Archer’s traditional and boring life, Ellen lives a colorful life, traveling the whole Europe and experiencing different customs, music and cultures of different areas. Archer runs after her, but he still cannot get rid of the upper-class circle where he has been living for so many years because he can effortlessly find a sinecure job with a high status and live in the lap of luxury. In the novel, the sumptuous life of upper class is described repeatedly, and some people, especially the super old lady has already caught the illness of affluence which ordinary people would never catch. Dianne L. Chambers thinks that as a female writer, Wharton reflects and explains the cultural struggle between male roles and female roles of American society in the early twentieth century. (Chambers 3)

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