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Essay/Term paper: The age of innocence

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Cliff Notes

Free essays available online are good but they will not follow the guidelines of your particular writing assignment. If you need a custom term paper on Cliff Notes: The Age Of Innocence, you can hire a professional writer here to write you a high quality authentic essay. While free essays can be traced by Turnitin (plagiarism detection program), our custom written essays will pass any plagiarism test. Our writing service will save you time and grade.

The Age of Innocence, by Edith Wharton, contains many

flat, static characters representing Old New York society.

At the apex of that society is Mr. and Mrs. Henry van der

Luyden. As the narrator describes, their appearances are

rare, but yet these few appearances provide more than

enough information for the reader to "know" the character.

This information comes from several sources. The first is the

narrator, when most of Old New York society is described.

The second reference involves Newland Archer and Mrs.

Mingott"s seeking of approval of the van der Luydens and

the exchanges that took place. The final instance is the rare

occasion of a dinner at the van der Luyden home and the

occurrences here. From the information here, readers

develop a complete picture of the van der Luydens.

At the end of chapter VI, the narrator describes the

hierarchy of Old New York. The last family described is the

van der Luydens. The narrator writes, "…the van der

Luydens…stood above all of them" (50). The narrator

blatantly tells us that the van der Luydens are the highest

"ranking" family of Old New York society. Just previous to

this, the narrator informs the reader that they descended

from both British and French aristocracy, supporting the fact

that the van der Luydens are the most revered family. Next

the narrator makes it known to readers that "[Mrs.] and Mr.

van der Luyden were so exactly alike… neither had ever

reached a decision without prefacing it by [a] mysterious

conclave" (52), this conclave being, "I shall first have to talk

this over with my husband/wife." This shows that, one, the

van der Luydens cannot be characterized separately for they

are exactly alike, and, two, they consult each other before

making decisions. Once again the narrator brings forward,

quite openly, information about said characters. The

narrator"s informing the reader of such facts sets up the

reasoning behind the character"s motivations, and the

reactions of other characters.

One of such instances involves Archer and Mrs. Mingott"s

seeking of the advice of the van der Luydens. First, it is

important to note that double-checking one"s plans, as

Archer does here, indicates the high status of the van der

Luydens. Archer and Mrs. Mingott"s having to ask another

family for the "proper" thing to do proves their dominance

over society and that they are the experts of "good form."

Archer, then, proceeds to tell his narrative of Ellen"s being

advised by her family not to divorce and his preference of

her relieving herself of her husband. Once the information is

laid on the table, "Mrs. van der Luyden glanced at her

husband, who glanced back at her" (55). This exchange is

another example of a "mysterious conclave" that they use to

consult each other. Their glancing at each other was to agree

as to whether or not the family decision against divorce is to

be overridden. Mr. van der Luyden then responded with

their answer against the veto. The instance formerly

described proves what the narrator had previously informed

the reader, that the van der Luydens never reach a decision

without consulting each other and their high status in Old

New York society.

The final point of characterization to be discussed is the

happenings at the van der Luyden"s party for their Duke.

The other character"s reaction to the party and the party

itself reveals more information about this family. The invitees

of the party all put on their best clothes and wore their best

jewels. This reaction by the other characters at the party

shows, once again the van der Luydens status. Almost as a

rule, the van der Luydens are so important that one must

wear their very best, so as to not offend them. Separately,

the party itself discloses an additional trait about the van der

Luydens. All the best china was laid out, the guests (in this

case the Duke) were received with old-fashioned cordiality,

and the doormen all had the same uniform. These aspects of

the party show the van der Luyden"s strict adherence to Old

New York society"s "rules" and "regulations." Both the

actions of the van der Luydens and the other characters"

reactions provide much information about the van der

Luydens themselves.

The characterization performed by Wharton on the van der

Luydens was very thorough for the type of character she is

portraying. Everything from Mr. and Mrs. van der Luyden"s

likeness to each other to the strict observance of all of

society"s "good form" shows that these two are very flat,

static characters, for nothing about them changes. The

narrator provided the basic background knowledge about

the van der Luydens and then the plot-related events

confirmed what the narrator had written earlier. This

provides for two very plausible characters, but at the same

time, two who do not change. The van der Luydens, exactly

alike, authorities on everything that is proper, are the ruling

family of Old New York society.


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