ANALYSING WOLFF’S TAKE ON TRILLING
Posted by: Write My Essay on: September 4, 2017
In the essay “Lily Bart and the Beautiful Death,” Cynthia Griffin Wolff provides commentary of Diana Trilling’s “The House of Mirth Revisited,” while also providing her own analysis of “The House of Mirth.” Wolff states that Trilling could not describe Lily’s role in the story accurately enough in her observations in relation to the commentary about art. “… The House of Mirth is a more complex one than Trilling’s observation can describe” (16). Wolff bases her critique on the concept of art contained in “The House of Mirth,” and she ties that in with the commentary provided by Trilling. Mainly, Wolff examines the psyche of Lily Bart, and makes the claim that Lily Bart was confused and this impeded her ability to define herself. The essay goes on to mention the materialism in which Bart finds herself. According to Wolff, the materialism is due to the fact that women were seen as being an artistic creation, and this demanded that they be disposed to what is considered by society to be an appropriate behaviour. This behaviour dictated how Lily Bart spent the summers in her youth, and she started to view herself more as an object to be admired. This caused her to have an empty image of herself, (21). This materialistic definition of a women, and the subsequent objectification is central to Wolff’s argument about the way Trilling missed her interpretation of art in the novel. Wolff closes her discussion by questioning how a woman could be able tolerate being made to be a piece of art. Wharton depicts Lily Bart’s suicide artistically, thus striking the final claim on the concept that she and other women were merely considered to be pieces of art (40).
Wolff, Cynthia Griffin. “Lily Bart and the Beautiful Death.” The House of Mirth:
Authoritative Text, Backgrounds and Contexts, Criticism. By Edith Wharton. Ed. Elizabeth Ammons. A Norton Critical Edition. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1990. 320-39.