Innovationen und Reproduktionen in Kulturen und Gesellschaften (IRICS) Wien, 9. bis 11. Dezember 2005

<< (counter-)memories and national history in modern Arabic feminist literature

Irony in Edith Wharton's The Age Of Innocence

Sedki Sedik Hassan (Tanta University)


Edith Wharton (1862-1937), recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for her novel The Age of Innocence, is considered one of the major figures in American literary history. The novel develops the theme of conflict between the individual and society - between the urge for personal fulfillment and the need for group stability. It reveals a universal dimension as Wharton comments upon the oppression of women by convention and their emancipation from it, the role of marriage and the family in determining the quality of a civilization, and, above all, the conflict between sexual passion and moral obligation. It is a book in which the problems of a group of people at a certain time are carefully perceived, their manners and con ventions meticulously documented and criticized, the tenuous balance between the values of innocence and of experience tolerantly analyzed, and the conflicts between tradition and change memorably dramatized. Although Wharton introduces a number of techniques to present her theme, she relies basically on irony - a stylistic devices for which she is especially dis tinguished-to highlight her theme. Irony was always the method best suited to both her purpose and talent in communicating her message. It dominates the story lines of her book, where she portrays men and women entrapped in marital dilemmas that are ironically of their own making: in effect, they are responsible for imprisoning themselves. Likewise, Wharton also levels stinging attacks on the artificial, vacuous upper-class society that wields such devastating control over her vulnerable heroes and heroines. This study is, therefore , an attempt to examine, through close textual analysis, a number of ironic devices that Wharton uses in this novel.

Innovations and Reproductions in Cultures and Societies
(IRICS) Vienna, 9. - 11. december 2005

WEBDESIGN: Peter R. Horn 2005-11-22