Tag Archives: Edith Wharton

House (310/485)

It’s interesting to compare the two marriage-related conversations between Lily Bart and Sim Rosedale. Note that Rosedale is Jewish, which in this period means he’s not really “white.”

(Who IS white? Take the test and find out: https://www.understandingrace.org/WhoisWhite ).

Lily’s distaste for Sim is certainly a product of the generalized anti-Semitism of her circle (and broader society). But there’s more to it than that. Consider the language employed by Wharton to characterize their marriage-related interactions. What metaphors and images does she use? Are there themes in play at these two moments that are reproduced elsewhere– for example when Lily frequents the Gormer circle or in the passages concerning her conflict with Bertha Dorset?

On Wednesday afternoon I’ll give you a prompt to consider relating to this topic.

The Society Portrait (310/485)

Claud Walsingham Popple is probably based on John Singer Sargent rather than James MacNeil Whistler, as I said in class. Sargent was a successful “society painter” who first gained attention with the “scandalous” work Portrait of Madame X.


A prolific artist, Sargent prospered to such a degree he was able to pick and choose his subjects. Elite figures of high society clamored for him to “do” them. Here is a sampling of such portraits taken from artstor.org– a very valuable image database that you should consult.