2604- age of innocence-Manners

2604- age of innocence-Manners - Understanding...

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Social and Literary Backgrounds for Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence Understanding "New" New York
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Honoré de Balzac – “Innocence” Two children are playing together and see a painting of Adam and Eve, nude in the Garden of Eden. They are unable to identify which person is Adam and which is Eve, claiming that “to know that, they would have to be dressed!”
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Honoré de Balzac – “Innocence” Sexes are defined, not by biological differences, but by social roles and customs. (Clothing, household positions, etc.) Children are ignorant of basic differences in human sexes.
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Honoré de Balzac – “The Danger of Being Too Innocent” Clerk raised in monastery consents to “marriage without knowing what a wife, and – what is more curious – what a girl was.” Bride coached to be respectful “to his mother, and obey her husband in everything.” Husband and wife are too innocent to consummate the marriage. Newlyweds ask for advice from and engage in an affair with new in-laws to learn about sex.
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What is too innocent? Who decides how much the new generation should know? Innocence, in an effort to remain pure, has tainted the relationship and led to adultery. Parents/Guardians are support and protection, but in this case lead to corruption. Honoré de Balzac – “The Danger of Being Too Innocent”
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Honoré de Balzac Wharton draws attention to this work when Janey picks up Balzac’s book. Edith Wharton’s mother refused to inform her daughter about even the most basic concepts of intimacy in marriage, claiming that the girl knew everything she needed from seeing statues and paintings.
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Contemporary Commentary on the New York Aristocracy The Business of Society
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Why 1870s? Wharton wrote about this decade because of personal experience as well as the social transformations taking place
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“Secrets of Ball Giving”: A Chat with Ward McAllister First appeared in the New York Daily Tribune on March 25, 1888 Managed the balls given by the Patriarchs Society in New York
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Rules for Success Appreciate the importance of enlisting the leading men of families Exclusiveness An attractive and novel place for meeting
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Manners and Social Usages Mary Elizabeth Sherwood The newness of the U.S is constantly being renewed People familiar with creeds of the “Old World” may find American society fast, furious, and vulgar War of 1861 removed a once important American fact: a grandfather Many questions, but one universal: What is the etiquette of good society?
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Invitations A hostess may not use the word “ball” on the invitations If it is for a coming out party, the card of the debutante is enclosed
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Attire Young people wear light dresses, chaperones can wear heavy velvet Women should have a bouquet in hand to add to
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2604- age of innocence-Manners - Understanding...

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