It is a January evening in the early 1870s at New York City's fashionable Academy of Music — where the conservative, old rich families come to see and be seen. Faust is the opera and the theatregoers are watching the stage, but they are also observing the delicious dramas in the exclusive boxes of old New York's First Families.Newland Archer, young lawyer and man about town, arrives stylishly late and, like his friends, observes the box of old Mrs. Manson Mingott where Newland's soon-to-be fiancé, May Welland, is sitting with family members. Newland considers with warmth and approval the virginal white of May's dress, gloves, and flowers. His mind leaps to the intimacies of the honeymoon and he thoughtfully considers his role as husband in initiating her into the sexual pleasures of married life.
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