ValuesBy the time Edith Wharton wrote The Age of Innocence, she had seen World War I destroy much of the world as she knew it. She looked back on her early years in New York as a time of social continuity, and felt that the passing of values from parent to child had a civilizing influence. However, she also saw the hypocrisy and cruelty practiced by individuals who wore the veneer of respectability. Both of these ideas are seen throughout The Age of Innocence, making it a timeless novel of both the Gilded Age and of social change.Wharton was often critical of the rigidity of the social code, but she saw its purpose of handing down values and replicating culture. Order, loyalty, tradition, and duty are all values upheld and also criticized in her novel. Order is epitomized by the repetition of certain rituals. Newland Archer's wife
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