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Edith Wharton

Year Published






Perspective and Narrator

The Age of Innocence is narrated from a third-person limited omniscient point of view from the perspective of the protagonist, Newland Archer. The reader has access to Newland's thoughts, feelings, and observations, but the distance between Newland and the narrator creates space for Wharton to comment on the world Newland inhabits.


The Age of Innocence is narrated in the past tense.

About the Title

Wharton took her title The Age of Innocence from the name of a late 18th-century painting by British artist Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723–92). The painting depicts a young girl dressed in white. In the novel, Wharton looks back on a bygone era—the New York high society of her youth. She depicts a culture committed to moral innocence through the steadfast denial of the realities of suffering and change. Wharton's title is an example of verbal irony: this society's innocence is a pretense to hide its hypocrisy and shallowness.


This study guide for Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence offers summary and analysis on themes, symbols, and other literary devices found in the text. Explore Course Hero's library of literature materials, including documents, Q&A pairs, and flashcards created by students and educators.

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