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The House of Mirth | Study Guide

Edith Wharton

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The House of Mirth | Symbols


The Furies

The Furies were female creatures in Greek mythology that haunted people in the name of revenge. Their torment of Lily comes in the night, in the form of worry and insomnia. "You know the noise of their wings," she says to Gerty. They represent the lack of female guidance in her life and the power that women have over her.


Lily's surroundings, both her natural surroundings and the architecture or decoration around her, give the reader a sense of her mood. For example, in Book 1, Chapter 6, when she is outside with Selden, the spot where she and Selden sit, "the landscape outspread below her seemed an enlargement of her present mood, and she found something of herself in its calmness, its breadth, its long free reaches." Similarly Aunt Julia Peniston's house often reflects Lily's gloom.

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