Title of Abstract

The Bold Character of Ellen Olenska that Old New York was too Scared to Face

Submitting Student(s)

Courtney Hatcher

Session Title

Additional Projects

Faculty Sponsor (for work done with a non-Winthrop mentor)

Leslie Bickford, Ph.D.

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

English

Abstract

Edith Wharton’s 1920 novel The Age of Innocence follows a young gentleman named Newland Archer who struggles to find his identity in Old New York after meeting the confident, daring Countess Ellen Olenska. Ellen’s liberal personality doesn’t reflect the traditional values of Old New York, and although she’s in their community, she’s not accepted by them. Most critical essays focus on how Wharton uses different literary devices to examine the portrayal of society and gender in The Age of Innocence , but I believe it’s important to dive deeper and specifically analyze how Old New York battles Ellen. In this essay, I argue that Ellen doesn’t need Old New York because they were too afraid to face and admit that her boldness is what they needed in order to have a future. Through Wharton’s language, it becomes evident that Old New York disapproves of Ellen, particularly of her gender and personality, and pushes her away because they fear she’ll end their traditions. But what Old New York fails to comprehend is that she can give them a future. Yet even after everything that Old New York does to Ellen, she’s able to realize in the end that they will never give her what she truly needs: a community that will love and embrace her for who she is.

Start Date

15-4-2022 12:00 PM

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 
Apr 15th, 12:00 PM

The Bold Character of Ellen Olenska that Old New York was too Scared to Face

Edith Wharton’s 1920 novel The Age of Innocence follows a young gentleman named Newland Archer who struggles to find his identity in Old New York after meeting the confident, daring Countess Ellen Olenska. Ellen’s liberal personality doesn’t reflect the traditional values of Old New York, and although she’s in their community, she’s not accepted by them. Most critical essays focus on how Wharton uses different literary devices to examine the portrayal of society and gender in The Age of Innocence , but I believe it’s important to dive deeper and specifically analyze how Old New York battles Ellen. In this essay, I argue that Ellen doesn’t need Old New York because they were too afraid to face and admit that her boldness is what they needed in order to have a future. Through Wharton’s language, it becomes evident that Old New York disapproves of Ellen, particularly of her gender and personality, and pushes her away because they fear she’ll end their traditions. But what Old New York fails to comprehend is that she can give them a future. Yet even after everything that Old New York does to Ellen, she’s able to realize in the end that they will never give her what she truly needs: a community that will love and embrace her for who she is.