Designs by Lily (The Fated Series Book 1)

Juliet Sharp
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One rubric is that of the society — what is and what is not acceptable among the social elite in New York in the very late s. It is not acceptable for a woman to have tea at a man's apartment in the late afternoon. It is acceptable for a married woman to enlist the help of a married man in speculating on the stock market, but not for a single girl to do the same thing.

Lily doesn't always follow these social conventions; she has tea with Selden alone at his place and takes money from Gus Trenor. If she's using a social rubric, then she's not using it very carefully. So, how about another set of guidelines — a moral one, perhaps? In some cases, morality seems to align with social convention. By breaking the social rule and taking money from Gus, Lily compromises herself morally: he essentially propositions her for sex as a result.

But, in other cases, social convention conflicts with morality. According to society, Lily ought to marry a man like Percy Gryce. But she doesn't love him — isn't it wrong to pursue him for his money? Money certainly does complicate morality in House of Mirth. In fact, we would venture that there is somewhat of an antithesis in the novel between morality and wealth. The novel's poorest characters — like Gerty Farish or Nettie Struther — have the strongest moral and ethical fiber. The richest, like Bertha, whose "social credit [is] based on an impregnable bank-account," seem to be entirely without scruples.

More on that in Bertha's "Character Analysis"; remember that she sacrifices Lily's reputation and, in fact, life to cover up her affair with Ned Silverton. She also "delights in making other people miserable. It depends on what part of House of Mirth you're looking at. Lily's transformation from the novel's start to its conclusion involves a loss of wealth and social stature, but, arguably, a strengthened moral core. Lily begins the novel with a limited, if at all present, sense of morality: "Hitherto Lily had been undisturbed by scruples" 1.

Comparing herself to Gerty Farish, she says to Selden, "She likes being good, and I like being happy" 1. At this point in the novel, Lily defines success both in words and in actions as personal gain, as financial success. To Selden she says, "Success?

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Why, to get as much as one can out of life, I suppose" 1. Selden recognizes the connection between money and moral corruption, which is why he wants to take Lily "beyond the ugliness, the pettiness, the attrition, and the corrosion of the soul" 1. More on that later. Lily's actions with Trenor, too, display her value system: money over morals: "She saw how absurd it would have been to let any primitive scruple deprive her of this easy means of appeasing her creditors" 1. It's not until Gus propositions her that Lily faces a rude moral awakening via one of our most important images in the novel, that of water — see "Symbols, Imagery, Allegory" for more : Over and over her the sea of humiliation broke — wave crashing on wave so close that the moral shame was one with the physical dread.

It seemed to her that self-esteem would have made her invulnerable - that it was her own dishonor which put a fearful solitude about her. She doesn't run to someone in society's elite, because, quite frankly, those with money wouldn't be able to help her with her moral crisis.

She tells Gerty that "I can't bear to see myself in my own thoughts," but adds also, "I want money, yes, money , that's my shame, Gerty" 1. In the Trenor trial, Lily chose money over morals, but she has a chance to redeem herself when it comes to George Dorset. This time, Lily chooses scruples over cash.

She keeps her knowledge of Bertha's affair to herself, though it means financial and social ruin. Trial 3 comes in the form of Rosedale, who offers Lily yet another chance at the social big-time. Lily passes with flying colors once again by refusing this "temptation," as she calls it. Of course, the problem with a discussion like this one is that to talk about morality at all we have to consider where these morals are coming from, and whether they're absolute or subjective.

What do you mean by "wrong?

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It's clear that Wharton, as the author, has the final say on what the novel considers to be moral, and we think we get a real glimpse into her own point of view with this passage here: She was realizing for the first time that a woman's dignity may cost more to keep up than her carriage; and that the maintenance of a moral attribute should be dependent on dollars and cents, made the world appear a more sordid place than she had conceived it.

Choosing between money and morality isn't exactly easy — the decision nearly splits Lily in two. Check it out: There were in her at the moment two beings, one drawing deep breaths of freedom and exhilaration, the other gasping for air in a little black prison-house of fears. It makes her look like the real Lily — the Lily I know. The other Lily is in love with Selden and personal freedom, and chooses morality over money.

So which one is "real? Right — the moral, Selden-loving, free-spirit Lily is the one that Wharton chooses to consider "real.

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Why is that Lily more "real" than the other? After all, Lily never does manage to completely rid herself of the chains of social determinism, and she is very much the product of her gilded environment. Why isn't that half of her considered a real part of her character? Is it too simplistic a choice to consider one part of her legitimate and the other false?

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That's certainly a bone to pick with Wharton. Meanwhile, how does Lily deal with this difficult division of character? Let's take a look at the scene between her and Selden at the end of Book II, when she stops by his place on her way to the Dorsets': "There is some one I must say goodbye to. Oh, not you — we are sure to see each other again — but the Lily Bart you knew.

I have kept her with me all this time, but now we are going to part, and I have brought her back to you — I am going to leave her here. When I go out presently she will not go with me. I shall like to think that she has stayed with you — and she'll be no trouble, she'll take up no room. So what the devil happens? Apparently "an imperishable flame" leaps up in between Lily and Selden, also known as "the passion of her soul for his," and reminds her that "she [can] not go forth and leave her old self with him: that self must indeed live on in his presence, but it must still continue to be hers" 2.

That's when she decides to burn the letters — and, arguably, the materialistic Lily Bart at the same time. We're finally here: Lily's death. In order to talk about this ending, we have to use all that stuff we just covered in trying to understand Lily's character: Lily's beauty and willing objectification, her pride and pitfalls, social determinism and the chains of society, morality, and Lily's dual selves. We're going to use these factors to decide the Big Question for which The House of Mirth is so famous: does Lily intentionally kill herself, or does she accidentally overdose on the chloral?

You can make a sound argument for either one. Suppose you want to go with option 1: suicide. Lily has many reasons to end her life intentionally. She's just gotten her inheritance check from Aunt Peniston and written all of it away in a check to Gus Trenor. She has nothing: "she would have barely enough to live on for the next three or four months" 2.

Lily has, at this point, lost whatever pride she had left, and we also know that, as she's getting older, her beauty is starting to fade.

watch More than one character, including Rosedale and Selden, has commented on her looking sickly and tired. Lily has already admitted — to Selden — that she can't function outside of her role in society. Like a fish out of water, Lily is too socially determined to live any other way. Then, there's the idea of Lily's two different selves. She's finally decided to hold on to the "real" Lily, but she's facing some temptation to revert to her materialistic self. Look at this passage: There was the cheque in her desk, for instance — she meant to use it in paying her debt to Trenor; but she foresaw that when the morning came she would put off doing so, would slip into gradual tolerance of the debt.

The thought terrified her — she dreaded to fall from the height of her last moment with Lawrence Selden. But how could she trust herself to keep her footing? She knew the strength of the opposing impulses — she could feel the countless hands of habit dragging her back into some fresh compromise with fate.

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When Lily Adams steps onto the plane headed for New York, she has no idea how drastic her life will change as a result. Happily married with three children. Designs by Lily: The Fated Series (Volume 1) [Lynn scott] on * FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. When Lily Adams steps onto the plane headed.

She felt an intense longing to prolong, to perpetuate, the momentary exaltation of her spirit. If only life could end now! That's some pretty sound evidence for the suicide argument. Additionally, Wharton wrote a letter to a doctor-friend while writing House of Mirth asking this: "A friend of mine has made up her mind to commit suicide, and has asked me to find out […] the most painless and least unpleasant method of effacing herself. I mean, how would she feel and look toward the end?

You could very much argue that it doesn't matter what Wharton intended — once House of Mirth was written, it stands on its own as a text to be interpreted. With that in mind, let's make an argument for option 2: accidental overdose. When Lily leaves Selden's apartment, she tells him, "we are sure to see each other again" 2. After she leaves Nettie Struther, her spirits are furthered buoyed: "the surprised sense of human benevolence took the mortal chill from her heart" 2.

Now, let's look at the moment just before the overdose. Lily feels that she must shut out her worries "for a few hours," take just "a brief bath of oblivion" 2. In raising the dosage, "she kn[ows] she [takes] a slight risk […], but that [is] one chance in a hundred" 2.

And here's the kicker: "She did not, in truth, consider the question very closely. She just wants to take a nap. OK, now how does the interpretation you choose affect the way you view the novel? Great question. If Lily's death is accidental, it's a big waste.

Month: September 2013

Sidney Hall harbors a precocious talent for writing. Want to discuss real-world problems, be involved in the most engaging discussions and hear from the journalists? Meanwhile, Ben suspects that Juliet is getting real feelings for Nate and has his father beaten up as a message to her. Both drawn to each other in a way neither can explain, they must learn to trust one another as well as themselves if they want to survive. How you think authors might approach such subjects with more sensitivity and knowledge?

Lily finally got out of debt to Trenor, she finally made her peace with Selden — we know from the final chapter that he's decided to marry her — she's refused temptation twice, with regards first to George Dorset and second to Simon Rosedale, and she's found new hope in the possibility of a complete-if-poor life as embodied by Nettie Struther.