Free Study Guide The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton|
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FREE STUDY GUIDE - THE HOUSE OF MIRTH
As she leaves Gerty’s apartment, Lily thinks of how little she has just told Gerty of her financial problems. She is almost completely without money now. She has no way of making money. Her social skills are not useful for that sort of money making. Carry Fisher has promised to help her, but has thus far had little success. When she arrives at her hotel, she gets a note that Mrs. Fisher has found something for her.
Back at Gerty Farish’s apartment, Gerty is worrying over Lily. She thinks
the only way to solve Lily’s problems is to get her away from her old
associations. She has Lawrence Selden over. They have returned to their
cousinly talks since his return from Europe. He has never suspected that
she felt anything else for him and she is surprised that she is now able
easily to talk to him of Lily Bart. She asks him to go and see Lily, that
Lily is in grave trouble and needs his help. She hasn’t heard from Lily
for a few weeks, since Lily’s last visit, and has felt that her own help
is not at all wanted by Lily. He is somewhat skeptical, but agrees to
go. When he leaves her apartment, he realizes he feels the urgent need
to see Lily, so he goes directly to her hotel. Once there, he finds that
she has moved. He feels worried, but as soon as he hears that her forwarding
address is the rooms of Mrs. Norma Hatch at the Emporium Hotel, he turns
and walks back toward his own home.
Chapter 8 gives the reader a vision of the economic and moral consequences
of Lily’s act of taking the high ground with Simon Rosedale. Seen in Gerty
Farish’s apartment, Lily is emaciated from lack of sleep and is looking
older and more stressed than she ever has. The object of Gerty’s anxious
care, Lily looks even more pitiful. Yet it seems that Wharton can’t leave
Lily in the position of the damsel in distress, ready for the knight to
come along and save her, for very long. Just as Gerty has arranged to
get Selden to go see Lily and see what he can do to help her, the reader
learns that Lily has taken another step in the downward curve of social
acquaintances. Lawrence Selden’s disgusted response at the name of Mrs.
Norma Hatch indicates that she is a person so far outside the realm of
respectable society that association with her places one beyond the help
of respectable people.
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