vary in their assessment of the novel, analyses have tended to have two overarching concerns regarding the novel’s main characters: first, the analysis of Newland Archer’s conflict between social convention and individual desire;1 second, the way that the novel appears to create a series of binaries between “new” and “old” female stereotypes by contrasting the “dark,” “experienced,” “whore” Ellen Olenska with the “fair,” “innocent,” “virgin” May Newland.2 With the developing critical interest in Wharton during the 1970s and 80s, feminist scholars offered a new way of reading and changed the understanding of Wharton’s work, focusing on the way Wharton constructed a feminist social realism in its narrative.
However, they have often addressed the representations of her female characters and the ways in which these figures revealed an oppressive social order for women.
She falls in love with Newland but is silently banished back to Europe by her family.
Archer's close friend, a "clever" person he talked with at the club.
by analyzing the ways in which the text delivers—through its dialogic narrative—a fragmented, ambiguous and contradictory depiction of New Womanhood.
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It advances two broad arguments: first, I argue that the novel displays many of the characteristics of New Woman fiction, both thematically and stylistically.I explain briefly Bakhtin’s analytical concepts related to dialogism (authoritative and internally persuasive discourses, and hybrid construction) and their relevance to the analysis of the text.In the close readings of the novel that follow, I analyze the ways of Old New York in relation to the issue of New Womanhood in the light of these Bakhtinian concepts.The focus of the discussions will include Newland’s conflicting perceptions of womanhood, his constant vacillating throughout the novel between the fields of marriage and romance, and thus between May and Ellen.A particular emphasis will be given to the contradictory perceptions of Ellen Olenska by Old New York and her dilemma between her love for Newland and her desire for personal freedom to highlight the ambiguities of the novel regarding the image of the New Woman of the era in which the novel was written.She was portrayed, by turns, “as either a cause or a symptom of cultural disintegration and social decline, or as the cure for current social ills” (Pykett 17).In American society, she was perceived as a radical figure, “a symptom of cultural disintegration” who “challenged existing gender relations and the distribution of power” (245).Winsett is a journalist and much less wealthy than any member of New York's better society.Winsett is "not a journalist by choice;"he was a man of letters, untimely born in a world that had no need of letters." Newland and May meet him on their honeymoon; he's the tutor of Mrs. Later, he meets Archer in New York and he describes himself as Count Olenska's secretary, the man who helped Ellen escape from the Count.Consequently, the popular image of the New American Woman was a controversial one in late nineteenth and early twentieth-century American society: a figure defined by her challenge to conventions in behavior and dress, her education and aspirations for greater public and private recognition, independence of spirit, competence, fearlessness, and a thirst for marital and sexual independence.These characteristics were also reflected in fictional depictions.