Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Newland Archer

Newland Archer, a young lawyer who is a member of New York’s high society. Married to May Welland, a girl from his own class, he falls in love with Ellen Olenska and for a time considers running away with her. He never does so because he is bound by his ties of marriage and convention.

Countess Ellen Olenska

Countess Ellen Olenska, a New York girl of good family who has married a Polish nobleman but now wishes a divorce from him. Intelligent and beautiful, she comes back to New York, where she tries to fit into the life she had known before her marriage. She falls in love with Newland Archer. When the young attorney, persuaded by her family, urges her not to seek a divorce, she leaves for Europe without him. Years later, Archer’s son visits Ellen in Paris.

May Welland Archer

May Welland Archer, Newland’s wife, a typical New York socialite with all the restrictions and forms adopted by that class. She triumphs over Ellen Olenska and saves her marriage with the announcement that she is to become a mother.

Mr. Welland

Mr. Welland and

Mrs. Welland

Mrs. Welland, May’s parents. Rich, conservative, puritanical, they are somewhat shocked by the discovery that their relative, Ellen, plans to divorce her husband. Clannishly, however, they give in her honor a party at which they announce the engagement of their daughter to Newland Archer.


(The entire section is 619 words.)

The Age of Innocence Characters

Lewland Archer is the most fully developed character in the novel. He is a representative Wharton male character: a man with a finer...

(The entire section is 291 words.)

The Age of Innocence Character Analysis

The Age of Innocence Newland Archer

The main character of the novel, Newland Archer is a young man who has grown up in New York society. He lives with his widowed mother and his...

(The entire section is 311 words.)

The Age of Innocence Countess Ellen Olenska

Ellen is May's mysterious cousin, who arrives in New York and creates a stir merely by attending the opera. After marrying a Polish count and...

(The entire section is 192 words.)

The Age of Innocence May Welland

May is the sum of her New York society upbringing. She is beautiful, proper, and innocent. Although she enjoys "masculine" activities, such...

(The entire section is 201 words.)

The Age of Innocence Other Characters

Janey Archer
Janey is Newland's unmarried sister. She lives with her mother and Newland. She and her mother grow...

(The entire section is 816 words.)