Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

How did the life Edith Wharton lived up to the age of eighteen prepare her for her writing career?

Do Wharton’s novels give the lie to those who see a preoccupation with manners as a superficial interest?

What are the significant differences between Wharton’s presentation of character and that of her admired friend Henry James?

In The House of Mirth, what traits in Lily Bart make it possible to view her sympathetically despite her many faults?

Discuss Wharton’s attitude toward social conformity.

Do the socially elite characters in Wharton’s novels deserve the downfall that many of them experience?