In her quest "to get as much as one can out of life" (68), Lily Bart in Edith Wharton's House of Mirth encounters various societies and financial exchanges. Her personal development can be described as a female identity formed out of relationships and connections such as that discussed in Carol Gilligan's In a Different Voice (8). Her quest for material wealth, in contrast, can be interpreted in terms of individual achievement. However, Matina Homer has pointed out that women have a problem with competitive achievement, and their strivings produce anticipation of certain negative consequences (15). Throughout Wharton's novel, abundant evidence exists to support this conclusion. As Lily pursues material wealth, her financial exchanges with the new capitalistic American society eventually undermine the evolutional self that slowly matures.
© 1991 by the Board of Student Publications, University of Northern Iowa
Burroughs, Kitty Kau
"The Commodification of Self and the Undermining of Lily Bart's Identity,"
Draftings In: Vol. 6:
3, Article 10.
Available at: https://scholarworks.uni.edu/draftings/vol6/iss3/10