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Comparison of The House of Mirth with The Sun Also Rises

Society often paints a picture of helpless females, who must depend on men in order to survive. This stigma has influenced literature throughout the centuries, and can be seen very clearly in both Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth and Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises. The main female characters in both novels function in a society where they need to manipulate men in order to survive. Both Lily Bart (The House of Mirth) and Lady Brett Ashley (The Sun Also Rises) are women trapped into a society where they are dependent upon males for their livelihood. These two women see the pursuit of a male caretaker as their job, and this causes them to use manipulative actions to survive. While manhood is depicted differently in the two novels, (with Wharton concentrating on money and Hemingway focusing on sex) male dominance still prevails to create two female characters whose behavior is extremely similar. They both feel the need to pursue male affections with a certain eagerness and desperation characteristic of women looking for a lifeline. However, despite this similarity, there are still mass differences between Lily Bart and Brett Ashley. Lily Bart has moments of clarity in which she becomes a more fully realized character. Brett Ashley, on the other hand, remains the same throughout the entirety of the novel.Lily Bart is part of New York's upper crust society, where power is directly determined by the size of one's bank account. In this circle of the extremely wealthy, women make a career out of marrying well. Lily depends on her good looks, and is more than willing to mold herself into a specific male's vision of the "perfect" woman. In order to maintain an opulent lifestyle, she seeks a man who can afford her. Society traps her into behaving like a piece of art work; idle and beautiful, as well as owned. Lily Bart, whose funds are limited and who has a self-proclaimed dependency on luxury, sets out to find a husband ...

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