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Modern Literature Commons

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Gender

Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Winthrop University

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Full-Text Articles in Modern Literature

Masks And Performance As Representations Of Gender Oppression And Repression In Edith Wharton’S The House Of Mirth And Nella Larsen’S Passing, Carrie A. Wilson Apr 2016

Masks And Performance As Representations Of Gender Oppression And Repression In Edith Wharton’S The House Of Mirth And Nella Larsen’S Passing, Carrie A. Wilson

SEWSA 2016 Intersectionality in the New Millennium: An Assessment of Culture, Power, and Society

Edith Wharton and Nella Larsen’s literature focus on metaphorically representing gender oppression and repression as masked social performances that result in death being the ultimate release from the drama. Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth depicts the heroine Lily Bart who, in the public social realm, attempts to mask herself as a disturbingly superficial character. Wharton’s masquerade imagery demonstrates the extent to which Lily socially capitalizes her beauty. Lily fixates on "clearness" and "lucidity" in events leading up to her death, which shows how dying releases her from the dishonest social masquerade (260). Nella Larsen’s heroine ...