Henry James and Edith Wharton comprise two of the most successful turn-of-the-century American writers. The two follow the progression of young men and women who attempt to navigate marital, social, and monetary concerns of high-society. This paper traces James and Wharton’s use of art, convention, and the kaleidoscope to highlight their respective attitudes toward modernity. Their language especially concerns females and their socially-assumed decorative qualities. By means of a cultural and theoretical analysis, followed by close readings of The Portrait of a Lady (James), The Age of Innocence (Wharton), The House of Mirth (Wharton), and The Custom of the Country (Wharton), this thesis seeks to prove the valuable insight readers can glean from reading James and Wharton through a kaleidoscopic lens.
Krumel, Madeline A., "The Kaleidoscopic Turn: Henry James and Edith Wharton on the Problem of Modernity" (2019). All College Thesis Program, 2016-present. 74.
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