Thursday, April 22, 2010

Anti-Semitism in The House of Mirth

I wrote my paper on anti-Semitism in The House of Mirth. Through my research, I descovered that anti-Semitism was very common among authors in Edith Wharton’s same social class. Henry James, for example, expresses anti-Semitical views in several of his novels as well as through letters to Edith wharton. F. Scott Fitzgerald describes a Jewish character in The Great Gatsby to have physical qualities and characteristics that are common stereotypes for the Jewish race. Edith Wharton wrote “it’s enough to make this reader happy to have met your perfect Jew” when she read Fitzgerald’s book showing that she, herself, shares these anti-Semitical views (Goldman, 25). I wrote about the influences behind Edith wharton’s character, Rosedale, including the writers listed above. She was raised in a time where anit-Semitism was very common among people in her social circle. This is largly because of the number of Jewish immigrants that made New York their home in th elate 19th century. Fear began to arise that the Jewish race was takingover the nation. Henry James called it the “Hebrew conquest of New York” and many saw the large number of Jews who chose to become landlords as a threat (Cheyette, 6). Journalist Burton J. Hendrick claimed that “Jews are rapidly acquiring a monopoly of the land… The chances are, if you wish to lease an apartment in any part of New York today, you will pay your rent to a Jewish landlord. There is not the slightest doubt that in a few years the Jews will own the larger part of Manhattan Islands- the richest parcel of real estate in the world" (Goldsmith, 378). This fear lead to many racial steareotypes and anti-Semitical views. These views began to arise in fiction literature such as Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth. Although she uses many stereotypes to describe Rosedale in her novel, Edith Wharton was merely a product of her time and should not be judged for her racism against the Jewish race.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


I was really surprised by the movie Greed. I felt that the actress chosen to play Trina failed to match her character in the book. She looked and seemed to be a much older woman in the movie and I had pictured her much more beautiful from Norris’s description. I also thought that the actor playing McTeague came across much more menacing than how I perceived him within the book. He was almost monster-like in the movie, especially in the scene after his and Trina’s wedding. McTeague was much more human in the book, he seemed to at least attempt to comport Trina after her family left and once she began to fear him. The music and lack of words in this case misleads the audience. The audience is also mislead during the scene in which McTeague returns and asks Trina to let him inside. I felt sorry for her and saw her to be completely in the right for refusing the monster that bit her fingers instead of having the mixed feelings I received from reading the book. I saw both of them as monsters but felt little pity for Trina while acknowledging McTeagues actions as being a result of Trina’s selfishness. I did think that the director did a great job making the final scene realistic. I did not need words in order to truly understand the tension between McTeague and Marcus. I felt like the director did the book justice in the last scenes. I also thought that the addition of color to any gold item was very creative and successfully communicated the theme of gold. The funeral and the Funeral March music intermingled with the wedding scene was also a very creative addition to the script. Without reading the book, I would have easily been able to predict that their marriage was not going to lead to eternal happiness.