The House of Mirth By Edith Wharton Summary and Analysis Book 1: Chapter VII

Summary

Lily returns to the Trenor household to discover that Gryce has departed. Judy tells Lily that Bertha retaliated against Lily for stealing Selden's attention by telling ruinous stories about Lily to Gryce. These stories include Lily's borrowing money to repay a gambling debt, as well as stories about her previous suitors.

Judy asks Lily to travel to the train station to meet her husband. Lily goes to the station to greet Trenor, whom she finds repugnant. Trenor tells her that he has just completed a lucrative deal with Rosedale, whose fortune he predicts will soon eclipse his own wealth.

On their ride back to his estate, Lily appeals to Trenor to help her invest her money in order to provide a small income for herself. He promises that he can earn her with a small fortune with no risk.

Analysis

This chapter displays the viciousness of society women toward one another. Bertha is angered because Selden shows more interest in Lily than in her, so she gossips with Gryce about Lily. In addition, when Carry remarks that Gryce has no knowledge of the laws, Bertha reassures the twice-divorced woman that he is well informed on the laws of divorce and has signed a bishop's petition against divorce.

Lily's manipulation of Trenor results in his promising to invest money for her. His less-than-honorable intentions are hinted at, however, when he allows himself to rest his hand on hers.

Glossary

malum prohibitum a violation of social custom.

Doucet dresses fashionable dresses designed by French dressmaker Jacques Doucet.

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