Sleep Fictions: A Digital Companion

II.VIII.1 Mirth

The idiom “Keeping Up with the Joneses”* is commonly traced to the Gilded Age of New York society, in which wealthy socialites did their best to imitate the lavish lifestyle of Edith Wharton’s parents, the Joneses. Wharton scholarship has long described The House of Mirth as a critique of social mobility strategists, casting Lily as a victim of failing to keep up with the leisure class. Yet, Wharton was not solely concerned with the allegorical implications of “keeping up,” for she highlights Lily’s literal physiological struggle to keep herself up, as she persistently stays awake in a desperate effort to advance her social status.


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