The Age of Innocence

The Age of Innocence

Newland Archer Character Analysis

Archer, a young gentleman of New York high society, is the protagonist of The Age of Innocence. The novel opens with his engagement to May Welland, whom he eventually marries, but he also falls in love with May’s cousin, Ellen Olenska. Archer initially subscribes to the conventions of New York society without question; he has grown up with these conventions, and nobody respectable dares to flout them. To Archer, May represents the conventional and respectable New York life. However, as he falls in love with Ellen and watches how society scorns her scandalous background, Archer begins to question the rules that have governed his life. He becomes more compassionate and open-minded and he begins to perceive the hypocrisy of those around him. While knowing Ellen makes Archer begin to dread living the same dull life that he sees everyone else living, he never manages to fully break away from his conventional upbringing. He wants to desert his wife and run away with Ellen, but he ultimately lives a somewhat average life with May. All is not lost for Archer, though; while he works as a lawyer for much of the book (without love or ambition for his job), he gives in somewhat to his attraction to the intellectual life and finds fulfillment in a life of public service, despite that public service is considered to be beneath his class.

Newland Archer Quotes in The Age of Innocence

The The Age of Innocence quotes below are all either spoken by Newland Archer or refer to Newland Archer. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Dover Publications edition of The Age of Innocence published in 1997.
Chapter 1 Quotes

...[A]n unalterable and unquestioned law of the musical world required that the German text of French operas sung by Swedish artists should be translated into Italian for the clearer understanding of English-speaking audiences. This seemed as natural to Newland Archer as all the other conventions on which his life was molded: such as the duty of using two silver-backed brushes with his monogram in blue enamel to part his hair, and of never appearing in society without a flower (preferably a gardenia) in his buttonhole.

Related Characters: Newland Archer
Page Number: 2
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmodLoremLorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other The Age of Innocence quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
Chapter 5 Quotes

“Living together? Well, why not? Who had the right to make her life over if she hadn’t? I’m sick of the hypocrisy that would bury alive a woman of her age if her husband prefers to live with harlots.”

He stopped and turned away angrily to light his cigar. “Women ought to be free—as free as we are,” he declared, making a discovery of which he was too irritated to measure the terrific consequences.

Related Characters: Newland Archer (speaker), Ellen Olenska, Mr. Sillerton Jackson
Page Number: 26
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excep

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 6 Quotes

What could he and she really know of each other, since it was his duty, as a “decent” fellow, to conceal his past from her, and hers, as a marriageable girl, to have no past to conceal?... He reviewed his friends’ marriages... and saw none that answered, even remotely, to the passionate and tender comradeship which he pictured as his permanent relation with May Welland. He perceived that such a picture presupposed, on her part, the experience, the versatility, the freedom of judgment, which she had been carefully trained not to possess; and with a shiver of foreboding he saw his marriage becoming what most of the other marriages about him were: a dull association of material and social interests held together by ignorance on the one side and hypocrisy on the other.

Related Characters: Newland Archer, May Welland
Page Number: 27-28
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint o

But when he had gone the brief round of her he returned discouraged by the thought that all this frankness and innocence were only an artificial product. Untrained human nature was not frank and innocent, it was full of the twists and turns and defenses of an instinctive guile. And he felt himself oppressed by this creation of a factitious purity, so cunningly manufactured by a conspiracy of mothers and aunts and grandmothers and long-dead ancestresses, because it was supposed to be what he wanted, what he had a right to, in order that he might exercise his lordly pleasure in smashing it like an image made of snow.

Related Characters: Newland Archer, May Welland
Page Number: 29
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 8 Quotes

The Countess Olenska was the only young woman at the dinner; yet, as Archer scanned the smooth plump elderly faces between their diamond necklaces and towering ostrich feathers, they struck him as curiously immature compared with hers. It frightened him to think what must have gone to the making of her eyes.

Related Characters: Newland Archer, Ellen Olenska
Page Number: 40
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur s

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 9 Quotes

Does no one want to know the truth here, Mr. Archer? The real loneliness is living among all these kind people who only ask one to pretend!

Related Characters: Ellen Olenska (speaker), Newland Archer
Page Number: 50
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, s

Chapter 12 Quotes

“Sincerely, then—what should you gain that would compensate for the possibility—the certainty—of a lot of beastly talk?”

“But my freedom—is that nothing?”

... “But aren’t you free as air as it is?” he returned. “Who can touch you? Mr. Letterblair tells me the financial question has been settled—”

“Oh, yes,” she said indifferently.

“Well, then: is it worth while to risk what may be infinitely disagreeable and painful? Think of the newspapers—their vileness! It’s all stupid and narrow and unjust—but one can’t make over society.”

Related Characters: Newland Archer (speaker), Ellen Olenska (speaker), Mr. Letterblair
Page Number: 72
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolor

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est labo

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 15 Quotes

No, it was worse a thousand times if, judging Beaufort, and probably despising him, she was yet drawn to him by all that gave him an advantage over the other men about her: his habit of two continents and two societies, his familiar association with artists and actors..., and his careless contempt for local prejudices.... [T]he circumstances of his life, and a certain native shrewdness, made him better worth talking to than many men, morally and socially his betters, whose horizon was bounded by the Battery and the Central Park. How should anyone coming from a wider world not feel the difference and be attracted by it?

Related Characters: Newland Archer, Ellen Olenska, Julius Beaufort
Page Number: 89
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in cul

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt molli

Chapter 16 Quotes

Traces still lingered on [her features] of fresh beauty like her daughter’s; and he asked himself if May’s face was doomed to thicken into the same middle-aged image of invincible innocence.

Ah, no, he did not want May to have that kind of innocence, the innocence that seals the mind against imagination and the heart against experience!

Related Characters: Newland Archer, May Welland, Mrs. Welland
Page Number: 94
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fug

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laboru

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate vel

I couldn’t have my happiness made out of a wrong—an unfairness—to somebody else.... What sort of life could we build on such foundations?... I’ve wanted to tell you that, when two people really love each other, I understand that there may be situations which might make it right that they should—should go against public opinion. And if you feel yourself in any way pledged... pledged to the person we’ve spoken of... and if there is any way... any way in which you can fulfill your pledge... even by her getting a divorce... Newland, don’t give her up because of me!

Related Characters: May Welland (speaker), Newland Archer, Ellen Olenska
Page Number: 97
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint

Chapter 18 Quotes

I felt there was no one as kind as you; no one who gave me reasons that I understood for doing what at first seemed so hard and—unnecessary. The very good people didn’t convince me; I felt they’d never been tempted. But you knew; you understood; you had felt the world outside tugging at one with all its golden hands—and yet you hated the things it asks of one; you hated happiness bought by disloyalty and cruelty and indifference. That was what I’d never known before—and it’s better than anything I’ve known.... I can’t go back now to that other way of thinking. I can’t love you unless I give you up.

Related Characters: Ellen Olenska (speaker), Newland Archer
Page Number: 112
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliqui

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non pr

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

She tore it open and carried it to the lamp; then, when the door had closed again, she handed the telegram to Archer.

It was dated from St. Augustine, and addressed to the Countess Olenska. In it he read: “Granny’s telegram successful. Papa and Mamma agree marriage after Easter. Am telegraphing Newland. Am too happy for words and love you dearly. Your grateful May.”

Related Characters: May Welland (speaker), Newland Archer, Ellen Olenska, Mrs. Catherine Mingott, Mrs. Welland, Mr. Welland
Page Number: 113-14
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercit

Chapter 19 Quotes

A stormy discussion as to whether the wedding presents should be “shown” had darkened the last hours before the wedding; and it seemed inconceivable to Archer that grown-up people should work themselves into a state of agitation over such trifles.... Yet there was a time when Archer had had definite and rather aggressive opinions on all such problems, and when everything concerning the manners and customs of his little tribe had seemed to him fraught with worldwide significance.

“And all the while, I suppose,” he thought, “real people were living somewhere, and real things happening to them...”

Related Characters: Newland Archer (speaker)
Page Number: 117
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deser

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa

Chapter 20 Quotes

In all the rainy desert of autumnal London there were only two people whom the Newland Archers knew; and these two they had sedulously avoided, in conformity with the old New York tradition that it was not “dignified” to force oneself on the notice of one’s acquaintances in foreign countries.

Mrs. Archer and Janey... had so unflinchingly lived up to this principle... that they had almost achieved the record of never having exchanged a word with a “foreigner” other than those employed in hotels and railway-stations.

Related Characters: Newland Archer, May Welland, Mrs. Adeline Archer, Janey Archer
Page Number: 123
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 22 Quotes

His whole future seemed suddenly to be unrolled before him; and passing down its endless emptiness he saw the dwindling figure of a man to whom nothing was ever to happen.... It had seemed so exactly the place in which he ought to have found Madame Olenska; and she was far away, and even the pink sunshade was not hers...

Related Characters: Newland Archer, Ellen Olenska, Miss Blenker
Page Number: 147
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia des

Chapter 24 Quotes

Is it a bad business—for May?”

He stood in the window... feeling in every fiber the wistful tenderness with which she had spoken her cousin’s name.

“For that’s the thing we’ve always got to think of—haven’t we—by your own showing?” she insisted.... “[I]f it’s not worth while to have given up, to have missed things, so that others may be saved from disillusionment and misery—then everything I came home for, everything that made my other life seem by contrast so bare and so poor because no one there took account of them—all these things are a sham or a dream—”

Related Characters: Ellen Olenska (speaker), Newland Archer, May Welland
Page Number: 156
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitatio

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 26 Quotes

[P]unctually at about this time Mrs. Archer always said that New York was very much changed.

Observing it from the lofty stand-point of a non-participant, she was able... to trace each new crack in its surface, and all the strange weeds pushing up between the ordered rows of social vegetables. It had been one of the amusements of Archer’s youth to... hear her enumerate the minute signs of disintegration that his careless gaze had overlooked. For New York, to Mrs. Archer’s mind, never changed without changing for the worse....

Related Characters: Newland Archer, Mrs. Adeline Archer
Page Number: 165
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor i

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 30 Quotes

As she sat thus, the lamplight full on her clear brow, he said to himself with a secret dismay that he would always know the thoughts behind it, that never, in all the years to come, would she surprise him by an unexpected mood, by a new idea, a weakness, a cruelty or an emotion.... Now she was simply ripening into a copy of her mother, and mysteriously, by the very process, trying to turn him into a Mr. Welland.

Related Characters: Newland Archer, May Welland
Page Number: 190-91
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cill

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fu

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est labo

“Catch my death!” he echoed; and he felt like adding: “But I’ve caught it already. I am dead—I’ve been dead for months and months.”

And suddenly the play of the word flashed up a wild suggestion. What if it were she who was dead! If she were going to die—to die soon—and leave him free! ...He simply felt that chance had given him a new possibility to which his sick soul might cling. Yes, May might die—people did: young people, healthy people like herself: she might die, and set him suddenly free.

Related Characters: Newland Archer (speaker), May Welland
Page Number: 191
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit ess

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est labor

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pa

“Poor May!” he said.

“Poor? Why poor?” she echoed with a strained laugh.

“Because I shall never be able to open a window without worrying you,” he rejoined, laughing also.

For a moment she was silent; then she said very low, her head bowed over her work: “I shall never worry if you’re happy.”


“Ah, my dear; and I shall never be happy unless I can open the windows!”

Related Characters: Newland Archer (speaker), May Welland
Page Number: 191-92
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 33 Quotes

And then it came over him, in a vast flash made up of many broken gleams, that to all of them he and Madame Olenska were lovers.... He guessed himself to have been, for months, the center of countless silently observing eyes and patiently listening ears, he understood that, by means as yet unknown to him, the separation between himself and the partner of his guilt had been achieved, and that now the whole tribe had rallied about his wife on the tacit assumption that nobody knew anything, or had ever imagined anything....

It was the old New York way, of taking life “without effusion of blood”; the way of people who dreaded scandal more than disease, who placed decency above courage, and who considered that nothing was more ill-bred than “scenes,” except the behavior of those who gave rise to them.

Related Characters: Newland Archer, Ellen Olenska, May Welland
Page Number: 217
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est lab

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui off

“Have you told anyone else?”

“Only Mamma and your mother.” She paused, and then added hurriedly, the blood flushing up to her forehead: “That is—and Ellen. You know I told you we’d had a long talk one afternoon—and how dear she was to me.”

“Ah—” said Archer, his heart stopping.... “But that was a fortnight ago, wasn’t it? I thought you said you weren’t sure till today.”

Her color burned deeper, but she held his gaze. “No; I wasn’t sure then—but I told her I was. And you see I was right!” she exclaimed, her blue eyes wet with victory.

Related Characters: Newland Archer (speaker), May Welland (speaker), Ellen Olenska, Mrs. Adeline Archer, Mrs. Welland
Page Number: 222
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deseru

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui offi

Chapter 34 Quotes

And as he had seen her that day, so she had remained;... generous, faithful, unwearied; but so lacking in imagination, so incapable of growth, that the world of her youth had fallen into pieces and rebuilt itself without her ever being conscious of the change.... And she had died thinking the world a good place, full of loving and harmonious households like her own, and resigned to leave it because she was convinced that, whatever happened, Newland would continue to inculcate in Dallas the same principles and prejudices which had shaped his parents’ lives, and that Dallas in turn (when Newland followed her) would transmit the sacred trust to little Bill.

Related Characters: Newland Archer, May Welland, Dallas Archer
Page Number: 225
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit es

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariat

“She said she knew we were safe with you, and always would be, because once, when she asked you to, you’d given up the thing you most wanted.”

Archer received this strange communication in silence.... At length he said in a low voice: “She never asked me.”

Related Characters: Newland Archer (speaker), Dallas Archer (speaker), May Welland
Page Number: 231
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

“It’s more real to me here than if I went up,” he suddenly heard himself say; and the fear lest that last shadow of reality should lose its edge kept him rooted to his seat as the minutes succeeded each other.

He sat for a long time on the bench in the thickening dusk, his eyes never turning from the balcony. At length a light shone through the windows, and a moment later a man-servant came out on the balcony, drew up the awnings, and closed the shutters.

At that, as if it had been the signal he waited for, Newland Archer got up slowly and walked back alone to his hotel.

Related Characters: Newland Archer (speaker), Ellen Olenska
Page Number: 235
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proid

Get the entire The Age of Innocence LitChart as a printable PDF.
The age of innocence.pdf.medium

Newland Archer Character Timeline in The Age of Innocence

The timeline below shows where the character Newland Archer appears in The Age of Innocence. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Newland Archer arrives late. He could have made it on time, but punctuality isn’t fashionable, and he... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
Madame Nilsson sings her line triumphantly, gazing up at the male lead playing Faust. Archer looks at the audience opposite him, where he sees the box of Mrs. Mingott, who... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
Archer turns back to the stage, which has been decorated beautifully even by the standards of... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Archer wants his future wife to be sociable and witty enough to match other young married... (full context)
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Next to Archer, Lawrence Lefferts exclaims. Lefferts is an expert on “form,” partly through having studied it carefully,... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Archer’s group turns to Mr. Jackson, who knows everything about New York families, such as who... (full context)
Chapter 2
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Archer is feeling embarrassed to have everyone focused on the box where his betrothed sits, particularly... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Archer turns back to the Mingotts’ box. May Welland is the only one who looks the... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
The men in Archer’s box are talking about Ellen Olenska, who left her brute of a husband. Lefferts confirms... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
As the act ends, Archer feels a sudden need to go to Mrs. Mingott’s box and help May through her... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
Archer goes to sit next to Ellen Olenska, who reminds him that he was an awful... (full context)
Chapter 3
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Archer arrives fashionably late. After dawdling in the library with a few men, he joins the... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
...and standing with a group of young people, to whom she is revealing her engagement. Archer wishes that she hadn’t announced it in such a public place, because the matter is... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
When the dance ends, Archer and May go sit in the conservatory. They say how they wish the announcement hadn’t... (full context)
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
May asks whether Archer told Ellen of their engagement, and he realizes that he didn’t. They debate which of... (full context)
Chapter 4
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Change and Progress Theme Icon
The next day, Archer, May, and their mothers conduct the proper betrothal visits. They go to Mrs. Mingott’s house... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Change and Progress Theme Icon
...see into a bedroom, which calls to mind scandalous novels and seems to invite immorality. Archer thinks it’s funny that she lives such an innocent life in this setting, but he’s... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Everyone is relieved that Ellen Olenska isn’t at Mrs. Mingott’s while Archer and the Wellands are there. She’s gone out, which seems improper at this hour, but... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
While Mrs. Welland and May are putting their furs on in the hall, Archer says to Ellen Olenska that she must already know of his engagement, and that he... (full context)
Chapter 5
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
The next evening, Sillerton Jackson comes to dinner at the Archers’ house. Mr. Jackson and his sister Sophy, who lives with him, collect between them all... (full context)
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
Mrs. Archer has been a widow a long time and lives with her son and daughter. Archer... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Archer is sure that Mr. Jackson doesn’t want him around at dinner, but he stays anyway.... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Mrs. Archer doesn’t really care about Mrs. Struthers, so she turns the conversation to Ellen Olenska. She’s... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Mr. Jackson is visibly dissatisfied with the food, and he remarks that Archer’s grandfather loved a good meal. Then he says that Ellen Olenska wasn’t at the ball,... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
...that Ellen should have changed her name to Elaine to sound more Polish, but Mrs. Archer says the name is too conspicuous. Archer, however, argues that Ellen shouldn’t have to hide... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
After dinner, Mrs. Archer and Janey go to the drawing room, where they work on embroidery. Meanwhile, Archer and... (full context)
Chapter 6
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Change and Progress Theme Icon
After Mr. Jackson leaves, Archer goes to his study, which feels very welcoming. He sits by the fire and looks... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Archer worries that his marriage with May could go badly. They really hardly know each other,... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Archer’s world is one in which the reality of a situation is never acknowledged, but only... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Archer is in love, but not passionately. He takes pleasure in many aspects of May, including... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Archer’s thoughts are shared by most young men before their weddings, but unlike other men, Archer... (full context)
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
Change and Progress Theme Icon
When Archer hears what has happened, he appeals to his mother, who eventually gives in and goes... (full context)
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
Change and Progress Theme Icon
...colonial governor of New York. They rarely come to their house in the city. Mrs. Archer wishes Archer would come with her to visit Mrs. van der Luyden. She’s only doing... (full context)
Chapter 7
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Change and Progress Theme Icon
Mrs. van der Luyden listens silently to Mrs. Archer. Even if one knows that Mrs. van der Luyden is always silent and always kind... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
...it’s almost difficult to imagine them being separate enough to be able to discuss anything. Archer and his mother expect Mrs. van der Luyden to say she needs to talk the... (full context)
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Change and Progress Theme Icon
Mr. Henry van der Luyden enters the room and greets the Archers. They discuss the most convenient time to read the newspapers, Mr. van der Luyden saying... (full context)
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Change and Progress Theme Icon
Mr. van der Luyden asks whether the situation is really Lawrence Lefferts’s fault, and Archer says he’s sure it is, because Lefferts has been having an affair with a postmaster’s... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
...difficult situation. He realizes that Ellen Olenska is already distantly related to them, even before Archer’s marriage. The van der Luydens communicate with a look. Mr. van der Luyden says that... (full context)
Chapter 8
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Archer thinks about Ellen’s story as he watches her enter the van der Luydens’ drawing room... (full context)
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
...have first talked with certain important guests. When they’re finished talking, Ellen walks straight to Archer, despite the fact that etiquette requires her to sit in one place while men come... (full context)
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
Ellen wants to hear about May. Instead, Archer asks her if she already knew the Duke. She says he used to come to... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
Ellen points out that May has arrived. Archer thinks that May, in her white and silver dress, looks like the goddess Diana. He... (full context)
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Archer watches Lawrence Lefferts and his wife meeting Ellen Olenska, along with other couples who had... (full context)
Chapter 9
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
At 5:30 the next evening, Archer rings the bell of the house Ellen is renting. It’s an odd neighborhood for her... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Change and Progress Theme Icon
Archer has had a dissatisfying day. He had lunch with the Wellands and wanted to go... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
Archer meant to tell May that he was going to visit Ellen, but he never managed... (full context)
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
While he waits, Archer examines the room, which is decorated unlike any room he’s seen. Certain pieces he assumes... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Change and Progress Theme Icon
Archer begins to think about what May’s drawing room will look like. Mr. Welland is already... (full context)
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
The maid checks on Archer and leaves again. He’s beginning to feel foolish and wonders whether he should leave. He... (full context)
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Ellen reclines in a chair by the fire. Archer says he was worried she’d forgotten him. She says that Beaufort was showing her houses,... (full context)
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
Archer turns the conversation to the van der Luydens’ party, but Ellen doesn’t seem to understand... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
Archer points out that Ellen has plenty of people to advise her, and she says that... (full context)
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
...play at her house the next evening. Ellen accepts with pleasure. Mrs. Struthers can’t remember Archer’s name and seems sure he’s a diplomat. He leaves quickly. (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Archer wishes that he had left earlier and not wasted so much emotion. Outside, his perspective... (full context)
Chapter 10
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The next day, Archer persuades May to go for a walk with him instead of going to church with... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
May insists that their engagement isn’t as long as some couples’, and Archer wishes she would speak for herself instead of repeating what others say. He realizes that... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
May thinks Archer is original, but he realizes that they’re both acting just the way everyone else does... (full context)
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Change and Progress Theme Icon
The next afternoon, Janey comes to Archer in his study. He’s in a bad mood, fearful that he’ll have the same routine... (full context)
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Archer irritably pretends not to see Janey when she enters. His table is piled with books.... (full context)
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
...family has already been supporting Ellen—the van der Luydens even invited her to their dinner. Archer doesn’t see any harm in that, but Janey says that the van der Luydens are... (full context)
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
Mrs. Archer wants Archer to come with her to explain to Mrs. van der Luyden that Ellen... (full context)
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Suddenly the butler announces Mr. van der Luyden. Mrs. Archer quickly arranges herself before he enters, and Archer greets him, saying that they were just... (full context)
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
...that he visited to warn Ellen about letting the Duke take her to parties. Mrs. Archer pretends she hasn’t heard what happened. Mr. van der Luyden explains that they can’t expect... (full context)
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Mrs. Archer says that Archer will be particularly thankful to Mr. van der Luyden because of his... (full context)
Chapter 11
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Two weeks later, Archer is summoned by the head of his law firm. Mr. Letterblair sits at his desk,... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Archer has only seen Ellen once, at the opera, since his visit to her. She has... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
Archer’s temporary intimacy with Ellen has not been renewed since he went to her house. He... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
...husband’s, and they also include a letter that he sent to her. After reading it, Archer consents to discussing the matter with Ellen. Mr. Letterblair tells him to come to dinner... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
Archer wonders if New York seems so pure simply because its inhabitants ignore anything unpleasant. He... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
When he gets home, Archer writes Ellen to ask when he might come see her, and discovers that he should... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
...already separated, and she’s not going to get any more of her money back. Though Archer originally thought the same, now that this old man is saying it, he seems like... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Archer says he can’t promise to argue against the divorce until he’s talked to Ellen. Mr.... (full context)
Chapter 12
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Change and Progress Theme Icon
On Archer’s way to Ellen’s house, he can tell who is visiting whom from the carriages on... (full context)
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
Change and Progress Theme Icon
...gap between high society and artists, but they couldn’t care less about art and literature. Archer has always accepted this social structure. He knows that elsewhere, artists are honored members of... (full context)
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
Archer is thinking about these topics because he’s trying to imagine Ellen Olenska’s previous life. When... (full context)
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
When Nastasia lets Archer into Ellen’s house, he sees Beaufort’s coat and hat in the hall, which makes him... (full context)
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
...was planning for her. She says she’s hardly met any artists in New York, and Archer suggests that he could introduce her to a couple of painters. Ellen was really thinking... (full context)
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
Ellen inquires about Archer’s connection to painters, and he says that he always goes to exhibitions in Paris and... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
Archer has little practice talking about awkward situations. Ellen bursts out that she wants to be... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Archer needs to know how much truth there is in the angry letter Count Olenski sent... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Ellen asks whether Archer agrees with her family that she shouldn’t get a divorce. He wanders around the room,... (full context)
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Archer says he has to help her see matters the way her friends see them, and... (full context)
Chapter 13
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
...to kiss a ribbon falling down her back, and she never realizes what he’s done. Archer comes to see the play just for this scene, thinking it as good as anything... (full context)
Change and Progress Theme Icon
On this night, the scene reminds Archer of him leaving Ellen Olenska after their discussion about her divorce. There’s no real resemblance... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Archer left Ellen believing that she probably did become lovers with the secretary who helped her... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
As the curtain falls on the scene, Archer’s eyes fill with tears and he rises to leave. Just then, he sees Ellen sitting... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Change and Progress Theme Icon
Ellen asks what Archer does while May is gone, and he says he works. As they always do at... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Ellen says that she has done as Archer advised. She knows that he was right. As Beaufort begins to speak, Archer leaves the... (full context)
Chapter 14
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
In the theater lobby, Archer comes upon his friend Ned Winsett, one of the intellectual set. Winsett proposes they go... (full context)
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Archer has only ever seen Winsett at places frequented by the intellectual set. Supposedly his wife... (full context)
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Winsett feels that his own case is hopeless, but he insists that Archer should go into politics. Archer only laughs at this, because gentlemen don’t go into politics... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Change and Progress Theme Icon
The next morning, Archer goes looking for more yellow roses. He arrives late at the office and realizes that... (full context)
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
Archer sends Ellen a note asking if he can call on her, but he receives no... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Archer is disappointed that Ellen is away, but he remembers that he just refused an invitation... (full context)
Chapter 15
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
Archer takes part in all of the required activities at the Chiverses’, going out in the... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Archer learns that Ellen is at church with Mrs. van der Luyden. He declines the butler’s... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
Ellen knows that May asked Archer to take care of her, but he says he didn’t need to be asked. She... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Archer and Ellen go into the house. It’s cozy and seems to have been created just... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Archer laughs. Ellen comes to his side and takes his hand, but when she sees Beaufort... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Change and Progress Theme Icon
As Archer returns to New York the next morning, he relives the previous day. Beaufort was irritated... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Archer left, while Beaufort went inside with Ellen. Archer knew the van der Luydens would probably... (full context)
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
...drawn to him by his association with artistic people and the world beyond New York. Archer knows that in some ways, it’s true that he and Ellen don’t speak the same... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
That evening, Archer unpacks the books he’s been sent from London, including Middlemarch, which has gotten interesting reviews.... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Change and Progress Theme Icon
The next few days drag by, Archer feeling like his future will be dark and monotonous. On the fourth evening, he receives... (full context)
Chapter 16
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
When Archer arrives at the Wellands’ house and sees May, he wonders why he didn’t come sooner.... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Archer asks May to tell him what she does all day. This way he can think... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
At breakfast, Mr. Welland tells Archer that they rough it here, though they’re eating delicacies. May’s parents were very surprised to... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
...Having been in Europe for at least twelve years, Ellen now thinks like a European. Archer points out that Ellen thought she was being American in asking for a divorce. Mrs.... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
...possibility of divorce, and of May learning about such things, gave Mr. Welland a temperature. Archer had meant to speak to Mrs. Welland about letting him marry May sooner, but he... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
The day before he leaves, Archer goes for a walk with May and says they could travel to Spain in the... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Archer is surprised by May’s perception, but he can tell that she’s nervous. She says that... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Archer is amazed both that May is worried about his affair with Mrs. Rushworth and that... (full context)
Chapter 17
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
When Archer returns home, Janey tells him at dinner that Ellen came to visit Mrs. Archer when... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
A couple days later, Archer calls on Mrs. Mingott to bring her messages from St. Augustine. She’s grateful to him... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Archer asks whether Mrs. Mingott might convince the Wellands to move the wedding up. She likes... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
When Ellen walks Archer out, he asks when he can see her, and she replies that he should come... (full context)
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
The next night, Archer doesn’t arrive as late as he meant to because he was too restless to wait.... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
The guests turn to Archer, and the woman introduces herself as the Marchioness Medora Manson. She’s visiting Ellen from Cuba.... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
...to go. She says she’ll join him soon, and he suggests that she might bring Archer. Medora Manson says Ellen needs Archer tonight, so Dr. Carver gives him his card. (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
Medora Manson expresses her pleasure at everything Archer has done for Ellen. Archer is embarrassed that everyone knows about his interference. Medora reveals... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Archer can’t believe that his first meeting with Medora Manson has her playing messenger to the... (full context)
Chapter 18
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
Ellen laughs, saying that Medora Manson and Archer have become friends while she fussed with her hair. She sees that it’s time for... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Archer says that Medora Manson has told him that Ellen’s husband wants her back. Ellen seems... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Ellen says she thinks the Wellands are being ridiculous about Archer’s long engagement. He follows her lead in changing the subject. Ellen is surprised that May... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Ellen asks whether this other woman loves Archer, and he clarifies that the person May was thinking of is unimportant. She wants to... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Archer is embarrassed, but he says he would have married Ellen if it were possible. She... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Archer feels like their silence is crushing him like a gravestone. He says at least he... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
...realize at first that people didn’t like her, and she only found out later what Archer had done to support her socially. She thought that New York was a peaceful home... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Archer becomes angry, asking whether Beaufort will take his place. He wants Ellen to be angry... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Archer feels terribly tired. He wants to hold Ellen again, but her attitude keeps him at... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
When Archer returns home, he finds a similar telegram from May. He crushes it and takes out... (full context)
Chapter 19
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
...is beautiful, and all of the old ladies have gotten out their old, smelly furs. Archer stands with his best man on the step of Grace Church. The carriage with May... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Archer’s best man asks whether he has the ring, and Archer feels in his pocket to... (full context)
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Archer sees his mother sitting in a pew and weeping, and he pities Janey for her... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
...On the other hand, Medora Manson, entering next, is dressed wildly in stripes and fringes. Archer’s heart practically stops. He thought Medora was still in Washington with Ellen. They supposedly left... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The best man points out that May is here, but Archer is hardly aware of the procession going up the aisle. All the sights and sounds... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Archer and May leave the church and enter the waiting carriage. May turns to him eagerly,... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
After the wedding breakfast, Archer and May change their clothes and get into their carriage in a shower of rice... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Once the train makes it to the countryside, conversation is easier than Archer expected. May wants to talk over the wedding, and neither of them seems any different... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
...she was surprised that Medora Manson showed up, and she wishes Ellen had come instead. Archer has been dreading her bringing up Ellen; it feels like his world will collapse every... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
When they arrive in Rhinebeck, Archer and May meet one of the van der Luydens’ men who has been sent with... (full context)
Chapter 20
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
Over breakfast at a lodging-house in London, Archer tells May that they certainly must dine with Mrs. Carfry. They only know two people... (full context)
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
However, one night at a hotel an English lady asked Mrs. Archer and Janey for a bottle of liniment for her sister, Mrs. Carfry, who had bronchitis.... (full context)
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
Archer and May had no intention of actually doing so, but Mrs. Carfry has sent them... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
Archer suggests they go to the National Gallery. They’re on their way home from their wedding... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Archer has reverted to obeying the traditions around marriage, because it’s much easier than trying to... (full context)
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
Archer thinks of all this as he and May drive to Mrs. Carfry’s house. Archer, too,... (full context)
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
May looks beautiful sitting next to Archer in the carriage, and he says that there probably won’t even be anyone at Mrs.... (full context)
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
...the ladies go to the drawing room. The vicar and the nephew soon leave, but Archer finds the tutor, M. Rivière, as interesting as Ned Winsett. He learns that the man... (full context)
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
...this position, and he asks whether he might find something to do in New York. Archer is startled, thinking that there’s no life of ideas there like M. Rivière is used... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
On the drive home, Archer thinks about his conversation with M. Rivière. He feels refreshed by it and wants to... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
Change and Progress Theme Icon
Archer says he won’t ask M. Rivière to dine, and May is appalled that he would... (full context)
Chapter 21
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Change and Progress Theme Icon
...tent. Every so often a girl steps out to shoot an arrow at a target. Archer watches from the verandah of the house. Behind him, French windows hung with lace curtains... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Change and Progress Theme Icon
Archer is surprised that life continues as it always has despite the change in his perception... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
May does not disappoint him. Archer married, as most people do, because he met her at the right moment and she... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Change and Progress Theme Icon
Medora Manson joins Archer, wearing her usual eccentric clothing. She says she didn’t realize he had arrived. She knows... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Archer and Medora head towards the tent, and Beaufort comes towards them over the lawn, looking... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Change and Progress Theme Icon
...emerges, looking as much like Diana as she did on the night of her engagement. Archer marvels at the way experience never leaves its mark on her. She takes aim at... (full context)
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Before long, May and Archer drive off, with May taking the reins. The streets are crowded with well-dressed people in... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Ever since Mrs. Mingott helped hasten Archer’s marriage, she has treated him as though they are partners in some secret, as she... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
...a servant, who tells her that Ellen went down to the shore. Mrs. Mingott asks Archer to fetch her, and Archer goes, feeling like he’s dreaming. (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Archer has heard about Ellen’s life since he last saw her; she spent the previous summer... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Through weeping willows along the path to the shore, Archer sees the Lime Rock lighthouse and the other islands in the bay. At the end... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Archer gazes at the boats on the bay against the sunset, and he remembers the scene... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
...people and ignores her friends. May wonders whether she might be happier with her husband. Archer laughs, saying he’s never heard May be cruel before. There’s no way Ellen would be... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Change and Progress Theme Icon
As they approach the Wellands’ house, Archer sees Mr. Welland through the window, pacing the drawing room in exactly the way he... (full context)
Chapter 22
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Change and Progress Theme Icon
...for a short while. She suggests that May can take him for his drive if Archer’s afternoon is provided for. She always feels that people’s time should be provided for, as... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Even so, as the day approaches, May begins to worry that Archer will be bored when she takes her father out for his drive. He reassures her... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
As soon as he heard about the Sillertons’ party, Archer realized that Medora Manson would probably be coming in to Newport for it, and Ellen... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Archer isn’t satisfied with the horse he’s come to see, and before long he heads towards... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
But as Archer walks across the lawn, he sees a parasol in the summer-house and feels sure that... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Change and Progress Theme Icon
Archer asks whether Ellen went to the party as well, and Miss Blenker says that she’s... (full context)
Chapter 23
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
The next morning Archer takes the train to Boston, where it’s oppressively hot. People move through the streets as... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
After breakfast, a few men Archer knows come in, confirming that he still is, after all, in the same world as... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Archer says he’s come on business, and begins to pretend he’s surprised to see her. He... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Archer springs up. In response to his questions, she confirms that someone has come to meet... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Ellen tells Archer he isn’t changed. He wants to say that he was until he saw her. He... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Ellen asks why Archer didn’t come fetch her at the shore that day at Mrs. Mingott’s. He explains that... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
...upon a cab. They drive to the Parker House, and Ellen takes her note in. Archer worries that the messenger might already be waiting inside. He paces by the cab, impatiently... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
...they don’t need to talk. Being alone is enough. As the boat begins to move, Archer feels that they’re starting on a long journey away from the normal world, but he’s... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Archer and Ellen go to the dining room of an inn at Point Arley, where Archer... (full context)
Chapter 24
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
While Archer and Ellen eat lunch, she tells him about her life since he last saw her.... (full context)
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
Archer asks whether Ellen has seen Beaufort lately. She hasn’t for a long time, but he... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Change and Progress Theme Icon
Archer says that Ellen has changed him much more than he has changed her. He married... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Ellen’s face suddenly exposes her soul, and Archer sees that all this time, she has been feeling the same anguish as he. Half... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Archer springs towards Ellen, and she rises quietly. She takes his hands, but her arms keep... (full context)
Chapter 25
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Back on the boat, Archer feels surprisingly calm. By any normal measure, the day has been a failure, but he... (full context)
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
Archer falls into a haze of these thoughts on the train, and is only stirred out... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Later, M. Rivière comes to Archer’s office. He says he thinks he saw Archer in Boston. He finds it strange that... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
M. Rivière clarifies that he wants to present his own opinion to Archer, not the arguments that he was sent with. Archer is no more receptive than before.... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Archer is shocked. He realizes that the Mingotts have kept him from even knowing that negotiations... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Change and Progress Theme Icon
Archer wants to know why M. Rivière is even talking to him about this, and M.... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
Archer gazes at a wall calendar with a portrait of the President on it. It seems... (full context)
Chapter 26
Change and Progress Theme Icon
...October, and by the middle of November it’s in full swing. Around this time, Mrs. Archer always comments on how changed New York is, and in her opinion it only ever... (full context)
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
Change and Progress Theme Icon
...foreigners. When he speaks against society he discusses its “trend,” an idea that frightens Mrs. Archer. Miss Sophy Jackson thinks it’s odd that he preached about it on Thanksgiving, but Mrs.... (full context)
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
...her dresses as soon as she received them, which makes her look very improper. Mrs. Archer expresses pity for Mrs. Beaufort, because there are rumors that Beaufort is heading for financial... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Change and Progress Theme Icon
Everything they talk about seems to confirm Mrs. Archer’s sense of change. She remarks that May now goes to Mrs. Struthers’s gatherings, but May... (full context)
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
Mrs. Archer feels that people like Ellen, who have lived in aristocratic societies, should help New York... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Archer and Sillerton Jackson retreat to the library. Mr. Jackson remarks that if Beaufort collapses, people... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Archer keeps wondering about May’s sustained blush when she mentioned Ellen. He hasn’t seen Ellen in... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
...to return to her husband, because she won’t have any money to live on now. Archer doesn’t understand until Mr. Jackson mentions Beaufort’s name, at which point he becomes enraged and... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Archer says that Ellen certainly won’t go back now, but Mr. Jackson seems to have been... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
May is strangely quiet on the way home, and Archer is still worried about her blush at Ellen’s name. When they get home, he calls... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Archer says he might have to go to Washington soon on business for a patent case.... (full context)
Chapter 27
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Archer has definitely decided to go to Washington, even though the case he was using as... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
...the night before what Beaufort had done, and it caused her to have a stroke. Archer immediately goes to Mrs. Mingott’s house. He sees all the signs of illness in the... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
...support dishonesty, and even Mrs. Beaufort’s Dallas heritage wouldn’t convince her otherwise. Mrs. Welland tells Archer all of this, horrified at having to face such unpleasantness. She worries about how to... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Archer can’t really be helpful, and there’s nothing much to do but discuss the Beaufort scandal.... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
...May says they must carry out her wishes. As the servants are busy, she asks Archer to take the telegram. She remarks on what a pity it is that he’ll will... (full context)
Chapter 28
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Archer runs into Lawrence Lefferts at the telegraph office. He just heard about Mrs. Mingott’s stroke... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
...that marriages can’t be dissolved. The Beauforts will no longer be part of society. Mrs. Archer says they’d better move to North Carolina and breed horses. (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
...the conversation back to the problem of getting Ellen to New York the next day. Archer suggests that he can meet her after work if May sends the carriage to the... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
When they leave the Wellands’, May asks Archer how he’ll be able to meet Ellen if he’s going to Washington the next day.... (full context)
Chapter 29
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Change and Progress Theme Icon
May’s carriage meets Archer at the ferry and brings him to the train station in Jersey City. It’s a... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Everything happens the way Archer imagined. He guides Ellen to the carriage and tells her about the situation with Mrs.... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Archer watches Ellen, wondering what she’s been doing since he saw her. He’s forgotten everything he... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Archer feels stupidly conventional and says that Ellen is the most honest woman he’s ever met;... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Archer says Ellen shouldn’t be afraid of him, because he doesn’t want to touch her. He... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Ellen asks whether Archer wants her to live with him as his mistress. He’s startled by her use of... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
The carriage is moving quickly. Archer asks what Ellen’s plan is for them. She says they can only be near each... (full context)
Chapter 30
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
That evening, Archer finds the drawing room empty before dinner. He knows May is home, so he wonders... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Archer asks how Mrs. Mingott is, and May says she’s disturbed by the latest news about... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Change and Progress Theme Icon
As Archer watches May working, he realizes that she’ll never surprise him with a mood, an idea,... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Suddenly Archer imagines May dying and leaving him free. He hardly realizes the enormity of the fact... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
A week goes by without Archer seeing Ellen or hearing anything about her. He has formed a resolve that came to... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
However, Archer is shown into Mrs. Mingott’s room without seeing Ellen. She’s sitting in her armchair, and... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Archer says that Ellen certainly couldn’t have gone back to her husband. Mrs. Mingott reveals that... (full context)
Chapter 31
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Archer has trouble understanding why Ellen has decided to live with Mrs. Mingott. He’s sure that... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Before Archer saw Mrs. Mingott, he had planned to learn what day Ellen was returning to Washington... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Archer has long known the proper way to conduct an affair of this sort, but it’s... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Archer goes to the Beauforts’ house, thinking of his memories with May there. The house is... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Lawrence Lefferts and another man come down the road, but Archer stops worrying about Ellen being seen there when he feels her hand in his. He... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
Change and Progress Theme Icon
Ellen and Archer avoid the popular part of the Metropolitan Museum, going instead to the recovered antiquities that... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Ellen asks what Archer wanted to tell her. He says he thinks she came to New York because she... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
...she would be safer here from doing irreparable harm like so many others have done. Archer says he has the same desires as other people. She looks terrified and asks whether... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Archer says Ellen is so experienced that he doesn’t see why she doesn’t look their situation... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
When Archer gets home, everything in his house looks strange to him. To his relief, May isn’t... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
...judged Ellen fairly lately because she acts so differently than other people. May blushes, and Archer can tell she’s trying to see something in a way she doesn’t usually. He realizes... (full context)
Chapter 32
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Change and Progress Theme Icon
The next evening, Archer and May dine with the van der Luydens, who have come into the city to... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Due to his work, Archer hasn’t seen May since the night before. Now she seems pale but overly animated. The... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Change and Progress Theme Icon
After the first act of the opera, Archer goes to the back of the box to watch the same scene he saw when... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Archer is used to conforming to society’s rules, and he doesn’t like being conspicuous. But suddenly... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
...their house, May catches her wedding dress on the carriage and tears it. She and Archer go upstairs to the library. May is pale and says Archer had better go to... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Archer doesn’t understand. May clarifies that Ellen is going back to Europe soon, since Mrs. Mingott... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Eventually, Archer asks how May knows this information. She brings him a note that Ellen sent her... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Archer asks why Ellen sent this letter, and May replies that it’s due to their conversation... (full context)
Chapter 33
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
A young couple’s first big dinner is a great event. Archer often has informal company, though he wonders whether May would ask anyone to the house... (full context)
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Mrs. Archer and Mrs. Welland sit in May’s drawing room on the afternoon of the dinner, making... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
In the ten days since Ellen left New York, Archer has only received from her a key sealed in an envelope. He’s determined to follow... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
A day or two later, Archer went to visit Mrs. Mingott, who lamented Ellen’s desertion of her. She thinks that Ellen... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Archer finds May in the drawing room before dinner. May’s drawing room is generally thought to... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
...leaving, the Mingotts do all they can to show how much they love her, and Archer marvels at the way all grievances have been erased. He doesn’t feel entirely present, and... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Archer feels like a prisoner. He takes a discussion about Beaufort and his wife as a... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
Change and Progress Theme Icon
...last is taken as a bit much by the men present. Sillerton Jackson remarks to Archer that Lefferts is only saying such things to cover his own misdeeds. (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Archer can’t focus on the conversation. He’s vaguely aware of an attitude of friendliness aimed at... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Eventually, Archer sees Ellen preparing to leave. He can’t remember anything he said to her at dinner.... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
As soon as the guests leave, Archer goes up to his library, hoping May will go to bed. Instead, she comes to... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
...allow it. Just that morning, she became sure of something she’s been hoping would happen. Archer feels sick, but he holds her. She says that only Mrs. Welland, Mrs. Archer, and... (full context)
Chapter 34
Change and Progress Theme Icon
Archer is sitting in his library. He’s just gotten back from a reception at the Metropolitan... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Change and Progress Theme Icon
Archer’s most important memory of the library is the Governor of New York telling him to... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Change and Progress Theme Icon
Archer knows that he has missed “the flower of life,” but it seems so unattainable that... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Change and Progress Theme Icon
Archer’s first photograph of May still sits on his desk. She remained always the way she... (full context)
Change and Progress Theme Icon
Archer receives a phone call from Dallas, who’s in Chicago on business. He invites Archer to... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Change and Progress Theme Icon
Archer hasn’t traveled much, as May didn’t like to travel unless there was a specific reason... (full context)
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Change and Progress Theme Icon
...else. The traditional divisions between right and wrong don’t leave any room for unexpected situations. Archer suddenly regards his life with a broad view and wonders what’s left of the world... (full context)
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Change and Progress Theme Icon
Archer looks at Paris out his hotel window and feels young and eager. He wonders whether... (full context)
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Change and Progress Theme Icon
Archer insisted that he and Dallas stay in what Dallas considers an old-fashioned hotel. After Ellen... (full context)
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Change and Progress Theme Icon
Dallas asks what Ellen was like, as he’s heard that she and Archer were close. Archer says she was different. Dallas says it’s always like that; that’s what... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
The Failure of Marriage Theme Icon
Change and Progress Theme Icon
Archer spends the afternoon roaming Paris alone. He’s relieved and moved to know that May guessed... (full context)
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
American vs. Foreign Theme Icon
Change and Progress Theme Icon
Archer meets Dallas at the hotel and they walk towards Ellen’s house. Dallas talks enthusiastically about... (full context)
The Rules of Society Theme Icon
Change and Progress Theme Icon
...and the daylight is fading. Dallas stops before Ellen’s building and puts his arm through Archer’s. He speaks to the porter to find out which floor Ellen lives on, while Archer... (full context)
Innocence vs. Experience Theme Icon
Archer sits on the bench and thinks of Dallas going up to Ellen’s floor and entering... (full context)