The House of Mirth

The House of Mirth

Gerty Farish Character Analysis

Lawrence Selden’s cousin Gerty Farish is Lily Bart’s most devoted friend. Living in a working-class apartment on her own, Gerty demonstrates both a strong capacity for independence and a rejection of materialistic values. Despite having feelings for Selden, Gerty distinguishes herself through her self-sacrifice and compassion when she agrees to help Lily, although she initially blamed Lily for taking Selden away from her. Gerty also proves devoted to charitable causes and naively believes in other people’s goodness, sometimes to the point of not noticing their selfish motives.

Gerty Farish Quotes in The House of Mirth

The The House of Mirth quotes below are all either spoken by Gerty Farish or refer to Gerty Farish. 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:
Money and Happiness Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Dover edition of The House of Mirth published in 2002.
Book 1: Chapter 1 Quotes

She was so evidently the victim of the civilization which had produced her, that the links of her bracelet seemed like manacles chaining her to her fate.

Related Characters: Lily Bart, Gerty Farish
Page Number: 5
Explanation and Analysis:
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Book 1: Chapter 14 Quotes

When had Lily ever really felt, or pitied, or understood? All she wanted was the taste of new experiences: she seemed like some cruel creature experimenting in a laboratory.

Related Characters: Lily Bart, Lawrence Selden, Gerty Farish
Page Number: 132
Explanation and Analysis:
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Book 2: Chapter 4 Quotes

“The whole truth?” Miss Bart laughed. “What is truth? Where a woman is concerned, it's the story that’s easiest to believe. In this case it’s a great deal easier to believe Bertha Dorset’s story than mine, because she has a big house and an opera box, and it’s convenient to be on good terms with her.”

Related Characters: Lily Bart (speaker), Bertha Dorset, Gerty Farish, Julia Peniston
Related Symbols: Bertha’s Letters
Page Number: 182
Explanation and Analysis:
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“From the beginning? […] Dear Gerty, how little imagination you good people have! Why, the beginning was in my cradle, I suppose—in the way I was brought up, and the things I was taught to care for. Or no—I won’t blame anybody for my faults: I’ll say it was in my blood, that I got it from some wicked pleasure-loving ancestress […]!”

Related Characters: Lily Bart (speaker), Gerty Farish
Page Number: 183
Explanation and Analysis:
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Gerty Farish Character Timeline in The House of Mirth

The timeline below shows where the character Gerty Farish appears in The House of Mirth. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 1: Chapter 1
Money and Happiness Theme Icon
Gender, Class, and Freedom Theme Icon
...criticizes the fact that women are not allowed the same luxury. When Selden replies that Gerty Farish has her own apartment, Lily considers the example irrelevant, since Gerty is not “marriageable”... (full context)
Book 1: Chapter 3
Money and Happiness Theme Icon
Gender, Class, and Freedom Theme Icon
...her fate of marrying a rich, probably boring husband. While Lily could live independently like Gerty Farish, she feels too much pleasure at living in luxury to conceive of a lower... (full context)
Book 1: Chapter 8
Money and Happiness Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
Gerty Farish then approaches Lily and compliments her on her appearance. Lily privately looks down on... (full context)
Money and Happiness Theme Icon
Gender, Class, and Freedom Theme Icon
Gerty then mentions that Percy Gryce and Evie Van Osburgh, a quiet girl with a similar... (full context)
Money and Happiness Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
Gerty Farish then trails off, looking at the presents, and Gus Trenor greets Lily in a... (full context)
Book 1: Chapter 10
Money and Happiness Theme Icon
Morality vs. Hypocrisy Theme Icon
After running into Gerty Farish at a shop, Lily decides to give the young woman money to support a... (full context)
Book 1: Chapter 12
Money and Happiness Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
...of the event, Lawrence Selden also decides to attend the party and sits next to Gerty Farish, who is delighted that Lily has sent her an invitation. Commenting on this generous... (full context)
Money and Happiness Theme Icon
Gender, Class, and Freedom Theme Icon
...enjoys because he is capable of immersing himself entirely in the visual scenes depicted, whereas Gerty simply comments on the beauty of the actors. When the curtain opens on Lily Bart,... (full context)
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
...her from the tragic way in which her beauty is trivialized in her social sphere. Gerty then interrupts Selden’s reverie, commenting excitedly that this is “the real Lily,” and the two... (full context)
Book 1: Chapter 13
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...aunt would offer no comfort or understanding, she then realizes that she could go to Gerty’s, hoping that she will get there before she begins crying uncontrollably. (full context)
Book 1: Chapter 14
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
The day after Wellington and Louisa Bry’s party, Gerty Farish feels happy to have taken part in such elegant entertainment and to know that... (full context)
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
On his way to dinner at Gerty’s, Selden runs into Gus Trenor, who tries to convince Selden to dine with him, complaining... (full context)
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
In Gerty’s sparse apartment, Selden compliments the young girl on her various qualities, which makes Gerty feel... (full context)
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
Meanwhile, alone in her apartment, Gerty feels mounting jealousy toward Lily, whom she feels must know about Gerty’s feelings for Selden... (full context)
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
As Gerty is getting ready for bed, someone suddenly rings the doorbell. Gerty hastily opens the door... (full context)
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
Lily then begins to cry, and Gerty tries to convince her to actually tell her what has happened, adding that Selden went... (full context)
Book 1: Chapter 15
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The next morning, Lily wakes up alone in Gerty’s bed and, as memory returns to her, feels a mix of horror and disgust, which... (full context)
Book 2: Chapter 4
Money and Happiness Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
...Peniston’s estate. Despite Lily’s utter shock, no one seems to pay attention to her except Gerty Farish. After the family members all leave, the two of them are left alone. (full context)
Money and Happiness Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
Lily and Gerty then go to Gerty’s apartment, where Gerty decries how unfair Mrs. Peniston’s decision is. However,... (full context)
Money and Happiness Theme Icon
Morality vs. Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
Although Gerty cannot believe this could happen, Lily simply replies that Gerty is her only true friend... (full context)
Gender, Class, and Freedom Theme Icon
When Gerty insists that Lily recount her version of the story, Lily grows impatient, saying that, if... (full context)
Morality vs. Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Gender, Class, and Freedom Theme Icon
...staying, Lily tries to reexamine her situation, realizing that she is completely alone, except for Gerty Farish. After her separation from George and Bertha Dorset, Lily spent a few weeks in... (full context)
Book 2: Chapter 5
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Love and Friendship Theme Icon
...Sam and Mattie Gormer, which succeeds in removing her from public scrutiny and criticism. However, Gerty Farish disapproves of the trip, feeling that Lily is giving up on the possibility to... (full context)
Book 2: Chapter 8
Morality vs. Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
Although Lily has spent little time with Gerty, whose values are so at odds with her own, she visits her one day. Gerty... (full context)
Gender, Class, and Freedom Theme Icon
After leaving Gerty to meet Carry Fisher, who has found Lily someone in need of a social secretary,... (full context)
Money and Happiness Theme Icon
Morality vs. Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
Left alone, Gerty reflects on Lily’s plight and feels that the only solution for Lily would be to... (full context)
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Despite Selden’s apparent coldness toward Lily’s life, Gerty entreats him to help Lily in whichever way he can, emphasizing that Lily needs him... (full context)
Book 2: Chapter 9
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...in which they remain uncomfortably distant and detached, and Selden admits that he is following Gerty’s advice to help Lily. He explains that his purpose is to take her away from... (full context)
Book 2: Chapter 10
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Now, thanks to the combined efforts of Gerty Farish and Carry Fisher, Lily is working for Mme. Regina, a hat-maker. Although Lily hopes... (full context)
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...to go lie down, since Lily had said that she was feeling unwell. Having refused Gerty’s hospitality, Lily walks home to her boarding-house. (full context)
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...Hatch, and has therefore taken a break from helping Lily—which Lily understands and excuses. Although Gerty remains her only loyal friend, Lily avoids her because she fears running into Selden, which... (full context)
Book 2: Chapter 13
Money and Happiness Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
...the woman says that her name is Nettie Struther, and that she knows Lily from Gerty Farish’s charity. Lily then remembers the young girl, who was ill at the time and... (full context)
Book 2: Chapter 14
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...to be said. However, as he enters the house, he is surprised to run into Gerty Farish, who is herself surprised that he has arrived so fast. With a sense of... (full context)
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
...is seeing “the real Lily,” but that she is inaccessible. Seeing Selden’s sorrow and shock, Gerty tries to remind him of the urgency of the situation, as the doctor has left... (full context)