The House of Mirth

by

Edith Wharton

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Julia Peniston Character Analysis

Lily Bart’s aunt, Mrs. Peniston is a rich social recluse who abides by conservative values. Although she showed a degree of compassion in taking Lily in after Mrs. Bart’s death, she is not involved in Lily’s personal life. She is less interested in helping her niece than scolding her on a moral level, blaming Lily for the rumors that exist about her. She later proves particularly cruel in choosing to disinherit Lily, thus leaving the young woman in a situation of poverty.

Julia Peniston Quotes in The House of Mirth

The The House of Mirth quotes below are all either spoken by Julia Peniston or refer to Julia Peniston. 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 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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Julia Peniston Character Timeline in The House of Mirth

The timeline below shows where the character Julia Peniston appears in The House of Mirth. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 1: Chapter 1
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
...party. Having just missed her train and waiting for the next one, while knowing that her aunt ’s house is closed, Lily feels at a lost about what to do and asks... (full context)
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...seizes this opportunity to ask him why he does not visit her more often at her aunt Mrs. Peniston’s house, despite the fact that they get along so well. Lily says that... (full context)
Money and Happiness Theme Icon
Gender, Class, and Freedom Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
...them, Lily argues that it is her duty, adding that she would be alone with her aunt otherwise. As the two of them laugh at how terrible that sounds, they share a... (full context)
Book 1: Chapter 3
Gender, Class, and Freedom Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
...“living like pigs,” are uninterested in taking care of Lily. Only one of Lily’s aunts, Mrs. Peniston , accepts to take her in, feeling pride in this act of public self-sacrifice. (full context)
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Despite being part of New York’s upper class, Mrs. Peniston has always lived at the margins of high-society activity, and she takes pleasure in the... (full context)
Gender, Class, and Freedom Theme Icon
Apart from this, Mrs. Peniston has failed to intervene in Lily’s life, and Lily feels frustrated that she is still... (full context)
Book 1: Chapter 5
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...she returned to her room, her happiness was increased when she found some money that Mrs. Peniston had sent her. (full context)
Book 1: Chapter 9
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...act skillfully to show that she is not personally affected by this event, Lily reaches her aunt ’s house, in which Mrs. Peniston has launched a large September cleaning operation. On her... (full context)
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Gender, Class, and Freedom Theme Icon
Lily feels angry at the charwoman’s attitude, but also at being forced to stay at her aunt ’s house longer than usual, since she has received few invitations this season. She is... (full context)
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...the idea of reading the letters, Lily resolves to destroy them in her room, but Mrs. Peniston then walks in to talk to her. Although Mrs. Peniston does not take part in... (full context)
Morality vs. Hypocrisy Theme Icon
In her room, Lily plans to burn Bertha Dorset’s letters. However, after Mrs. Peniston ’s mention of the reasons that made Percy Gryce flee Bellomont, Lily remembers Bertha’s role... (full context)
Book 1: Chapter 10
Money and Happiness Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
A few days after this party, Lily receives a visit at her aunt ’s house from Mr. Rosedale. Although she tries to make him feel welcome, she feels... (full context)
Book 1: Chapter 11
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After the holidays, the social “season” is beginning. Mrs. Peniston , who, despite her reclusion, has an incredible memory for any aspect of social life,... (full context)
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In the meantime, after Jack and Grace Stepney’s honeymoon, Mrs. Peniston decides to organize a dinner at her own house. The prospect of this dinner, meant... (full context)
Morality vs. Hypocrisy Theme Icon
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Because of this resentment, Grace Stepney resolves to tell Mrs. Peniston about the rumors according to which Gus Trenor is in love with Lily, and that... (full context)
Morality vs. Hypocrisy Theme Icon
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Grace further mentions that Lily has also accepted attentions from George Dorset, but Mrs. Peniston , unwilling to believe these accusations, defends her niece and refuses to pursue the conversation.... (full context)
Book 1: Chapter 13
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...room terrifies her. Although she feels that she has no one to rely on, since her aunt would offer no comfort or understanding, she then realizes that she could go to Gerty’s,... (full context)
Book 1: Chapter 15
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...must have had a nervous attack last night, and Gerty reassures her that she called Mrs. Peniston to tell her where Lily was. (full context)
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When Lily returns home, Mrs. Peniston tells her that she was extremely worried last night. Lily explains that she had felt... (full context)
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Morality vs. Hypocrisy Theme Icon
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After lunch, Lily asks to speak to her aunt . Lily begins to discuss her problems, but when she mentions her debts, she is... (full context)
Book 2: Chapter 1
Morality vs. Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Gender, Class, and Freedom Theme Icon
...had a “liberal education,” far from the more conservative influence of people like Lily’s aunt, Mrs. Peniston . (full context)
Book 2: Chapter 4
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Two weeks after Lily’s return from Europe, she joins her entire family gathered in Mrs. Peniston ’s house after her aunt’s sudden death. Although Mrs. Peniston disapproved of Lily’s trip with... (full context)
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Everyone present believes that Lily will receive her aunt ’s 400,000 dollars. However, when the lawyer reads Mrs. Peniston’s testament, Lily receives only 10,000... (full context)
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Lily and Gerty then go to Gerty’s apartment, where Gerty decries how unfair Mrs. Peniston ’s decision is. However, Lily, who has learned that the testament was redacted recently, is... (full context)
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...Lily adds that she cares less about her friends’ rejection than she cared about receiving her aunt ’s money, but Gerty argues that she should care about her friends and simply tell... (full context)
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...interaction only heightens Lily’s desire to repay her debt to Gus. However, after writing to her aunt ’s lawyer, Lily learns that she might need to wait one year to receive her... (full context)
Book 2: Chapter 5
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When Lily leaves Mrs. Peniston ’s (now Grace’s) house, she feels that she is leaving her old life behind. However,... (full context)
Book 2: Chapter 9
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...remaining with Mrs. Hatch and arguing that Lily could stay with Gerty until she receives Mrs. Peniston ’s inheritance. However, when Lily reveals that she would have to spend all of this... (full context)
Book 2: Chapter 10
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Morality vs. Hypocrisy Theme Icon
...Rosedale inquires further about Lily’s situation, she finds herself admitting to him that she owes her aunt ’s entire legacy. For the first time, she tells the entire truth about her business... (full context)
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Reflecting on the necessity to repay Gus Trenor’s debt, Lily wonders if she could use her aunt ’s legacy to open her own hat-making business and, over the course of years, give... (full context)
Book 2: Chapter 13
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...with an explanation that the delay had been shorter than expected for her to receive her aunt ’s legacy. Unable to believe that she is finally in possession of this check, she... (full context)