The House of Mirth

by

Edith Wharton

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Lily Bart’s mother dies when Lily is in her early twenties. Mrs. Bart has a strong influence on Lily’s attitude toward life, as she convinces her daughter that she will succeed in becoming rich by using her beauty to find a rich husband. Mrs. Bart’s ideology and spending habits instill in Lily a conviction that she belongs to no other class than the upper class, that money brings happiness and moral worth, and that it is also an inherently unstable possession, meant to bring alternate feelings of elation and worry. However, Lily differs from her mother in a crucial respect: her aversion to marrying a rich man for the sake of money alone.

Mrs. Bart Quotes in The House of Mirth

The The House of Mirth quotes below are all either spoken by Mrs. Bart or refer to Mrs. Bart. 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 3 Quotes

She knew that she hated dinginess as much as her mother had hated it, and to her last breath she meant to fight against it, dragging herself up again and again above its flood till she gained the bright pinnacles of success which presented such a slippery surface to her clutch.

Related Characters: Lily Bart, Mrs. Bart
Page Number: 30
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation long mobile
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Mrs. Bart Character Timeline in The House of Mirth

The timeline below shows where the character Mrs. Bart appears in The House of Mirth. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 1: Chapter 3
Money and Happiness Theme Icon
...he is clearly interested in marrying her. Imagining being married to Mr. Gryce, Lily remembers her mother ’s vengeful tone when she foreshadowed Lily getting all their money back thanks to the... (full context)
Money and Happiness Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
When Lily and her mother lacked money to sustain their expensive lifestyle, Lily’s father, whom she almost never saw and... (full context)
Money and Happiness Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
...bankrupt. This confession led to his slow death and, while Lily felt sorry for him, Mrs. Bart was angry at her husband’s failure. The two women were forced to live in a... (full context)
Money and Happiness Theme Icon
Gender, Class, and Freedom Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
Despite their dire situation, Mrs. Bart trusted in Lily’s beauty and the consequent ease with which she would one day find... (full context)
Gender, Class, and Freedom Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
...dreams of adventure, Lily concludes that they were childish. Two years after Lily’s father’s death, her mother died, telling her daughter that she must escape the “dinginess” they lived in, otherwise she... (full context)