Novel: The Custom of the Country

"The Custom of the Country" is an unique composed in 1913 by American writer Edith Wharton, who is related to American upper class as well as is recognized for her incredible insight and also criticism of it. The novel tells the story of Undine Spragg, a girl from the Midwest, that climbs with the rankings of New York high society by manipulating and also throwing out several affluent spouses. The title describes the customs of marriage as well as separation widespread in the United States during the very early 20th century, which Wharton illustrates as shallow as well as ethically corrupt. Throughout the unique, Wharton utilizes Undine to symbolize the rising consumerism and also materialism in American culture, which she thinks decreases the value of individual relationships as well as ambitions.

Key Characters and also Plot Summary
At the beginning of the novel, Undine Spragg as well as her family members step from Apex City, an imaginary Midwestern town, to New York with the hope of climbing up the social ladder. Enthusiastic and gorgeous, Undine knows that the surest method to success in high society is to marry well, and also she rapidly conquers Ralph Marvell, a participant of an old and reputable New York family members.

Nevertheless, Undine soon comes to be miserable in her marriage, as she recognizes that Ralph's family, while distinguished, is not as wealthy as she had really hoped. Consequently, she overlooks her spouse as well as their son, Paul, in search of her very own social ambitions. Undine ends up being entailed with millionaire Peter Van Degen, who is currently married, bring about her choice to divorce Ralph.

Undine's Second Marriage as well as Divorce
Following her separation from Ralph, Undine weds Peter Van Degen, thinking that he will certainly bring her the success as well as wealth she wishes. Nonetheless, her second marriage verifies to be just as unfulfilling as the first, as Peter is unfaithful to Undine, as well as she stops working to burglarize the greatest tiers of New York society. Ultimately, Undine makes a decision to divorce Peter and sets her sights on a brand-new, more prominent target: a French aristocrat called Raymond de Chelles. Undine transfer to Paris with her boy Paul as well as launches her separation from Peter.

Undine's Third Marriage as well as Its Repercussions
In the meanwhile, Ralph Marvell, sad by his failed marital relationship as well as sacrifice of his own aspirations, dedicates suicide. Paul is left in the treatment of Ralph's family members, as well as Undine is able to wed Raymond de Chelles, whom she thinks will lastly bring her the social prominence she hungers for. Nevertheless, she finds that her lack of ability to acquire a formal separation from Ralph has actually technically made her marital relationship to Raymond illegitimate and hinders her entryway into Parisian culture. Hopeless to fix this, Undine returns to America to definitively settle her marriage standing.

Inevitably, Undine's search of riches and social standing leaves her sensation empty as well as unfinished. In her quest for product success, she loses the love and support of her family and friends, as well as the respect she so seriously looks for. The novel wraps up with Undine's awareness that she has in reality achieved some procedure of social and monetary success, however at the price of her very own happiness and that of those around her. The Custom of the Country is a pungent critique of the unwanteds and also superficiality of American society during the Gilded Age, in addition to the individual effects of prioritizing product riches and also ambition above all else.
The Custom of the Country

Undine Spragg, a young Midwestern girl, moves to New York with her family and uses her beauty and manipulation to climb the social ladder, while shedding husbands along the way.

Author: Edith Wharton

Edith Wharton Edith Wharton, an esteemed American author known for her incisive critiques of society. Discover her biography, quotes, and literary legacy.
More about Edith Wharton