Abstract

This essay examines the racialized and gendered construction of Jewishness in Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth. Through an analysis of the depiction of Simon Rosedale, the Jewish parvenu who unsuccessfully woos Lily Bart, I contend that Wharton's perception of Jewish difference is more complex than it initially appears, making reductive conclusions regarding her antisemitism impossible. However, uncovering Wharton's ambivalence makes her repudiation of Jewish difference all the more striking; although Wharton grudgingly acknowledged that upwardly mobile immigrant Jews like Rosedale had become part of her world, she would never fully accept that they were there to stay.

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