When discussing Edith Wharton's ghost stories, scholars tend to emphasize themes of repressed sexuality and gender, in particular the struggles of women to overcome the traditional roles that threaten to imprison them. While sexual and gender politics undoubtedly inhabit the haunted space of Wharton's stories, a remarkable number of the stories also exhibit anxiety over money and class. In some of the ghost stories, this anxiety is plainly visible, reflecting Wharton's sharp critique of the corrupt nouveau riches and the decaying aristocracy. In other tales, however, less noticed ghosts expose the depth of Wharton's anxiety over class power and inherited money, raising uncomfortable questions about the legitimacy of the class system on which Wharton depended for her own wealth. A close examination of the ghost stories reveals Wharton's participation in and response to America's anxious debate over wealth and class during the rapidly changing economic landscape of the early twentieth-century.


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pp. 100-127
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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