Over three decades ago, David Holbrook coined the phrase “unsatisfactory man” as a moniker for some of Edith Wharton's male characters. He characterized Newland Archer as particularly and “deplorably unsatisfactory,”1 citing his cowardice and his stifling adherence to convention. Newland's understanding about his roles as a man, husband, and father conform to traditional ideas about gender roles and gender expression in white upper-class U.S. society, demonstrating that such rules about sex and gender, while harmful to women, are also limiting for men. Furthermore, his performance of what he considers “natural” gender and sexual identities exposes such markers as illusory, as readings of the queer contexts of the novel by Gregory Woods and Richard A. Kaye confirm.2 Newland's commitment to these roles comes at the expense of his and others’ personal fulfillment, but May Welland often has been viewed as the cause of the characters’ misery and missed opportunities....
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Research Article| October 01 2023
Gary Totten; Newland Archer's Crisis of (Im)mobility: Gendered Routes of Travel in The Age of Innocence. American Literary Realism 1 October 2023; 56 (1): 18–40. doi: https://doi.org/10.5406/19405103.56.1.02
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