Edith Wharton’s The House Of Mirth Vs Terence Davies’ Film Adaptation

April 27, 2022 by Essay Writer

Recently, Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth adapted to the silver screen. Adaptation means that adapting a literary work into another, such as movies, games, plays a literary work also can be adapted into the same genre called rewriting. Books are the most popular literary genre to adapted into movies because people are most likely to watch something instead of reading and sparing their times, however many people still prefer to read the original book because they can manipulate pages in their minds with their imaginations which make the novel more interesting. In movies directors can manipulate the scene as they want with a camera, light tricks, however past decade all those special effects are made in computer making movie more realistic.

Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth adapted into a movie called as The House of Mirth by Terence Davies, and there are small changes from the original book. Terence Davies’s film The House of Mirth is loyal to the source text. Director followed the plot line with great fidelity, but Davies added an unexpected passion and turn of events to his adaptation such as cruelty and guile in America’s high society. Terence Davies’ film successfully captures mistakes of Wharton’s novel The House of Mirth but yet Davies has successfully overcome Wharton’s overflowing novel and turn into a movie. This amazing movie of Davies reveals how Terence is a genius visual sense of light, background arranging. It is a revelation to see how he portrayed the novel’s places into a movie scene considering characters and camera angles to make the movie more appealing.

Davies’ movie has a tragic story with the background of hypocrisy and wealth issues. Lily Bart, who discovers the perilous of her position when her beauty and attractiveness start jealousy and upsetting people around her. Stuck between whether her heart and her head, Lily Bart seeks a wealthy husband to marry in order to carry social expectations, but she misses her chance to marry for love with Lawrence Selden. Lily Bart is a young and a beautiful woman, who knows how to act around high society class. But she is financially dependent on her aunt Julia who gives a weekly income to her. She thinks that marrying a wealthy man would solve all of her problems but you cannot buy real love with money. Only Lawrence Selden is interested in her but he is not a wealthy man as Lily wanted. “Society is a revolving body which is apt to be judged according to its place in each man’s heaven, and at present, it was turning its illuminated face to Lily.” Showing that Lily is fully confident in finding a husband.

She put aside her romantic ideas about relationship and love with Selden and made a logical purpose and decided to gain Gryce. This decision makes her feel that she has the ropes but unfortunately, the light of society will turn its glorious light from her face leaving her in the dark. The book The House of Mirth is a bitter book because Wharton experienced discrimination and cruelty of her socioeconomic life and wanted someone to save her from this life. Terence Davies’ adaptation of the book is very close to the original source, only small changes appear in the movie, for example; Davies combines Gerty Farish character with Grace Stepney.

Selden never suspects Lily and Gus Trenor sleeping with each other as he does in the book The House of Mirth. Second Selden never finds out that Lily has the love letters written by Bertha Dorset to Selden. These changes make Selden more innocent on Lily’s ultimate demise, and making the story about a love story in a cruel world and changing man-made rules of that world was. In the book, Lily goes to grave without Selden understood her, and never knowing that she has the power to save herself by blackmailing Bertha is a sad and unfair life. Because The House of Mirth is about Lily’s the act of refuse of becoming someone, she isn’t wanting to be to avoid hunger.

She can marry with someone she is not happy with and acts like she is happy in order to be financially free. She can blackmail Bertha but this low act disgusts her. She has multiple choices either she will marry Selden and live a poor life, or she can degrade herself and gain money from married men in exchange for sexual favors or she can die. Lily might feel love towards to Selden but, Selden is one of the important character who led Lily to her death. In the movie The House of Mirth Eric Stoltz, who plays Selden is a genius actor, he plays him well as a self-involved intellectual.

Gillian Anderson, who plays Lily Bart, gives a perfect performance differing from the book. Anderson plays Lily with earnest acting but the Lily in the book is kind of inmate. She thinks that her beauty and charm are enough to protect her and she wants the life to be fair to her when it is not. Anderson gives Lily an intellectual side that makes her ultimate death more like self-punishment than moral conflict. Edith Wharton knew that her own independence is based on self-employment as a novelist. She follows the rules of Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own illustrating one century later.

In conclusion; it is a very good adaptation; it is loyal to the source text. In this money-based sociality, everyone is trying to live their lives in joy and in those times, it is hard to have fun without any money since all parties are for high-class people and other activities also require money. In this kind of our, Lily is trying to survive with a little bit of money while trying to search for a young rich bachelor to save her life, but this search does not end well for her turning this with a sad ending. In book two after Lily started to sink lower and lower into poverty and despair she says “I wasn’t meant to be good.” She sees two women without any penny and starts to see her own future by looking at them. She understands that she can never be lucky to gain what she always wants here “good” refers to being rich and being a member of high class.

So, she has to decide whether love and happiness or a wealthy and unhappy marriage. The director Davies adapted this 1905 novel into a movie in the year 2000, this movie is his fifth movie and we can see how well-made movie it is, his visual touches, camera tricks, and angles. The main key feature of The House of Mirth’s is Davies’ own attitude to mise-en-scene, cinematography and editing, and the performances of actors and actresses who take place in the movie while adding their own characteristic features to each character in the novel making the movie better. Even Davies’ The House of Mirth movie gained 10 million dollars and couldn’t even reach his 34 million dollars record with The Age of Innocence in my opinion The House of Mirth is a more successful movie than The Age of Innocence, because Davies created a de facto stage play and chooses actual decors and costumes to stage the 1905 world.


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