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The House of Mirth

Edith Wharton
Quotes Important Quotations Explained
Quotes Important Quotations Explained

Quote 2

I wasn’t meant to be good.

This comment appears late in Book Two, after Lily has been sinking lower and lower into poverty and despair. She sits at Gerty’s table, talking about two other women who have found themselves penniless, and begins to see the parallels to her own situation. Lily is starting to acknowledge that despite her best efforts, luck has been against her, and she may never be rich and esteemed. Here, “good” refers to being wealthy, a member of the upper-class elite social circles, and having a secure marriage. This definition reflects how deeply rooted this desire for money and status is in Lily. She cannot confine herself to the artificial behavior of the upper-class women, she cannot settle on a marriage that isn’t the best, and she cannot decide between the happiness of true love and the happiness of wealth.