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Love and Death in Edith Wharton’s Fiction

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Tricia M. Farwell

Love and Death in Edith Wharton’s Fiction examines the struggle between philosophic and scientific notions of love found throughout Wharton’s works. The role of death in romantic relationships highlights the central struggle Wharton saw as implicit in the concept of love: the struggle between Darwin’s theory of sexual selection and Plato’s ideal love of the soul. It was this tension between the romantic notion of soul mates reuniting and the realistic view of sexual selection that became a central focus of romantic relationships in Wharton’s works.