The big business is what ultimately causes Silas' moral rise and financial fall, and that is a crucial part of the plot. If the story where set in a different time period it would not have as big an impact. Also during the late 's, social standing was very important. In those days a person was measured by their social standing, so it meant everything. The reason this is important is because, interwoven in the main plot is a secondary plot.
Everyone seems to think that Tom and Irene are in love with each other, while in actuality it is Tom and Penelope that are in love. This secondary plot only adds to Silas and Mrs. Corey's inner struggles. If the story where not set in this time period, the social impact on the plot would also not be as great. Another aspect of the setting is the house that they currently. He has no time to be anything but a machine Idleness is associated with the Coreys from the first. When Mrs. High society is for those who have stopped working and no longer have anything important to do.
Lumping the four or five of them together may sound unfair as there are obviously degrees in their duplicity, but duplicity, underhand dealing, and deceit there certainly is in each case. As for Lapham, there was only one occasion when he treated a person on a purely business basis, and we know what gnawing remorse it has left him; actually, but for that remorse, all his trials might have been spared him. In essence he is that highwayman ready to take a life for a few golden nuggets. With his cynical wit, duplicity and ruthlessness, he might be said to combine in his person the worst of the wilderness and the worst of civilization.
An urbanite, his long-standing social intercourse has conferred upon him a great ability to manipulate people. He is the real homo politicus in the Machiavellian sense of the term and the scene in which he turns Lapham round his little finger calls to mind that in which Mark Anthony turns the Roman mob against Brutus.
There is always some degree of deceit in his relationship to Lapham 43; and while Mrs. Were it not for Mrs. When Lapham, the vital, energetic, once red-haired Lapham, rages against him, all he finds in front of him is a dead-and-alive puppet, a soulless automaton Trying to help them is a Sisyphean task. For Zerilla and her relatives, sponging on people is a way of life. Wemmel if only she can get a divorce from Hen. Hopefully we will find a redeeming feature if we turn to Bromfield Corey. An artist and an aesthete, he has an interest in Titian, the great Venitian master.
Venice of course stands for color, beauty, a brilliant and refined civilization, but also usury, greed, 17 and ultimately decadence, the end of an era, death. While there is nothing greedy about Corey, the lack of stamina that comes with the end of a cycle is very much present in him. If we consider Corey and Lapham the answer is not so clear-cut for, antithetic though they are, both of them are likeable characters. Lapham had stuck to decorum. When stripped of all the trappings of etiquette a king may not be so very different from a villain; and for the God that probes into the heart and loins of men, a Silas Lapham may be worth just as much as a Bromfield Corey.
Such a picture enables us to understand what Mark Twain meant when he coined the phrase The Gilded Age.
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More generally, it is the motivating force behind the plot. An interesting passage in this respect is the evocation by Lapham of his taste where nature is concerned:. There aint any man enjoys a sightly bit of nature—a smooth piece of interval, with half a dozen good-sized wine-glass elms in it—more than I do. But I aint a-going to stand up for every big ugly rock I come across, as if we were all a set of dumn Druids.
If he draws nearer to this ideal of the golden mean at the end, his wife has certainly got something to do with it, for although not unfallible herself, Persis Lapham, with her moderating influence is indeed a civilizing force. This endearing faculty he has of assessing people by standards different from his own is a rare quality. In sixteenth century England, this necessity of steering clear of extremes was voiced in the Comedy of Humours.
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Ideology and Classic American Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Carter, Everett. This sets up the plot line of his private life, that contrasts with the politics of his failing business. Lapham has two daughters: Penelope, the level headed and intelligent daughter, and Irene, the frivolous and emotional younger sibling.
Silas, and his wife Persis, fell in to new wealth after discovering a paint mine on their New England farm, and moved to Boston. Despite now having money, the Laphams know neither proper Boston social etiquette, what to buy nor how to act. Silas decides to build on the Beacon Street lot, and hires an architect.
The Rise of Silas Lapham
It is evident from the beginning that the architect can manipulate Silas in to spending ridiculous amounts of money if he only gets the protagonist to agree with all his suggestions. As the house begins to be built, Silas and Persis goes to visit the site. Persis is polite, but is a puritanical reminder to Silas of his wrongdoings. After he came back, he was refreshed in energy and started over with both his marriage, and the paint business.
Silas takes Penelope and Irene to see the plot on Beacon Street, where Tom Corey is introduced to the story, the son of a wealthy family in Boston. He seems taken with both daughters, especially the beautiful Irene.
The reader encounters a rare scene without Silas involved. They imitate their father and his proud exclamations of his wealth, presenting Silas for the first time in a more comical, ridiculous light. The novel switches scenes to the Corey family, who are evidently extremely wealthy with old money, and unlike the Laphams, know how to spend it correctly in society. They discuss marriage: Tom regards love as higher than money, whilst his Father Bromfield stresses the importance of wealthy parents.
Tom introduces the idea of going in to work; his Father wanted him to work in the Indian cotton trade, but decides mineral paint will do. Tom goes for an interview with Silas, and is very enthusiastic about paint, which makes Silas instantly like him. They speak for so long that Corey returns home with Silas.
Tom approaches Silas, and offers to sell paint in European countries, using his knowledge of foreign languages. Silas is delighted that Tom will be more involved with his family. Persis warns Silas that if he wishes Tom and Irene to wed, Tom Corey should not be involved in the paint business. Mrs Corey is horrified to hear that Tom is now working with Silas. He feels that the mineral paint business is as good as any for Tom to enter. Mrs Corey is more bothered about his associations with Irene Lapham, and claims she would never get on with her.
He encounters Silas in his office with Zuerrila Millon, acting suspiciously. A typist confirms to Tom that Silas has always been protective over this girl. Tom visits the Laphams again. Silas is extremely pleased that he has Tom working at his firm, as he believes it boosts his social position. She reports this to Penelope, and it is evident of her increasing feelings towards Tom.
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Silas begins to spend a lot of time and money on the house at Beacon Street, and his wife notices and is displeased. She thinks that Silas is focusing too much on the house and marrying Tom in to the family. Silas loans some money to Rogers, his previously scorned business partner, as he wants to invest in the business. It is clear that Tom is taken by the Lapham sisters, and he asks his Father to visit Lapham in his offices. The next day, Bromfield visits Lapham, and he is quick to try and act nonplussed at the privilege of the visit. He is condescending towards Bromfield. Silas is ill, and stays at home the next day.
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