26 pages 52 minutes read

Edith Wharton

The Other Two

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1904

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Literary Devices


Wharton satirizes the elite society of this story, which mirrored the society that Wharton lived in and knew so well. She satirizes the obsessive focus on respectability, focusing especially on how women must make respectable matches. Her works highlight the injustice of denying women little path for success if they are unable to marry well. Alice has clearly learned that lesson as the story shows how she has educated herself into being a successful wife by marrying three times. Yet Wharton shows how such superficial lifestyles deform the values of both men and women. Women must learn to turn themselves into valuable objects that men would want to marry, and men must learn to objectify and categorize women according to society’s dictates, thus denying any real opportunity for men and women to become true partners. Waythorn begins the story absolutely delighted by his newest possession, his wife. But by the end of the story, he realizes that he must “share” this possession, as she is a product of all three of her marriages. He is intimately bound with both of her ex-husbands, even the man with the cheap “made-up tie” (Part 3).