Dr. Charlee Sterling is Adjunct Professor in the English Department at Villa Julie College in Stevenson, Maryland. She completed her Ph.D. at New York University, with a focus on modern and contemporary American literature. Dr. Sterling has taught creative and expository writing and literature at several colleges and universities2005 0-7734-5984-7
In response to the disintegration of Emersonian idealism at the end of the nineteenth century, some writers resorted to sentimental or sensational fiction; not so Edith Wharton who turned instead to irony as both her mark of literary distinction and her comment on the tendencies of the fiction of her day. This study will examine a relatively small group of stories that represent the span of Wharton’s literary career and the “crucial instances” of Wharton’s complex irony. Wharton’s use of irony is directly related to her choice of three types of third-person narrators: the observer narrator, the spectator-narrator, and the suppressed narrator, each of whom convey different levels of ironic effect.