National Endowment for the Arts - The Big Read
The Age of Innocence

The Age of Innocence

by Edith Wharton

No novel worth anything can be anything but a novel ‘with a purpose,’ and if anyone who cared for the moral issue did not see in my work that I care for it, I should have no one to blame but myself.

Edith Wharton, 1908 (Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)

Schedule/Lesson Plans

This is a suggested teaching schedule for a 10 day class study of Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence. Lesson plans and handouts can be downloaded individually by clicking on the name of the file in the schedule below. Adobe Acrobat Reader is required to view these files.

Some lesson plans reference an audio guide, which you can stream or download from the Media page.

Day One
Focus: Biography
Day One Lesson Plan [PDF]

Day Two
Focus: Culture and History
Day Two Lesson Plan [PDF]

Day Three
Focus: Narrative and Point of View
Day Three Lesson Plan [PDF]

Day Four
Focus: Characters
Day Four Lesson Plan [PDF]

Day Five
Focus: Wharton's Writing Style
Day Five Lesson Plan [PDF]

Day Six
Focus: Symbols
Day Six Lesson Plan [PDF]

Day Seven
Focus: Character Development
Day Seven Lesson Plan [PDF]

Day Eight
Focus: The Plot Unfolds
Day Eight Lesson Plan [PDF]

Day Nine
Focus: Themes of the Novel
Day Nine Lesson Plan [PDF]

Day Ten
Focus: What Makes a Book Great?
Day Ten Lesson Plan [PDF]


Handout 1: New York Social Customs [PDF]
Handout 2: Faust and The Age of Innocence [PDF]
Handout 3: Newland Archer’s Imagined World [PDF]

Download all ten lesson plans and handouts [.zip]

Page numbers refer to the 1999 Modern Library edition of The Age of Innocence.

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