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With the publication of this controversial novel, Wharton leveled her most biting critique at the limitations that her society placed upon the ambitious woman. Undine Spragg, the book's central character, is a magnificent antiheroine, viciously and precisely rendered. She is boundlessly ambitious and ready to ruthlessly sell herself to whatever man she believes can provide her with the success she desperately desires. The Custom of the Country plays brilliantly upon the contradictions between Undine's determined strivings and the completely passive feminine ideal of her place and time.