“For the first time in his life he sees her in a new light: he sees her as no longer the listless creature who had lived at his side in a state of self-absorption, but a mysterious alien presence an evil energy secreted from the long years of silent brooding…” (Wharton 117) Edith Wharton is best known for her books Ethan Frome and The House of Mirth. Wharton was often compared to another writer in her time, Henry James. Even though this occurred, she considered her books one of a kind. She was pleased with her work, but the critics were not. Often, she received poor reviews, but this did not stop her; in fact, she then went on to be the first woman to win The Legion of Honor Medal. Wharton also won the Pulitzer Prize and a gold medal from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Because Wharton traveled to many places and lived in the aristocratic society of New York, many influences came from her life. Wharton’s influences came from her own unhappy marriage, the people in the aristocratic society, and the many places she traveled to.
Therefore, Wharton used the experience of her unhappy marriage to build up the tension in the novel. In 1885, Wharton married Edward (Teddy) Robbins. Wharton and her husband both were raised in the aristocratic society; however, they shared few interests, and their marriage soon began to collapse. (Moss and Wilson 128-129) Following her husband’s diagnosis of manic depression, she began having relations with Morton Fullerton, they were happy together which lead to a three year love affair. She felt trapped in her own marriage, and she often wrote her novels to match how she was feeling: “This wife and husband are recognizable portraits of Teddy and Edith Wharton.”(Benstock ) Similar...
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...to town so she could catch the train. Early in the novel he promised Mattie they could go sledding down Schoolhouse Hill. Mattie and Ethan both agreed they never wanted to leave each other so they launched down the hill in hopes of killing themselves. As a result, Ethan was scarred and Mattie was crippled for life.
Undoubtedly, Wharton was successful in using her life experiences to write her acclaimed novel, Ethan Frome. In the novel, it is palpable that her own unhappy marriage, the aristocratic society, and the places she traveled helped her compose the work. Without her life experiences, the isolation of the community, the Frome’s unhappy marriage, and the landscape of Starkfield would never have created the novel for readers. As such, the novel portrays the harmful outcome of isolation enlightening generations of people about this aspect of the human condition.
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