Analysis Of Edith Wharton 's Ethan Frome

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Characterization is the process by which an author develops a character throughout a story. The novel Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton provides vivid and complex evidence which introduces and describes Mattie Silver, one of the main characters. The plot revolves around a bleak, dark, and barren landscape set in the town of Starkfield, Massachusetts. Ethan Frome is viewed as an old, exhausted man who is tied down to his land to follow the constant demands of the farm and his necessitous, frail wife Zeena. His soul is begging to be released to a life of vitality and excitement, and when Zeena’s cousin Mattie steps into his life as an aide around the house, her energetic spirit and vivacity brings the liveliness that Ethan was lacking back into his life. Zeena’s aura of depression and bitterness is straining on Ethan’s efforts to live a joyous life, and Mattie’s energy makes him realize the negative effect that Zeena has on him. The story includes complex and detailed descriptions of Mattie’s appearance and background that depict her true character, and specific and deep symbolism, colors, and temperatures that represent and explain Mattie’s vitality and spirit that she brings to the story. As the story unfolds, it appears that Mattie randomly steps into the life of Ethan Frome and it is not revealed until later what Mattie’s life was like as a child. Mattie is described as “the daughter of a cousin of Zenobia Frome 's, who had inflamed his clan with mingled sentiments of envy and admiration by descending from the hills to Connecticut, where he had married a Stamford girl and succeeded to her father 's thriving ‘drug’ business” (51). Mattie’s father had invested all his time and money into a shady business involving drugs, but ended up l... ... middle of paper ... ...kitchen, warmth fills the air. “When he returned to the kitchen….His hard day 's work in the keen air made him feel at once lazy and light of mood, and he had a confused sense of being in another world, where all was warmth and harmony and time could bring no change” (73). Even such a frigid, dismal place as the kitchen can be enchanted by the presence and warmth of Mattie Silver. In conclusion, Mattie Silver, a main character in one of the greatest pieces of American literature, was a complex and intricate character that developed throughout the story of Ethan Frome. The author used creative literary tactics that revealed the deeper meanings of different symbols and metaphors that were used to describe and evolve Mattie as a dynamic character. As the story progressed, Mattie’s character advanced helping to create a captivating and transcendent piece of literature.

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