Analysis Of Ethan Frome

1285 Words6 Pages
Ethan Frome, a novel written by Edith Wharton relies on the setting of Starkfield, Massachusetts to shape main character Ethan Frome’s life, his behaviors, and decisions. Starkfield provides a cold, lonely, and dark, isolated atmosphere, allowing the narrator to portray Ethan and his wife Zeena as miserable and feeling trapped. Their lives are tragic and repetitive, similar to the never changing setting in the town of Starkfield. Although, winter only takes place for 6 months, the novel only occurs during the dreadful climate of Starkfield and attributes to Ethan’s despair. Several examples of imagery occur in the novel to emphasize Ethan’s constant work on the farm and around the house. As a result of his efforts to clean and fix the house,…show more content…
Ethan’s miserable mindset and dissatisfaction with his life represents an undesirable pattern. As the narrator learns about the “Starkfield chronicle,” he discovers Ethan’s struggle to enjoy life and his inability to break through the literal gray clouds that restrict him to his repetitive daily existence (Wharton 4). As Ethan’s love for his wife 's cousin Mattie grows while in the presence of his unbearable wife Zeena, he fights to break pattern in his life and show his affection towards Mattie. Ultimately, the never changing setting and climate parallels life in the Frome household as it is the factor that halts Ethan from evolving. As Ethan grows closer to Mattie, Zeena slowly fades from Ethan’s mind as color and warmth gradually appear when he is with Mattie. Ethan already experiences repetition in his life, and now this new feeling with Mattie never occurs long enough for Ethan to taste a lasting change. Ethan can only begin to feel like a changed man when Mattie and him are out of the house, or when Zeena is out of town for medical reasons. Ethan feels he makes progress with Mattie, but his failure to solidify a relationship with her is another pattern in his life. As if Ethan’s life is not pitiful enough, he “is a part of the mute melancholy landscape, an incarnation of its frozen woe, with all that was warm and sentient in him fast bound below the surface” (Wharton 5). The description of Starkfield only amplifies the level of prevention that the setting and climate place on his relationship with Mattie. Starkfield limits Ethan from feeling alive with Mattie by burying him under the cold snow and ice, which symbolizes his
Open Document