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Trapped in Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

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Many people oppose society due to the surroundings that they face and the obstacles that they encounter. Set in the bleak winter landscape of New England, Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton is the story of a poor, lonely man, his wife Zeena, and her cousin Mattie Silver. Ethan the protagonist in this novel, faces many challenges and fights to be with the one he really loves. Frome was trapped from the beginning ever since Mattie Silver came to live with him and his wife. He soon came to fall in love with her, and out of love with his own wife. He was basically trapped in the instances of his life, society’s affect on the relationship, love, poverty, illness, disability, and life.

From the beginning of the story, society opposed Ethan Frome in any ways. To begin with, he was a prisoner with his wife, Zeena. Just because Zeena took care of his mother as she was dying, Ethan felt like she was the woman for him. However, when Zeena’s cousin Mattie came to live with them, he instantly fell in love with her, and felt nothing but audacity towards his wife. When Zeena goes away due to her illness, Ethan and Mattie sit at home planning their future ahead of them. He plans to elope and run away with Mattie, but he cannot lie to his neighbors, Mr and Mrs. Hale in order to achieve the money he needs. In the end, Ethan decides to abandon life itself along with his true love Mattie. Ethan was a prisoner to poverty. When he was young, he wanted to leave his family farm in order to move to a larger town to become an engineer. However, that plan backfired and he was trapped in Starkfield for life. Society does not want Ethan to be happy for he committed adultery and treated his wife like she didn’t matter. The gravestones in his yard are a reminder t...

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...ss for yourself because in the end, one will regret it. Ethan’s morals prevent him from leaving Starkfield to pursue and achieve his dreams. He cannot baffle the traditions of his town. After Zeena tries to "foist on him the cost of a servant", forcing Ethan to let go of Mattie, he chooses to “leave with Mattie”. However, he cannot go through with the plan because he cannot bear to leave Zeena alone with her sickness. He knows she would not be able to take care of herself and cannot afford her own medicine. It is inappropriate to leave his wife in this bad condition. Therefore Ethan chooses to live an unhappy life instead of deceive his family and friends. Wharton portrays that by following society’s standards they will lose their hope and end up living in misery. Ethan chose to embark the obstacles and in the end it ruined him to a life of unhappiness and failure.
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