Wharton's Ethan Frome: Escape from Passivity

analytical Essay
2604 words
2604 words

Escape from Passivity in Ethan Frome

They say that if you give a man the necessary tools and supplies, he will build himself a trap. Since this trap is made unconsciously, it cannot be escaped. The only solution that suffices is to live with this trap - for life. But is it the only solution? In Edith Wharton's tragic novel Ethan Frome, the need for affection causes Ethan Frome to gradually shed his taciturnity and bring his emotions to life. Early in the novel, Ethan's passiveness and lack of self-confidence, allow his wife Zeena to emasculate him, as well as make him emotionally inarticulate toward Mattie. Once Mattie Silvers enters Ethan's life, she awakens in Ethan the bitterness of his youth's lost opportunities, and a dissatisfaction with his joyless life and empty marriage. Gradually, Ethan strengthens and gathers the courage to defy Zeena and confess his love for Mattie.

At the start of his journey, Ethan surrenders himself to the forces of isolation, silence, and his depleted life. Soon his desire for love, in a situation where only abject coldness exists, transforms him into an emotional and confident man. Because of his emotional weakness, Ethan loses opportunities to reveal his passion to Mattie and also acquiesces to his wife's demands, while shunning out his own needs. After suffering so long with the sickly Zeena, Ethan fears unveiling his passionate feelings to Mattie, for he is bound as a husband and tradition to Zeena. Years earlier as a younger and more hale man, Ethan felt trapped in his hometown Starkfield. Mistakenly, he marries Zeena, a gaunt, sallow nagging hag, as compensation for her nursing Ethan's sick mother. Ethan and his morose, invalid wife Zeena live in a trapped, unspoken resentment on...

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... Ethan achieves his sweetheart by sloughing off his shyness and building the strength to communicate his feelings.

On the whole, does Ethan Frome ever set himself free from the weakness that traps him in a hopelessly burdened and branded life? Contrary to popular belief, solitude and the human need for passion cause Ethan Frome, the title character of Edith Wharton's tragic novel, Ethan Frome, to cast off his shy, feeble nature and embolden into an emotional man. At first, Ethan exhibits self-doubt and fears emotional expression. Upon Mattie's arrival, Ethan realizes the burdens of his depleted life. In the end, his thirst for Mattie's love encourages him to blossom into a free, strong, passionate man. For Ethan Frome, life cannot be a loveless and tragic trap. At least he hopes so as struggles and succeeds to free himself from his passivity throughout the novel.

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how edith wharton's tragic novel ethan frome sheds his taciturnity and brings his emotions to life.
  • Analyzes how ethan surrenders himself to isolation, silence, and his depleted life. he loses opportunities to reveal his passion to mattie and acquiesces to his wife's demands.
  • Analyzes how ethan's lack of communication with his wife contributes to their miserable marriage and his inability to act out his emotions.
  • Analyzes how mattie sheds light on ethan's miserable life and shows him his weakness as he permits zeena to control his emotions.
  • Analyzes how zeena manipulates ethan like a toy and doesn't give him the love and care that he should.
  • Analyzes how ethan's fear and submissiveness signaled development as he realized that zeena was a mysterious alien presence and evil energy.
  • Analyzes how ethan's realizations of his unhappy marriage to zeena and happiness in the company of mattie precipitated his desire to build confidence.
  • Analyzes how ethan's desperate cry and confession demonstrate all that zeena had suppressed. mattie radiates energy into his life.
  • Analyzes how ethan moves his relationship with mattie to a new stage and speaks to her candidly about his feelings.
  • Analyzes how ethan frome, the title character of edith wharton's tragic novel, casts off his shy, feeble nature and emboldens into an emotional man.
  • Analyzes how zeena creates a loveless, desolate home for ethan where he never learns to express his love and affection, and uses her frail health to justify her bitter personality.
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