Ethan Frome. by Edith Wharton Essay

Ethan Frome. by Edith Wharton Essay

Length: 1019 words (2.9 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The quiet town of Starkfield, Massachusetts silently and solemnly watches as the story of Ethan Frome, his repulsive wife Zeena, and the lively Mattie Silver and their tragic love triangle unfolds. When Mattie Silver, a cousin of Zeena, comes to live at the broken down Frome farm to take care of Zeena and her constant illnesses, Ethan begins to realize what real love can do to a person. Mattie starts to put light and meaning back into Ethan’s life, appearing to him as “a fairy maiden, a princess of nature” in Ethan’s dark and tedious world (Ammons 2). The dilemmas that Ethan faces about whether or not to choose duty over personal desire occur frequently, causing Ethan to experience many abrupt changes of heart. One minute Ethan speculates about “what he and Mattie were to live on when they reached the West” (Wharton 116). The next minute, he reverts back to a life with Zeena due to a new financial or obligatory obstacle, continuing the internal cycle of arguments he holds over his future. The reader knows from the beginning that Ethan turns out to be hopeless and “the ruin of a man” through the thoughts and relations of a newcomer engineer (Wharton 3). However, the spark of hope that remains in the reader for happiness for Ethan- or any of the characters- throughout the book is annihilated as the ending comes. The sledding suicide attempt of the two lovers, thwarted ironically by Zeena’s loathsome face appearing in Ethan’s mind and swaying his concentration, transformed Mattie “into a mirror-image of Zeena” and forces her to stay at the Frome household until death (Ammons 2). The last chapter in Ethan Frome reveals the horrible situation that “traps all three of them” and forces them to despise each other and relive their past eve...

... middle of paper ...

...n is “You’re crazy” (Wharton 143). However, Ethan is not confrontational and does not like defying others, which seems to be his fatal flaw. It seems that “the very heart of the novel is Frome’s weakness of character, his negation of life” (Bernard 6). Ethan’s situation could be seen as a challenge to his character, to see if he could overcome his faults in order to come out a happy man. Eventually, Ethan fails in the challenge that Starkfield presented to him, instead choosing to “merge himself with winter forever” (Bernard 6).

Works Cited

Ammons, Elizabeth. “Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome and the Question of Meaning.” Studies in American Fiction, Vol. 7, No. 2, 1979, pp. 127-140.
Bernard, Kenneth. “Imagery and Symbolism in Ethan Frome.” College English, Vol. 23, No. 1, October 1961, pp. 178-284.
Wharton, Edith. Ethan Frome. New York: Signet Classic, 1911.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Ethan Frome By Edith Wharton Essay

- In the novel Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton, the protagonist Ethan Frome has an unusual personality. Along with this, Ethan’s motivations seem hidden. Ethan mainly associates with his wife Zeena and his young lover Mattie. The reason his social circle is limited is because the town has shunned him. The people have isolated him due to the decisions he has made. The story begins with the new town Reverend who forms a special interest in Ethan. Furthermore, the story goes back in time to explain why the town treats Ethan the way they do....   [tags: Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton, Marriage, New England]

Strong Essays
858 words (2.5 pages)

Essay about Ethan Frome, By Edith Wharton

- In Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton conveys that you will never be satisfied if you try to choose between love and responsibility. Through her use of the metaphor comparing winter to Ethan and his life, Wharton illustrates the dissatisfaction that comes from attempting to choose between two equally beneficial and detrimental choices. There are several reoccurring elements that appear in Ethan Frome; the most noticeable and perhaps the most meaningful is the reoccurring metaphor that compares the characteristics of winter to every part of Ethan and his life....   [tags: Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton, Love, Life]

Strong Essays
1010 words (2.9 pages)

Analysis Of ' Ethan Frome ' By Edith Wharton Essay

- Finding himself in a small New England town of Starkfield during the winter, the narrator sets out to learn about the life of a mysterious local named Ethan Frome. Ethan Frome is a novel written by Edith Wharton, her writing style is characterized as simple and retrained, lives led by her main characters, is deceptive. Throughout the novel, Wharton builds up patterns of imagery, patterns of behavior and specially charged works. All of which serve a definite style and structure purpose. Her attention to minor details and her use of structure to relay Ethan’s complicated and tragic life story to readers enables her to portray her characters as victims of the rules of society while dealing with...   [tags: Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton, Winter]

Strong Essays
2357 words (6.7 pages)

Review Of ' Ethan Frome ' By Edith Wharton Essay

- In Ethan Frome, by Edith Wharton, Zenobia (Zeena) Frome is deemed as an evil, pesky wife. A hypochondriac, Zeena claims that she is ill and must seek medical treatment from a doctor. Ethan grows tired of Zeena’s complaining of her illnesses and fatigue and takes interest in Mattie, the young woman lodging in the Frome residence. The reader is meant to detest Zeena and side with Ethan, however, analyzing Ethan’s true character and the narrator’s biased point of view allows the reader to sympathize with Zeena....   [tags: Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton, Narrator]

Strong Essays
942 words (2.7 pages)

Starkfield as Hell in "Ethan Frome" by Edith Wharton Essay

- Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton opens to a bleak New England winter in Starkfield. The novel’s protagonist, Ethan Frome, resides here. Ethan resided “in Starkfield for too many winters.” In fact, the author projects the image of a hell through her description of Starkfield. The city’s name finds its root in a word used to describe a barren or naked place. The author also compounds the image of a barren wasteland by having the story take place in winter, which in the New England region acts as a crippling force, equivalent to a substantial army besieging a weak defenseless town....   [tags: Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton, ]

Strong Essays
719 words (2.1 pages)

Analysis Of The Novel ' Ethan Frome ' By Edith Wharton Essay

- 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....   [tags: Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton, Marriage]

Strong Essays
1285 words (3.7 pages)

Essay about Edith Wharton 's Ethan Frome

- It doesn 't take an incredible amount of insight to recognize that humans have a natural tendency to yearn for what they don 't have, a chance to go beyond and discover the world past what they are raised to know. It also doesn 't take a genius to know that in resisting that natural inclination toward the search of excitement in discovery is riddled with disastrous outcomes. In Edith Wharton 's Ethan Frome, Wharton explores the catastrophic consequences of defying one 's predestined proclivity for new discoveries through three different characters who 's worlds collide in one terrible accident that leaves nothing but the bitter and savage bite of regret....   [tags: Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton, Meaning of life]

Strong Essays
972 words (2.8 pages)

Edith Wharton 's Ethan Frome Essay

- In the novel Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton creates an interesting plot revolving around two star-crossed lovers. Unfortunately, there is only one important thing that gets in the way of these lovers, a wife who’s a hypochondriac. Zeena, the wife, finds herself in a particular situation, a situation where she needs to figure out how to get rid of Mattie. She tries everything to get rid of her, especially her illness, using it as an excuse to get what she wants, oppressing Ethan’s desires and needs. Despite her malicious actions, she creates a justifiable reasoning of her intent....   [tags: Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton, Weather, The Dish]

Strong Essays
1794 words (5.1 pages)

Essay on Edith Wharton 's Ethan Frome

- Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome takes place in the fictional town of Starkfield, Massachusetts. However, the economic and geographic problems of the town are not fictional, and were shared by many around the United States, specifically in the approximately 25 years of the early 20th century when the story took place. While these decades are known for their innovations in technology, travel, communication, and manufacturing, only a small and insignificant number of these innovations were present in the story, and they did not impact it in any meaningful way....   [tags: Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome, Plot, Character]

Strong Essays
1727 words (4.9 pages)

Analysis Of Edith Wharton 's Ethan Frome Essay example

- 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....   [tags: Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton, Love]

Strong Essays
3341 words (9.5 pages)