Ethan Frome: a Chapter Analysis Essay

Ethan Frome: a Chapter Analysis Essay

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Edith Wharton's tale of Ethan Frome is a classic story of hopeful romance ending in tragedy. We are introduced to Ethan as he's walking to pick up his wife's cousin Mattie, at a church social. On the way, we witness some of Ethan's thoughts about his life and the people in it. By the end of Chapter One, the readers begin to understand the way Ethan views himself, Mattie, and Zeena, and the way these characters might influence the events in the novel.

We learn much about Ethan during his walk to the church. He reflects how "his father's death, and the misfortunes following it, had put a premature end to Ethan's studies; but though they had not gone far enough to be of much practical use they had fed his fancy and made him aware of huge cloudy meanings behind the daily face of things."(27) This gives the impression that Ethan got away from Starkfield just long enough to see what his life might have been like. When he refers to the "misfortunes" after his father's death, it looks as if he's talking about having to live on a financially desolate farm with his wife Zeena. It's clear ...

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