Ethan Frome, by Edith Wharton

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Ethan Frome Ethan Frome, a novel by Edith Wharton, is set in the bleak Massachusetts town of Starkfield. Ethan Frome struggles to make a living as a farmer while his wife, Zeena, complains about her imaginary ailments. When Zeena’s cousin, Mattie, comes to live with the couple, Ethan and Mattie develop a growing friendship. This “friendship” arouses Zeena’s jealousy and so she evicts Mattie from the house. Ethan becomes furious as he realizes he has fallen in love with Mattie. As they are about to part, in despair, they attempt to end heir lives. Instead they are both left crippled and their original roles have changed for life. Caring for both, Ethan & Mattie and presiding over their wrecked lives, is Zeena. Edith Wharton emphasis her work with her individual style and technique. Wharton is very precise in her choice of words and uses situation irony to wrap the reader. Wharton structures the novel in a very easy to follow manner: by using chapters, cause & effect, relationships, and a great turning point. He setting & geography stay basic throughout the novel as it is winter is Starkfield. Individual happiness is a key element in the novel, while Ethan traps himself in the love he has achieved towards Mattie. Edith Wharton takes her novel beyond. Her extensive choice of words and variety of vocabulary make the novel more interesting. “...her Pierce relations to foist on him the cost of a servant; and for the moment wrath predominated.” (Wharton III). Wharton’s extensive vocabulary gives the reader a sense of intelligence from the narrator as well as a sense of a close to accurate imagination of Ethan Frome’s life. Wharton develops detailed emotions and detailed descriptions of Ethan which gives a strong impact to the reader. “He was the most striking figure in Starkfield, it was not so much his great height that marked him, it was the careless powerful look he had, in spite of a lameness checking each step like the jerk of a chain, there was something bleak and unapproachable in his face, and he was so stiffened and grizzled...” (Wharton IIII) Wharton is very precise and to the point. Technique is a key element in the novel, as Wharton started off in first person describing her interests in Ethan Frome. While in first person Wharton shows curiosity along with interest.

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