Ethan Frome is a novel by Edith Wharton that tells the story of a man trapped in a loveless marriage to a sickly woman, Zeena. Ethan is deeply unhappy in his situation and finds solace in a brief affair with his wife's cousin, Mattie Silver. The novel explores themes of isolation, repression, and the consequences of living a life that is not authentic to one's true desires.
One of the main themes in Ethan Frome is isolation. The novel is set in a small, rural town in New England called Starkfield, where Ethan lives on a farm that has been in his family for generations. The town is isolated and disconnected from the rest of the world, and Ethan is isolated within the town, cut off from any meaningful connections or relationships. His marriage to Zeena is a loveless one, and he has no close friends or family to confide in. This isolation is compounded by the fact that Ethan is unable to leave Starkfield, as he is financially and emotionally tied to the farm and his sickly wife.
Another key theme in the novel is repression. Ethan is a deeply repressed individual, unable to fully express his true feelings or desires. He is trapped in a loveless marriage and feels unable to leave due to a sense of obligation and duty to his wife and the farm. This repression is also evident in the way that Ethan and Mattie are unable to fully express their love for each other, as they are unable to openly acknowledge their relationship due to the social constraints of the time.
The consequences of living a life that is not authentic to one's true desires is another major theme in the novel. Ethan's unhappiness and repression ultimately lead him to seek solace in his brief affair with Mattie. However, this affair ultimately leads to disaster, as their plans to run away together are foiled and they are left to suffer the consequences of their actions. This serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of living a life that is not true to oneself and the importance of being honest and authentic in one's relationships.
In conclusion, Ethan Frome is a poignant and thought-provoking novel that explores themes of isolation, repression, and the consequences of living a life that is not authentic to one's true desires. Through the character of Ethan, Wharton delves into the human experience of feeling trapped and unable to fully express one's true self, and the consequences that can result from this repression.
Ethan Frome Analysis
Fixes the novel in the main tradition of Mrs. It is her way of providing diversion, and ultimately a means of controlling the household. Hiding outside the church, Ethan peeps through a window and sees Mattie Silver, his wife's younger cousin, dancing with Denis Eady, the son of Michael Eady, a wealthy shopkeeper. Jean Frantz Blackall, "Edith Wharton's Art of Ellipsis," in 'Ethan Frome'- Authoritative Text, Backgrounds and Contexts, Criticism, edited by Knstin O. .
Magazines such as The Masses and The New Republic reflected the radical vision of this generation of artists. . Despite being married to his cousin Zeena, he only views this civil union as a moral obligation. Ethan standing out in the snow while the dance goes on inside shows his isolation from society. In other words, the winter in Starkfield seems to trap its residents inside and extirpate their happiness. Later, he wishes he could "stand there with her all night in the blackness. The novel also provides accurate social commentary on life in urban and rural areas in turn-of-the-century New England, including transactions between farmers and builders, the effects of the new railway system, the inadequate education of girls, the status of doctors, attitudes toward debt, and levels of unemployment.
The sled swerved itself. The second is the date of publication online or last modification online. Many people follow tradition but, in some ways, tradition holds society back. All these different problems within these characters are realistic situations …show more content… Tradition is the continuation of customs or belief systems or cultures from generation to generation. Reality seams to begin to hit Ethan when Mattie is being sent away and Ethan is doing everything he can to keep her with him, how ever he realizes that Mattie is related to Zeena, and that fact is not only the reason he cant control what happens to Mattie but can never really be with Mattie. The breaking of the dish represents their failed marriage in contrast to Mattie and Ethan's love. In each of these cases, the women were robbed of the life they could have had if they had gotten out of a loveless marriage.
. Hale is speaking to the novel's narrator and expressing her belief that the living Fromes are no different then those that are buried. The name of the town, Starkfield, symbolizes the devastating and isolating effects of the harsh winters on the land and the men who work the land. She was an unhappy, depressing wife, and the cold house she kept led to John having an affair with the housekeeper Abigail Williams. The second date is today's date — the date you are citing the material. They pause near the top of a hill on the road home, and Mattie tells Ethan that Ned Hale and Ruth Varnum narrowly escaped sledding into a big elm tree at the bottom of the icy slope.
Now it's clear that the pickle-dish symbolized Ethan and Zeena's marriage. Well, to a certain understanding, his tragedy is that in the present day, he is always dreary and not as happy as he could have turned out; in other words, one could say that his tragedy is that he is unsuccessful in happiness. Moreover, I dislike this, being his obsession with Mattie, has blinded him about the consequences Mattie action will have on Zeena, and how Zeena 's feelings will be extremely hurt. The second date is today's date — the date you are citing the material. Cite this page as follows: "Ethan Frome - Historical Context" Novels for Students Vol. Even the kitchen reflects the contrasts between the two women. Lionel Trilling, "The Morality of Inertia," in A Gathering of Fugitives, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1977, pp 34-44.
Trilling argues that the one idea of considerable importance to be found in Wharton's novel is that moral inertia, the not making of moral decisions, constitutes a large part of the moral life of humanity. Despite being married to his cousin Zeena, he only views this civil union as a moral obligation. Though connected by trolley to the larger town of Bettsbridge—which has libraries and theaters—Starkfield is isolated and lonely during the long New England winters. The narrator hardly functions as a character at all, but as an educated outsider he possesses the skills needed to tell this story. The pieces of the story the narrator is able to glean from the inhabitants of Starkfield are presented within this narrative frame. The Narrator's "vision" of Ethan Frome's story , told in the third person, begins. This information the narrator gives makes me think that later in the story and through Ethan Frome is going to perpetually attempt to demonstrate his love to Mattie Silver, as well try to make her like him.
Although Mattie has given no indication that she is interested in Denis, the sight of them dancing together arouses Ethan's fears, as he realizes that he can no longer live without her. The First World War 1914-1918 America's attempts at neutrality became irrelevant as the efforts of American manufacturers to capture world markets drew the United States into the affairs of other nations. Ethan is attracted to Mattie partly because she listens respectfully to what he tells her and admires his learning. Denis brags that he has his father's "cutter," a light sled, with him, and offers to drive Mattie home. But this is not only passion that makes Mattie and Ethan do that, it is the winter that leaves its traces on the characters of the people who live in Starkfield, so, Ethan is emotionally buried under the snowdrifts of severe winters that he survives in Starkfield. On the contrary, Wharton switches up this preconceived idea by giving the women in the novel the power to decide what happens to them. .
Mallard who dies towards the end of the story. Wharton frankly acknowledged that she borrowed the technique of the narrator as omniscient author from Honore de Balzac's La Grande Bretche. Wanting to find out for sure whether Mattie has feelings for Denis, Ethan mentions that other people have been saying that Mattie will be leaving the Frome household. Ostensibly, though, the story of Ethan Frome is a tragic and dramatic portrayal of irony, both as a literary technique and an authorial worldview. When I see that, I think it's him that suffers the most.