Ethan Frome Paper Essay, Research Paper
I.Title: Ethan Frome
II.Author: Edith Wharton
IV.Setting: Starkfield, MA, 1880?s-early 1900?s
V.Point of view of narration: The narrator is a person talking about Ethan Frome.
VI.Main characters and brief description:
A: Ethan Frome- Ethan is the protagonist of the story. Physically he is quite noticeable, for he is tall, bent, and pained-looking. Chapters one through nine talk about his earlier years, primarily a winter in his late twenties when he is a healthy young man.
B: Zenobia ?Zeena? Frome- Ethan’s wife, who is also his distant cousin, is described as thin and hard. Before marrying Ethan, she takes care of Ethans ill mother. Because Ethan was afraid to be alone after the death of his mother, he asks Zeena to stay and marry him.
C: Mattie Silver- Mattie is Zeena?s cousin who comes to live with Ethan and Zeena. She is described as short, dark, sweet, and lively. She has feelings for Ethan, and they eventually fall in love.
D: Narrator- He is a visitor in town staying over Ruth Hale?s house. He describes Ethan?s life.
VII.Minor characters and brief description:
A: Ruth Hale- A long time friend of the Fromes, and gives hints to the narrator about Ethan?s life.
B: Harman Gow- Harmon Gow provides the narrator with some early information on Ethan Frome. Harmon once drove the stagecoach from Bettsbridge to Starkfield and knew the stories of all the families on the line.
C: Denis Eady- Denis provides the narrator with transportation until his horses fall sick. In the action of the story, as a younger man, he is a possible suitor to Mattie Silver.
D: Jotham Powell- The hired man on Ethan’s farm. Jotham takes
orders, eats, and submits to the directions of Zeena and Ethan.
VIII.Major conflict: Ethan was a man who had hopes of living a life away from the constraints of farming. When Ethan’s parents fall ill and die, he marries an older cousin, Zeena. It is an unhappy marriage from the start. When Mattie comes to live at the farm, Ethan develops strong feelings for her.
IX.Climax: When Mattie must leave the Frome household, Ethan drives her to town. On the way they stop to take a promised sled ride. The two are frantic at parting and make a suicide pact to run the speeding sled into an elm tree. They both survive the accident, horribly disfigured, and continue to live in pain under the watchful eye of Zeena.
X.Resolution: As they both live after the accident, they are suffering from physical and emotional pain. As Mattie and Zeena fight constantly, the one that is hurt the most is Ethan, as he lived to see them fight.
XI.The story ends in tragedy. Ethan and Mattie try to kill themselves in a sled accident, but they survive to live a miserable, existence in the presence of Zeena. During a terrible snowstorm, the narrator visits the Frome household, about twenty-four years after the accident. He witnesses the existence of the three characters. Mattie has turned into a harpy and Ethan into a half-shriveled and bitter man. Zeena takes care of the house and Mattie, and is herself much reduced by a hard life of endless caretaking.
XII.Theme: The uselessness of poverty, mean spiritedness, and grim silence are all present in the tragedy of Ethan Frome. The story takes place in a stark winter landscape, where the lives of all the characters are constricted. At each turn the circumstances of poverty, mixed with the bitterness of isolation and failure, lead the main characters to lives of tragic pain. As a result of their
existence, they grow hard and mean-spirited, rarely communicating except with complaints and anger. The townspeopletend to avoid them and are even reluctant to speak freely of the ruined lives of Ethan, Mattie, and Zeena. The tragedy of their existence is appropriately captured in their physical beings. Mattie is paralyzed, and Ethan is a shriveled, silent man whose face is set
in grim despair.
XIII.Tone: Ethan Frome is a very gloomy story that tells about the terrible tragedy of three lives. Throughout the novel, Edith Wharton describes the spiraling hopelessness of poverty, isolation, and personality flaws eventually defeat Ethan, Mattie, and Zeena.
Zeena?s cat- The cat symbolizes Zeena, as the cat gets in the way between Mattie and Ethan.
Pickle dish- The dish represents Zeena and Ethan?s wedding, as Mattie breaks it, it symbolizes that Mattie is breaking Zeena?s marriage apart.