Isolation As Portrayed In Etha Essay Research

Isolation As Portrayed In Etha Essay, Research Paper

Isolation as portrayed in Ethan Frome and Acquainted With the Night

In both the novel Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton and the poem Acquainted with the Night by Robert Frost, the theme of isolation was quite evident. In the two

of these literary works, the main characters are isolated both emotionally and physically.

In Ethan Frome, the setting of Starkfield, Massachusetts isolates Ethan physically from a life of happiness. The author s specific use of Starkfield, in

its etymology, is the essence of isolation. Starkfield can be disjoined into two words; Stark and field . Stark, according to Webster s Dictionary means- barren, blunt, harsh and grim. These four adjectives very much describe Ethan and his hometown,

Starkfield. Not only is Starkfield isolated figuratively, but also it is isolated geographically. It is a mountainous and snow-ridden area with very few inhabitants. The lack of movement and difficulty of travel in and around Starkfield isolate Ethan from the

“outside world.”

In the novel Ethan Frome, Ethan s relationship with his wife, Zeena, also contributes to his isolation. By characterization, Zeena isolates Ethan emotionally

from his newly found love interest, Mattie. Zeena is characterized as being cold and unable to love anyone else but herself and therefore Ethan subconsciously searched for the missing affection elsewhere. Zeena was also a very sick woman with incurable sickness that strained Ethan s already pinched wallet. The simple economics of her illness, never being diagnosed, isolated Ethan from ever leaving the homestead for entertainment-related reasons.

The poem Acquainted with the Night , by Robert Frost, also stresses isolation of its main character, but symbolically. In line twelve, the poem reads as follows, “One luminary clock against the sky.” Frost used symbolic language of the moon or luminary clock to emphasize night and darkness; two clich s of isolation in literature. In the same line, Frost also referred to the number “one”. “One” signifies a solitary person and therefore the main character is isolated from the grasps of mankind. Also found in line twelve are the words against the sky, ; these words signify isolation, by means of the struggle of the moon (the main character) to be accepted by the sky (society). Frost s eloquent use of such figurative and symbolic language allow for such parallels to be drawn, especially in terms of isolation.

In both the novel Ethan Frome and the poem Acquainted With The Night, themes and literary elements of isolation are deeply woven into the fabric of the main characters that compose the body of literary work.


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