Silence and absence are also powerful metaphors. It is this very sense of isolation that causes Ethan to marry Zeena—he fears being left alone, with silence—after his mother dies. Throughout the novel Wharton focuses on silence as a major theme. After his marriage to Zeena, Ethan is imprisoned by the farm, millwork, and caring for Zeena.
Because Zeena is consumed by her many illnesses, she rarely leaves the farmhouse, and only speaks to Ethan and Mattie when voicing her complaints or demands.
Illusion, a false interpretation or perception, is an important theme in the novel. Wharton lived in a loveless marriage for years before she took a risk and divorced Teddy Wharton, her husband for almost thirty years.
The cushion that Ethan throws across his study is the only cushion that Zeena ever made for him. Although he has one night alone with Mattie, he cannot help but be reminded of his domestic duties as he sits in his kitchen.
Wharton relies on personal experiences to relate her thematic messages. The rules of society did not condone a woman who was a member of the upper class working, much less as a professional writer. In rural communities, technology provided new connections to the outside world, but… Hostile or Indifferent Nature In the rural Berkshires where Ethan Frome is set, the characters are at the mercy of nature.
When Ethan sees her before her trip to Bettsbridge, she sits in "the pale light reflected from the banks of snow," which makes "her face look more than usually drawn and bloodless. He was a poor man, the husband of a sickly woman, whom his desertion would leave alone and destitute; and even if he had had the heart to desert her he could have done so only by deceiving two kindly people who had pitied him.
Their lives do become cold and dead.
The most important use of symbolic imagery in Ethan Frome is the winter setting, which is first described in the prologue and is carried throughout the main story. Images of death, frozen submission, imprisonment, and sterility imbue Ethan Frome with a sense of grim determinism.
In the introduction, the author describes her characters as "granite outcroppings. For example, in the beginning of the novel, Wharton gives readers the feeling of the bitterness and hardness of the winter by setting the constellation, Orion, in a "sky of iron.
Mattie and Zeena are isolated characters also.
The imagery associated with Zeena is bleak and cold also. Because the attempted escape from isolation by Ethan and Mattie fails tragically, Ethan, Mattie, and Zeena are left to spend their lives in an isolation even more complete than that from which they tried to flee. He dreams about being married to Mattie; however, even as he writes his goodbye letter to Zeena, and subsequently talks to Mrs.
Isolation, another major theme in the novel, is not self-imposed before the tragedy that befalls Mattie and Ethan, but is enforced upon them by outside circumstances.Ethan Frome Questions and Answers The primary themes of Edith Wharton's novel Ethan Frome are suitably demonstrated in the film version directed by John Madden, though they are not all.
Essays and criticism on Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome - Critical Essays. Themes Characters and sterility imbue Ethan Frome with a sense of grim determinism.
Yet it is not a deterministic work. In the novel Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton explores the themes of imprisonment and entrapment. The characters portrayed in her novel are trapped and imprisoned by many elements including their environment, loveless marriage, predestination, mind.
Thus, each of Ethan’s and Mattie’s three critical scenes together—outside the church, alone at home, and on the sledding hill—is marked by patent symbolism on Wharton’s part. Because by interpreting the symbols we add meaning to Ethan and Mattie’s interaction that neither of the characters perceives, Wharton’s use of symbolism.
Ethan yearns to escape Starkfield; when he was younger, we learn, he hoped to leave his family farm and work as an engineer in a larger town. Though Zeena and poverty are both forces that keep Ethan from fulfilling his dream, the novel again and again positions the climate as a major impediment to both Ethan and his fellow townsfolk.
Wharton used symbolism in Ethan Frome to enhance the naturalistic themes of the novel. Naturalism was a strong movement in the s which took the literary world by storm.
Using the theory that nature is an unconquerable force, always acting against man, literature was filled with all variations of naturalistic motifs and symbols (Campbell.Download