Thursday, May 30, 2019
Essay on Whartons Ethan Frome: Absence of Light and Life
Absence of Light and Life in Ethan Frome Ethan Frome, by Edith Wharton is set in Starkfield, a small residential district plagued by harsh winters that seem to ebb away at life. In this town lives Ethan Frome, a stultifyd man who seems to be the physical embodiment of earthly suffering. An new arrival to the town, is drawn by Ethan. He is compelled to uncover the story behind the enigmatic man. What he discovers is a tragic tale of human suffering, an dainty example of tragic irony. Ethan was married to a cold complaining woman named Zenobia, nicknamed Zeena. His only joy in life was Zeenas younger cousin Mattie Silver, who stays with them as help for Zeena in her illness. Ethan grows to love Mattie. When Mattie is forced to leave by Zenobia, Ethan discovers that Mattie shares his love. However the two cannot find a way to escape the town they live in to start a new life together. Caught up in a rush of passion, they try to commit suicide and fail. Ethan is crippled and Mattie i s paralyzed. They can now never leave town for a life together. And Ethan is doomed to a life of silence with two complaining women. Edith Whartons writing style in Ethan Frome is impeccable. On the surface, Ethan Frome is alone a good story. Mrs. Wharton however adds incredible depth by the careful use of description, and symbolism. And her use of irony makes the tragedy of the story even more poignant. An small example of the symbolism in the book is the relationship between the weather of starkfield and the main characters of the book. Ethan Frome is living proof of what winters in Starkfield do to the human soul. As the narrator exclaims in the prologue, Why, he looks as if he were dead and in hell now. A close examination of Mrs. W... ...ave, it seemed to Ethan that she had become an alien presence, an evil sinew secreted from the long years of silent brooding. Ethan was drawn to Mattie because she represented all things summer and happiness to him. He rejected Zeena wh o had become the living symbol of silence, winter and unhappiness. The tragic irony of Ethan Frome was that after the smash-up Mattie became the complaining cold person while Zeena has to take on Matties role as a caretaker. Ethan is now a cripple who can only stay during the long winters of Starkfield. And also the long winters of moral isolation of silence and unhappiness and brood on what might have been. As Ethan comments in the prologue on his experience in the warmth of Florida winters, Yes I was down there once, and for a good while afterward I could call up the sight of it in a winter. But now its all snowed under.