Ethan Frome Term Paper
- Length: 2 pages
- Sources: 1+
- Subject: Black Studies - Philosophy
- Type: Term Paper
- Paper: #66770197
- Related Topics: Passion, Assimilation
Excerpt from Term Paper :
Passion and Constraint in Ethan Frome
Passion and constraint are the primary motivators in a tragic love story, accentuating the lust for the forbidden, the futility in achieving that which is desired, and the tragedy of the outcome. Ethan Frome, by Edith Wharton, is a tragic love story that incorporates the theme of passion and constraint, drawing the reader in as an accountable subject. The title character in Ethan Frome is the delineating figure by which his ailing wife Zenobia (Zeena) and her youthful cousin Mattie demonstrate the effects of isolation, the contradiction of youth and old age, and the consequences of desire for the purpose of influencing the reader to condone Ethan's longing to have an affair with Mattie, and thus be subject to the guilt of the tragic outcome.
Both Zeena and Mattie suffer from isolation throughout the story. Zeena's isolation is self-induced as she suffers from imagined or exaggerated illness, while Mattie longs to escape, even briefly to the evening dances. The free-spiritedness Ethan sees in Mattie attracts him to her and begins the reader's rel="follow">opinion that Ethan, who is desperate for "friendly human intercourse" (28) is suffering with Zeena. However, the disability Mattie suffers at the end of the story and the poverty she endures precludes her escape from the Frome household and cements her isolation, alongside Zeena. The physical contrasts, and later, similarities, demonstrate the transition of Ethan's passion developing, being unrestrained, and suffering the consequences.
Beauty and youth contrast the dull portrayal of age and illness in Ethan Frome. The harsh white landscape of winter in Starkfield and the "outcroppings of slate" (7) depicting the state of rigid oppressiveness is symbolic of the bleakness of Zeena's spirit and the burden she places on Ethan as an invalid and unappealing wife. Wharton refrains from giving Zeena any positive attributes to accentuate the contrasting free spirit and passionate force of Mattie, who is described with a youthful attractiveness. Her presence in the Frome household was "like the lighting of a fire on a cold hearth" (14), warming Ethan's spirit in a way that Zeena could not. Mattie's "cherry-coloured scarf" and the red ribbon she wears in her hair (12) are symbolic of health and vitality, but also…
Sources Used in Documents:
Trilling, Lionel. "The Morality of Inertia." Ethan Frome (A Norton Critical Edition), 1st edition.
Eds. Kristin O'Lauer & Cynthia Griffin Wolff. New York:W.W. Norton & Co., 1995.
Wharton, Edith. Ethan Frome (A Norton Critical Edition), 1st edition. Eds. Kristin O'Lauer & Cynthia Griffin Wolff. New York:W.W. Norton & Co., 1995.
Wolff, Cynthia Griffin, "The Narrator's Vision." Ethan Frome (A Norton Critical Edition), 1st edition. Eds. Kristin O'Lauer & Cynthia Griffin Wolff. New York:W.W. Norton & Co., 1995. 130-144.
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