Scott - 4
Professor Steven Cooke
1 June 2014
The Dark and Ruined Life of Ethan Frome
Ethan Frome guided us through many obstacles that one can go through in one's life, which is a part of the American spirit. Ethan seems like a very sincere person, who doesn't want to hurt anyone. Throughout his life he has had many ups and downs that relate to personal issues, decisions on life, romance, death, and life. Ethan had morals that would haunt him forever which kept him from his happiness. Ethan was a man that was trapped by his own doing. He was seen as a "ruin of a man". (11) The American spirit in all of us, some of those characteristics can be bright and fun-filled, however sometimes it is dark, dramatic, and sad. Ethan Frome carries us along his dark, mysterious, unhappy life. Many wonder why Ethan would not just divorce Zeena instead of living so unhappy. Good introduction. Comment by Prof Marc: Please avoid contractions in academic writing; they are considered informal.
Ethan was trapped within Starkfield, leading a very unhappy and lonely life. He had been though many unfortunate events. Ethan grew up as a farmer in Starkfield, Massachusetts. The winters were cold and made farming very difficult. Later in life, Ethan went away to college but was unable to finish because his mother was very ill. Ethan was then left with the responsibility of the farm in order to support his mother during her illness. Zeena, Ethan's wife, had taken care of Ethan's mother while she was ill. Once Ethan's mother passed, he attempted to sell the farm and mill however was unable to find a buyer. Ethan knew then he was not going to be able to live in the house alone so he asked Zeena to marry him. Ethan had hopes of moving to Florida, however they never panned out and eventually Ethan came to the reality that he was stuck in Starkfield.
Starkfield, Massuchusetts had rough winters, these in itself would be a person down. The farms and the land had taken many beatings. At one point, Wharton described the land by stating "the starved apple orchards which writes over a hillside". This line in itself described the hardships everyone had and that it was very hard to get crops to grow and that the winters would starve a person.
Zeena, Ethan's wife was very sick herself after caring for Ethan's dying mother. Mattie Silver, Zeena's distant cousin, came to keep up with the household chores. Mattie was very young when she arrived, with no parents and seemed very fragile. Ethan began to enjoy having Mattie around, he enjoyed going home finally. It was stated in the book he is "never gay but in her presence". (33) Mattie understands Ethan. Thoughtful development!
Ethan and Mattie began to find their relationship. Ethan would fantasize of Mattie. Ethan never talks about the feelings he has towards Mattie because he never could figure if she had feelings for him. The night Zeena left for the Dr, Mattie and Ethan had dinner. During dinner the red pickle dish was knocked off the table by a cat, this red pickle dish was very memorable to Zeena. It was one of their wedding presents. During and after dinner, Ethan and Mattie talked for hours. Something, he could never do with Zeena. Ethan, realized then that Mattie had feelings for him as well. He also would later glue the red pickle dish together so Zeena would never know that the pickle dish was used.
Later, Zeena confided to Ethan that she was very ill and would not be able to do anything around the house and that she had hired a new girl and that Mattie would have to leave. Mattie was not a great housekeeper or cook. Ethan begged Zeena to let Mattie stay, however as always he lost the battle. Ethan had a thought at this time in the book at this point about Zeena thinking she was his hold up. His thought was, " All the long misery of his baffled past, of his youth of failure, hardship and vain effort, rose up in his soul in bitterness and seemed to take...
Cited: Divorce and Custody, http://www.faqs.org/childhood/Co-Fa/Divorce-and-Custody.html internet
Wharton, Edith, Ethan Frome, New York, Charles Scribner 's Sons, 1811 print
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