Ethan Frome Study Guide

Ethan Frome Study Guide

Original title:
Ethan Frome
September 28th 2006 by Penguin Classics (first published 1911)
Starkfield, Massachusetts (United States) New England (United States) Massachusetts (United States)
ISBN 0142437808 (ISBN13: 9780142437803)

“Ethan Frome” is a work of Edith Wharton published in 1911. Those of you who know the author by her novel “The Age of Innocence” will be greatly surprised by the difference in style between these two works of art.

The text is about small American town with its trivial life, people lost under piles of snow, and dust, and heavy sky. A simple and silent farmer lives here, his name is Ethan Frome. He is a little bit over 50, but he looks older than his age. His appearance reflects how difficult the life has been on him.

He has a wife Zeena, who falls sick very easily. She isn’t the most loving person but neither is Ethan. She complains a lot and can’t find satisfaction in anything she does. Together with them lives Mattie – a distant relative of Zeena who had a separate family drama in her life. She helps with the housework and has occasional quarrels with the house hostess.

There’s also a secret, it weighs Ethan heavily to the ground and becomes more and more unbearable with every day. This secret doesn’t allow him to raise his head up, straighten up and open out his shoulders. The drama is hanging over the reader. But the drama isn’t in the plot – it is in the feelings and emotions evoked.

The situation in the novel puts people who believe in pure and sincere love in a difficult position. Some won’t believe the feelings of Ethan and Mattie, some will doubt their rationality, while others will think it’s not serious. On the contrary, the author doesn’t spend much time on it. The superficial style of the narrative adds to the thoughts about fickleness and evanescence of our life.

Many read this book for the intrigue, but it’s definitely brilliant at its writing. The lines fall easily, the bright examples are remembered for years and the atmosphere is so real.

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