An Omniscient Narrator In Ethan Frome By Edith Wharton

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Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton Edith Wharton’s naturalist novel, Ethan Frome, is written using the point of view from an omniscient narrator. The details included about the narrator, such as the fact that he is an engineer who is not from Starkfield, allows for Wharton to control which aspects of the characters are explicitly revealed and what is left to the interpretation of the reader as they learn about Mattie, Ethan, and Zeena. This inclusion of an omniscient narrator, who has no personal ties to the characters, allows for the development of the relationship between Mattie, Ethan, and Zeena to play out with an increased sense of realism as Wharton builds a frame narrative, irony, and gaps of knowledge within the novel. Frame narrative plays …show more content…

This telling of a tragic story is able to influence the readers to romanticize the story of Ethan, Mattie, and Zeena, while the novel itself stays true to its naturalist roots. This is important in the development of the plot and the audiences connect to the characters as the readers begin to root on the forbidden love that Ethan and Mattie have, and then in turn, by the end of the novel have pity for all characters. Towards the end of the novel, the narrator has a conversation with Mrs. Hale about what he saw, which gives the readers yet another perspective of the story. “Mrs. Hale answered simply: ‘There was nowhere else for her to go;’ and my heart simply tightened at the thought of the hard compulsions of the poor” (pg. 179). This interaction between the narrator and Mrs. Hale further allows for irony to emerge as their descriptions of the emotions they felt towards the accident influence how the reader feels. The audience find themselves feeling sorrowful for all the characters have been through, and especially in regards to Ethan and Mattie. This is interesting when looking at the situation of Ethan cheating on Zeena, as in most writing the audience does not feel sympathy when an affair does not go as the character planned. The irony felt within the description of Ethan, Mattie, and Zeena’s life would not be possible without Wharton’s intentional inclusion of the narrator’s bias and

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