Compare And Contrast Edith Wharton And Ethan Frome

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Presley Gregory
Thom Williams
Honors English 2
2 March 2023
The Blunt Truth Woven Into Literature
The late 1800’s was a contrasting period of both tragedy and innovation, ranging from the Civil War, former President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, and the Great Chicago Fire all the way to women’s rights movements, the passing of the 15th Amendment of the Constitution, and the invention of the telephone (The People’s History). Some of the most significant events in history took place in the late 1800’s, which, inturn, caused a spark in realist literature. This spark turned into a roaring flame as writers such as Mark Twain, Edith Wharton, and Edwin Arlington Robinson began writing their interpretations of American society. Robinson, a prominent …show more content…

The Blue Box Library elaborates, “...used detailed realism to suggest that social conditions, heredity, and environment had an inevitable role in shaping human character” (Blue Box 8). Edith Wharton portrays this in Ethan Frome, when the main character, Ethan Frome, outlines his struggles with the burden of his family’s farm in the small town he grew up in, instead of taking advantage of his intelligence in college in a large city. Wharton describes Ethan’s internal conflict, “There the silence had deepened about him year by year. Left alone, after his father's accident, to carry the burden of farm and mill, he had had no time for convivial loiterings in the village; and when his mother fell ill the loneliness of the house grew more oppressive than that of the fields” (Wharton 4). Ethan felt he was hampered with the obligation of taking care of the family farm, which he never wanted to take on. He felt he was compelled to this duty via his parents’ lifestyle. He grew unsatisfied with his life as he battled with wanting to free himself from the work he was encumbered with as the result of his parents’ conditions. This internal conflict depicts a perfect example of the hereditary conflict in naturalistic literature, as Ethan begrudgingly accepts the responsibility of inheriting his family’s farm, fearing guilt if he left his …show more content…

It explains the different ideals society collectively holds against others, and how the evasion of these burdensome expectations prove more prevalent to some than others. Study Smarter furthers, “Social realism in literature appears to be similar to realist literature since all social realism is also realism. The reverse, however, is not true: not all realist literature is social realism. Social realist novels would, more often than not, concern the lives and circumstances of the working poor” (Study Smarter 10). This explanation describes the torment some feel when faced with these expectations that seem unrealistic to their abilities or morals. From another perspective, Stephen Crane paints a detailed picture of what a young man expects from war. Henry Fleming, eager to find fame in fighting for the side of the Union in the Civil War, romanticizes the idea of becoming a soldier and battling for his country, without truly knowing the horrors that lie beyond the books he read, labeling a brave knight fearlessly saving the princess. Crane furthers, “On the way to Washington his spirit had soared. The regiment was fed and caressed at station after station until the youth had believed that he must be a hero. There was a lavish expenditure of bread and cold meats, coffee, and pickles and cheese. As he basked in the smiles of the girls and was patted and complimented by the old

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