Divorce In Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome

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According to the Center for Disease Control, there were approximately 813,862 divorces and annulments during 2014 in the United States (CDC 1). It is not a new practice, dating back further than King Henry VIII, but it is considered taboo in some societies. In fact, late 19th century author, Edith Wharton, tells of a story about a man who is trapped in an inescapable, loveless marriage.. His wife is an older, self-centered woman. He falls in love with another woman, his wife’s cousin, yet cannot seem to figure out how to be with her because at the time, divorce was merely not an acceptable option. Wharton argues in her novel, Ethan Frome, that marriage, religion, and the institutions of society have the possibility of limiting the potential of men and women by trapping them in traditional gender roles and destroying relationships.
The end of the Frome’s
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“Frome marries Zenobia Pierce, seven years his senior, who had nursed Mrs. Frome in her dying days (Davis 1).” He feels obligated to marry her because she devoted so much of her time to care for his mother. Once his mother dies, he would be left alone if not for Zeena. “It is this very sense of isolation that causes Ethan to marry Zeena-- he fears being left alone, with silence…(Morton-Mollo 3)” He had spent much of his life among other people and he couldn’t handle being by himself. Society teaches people that they have to have companionship in order to be happy. It neglects to mention that these people must be uplifting in character and compatible to the lifestyle one desires. “The man, Ethan Frome, an undeveloped idealist, marrying, not for love, but because of feminine proximity and an instinctive recoil from loneliness… (The North American Review 1)” If he had learned to live by himself, the right woman could have came his way and allowed him the opportunity to be happy, but his desire of instant gratification ruined any chance of
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