Essay On The Importance Of Weather In Wharton's Ethan Frome

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In the novel, Ethan Frome, by Edith Wharton, the weather is instrumental in advancing the plot and increasing the readers understanding of events that transpire throughout the book. The weather that is prevalent throughout the novel - the frigid, New England winter that blankets the town of Starkfield, Massachusetts, represents many of the key personalities of some of the characters, as well as the complex relationships that exist between them.
Ethan Frome himself is weathered and aged by the harsh, depressing winters in Starkfield. The weather reflects who he is as a man. At the beginning of the book, the narrator mistakes Ethan for an old man describing him as bleak and withdrawn from society, “and he was so stiffened and grizzled that I took him for an old man.” (4) Like the winter season that often blankets Starkfield and impedes Ethan’s ability to get around, Ethan’s life is also encumbered by his family obligations. “Somebody had to stay and care for the folks. There wasn’t ever anybody but Ethan.” (6) Like a bitter cold, endless winter, Ethan has always been burdened by caring for physically and mentally ill family members. First his father, then his mother, then his ailing wife. Ethan recalled when caring for his elderly mother, “On stormy nights, when the loud wind was about …show more content…

The changes in the winter weather, the thaws, storms and continuous snow evoke Ethan’s emotions and the way he exists with the other characters. In Starkfield, the lifeless winter drains Ethan of all patience and love of his wife. Like a New England winter, Ethan’s relationship with his wife is dead, without a chance of rebirth in the spring. On the contrary, despite the winter season, Ethan sees nothing but beauty when he is spending time with Mattie. Like the winter months, it’s as if Ethan’s emotions lay dormant, but remain and begin to flourish with his comforting

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