Ethan Frome Literary Analysis

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The tragic novella of Ethan Frome, by Edith Wharton focuses on adultery in rural New England. Stressing the importance of relationships, the narrator tells the story of Ethan Frome, a man searching for love. Despite being married to his cousin Zeena, he only views this civil union as a moral obligation. Then, he ventures into an adulterous relationship with Mattie Silver, and begins to understand what love is really about. The author often focuses on a red pickle dish, a treasured wedding gift, which unexpectedly shatters. In the story, Ethan Frome, by, Edith Wharton, Ethan and Zeena Frome’s broken pickle dish is a symbol of their dysfunctional relationship, of the unusual setting under which it is destroyed, and the ideas of matrimony. The…show more content…
Ethan’s initial response is to attempt to simply piece back the pickle dish with glue. The use of glue or “the easy route” to fix the broken pickle dish so Zeena won’t discover the accident, symbolizes Ethan’s thought process to try repairing their loveless relationship. Furthermore, Ethan is afraid to even tell Zeena that the dish has broken which shows the lack of communication and understanding in their relationship. Zeena’s response is much more dramatic, by intensely accusing Mattie of not only breaking her most prized possession, but also threatening her husband and their marriage. Zeena’s anger and resentment over the broken pickle dish actually illustrates her sorrow over her broken and unfulfilling marriage. Both Zeena and Ethan have varying responses, however both showing some commitment to repair their union. In Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton utilizes a broken pickle dish, to represent the views of espousement, and the representation of their varied human actions. Ethan and Zeena Frome’s marriage represents a union based on obligation rather that love. Throughout the story, Ethan is a weak and submissive husband under the control of a domineering wife. Unfortunately with this type of relationship, a goal of happiness cannot be achieved or
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