Morality In Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome

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In Edith Wharton’s most remarkable novel, Ethan Frome, the main character, Ethan Frome, is in love with a prohibited woman… his wife's cousin. His wife, Zeena, is a sick woman who has a villainous essence to her and an irrevocable hold on Ethan. Mattie Silver is Zeena’s cousin and the woman Ethan is infatuated with. Through Ethan’s eyes, Mattie is described as youthful, attractive, and graceful basically everything Zeena isn’t. This references to the theme: society and morality as obstacles to individual desires. Society is unanimously known for constraining people from following their individual desires. Thus, the marriage that binds Ethan and Zeena together is valued and viewed as something sacred. Ethan's desire to want to commit adultery would dishonor their marriage and is viewed upon in society. The conflict lies between his passion for Mattie and the constraints society imposes. However, his morals control his conscience. Both societal views and morals prevent him from giving in to his selfish desires.…show more content…
The dish was a wedding present given to the married couple. The shattering of the dish symbolizes the death of their marriage. In relation to the theme, the dish shatters during a romantic dinner between Ethan and Mattie, this ties in with morals. Ethan Frome obviously wasn't preoccupied with his crumbling marriage. To Zeena, the shattering of the dish meant the end of their marriage “[Zeena] picked up the bits of broken glass she went out of the room as of she carried a dead body.” His morals weren't high in this scene and if he perpetuated his attitude perhaps his morals wouldn't be an obstacle from fulfilling his

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