Symbolism In Wharton's Ethan Frome

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Edith Wharton is an American author of the late nineteenth to the early twentieth centuries. In her novella Ethan Frome, Wharton uses symbolism to develop the theme of her story. Ethan Frome takes place in Starkfield, Massachusetts in which there's little tolerance towards sinful deeds. Around the Frome house many objects take a symbolic meaning to the importance of the story. Therefore Wharton uses much symbolism and imagery in the story to explain to the readers what is going on emotionally inside the characters and what is going to happen. The cat, the L shaped barn, the red pickle dish, and the elm tree all have an important symbolic meaning to the story. Wharton uses all these objects as a way of creating and developing the theme of failure in this story. One major, but not the most important symbol used in this novel is the Fromes family cat. The cat is used symbolically throughout the book. It represents the presence of Zeena and the force that becomes between Mattie and Ethan. Once the cat breaks the jar the whole story than changes due to…show more content…
It was a dish hardly used, that was only brought down in the spring time for cleaning. The dish was a wedding gift, which has significant meaning in the story. The fact that it was red and that it was a pickle dish adds to the sexual meaning that it possess as a symbolic object. The red pickle dish shows Mattie as an intruder who would reintroduce sexuality into Ethan's life. The color of the dish is a representation of Mattie and meaning of red in the story. Her red scarf, lips, and ribbon all connected her to the symbolic object, the pickle dish. The pickle dish is first showed as Zeena's and Ethan's physical meaning of their marriage. Once Mattie comes into Ethan's sight of love, her presence destroys it. The way it happens in the story is that as Ethan and Mattie prepare for dinner the cat jumps onto the table and breaks the red pickle
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