The Past In Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome

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In Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome, Ethan Frome’s past contributes to the story more than any other character’s. The other main characters’ past may have been more difficult or life changing, but Ethan’s past definitely builds the story more. Ethan’s past builds his character more and dictates almost everything he does. This cannot be said for the other main characters in the story. Ethan’s farmhouse has always been home to loneliness. An example of this is the relationship Ethan had with his mother. Ever since she got sick, she stopped talking with Ethan, and Ethan began to feel lonely. “His mother had been a talker in her day, but after her "trouble" the sound of her voice was seldom heard, though she had not lost the power of speech.” (Chapter IV) Ethan’s heartache is the only reason he ever fell in love with and married Zeena. This same process repeated with Zeena. When she got sick, he began to feel lonely and fell in love with Mattie. This also would not have happened if Zeena didn’t get sick and stop talking with Ethan.…show more content…
He could have left caring for his mother/Zeena to someone else, and lived his own life. He would never be lonesome if he lived in a big city, and he could have possibly been wealthier. The story introduces this idea by having one of the introductory characters say, “Most of the smart ones get away.” (Prologue) This ties in with the idea of Ethan’s conformity being his downfall. If Ethan didn’t “stay and care for the folks” (Prologue), he could have made the future much better for himself. Ethan definitely would have been happier in Florida being an engineer than in this village being a farmer. "When a man's been setting round like a hulk for twenty years or more, seeing things that want doing, it eats inter him, and he loses his grit.” (Prologue) Ethan’s forgotten dream was probably his only way out of this
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