The Theme Of Love In Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome

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Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116 says, “Let me not to the marriage of true minds. Love is not love. Which alters when it alteration finds, Or bends with the remover to remove. O no! it is an ever-fixed mark. That looks on tempests and is never shaken” (Lines 1-7). In Edith Wharton’s classic, Ethan Frome, this theme is present for protagonist Ethan Frome, who falls in love with his maid, Mattie, and forsakes his wife, Zeena. Ethan and Mattie’s flirtation with infidelity sets a catastrophic series of events into play: Zeena is jilted by the lovers’ betrayal, Mattie asks for the irrational way out of her situation, and all three characters make destructive decisions.
Ethan’s indifference toward his wife and lack of compassion for her illnesses clearly demonstrates Ethan and Zeena’s loveless relationship. The nature of the Frome’s marriage was made transparent when Ethan fell in love with another woman. When the novel begins, Frome demonstrates his cowardice when confesses that he
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Forcing Mattie to leave is Zeena’s desperate attempt at solving the love triangle. Zeena hoped that Mattie leaving would guide Ethan and Zeena back to their original relationship without distractions. However, Zeena could not have anticipated that the lovers’ prospective separation is needed for them to confess their feelings for each other and the culmination of the painful saga. The story comes to a climax when Mattie says “we’d never have to leave each other any more” referring to their suicide and unity in death (Wharton 63). Ethan agrees to her solution and the problem of their living apart is solved. However, Wharton does not leave the reader without another question and alternative answer. Despite Mattie’s passionate insistence that death is the only remedy, Wharton is clearly claiming through Frome’s rational consideration of divorcing his wife is the rational alternative to
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