Ethan Frome Write Up

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Title: Ethan Frome
Author: Edith Wharton
Genre: Novel
Date: 1911
Point of View: Prologue and epilogue are first person. Chapters one through nine are limited omniscient.

Setting: Ethan Frome takes place in Starkfield, Massachusetts, a small, rural, relatively uneventful town that is depressed and barren because of the harsh winter weather. Key places include the Frome house, the Frome barn, Starkfield’s town (the bank, post office, the church), Mr. Andrew Hale’s office, and the coasting hill with the large elm at the bottom. The prologue and epilogue are twenty-four years after chapters one through nine, which span over the course of a few days.


1.Ethan Frome: protagonist; extremely passive; in love with his wife’s cousin, Mattie; smart-used to study physics; often forced to give up things that are dear to him; enjoys nature; may get jealous; gives up aspirations for others; 24 years old in chapters one through nine but 52 in prologue and epilogue 2.Mattie Silver: Zeena’s cousin; has feelings for Ethan; around 20 years old; lively; happy; upset by small things-breaking pickle dish; is often red or wearing red; bad at domestic chores 3.Zenobia (Zeena) Frome: Ethan’s wife; supposedly very ill; depressed and wicked; pays close attention to Mattie and Ethan; suspicious and jealous; takes pride in being one of the smartest in town; bossy towards Ethan 4.Narrator: takes interest in Ethan; gets sleigh ride from Ethan; stays in Frome house and learns about smash-up 5.Jotham Powell: hired driver; does not talk much; rejects Ethan’s offer for dinner 6.Ruth Varnum Hale: wife of Ned Hale; gossip of the town; does not like to discuss Ethan’s accident; grew up wealthy but money is decreasing 7.Ned Hale: wife of Ruth Hale; is seen kissing Ruth under a tree by Ethan 8.Andrew Hale: Ned Hale’s father; gives Ethan business; short on money-cannot pay Ethan immediately 9.Denis Eady: young man; tries to start a relationship with Mattie; uses father’s possessions to attract women; inappropriately touches Mattie while dancing 10.Michael Eady: father of Denis Eady; wealthy, Irish grocer; started successful business in Starkfield 11.Daniel Byrne: driver-supposed to drive Mattie to train station; impatient 12.Puss: Zeena’s cat; sneaky and mischievous; spies on Mattie and Ethan


1.The Results of Sacrifice: Ethan is forced to sacrifice many of his dreams because of others throughout his life. For example, Ethan studied physics and had a promising future. However, when his father became ill he was forced to return home to help his mother care to his sickly father. In doing so, he gave up his passion and dream of excelling in physics. Similarly, Ethan had the dream of selling his farm after the death of his parents and moving in to a city. Zeena, however, had much distaste towards the idea of being in a largely populated area where there would be several people who were more intelligent than her, whereas in Starkfield she was among the smartest in the small town. Ethan remained at his farm after being forced to give up his dream of a new life in a new lively place. On the contrary, Ethan sacrifices his life to be happier. His desire is to be with Mattie and she makes it clear that the only way this is possible is to be dead. He agrees and attempts to sacrifice both their lives for the chance to love Mattie and escape Zeena. In the end, Ethan sacrifices the most important things in his life and turns out to be more depressed and regretful than before. 2.The Results of Passive Behavior: Ethan is an extremely passive person and rarely stands up to anyone. Zeena takes advantage of this prominent character trait she sees in Ethan. For instance, Zeena makes the decision that Mattie will be leaving. Despite Ethan’s heavy opposition, he does not express his dislike of Zeena’s actions and allows it to happen. Ethan is in love with Mattie and does not want to see her go but because he is reluctant to say...
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