In the novel Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome marries a woman who he is not completely in love with. As life goes on, as a result, he falls in love with Mattie, Zeena’s cousin, when she comes to care for Zeena in her days of sickness. This was affected by three main themes in the novel. The first theme is isolation within oneself. Next, a theme from the novel is duty versus personal happiness. Finally, a theme from the novel is the surroundings and conditions of their location, and the effects these have on Ethan. Ethan Frome is a man troubled with the isolation with which he is encompassed in, the choice between duty and happiness, and the affects of the gloomy weather of Starkfield.
First, Ethan Frome is a man who is isolated within himself. Growing up, Ethan’s mother fell sick and became a recluse who did not associate with anyone. This gave Ethan no one to talk to because his house was not located near town. His mom brought in Zeena to care for her while she was sick. Being acclimated to having no one to talk to, Ethan married Zeena on a whim when she was about to leave. This occurred because Ethan isolated himself from other women, so when the opportunity came around, Ethan married Zeena. Unfortunately, Zeena fell sick as well. This caused Ethan to feel completely isolated within. It was said, “He did not even know whether anyone in the world felt as he did, or whether he was the sole victim of this mournful privilege” (pg 30). Ethan did not know if he was the only one to undergo the affects of being isolated. Also, Frome felt the severe effects of isolation when Ethan, Mattie, and Zeena were living together for the second time. Mattie could not move away due to lasting injuries from her sledding accident with Ethan. The townspeople noticed this peculiar situation. One townsperson, or acquaintance of the three commented, “And the way I see it now, I don’t see’s there’s much difference between the Fromes up at the farm and the Fromes...
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