Ethan Frome Zeena Film vs Novel

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In 1993, John Madden directed a movie version of Edith Wharton’s novel Ethan Frome. Both the movie and novel is set in the fictional New England town named Starkfield and tells the story about a husband and wife who need an extra hand around the house due to Zeena’s constant illness. In both versions, the character of Zeena Frome is portrayed as a sickly wife who displays a degree of hypochondria. Despite her physical weakness she, not Ethan, holds the dominant position in the household. The image of Zeena in the film is very similar to the Wharton’s novel. However, the movie is different from the novel because Zeena is shown through different angles, perspectives; the emphasis of her character is much more exaggerated throughout the film, and the transition in her characteristics is much more evident. The movie Ethan Frome shows the character of Zeena Frome from many perspectives and angles, as opposed to the novel which only explores her from the manipulative, evil stand of point throughout the whole novel. For example, in the film the perspective of pre-marriage Zeena is shown which makes viewers feel sympathetic for her. The scene consists of multiple close ups between Ethan and Zeena which puts an emphasis on the relationship which is being built. Although this is so, it can be noted that Zeena seems to know her plan and use her fragility as a weapon from the very beginning, while Ethan was oblivious to the fake affection shown by Zeena. In contrast, the novel does not show any sympathy to Zeena at all and does not tell readers this manipulation within the household was all Zeena’s planning from the beginning. Therefore, the movie was able to display a more sympathetic side to Zeena as well her evil intentions through the pre-marriage scenes. Another perspective of her character explored in the film is jealousy. When Mattie is struggling with her trunk, intentionally identical to the pre-marriage scene, the expression of Zeena’s face shows us that she is...
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