How Edith Wharton Writes the Novella Ethan Frome
Ethan Frome is a novella written by renowned writer Edith Wharton in 1911. Its setting takes place in Massachusetts. More specifically, the novella features the fictitious town of Starkfield. The story is told by an anonymous person; a man who has many dreams and desires according to Irving (1993). The story eventually ends portraying an interesting turn of events between the Frome’s. Characters and Ambiguity
Wharton’s novella bases the narrator’s observations of Frome’s residence where he stays during a particular winter storm. Ethan Frome is portrayed as a mysterious figure - injured in a grisly accident in his earlier days. The description of Frome as Starkfield’s most striking character and ruin makes him a character worth investing interest. The “ruin of a man” that is Frome, while lame, has a powerful and careless look (Mellow, 1980). The narrative continues with details while presenting very scanty information about the character involved. Mattie Silver for example, her infatuation with Ethan is never quite revealed, she seems to be a well rounded person who mainly focuses on Ethan and Starkfield. In effect, the author of the novella sees to it that many of her characters remain vague and beyond full understanding so the reader can expand and imagine. Influences
Edith Wharton’s story is influenced by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter according to Lewis (1975). Wharton uses red as a symbol of the passion Ethan longs for, but never receives. Red is the color of blood, ruddiness, good health, and liveliness. Zeena, Ethan’s wife, has none of these qualities, yet Mattie Silver, Zeena’s cousin, has all of them. In appreciation of Zeena, Wharton uses red for warmth for Mattie, and white for Zeena because she is very cold, the setting in opposite symbolism of Mattie’s attraction. She also does this to symbolize Mattie’s temptation to Ethan, her red...