How Does Edith Wharton Write the Novella Ethan Frome

How Does Edith Wharton Write the Novella Ethan Frome

How Does Edith Wharton Write the Novella, Ethan Frome? Ethan Frome is a novella written by renowned Edith Wharton in 1911, its setting, New England. More specifically, the novella features a fictitious town called Starkfield. The story is co-told by an anonymous person – a man who has a lot of dreams and desires according to Irving (1993). The story eventually ends portraying a lot of irony given the turn of events inn the plot.
Characters and Ambiguity
Edith’s novella is based on her observations of Frome’s residence as he stayed during a particular winter storm. Ethan Frome is portrayed as a mysterious figure – one who gets 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 in. The “ruin of a man” that is Frome, while lame, has a powerful albeit careless look. The narrative goes on in detail while presenting very scanty information about the characters that are involved. Mattie Silver for example, infatuating with Ethan is never quite revealed as a well rounded person who mainly focuses on Ethan and Starfield in the end. In effect, the author of the novella sees to it that many of her characters remain ambiguous and widely beyond full understanding.
Influences
Edith Wharton’s story is influenced by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter according to Lewis (1975). In appreciation of Zeena, Edith uses red against a pure white background for her setting in opposite symbolism of Mattie’s attraction. She also does this to symbolize Mattie’s temptation to Ethan. Some critics have commented that Ethan Frome is comparable to The Scarlet Letter in respect of the fact that it is a tragedy characteristic of life in New England (Mellow, 1980).
The Scarlet Letter, a romantic work written in 1850 features romance much as Wharton’s story. In the Letter, Hester Prynne conceives following an adulterous affair – something that is also present in Ethan Frome as Mattie and Ethan draw ever close to committing adultery. . Ethan Frome is also influenced by Henry James. James’ expertise in blending psychological refinements is quite a lot evident in Wharton’s novella. This, she incorporates in her work with her unique ability to tell stories from beginning to end. Ethan Frome is also influenced by an experience told to the author by one accident survivor, Kate Spencer.
Deceitful Words
Edith Wharton’s words are in several instances deceitful. At the beginning of the story, Frome is said to have experienced a smash-up. Later in the story, Mattie and Zeena experience a smash-up in an unsuccessful suicide attempt. In whole, the story is full of flashbacks and irony. While Frome is presented as having deep appreciation of the natural who well connects with his younger days, he is later revealed to be in lack of inner strength. In this respect, he is incapable of escaping the effects of several oppressive forces including climate, convention and sickness.
References
Irving B., 1993, "Ethan Frome: A Nightmare of Need". Twaynes Masterwork Studies, Twayne Publishers, New York.
Lewis, R., 1975, Edith Wharton: A Biography. Harper &amp. Row, Publishers. New York.
Mellow J., 1980, Nathaniel Hawthorne in His Times, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston.

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