Ethan Frome Essay Nature

Ethan is held down by a ball and chain; his marriage to his wife, Zeena.

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The image of the butterfly, which has defied the cold and death of winter symbolizes freedom; freedom that Ethan is unable to attain because he is trapped in a loveless marriage.

The cushion that Ethan throws across his study is the only cushion that Zeena ever made for him.

From that point on, winter presides over the tragedy in all its manifestations of snow, ice, wind, cold, darkness, and death.

The Narrator speculates that the winters in Ethan's past must have brought about a suppression of life and spirit.

Mattie's change in mood reminds Ethan of "the flit of a bird in the branches" and he feels that walking with her is similar to "floating on a summer stream." Later in the novel, when Ethan goes downstairs to tell Mattie that she will have to leave their house, their conversation has the effect of "a torch of warning" in a "black landscape." Similes, comparisons of two unlike things that use words of comparison such as like or as, are direct comparisons that Wharton uses throughout the novel. " As Mattie and Ethan approach their crippling accident, darkness prevails over the imagery.

Ethan Frome Essay Nature

At the beginning of the novel, Ethan's perception of Mattie's face is "like a window that has caught the sunset," and later, he thinks her face seems "like a wheat field under a summer breeze." As Ethan and Mattie walk home from the dance, Ethan reveals to Mattie that he had been hiding while she talked to Denis Eady. Darkness comes, "dropping down like a black veil from the heavy hemlock boughs." The black veil causes the reader to think of a funeral.

However, Ethan must hide his love for Mattie because of his marriage to Zeena.

The only way we know of the magnitude of his love for Mattie is through the unspoken words of Wharton's imagery. The sun slanted through the south window on the girl's moving figure, on the cat dozing in the chair, and on the geraniums brought in from the doorway where Ethan had planted them in the summer to 'make a garden' for Mattie.

In the novel Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton uses setting and nature to describe the characters' emotions in lieu of dialogue.

Edith Wharton often uses imagery involving light and warmth to portray Ethan Frome's true feelings for Mattie Silver.


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