An Examination of Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

An Evaluation of Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

Comparison/Contrast essay

February 28, 01

In Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton, Ethan, a reserved son was torn between two women. He was wedded to Zenobia Frome, but his real love was his wife’s cousin, Mattie Silver. Zeena and Mattie had been different in all elements. Mattie was a caring, loving, beautiful young lady, while Zeena was a sickly, shrewish woman aged very well beyond her years. Ethan was constantly attracted to Mattie through the entire novel, as she was a lot more attractive and amicable than Zeena.

In the novel light was a significant motif. When light was shed on Zeena it “…drew from the darkness her puckered throat… and deepened fantastically the hollows and prominences of her high-boned deal with under its ring of crimping pins” (pg. 38). The writer used light so that you can emphasize Zeena’s austere and worn encounter illustrating her cold persona. When light was shed on Mattie it “…drew out with the same distinctness her slender small throat and… it threw a lustrous fleck on her behalf lips, edged her eye with velvet color, and laid a milky whiteness above the dark curve of her brows” (pg. 59). Mattie looked radiant and packed with beauty under the light under which Zeena had appeared hideous. It really is clear that Mattie seems more appealing to Ethan.

The author also referred to the locks of Zeena and Mattie frequently. Zeena had only “skinny strands of hair” (pg. 45), and she wore a “hard perpendicular bonnet” (pg. 45) above her mind. The sight imprinted in the reader’s head is not


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