Edith Wharton’s novel, Ethan Frome, is a tragic tale about the memories of a once young man and the choices that one makes which all have their own consequences. Ethan Frome is first seen as a quite, disfigured old man. In chapter one we go back into the past that was once Ethan Frome’s. The author of this novel wanted this tragic story to have those in her lifetime change their veins to certain events that were “double standards”, and are still seen today.
Ethan Frome’s universal meaning was that to have a prosperous and enjoyable life. One must not relief on the thoughts and norms of those around you, but to have the courage and bravery to choose their on path in the walk of life. Ethan has been dealt a difficult set of circumstances. He is an intelligent man, but he is chained to his life on the farm. He was forced to leave college to care for his sickly mother.
He married Zeena because he feared loneliness and felt he owed her something for her help with his parents. He has worked hard on the farm, never enjoying leisure or social connection. But his circumstances have made him jealous, controlling, and weak. To satisfy his own selfish needs for love and connection, he seeks out the vulnerable and innocent Mattie Silver and wins her love. Then he refuses to stand up to his wife to protect Mattie.
He allows her to be sent away, for he feels powerless against Zeena. In truth, he becomes his own hopelessness. He lets the people in his village decide what is right for a husband to do with his life. Ethan married Zenobia because of the fact that when his mother died, he had no one left, and that he didn’t want to be left alone. Zenobia, the dominant figure, was happy with the life that they lived in their quite town, but Ethan has witnessed city life before, and he yearned for it, but because he could not stand up for himself, he was forced to live in that sleepy little village.
Where did all those romantic fellas go? With all that can be, all that is within us, romance lives forever! So why not take advantage of it. Did you ever look around and wonder why a woman will chose another man over you? Maybe you are more handsome, intelligent, richer and so much more than that other plain fellow what's his name. But he's romantic and obviously knows how to treat a woman and ...
The reader begins to see the universal meaning begin to come together after Ethan meets Mattie after the dance. Ethan and Mattie reminniss about the first day she moved in to Ethan’s home. he countinuosly has fantasies about himself and Mattie starting a new life, but never would act upon it. He wanted to leave his village to lead the life that he derv ered for a young man, but Zenobia became ill and ethan took it upon himself to take care of his sickly wife. Mattie, becoming ethan’s new infatuation, began to break up Ethan and Zenobia’s marriage, and this csn be seen by the destruction of the pickle-dish. The dish was Zenobia’s most prized possession, and it was shattered, just like her marriage.
Ethan, a man that feels that he must conform to the norms of their culture, never truly express’s his anger for Zenobia and his lust for mattie until it was to late. Ethan Frome was a man who knew what he wanted, but was afraid to express himself to those around him. He and Mattie try to commit suicide to escape a life without each other, but instead it only caused them all to suffer more. This course of action was a simple way to get away from those that would shun him, which he was frightened of. Fear rules this once young man who had the potential to be happy. he is now caught between a wife that controls his every move and a lost love that has become bitter and angry, and he has mo one to blame but himself.
If he had made his own choices, he may have found the freedom that he was so longing for in his life. This novel wants the reader to think about one’s life and to be able to make choices. The reader makes desicions on their own.