Ethan Frome Vs. Age Of Innocence

849 words - 3 pages

Society is "an organized group periodically meeting because of common interests or beliefs; distinguishable by particular aims or standards of living; or a social circle having a clearly marked identity". Because society has "particular aims or standards of living", it restricts people on what they can and can not do according to their particular aims. Society therefore becomes oppressive and rejects what does not follow its usual way. Edith Wharton shows this in her literary works and shows the severeness of following this oppression. Wharton, author of Age of Innocence and Ethan Frome, shows that society is oppressive and restricts people of what they truly desire in these two different books.

The setting shows that no matter the place or people, society will always restrict. Ethan Frome takes place in a small, poor area called Starkfield, while Age of Innocence takes place in the large city of New York. New York is a big, rich city with sophisticated people who have higher standards and only expect the "best" behavior. In Age of Innocence, no family invites Beaufort to dinner or any social events due to his undesirable social status. He divorced his wife for a mistress which was unheard of at that time. Society had tried to restrict him to stay with his wife, and because he rejected this he is punished socially. In Ethan Frome, the town looks down upon Ethan Frome and his family for their past and their dissimilarity to the rest of the town. Mr. Hale does not pay Ethan when he asks for the advance, because he is taking advantage of Ethan. He is acting as the oppressor like society; and Ethan does not argue and therefore is like a follower being restricted, because he did not get paid. Also, when Ethan wants to kiss Mattie, he does not, because he feels restricted and fears the consequents of these restrictions. Although these setting are completely different, Wharton is drawing the connection that society is existent everywhere. Through the poor town to the rich city, they both have restrictions that each of those separate societies expects, which proves that no matter the place or the restrictions, there are always social restrictions in a society.

The conflicts throughout the stories show that society is only for followers. In Ethan Frome, the main conflict is desire verse obligation. Ethan and Zeena have a crumbling marriage with no love in it. The broken pickle dish symbolizes their...

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