Examples Of Naturalism In Ethan Frome Characters, Ethan Frome By Edith Wharton.

978 words - 4 pages

“Naturalism is commonly understood as an extension or intensification of realism. The intensification involves the introduction of characters of a kind…” (Baym, 1999) A perfect example of Naturalist work is Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton. Ethan, one of the main characters in the book, is a old, deformed man who is in love with his wife’s cousin. Zeena is Ethan’s wife who occasionally has psychological illnesses. Mattie is Zeena’s cousin and is in love with Ethan. There are many examples of naturalism in Ethan Frome: the characters, their deformities, and their lowly place in society, their bad luck, and distasteful environment they lived in.Ethan Frome, a significant character in the book, is very troubled. Life hasn’t been pleasant for Ethan. Through his life experiences, Naturalism has been portrayed. At the beginning of the story, the reader, from the following quote, finds out that Ethan is crippled from a “smash-up:”“The “smash-up” it was—I gathered from the same informant—which, besides drawing the red gash across Ethan’s Frome’s forehead, had so shortened and warped his right side that it cost him a visible effort to take the few steps from his buggy to the post-office window.” (Wharton 4)This is a characteristic of Naturalism because the smash-up was caused by Ethan’s emotions. If Ethan did not have any feelings for Mattie, the “smash-up” would have never taken place and Ethan and Mattie would not be injured and forced to spend the rest of their lives being taken care of by Zeena. Then, the novel goes into a flashback and the whole story of Ethan Frome is told to the reader. The reader then finds out that Zeena, Ethan’s wife, is actually his cousin who came to Starkfield to take care of Ethan’s mother, and she never left after his mother passed away. Ethan and Zeena get married and they have a loveless marriage that took place because of loneliness. In the novel, it says that the marriage might not have taken place if it had not been wintertime. This is also another example of Naturalism because it was decision that was controlled by their instincts that if they did not get married, then they would have a lonely winter. Zeena “becomes” sick, and her cousin Mattie has to come to Starkfield and take care of the house. Ethan falls in love with Mattie, but is not able to express his feelings at first because of Zeena. Later on in the story, Ethan and Mattie discover that they love each other and that they cannot be together so they decided to commit suicide. Unfortunately, the suicide attempt was futile and Mattie and Ethan both survive. In this part of the story, Ethan and Mattie are acting on their emotions because they know that they cannot runaway together, and they also know that if they commit suicide they will never have...

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