Poverty in Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome
Poverty is defined as deficiency, or inadequacy. It can be used to represent more than just the lack of money. Poverty is constant throughout the novel, Ethan Frome, by Edith Wharton. Poverty is evident in almost every area of Ethan's life.
First of all, obviously, Ethan lacked money. His farm squeezed out just enough money to keep him and his household going. On page 133, Ethan is thinking of selling his property, but then he remembers its condition... "Farm and mill were mortgaged to the limit of their value, and even if she found a purchaser- in itself an unlikely chance- it was doubtful if she could clear a thousand dollars on the sale... it was only by incessant labor and personal supervision that he managed to draw a meager living from his land..." The town in which he lived was also quite poor. It snowed most of the time, so it was a bad area for agriculture.
Another type of poverty evident in Ethan's life was that he had little happiness. He was forced to quit his career to aide his sick father. His father then died, and his mother went crazy, so he had to take care of her. After his mother died, he had no money left to continue his schooling. He then married a woman he did not love out of fear of being alone. After all this, his wife's cousin comes to live with and help them. He then falls in love with her, but remains miserable because he knows that he cannot be with her. Happiness is definitely a wanting object in Ethan's life. Mrs. Hale is quoted as saying, " You've had a mean time, Ethan Frome."
Ethan's wife, Zeena, displays another area of the poverty of Ethan's life. Her particular poverty is the lack of feeling. She is a cold, decrepit ...