The Awakening And Ethan Frome Essay

1381 words - 6 pages

This year in English class we read many stirring novels, two of which being The Awakening by Kate Chopin and Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton. On the surface, these books may look like they don’t have much in common due to their dissimilar plots. However, there are a few noticeable similarities between them; both protagonists in the novels, Edna Pontellier and Ethan Frome, are fighting a constant internal battle. They want things they can’t have, and the potential serenity they yearn for goes against the principled norms of the time periods and would taint their societal reputations forever.
Edna Pontellier is an ordinary wife and mother, but craves for so much more. As a woman living in the late 1800s, she wants to be free to express herself however she wants, even if that includes pursuing her forbidden love, Robert. Likewise, Ethan Frome is a quiet man living in the early 1900s who feels beleaguered by Zeena, his sick and irritated wife. As the story progresses, he realizes he is falling in love with Mattie Silver, the youthful and energetic girl who moves in with the Fromes to help care for Zeena. The second noticeable similarity between the two novels is that both protagonists attempt suicide at the climax of the story. Whereas Edna succeeds in her attempt, Ethan does not. As a result of this, he is forced to live the rest of his life in misery with Zeena and the consequences of his impulsive actions. Despite the unalike outcomes of each book, The Awakening and Ethan Frome are equally poignant stories that show how many people of these time periods are conflicted between being who they want to be and being who society expects them to be. However, both stories show this in a different way; while Edna Pontellier reflects what is going on during this historical time period, Ethan Frome contradicts it.
Edna Pontellier in The Awakening is portrayed as a confused housewife who feels burdened by her husband and children and thwarted by life. During this time period, called the Progressive Era, women are supposed to only take on roles such as housekeepers and mothers. They are expected to cook family meals, clean the house, and care for the children. Although this is the social norm of the time period, many women disagree with it and want equal rights and opportunities as men. This idea is reflected in The Awakening. Although Edna does care about her family, they do not satisfy her desire for happiness. She feels as though it is impossible to be a unique individual in this judgmental society and lives every day with an “indescribable oppression” (Chopin 44). This is why she begins rebelling against the norms of humanity and everything it has taught her to be.
The Awakening was alarming to many people when it was first published. In fact, the novel went unread for decades. According to Anna Elfenbein, The Awakening “shocked its nineteenth-century readers by presenting without comment the adultery of Edna Pontellier, a wealthy, white American wife and...

Find Another Essay On The Awakening and Ethan Frome

C and c huck finn, ethan frome

1051 words - 4 pages Huckleberry Finn, The Great Gatsby, and Ethan Frome were books written by three different authors and may have seemed completely different. The main characters of these books, Huck Finn, Ethan Frome, and Jay Gatsby, appeared to be three distinct persons, but in one aspect or another came together as one. Love and communication served to bring these three characters together and, along with social order, also set them apart. Huck, Ethan, and Jay

The Responsibility of Ethan Frome for His Own Tragedy in Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome

3698 words - 15 pages The Responsibility of Ethan Frome for His Own Tragedy in Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome A: Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome, published in 1911, was a departure from her other works that were primarily concerned with the privileged New York Society and its hypocrisy. Critics have agreed that Ethan Frome was probably one of the most autobiographical of Wharton's works because it talked about an illicit affair while Wharton herself

Comparison essay on "Ethan Frome" and "The Story of an Hour"

756 words - 3 pages Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour" and Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome are similar that the characters are both trapped in a loveless marriage and have controlling spouses.Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour" tells a story of how a woman sobs for the loss of her husband but ironically is also overjoyed by the loss. Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome tells a story of a man, Ethan, who is trapped in a loveless marriage, realizing that he can find true love

Essay on Wharton's Ethan Frome: Absence of Light and Life

939 words - 4 pages Absence of Light and Life in Ethan Frome Ethan Frome, by Edith Wharton is set in Starkfield, a small community plagued by harsh winters that seem to ebb away at life. In this town lives Ethan Frome, a crippled man who seems to be the physical embodiment of mortal suffering. An new arrival to the town, is drawn by Ethan. He is compelled to uncover the story behind the enigmatic man. What he discovers is a tragic tale of human suffering, an

Literary Elements and Time Setting in Ethan Frome

503 words - 2 pages Ethan Frome Love does not always have happy endings. People can fall in and out of love as easily as changing clothes. "Ethan Frome," a novel by Edith Wharton, explains how a married man named Ethan struggles on with his life, secretly distracted by the yearning for his wife's cousin, Mattie Silver. The author uses literary elements and time setting in the story. Wharton has been generous in using literary elements in the novel. She has

Juxtaposition between Mattie and Zeena in Ethan Frome

1258 words - 5 pages According to the Microsoft Word Encarta Dictionary, juxtaposition is to place two or more things, side by side, in order to emphasize contrasts and similarities between them. Edith Wharton deliberately places the characters of Mattie Silver and Zeena Frome together in the novel Ethan Frome to compare and contrast them. Although Mattie has only recently been exposed to Starkfield, Zeena's has lived in there for seven despondent years. Wharton's

Contrast of Zeena and Mattie in "Ethan Frome"

1256 words - 5 pages . However, in the end Mattie's other side, one which is extraordinarily similar to Zeena's attitude, comes to light, after a thwarted suicide attempt. In Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton makes an ironic comment on the choices present in an impoverished world by presenting contrasting images to describe Zeena Frome and Mattie Silver, yet also presenting details which make them seem alike.Wharton suggests that Mattie's cheerful attitude, her spirited

The Tragic Heroism of Ethan Frome(Edith Wharton

838 words - 3 pages imperfections. Also this character must suffer more than he or she deserves and evoke sympathy or empathy in the reader. In my opinion, Ethan Frome had all of these traits.First of all, Ethan Frome was an overall good person. He cared for both people and his animals. Throughout the entire book, Ethan made it a priority to make sure that his horses were well taken care of. Even when he was badly injured at the bottom of the hill, he still "heard

The Witch Wins in Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

1352 words - 5 pages In the small, desolate town of Starkfield, Massachusetts, Ethan Frome lives a life of poverty. Not only does he live hopelessly, but “he was a prisoner for life” to the economy (Ammons 2). A young engineer from outside of town narrates the beginning of the story. He develops a curiosity towards Ethan Frome and the smash-up that he hears about in bits and pieces. Later, due to a terrible winter storm that caused the snow itself to seem like “a

Ethan Frome and The Great Gatsby: The Progression of Lust and Desire in Early Twentieth Century American Literature

1514 words - 6 pages Ethan Frome and The Great Gatsby: The Progression of Lust and Desire in Early Twentieth Century American LiteratureIntroductionThough the twentieth century can hardly lay an original claim to the use of lust and desire as major themes in literature-these are major driving forces behind human attitudes and behaviors, after all, and this has been reflected in art and literature since man first painted on cave walls-these topics did develop a

How far do you agree with the view that the tragedies in ‘Ethan Frome’ and ‘A View from the Bridge’ are brought about by individual characters rather

2216 words - 9 pages Within A View from the Bridge and Ethan Frome the main protagonists are tragic figures. The origin of a tragedy comes from Greece, where the basis of the idea was a drama in which the protagonist is overcome by some superior force or extreme circumstance; this usually resulted in either disaster or death. As is true to most Greek tragedies the ending of the shown before the downfall itself. Most victims of tragedy were written to be of a high

Similar Essays

Ethan Frome Vs. The Awakening Essay

1307 words - 5 pages Is independence an intangible dream? Are people truly individuals, or merely products of their environment? Edith Wharton and Kate Chopin explore the question in Ethan Frome and The Awakening, in which the protagonists are led by outside forces to challenge societal conventions. Employing the use of characterization, symbolism, and metaphor, the authors demonstrate that attempting to do so can lead to one's destruction. The main

The Passive And Pitiful Ethan Frome

1001 words - 4 pages The Passive and Pitiful Ethan Frome      Ethan Frome is a man torn between what he wants to do, and what he should do.  Life in a rural town can be tough, but when faced with complications, it can be almost unbearable.  When Ethan decides to marry his distant cousin, Zeena, his life turns down a long and lonesome road.  Ethan's lack of assertiveness and decisive action only worsens his already lonesome and stressful life

Themes: The Crucuble And Ethan Frome

595 words - 2 pages      Themes are the basic and often widespread ideas explored in a literary work. The Crucible and Ethan Frome are two novels both focused on one main theme. In The Crucible the main theme was hysteria and in Ethan Frome it was desire. Both novels have very unique ways to express these themes throughout the stories.      Hysteria was a very obvious theme shown throughout the play, The Crucible

The Story Of Ethan Frome Essay

1307 words - 5 pages Ethan Frome is a bleak tale of a man who falls in love with his wife’s cousin, only torealize that he doesn’t have the means to follow through on it. Ethan is fed up with hismarriage to Zeena, a sickly woman who is almost always in a rotten mood and is jealousof her own cousin, Mattie Silver, because she isn’t nearly as beautiful, charming, andhealthy as she is. This is one of the main reasons why Zeena is looking for an excuse