The Thin Line Between Jay Gatsby And Ethan Frome

1443 words - 6 pages

The attempt to capture the American dream is a theme in many novels and films, and that is no exception when it comes to The Great Gatsby and Ethan Frome. Jay Gatsby and Ethan Frome may have lived during different time periods, were characters written by two different authors, and seemed to be two distinct people, however, in one aspect or another, they came together as one. Their failure to achieve the American dream was due to isolation from society, silence, and their roles in their affairs.
Both Gatsby and Ethan suffer from isolation in society, great loneliness, and emptiness, never ending up achieving their dreams. Everything that Jay Gatsby has done in his adult life has been with the sole purpose of fulfilling the more unrealistic of dreams – to recapture the past. However, as he grew into a young man he had little to nothing, having voluntarily estranged himself from his family, and was left on his own to reinvent himself. Although he became a different man, changing his name from Jimmy Gatz to Jay Gatsby, becoming extremely successful, being prodigal, and throwing extravagant and outrageous parties all the time, Gatsby was still in a sense, alone. After he moved to his house on West Egg. Long Island, even though he would see thousands of people at his house every week, Gatsby was more alone than ever. He did not have any close friends and people did not know much about him. Rumours erupted about the “Great” Jay Gatsby who was oblivious to the nature of the lies and where they evolved. It was commonplace for Gatsby to be the topic of conversation after his death, as everyone knew of him, but in reality, no one really knew him. Parties at Gatsby’s house were frequented by many people, however, when it came to his funeral, “no one arrived except more police and photographers and newspaper men” (Fitzgerald 157). At first, Ethan Frome was very much the opposite; everyone knew him in his small town of Starkfield, Massachusetts, however, isolation was forced upon Ethan by outside circumstances, and was not self-imposed before the tragedy that occurred to him and Mattie. Ethan tried to escape the solitude of Starkfield and his father’s farm by going off to college, however, because of the death of his father, Ethan was forced to return home to the farm. After his marriage to Zeena, Ethan became physically isolated from the world and was also cut off from the possibility of any relationships, left to deal with the farm, millwork, and caring for Zeena. Ethan had the opportunity to get away, but after he spent more and more time back at home, he became just like the other members of Starkfield, imprisoned forever, “Guess he’s been in Starkfield too many winters. Most of the smart ones get away”(Neeson 1993). Ethan’s hometown is shown as a trap; a place to either escape from or get stuck in and Ethan had been in Starkfield too long, essentially becoming isolated. Although Ethan, along with Mattie, attempted to escape from isolation by committing...

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