Many people oppose society due to the surroundings that they face and the obstacles that they encounter. Set in the bleak winter landscape of New England, Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton is the story of a poor, lonely man, his wife Zeena, and her cousin Mattie Silver. Ethan the protagonist in this novel, faces many challenges and fights to be with the one he really loves. Frome was trapped from the beginning ever since Mattie Silver came to live with him and his wife. He soon came to fall in love with her, and out of love with his own wife. He was basically trapped in the instances of his life, society’s affect on the relationship, love, poverty, illness, disability, and life.
From the beginning of the story, society opposed Ethan Frome in any ways. To begin with, he was a prisoner with his wife, Zeena. Just because Zeena took care of his mother as she was dying, Ethan felt like she was the woman for him. However, when Zeena’s cousin Mattie came to live with them, he instantly fell in love with her, and felt nothing but audacity towards his wife. When Zeena goes away due to her illness, Ethan and Mattie sit at home planning their future ahead of them. He plans to elope and run away with Mattie, but he cannot lie to his neighbors, Mr and Mrs. Hale in order to achieve the money he needs. In the end, Ethan decides to abandon life itself along with his true love Mattie. Ethan was a prisoner to poverty. When he was young, he wanted to leave his family farm in order to move to a larger town to become an engineer. However, that plan backfired and he was trapped in Starkfield for life. Society does not want Ethan to be happy for he committed adultery and treated his wife like she didn’t matter. The gravestones in his yard are a reminder that there is no way for him to escape this tragic life.
Despite cheating on his wife, Ethan also had moral values as well. Mattie and Ethan never follow their love due to Ethan's morals and the respect he has for his marriage to Zeena. He wants Zeena to be well and he takes care of her when she is ill. Frome’s feelings for Mattie never oscillate and he wants to be with this woman who is not his wife. Even though Ethan only had one night with Mattie alone, he cannot help but think of what he has done as he sits in the kitchen. Mattie presents minority, beauty, and good health- all of which Zeena does not possess. It seems he favors the more hip, young, and beautiful women than dull, boring, and unattractive women.
Edith Wharton uses Mattie to express isolation and being lonely. She comes to the country with ribbons in her hair and more joy in herself. She wanted to free Ethan from the terrible society he lived in. Life in Starkfield is bleak and...