Edith Wharton 's Ethan Frome Essay

1443 Words Oct 1st, 2016 6 Pages
Ethan Frome Is guilt the result of isolation or illusion? Did isolation arise due to guilt or was the illusion brought on due to guilt or isolation? These are questions that can be probed throughout Edith Wharton’s novel and answered by an evaluation of the main characters. Isolation is the underlying cause and motive of the three main characters and even rests in the setting of the novel. Guilt is a deep seeded emotion that often drives behavior, even unknowingly. This is Ethan’s struggle. And, distinguishing between illusion and reality intensifies both the guilt and the isolation. Guilt, isolation and illusion/reality are the three most significant themes present in Edith Wharton’s novel Ethan Frome because these are the themes that mold, not only the setting of the novel, but the characters as well. Ethan is the character throughout the novel that portrays the most guilt. Ethan’s guilt arises throughout the novel in his association with women and his sense of duty that he carries within. He must leave college to care for his mother. He feels a sense of duty to do this. He meets Zeena and hopes to rid himself of his past but is stuck with her due to his commitment of marriage. Again, he is left with a sense of duty. Finally, when he falls in love with Mattie, he holds his feelings inside and carries guilt as a result. Ethan’s guilt is most especially seen in the way in which he treats himself. This makes it a bit obvious that Ethan’s guilt cases him a lot of other…

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