Explore the ways in which Edith Wharton Presents themes of imprisonment and entrapment in Ethan Frome and consider the ways in which The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald illuminates this.
In the novel Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton explores the themes of imprisonment and entrapment. The characters portrayed in her novel are trapped and imprisoned by many elements including their environment, loveless marriage, predestination, mind-set, religion and many more. These themes are also explored in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Firstly, one of the key factors that Edith Wharton presents imprisonment and entrapment is the setting and environment of Ethan Frome. The bleak and isolated town of Starkfeild is immediately imagined by the
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By introducing the main narrative of the engineer coming to stay in Starkfield Wharton has not only set the stage and emphasized the second narrative but has allowed herself to trap the main characters and especially Ethan Frome in a constant state of controlled predestination. Elizabeth Ammons explains that the story is “an imagined reconstruction of events organised in part by oral material and shaped for us” thus supporting the idea that large parts of Ethan’s Story may have been fabrication. The unreliable narrator is first shown by Wharton when he narrates “I had the story, bit by bit, from various people and – each time was different”. Consequently we as an audience never know if his story of Ethan Frome is the true one, we only see the intrusive narrators “vision”. Uniformly, Fitzgerald uses another character, Nick Caraway, to cyclically recount his experience of the main character, Jay Gatsby, consequently confining him to his fiction. This in the same way has the ambiguous effect on the reader as they do not know if he is reliable or not. Contrastingly however, the whole novel is through the first person eyes of Caraway which denies us any personal insight into Gatsby’s thoughts and feelings like we do in Ethan Frome.
Furthermore, one of the main ways that Wharton traps and isolates Ethan Frome in the story is by a loveless yet inescapable marriage. Initially we learn that Ethan married Zeena so