Ideal Gender Roles In Ethan Frome By Edith Wharton

Decent Essays
Light wind whistles throughout the cold mountain air as the snow starts to fall and piles up higher than the tall peaks. The winter gloom is starting to settle in when the log cabin fires start to crackle. Trapped in their homes, people start to become claustrophobic and ill. Resentment builds between families, and tensions can be cut with a knife. This eerie scene is somewhat identical to Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome. Born in New York City, Wharton’s most famous works center around uncomfortable and unaccepted circumstances of society in the late 1800s (Anderson). Ethan Frome follows suit by telling the unfortunate life story of a man named Ethan Frome. Frome is surrounded by misfortune his whole life, starting with the death of his father. Putting his entire life on hold, he goes home to his mother only for her to fall ill shortly after. After his mother dies, Ethan turns to the arms of his mother 's caretaker, …show more content…
Not only are all the characters isolated by the harsh mountains and inconvenient weather, but they are also isolated by society’s ideal gender roles. Mattie, in the story, was raised on an idea similar to the Cult of Domesticity. The Cult of Domesticity revolves around the idea that women should remain pure, submissive, and domestic (Abbott). A woman’s role is to be at home, taking care of the family and setting an example for all other people. Mattie tries to live up to these expectations, but her unfortunate luck gets in the way of that. The only reason Mattie comes to help aid Zeena is because she lived in poverty. Zeena looked at this as an opportunity to push Mattie around. What Zeena does not realize is that Mattie strays from the normal model of a woman. Even though Mattie is sharp and learns quickly, she often fails to do all of her expected work. After the accident, however, she definitely can not fulfil Zeena wishes and Zeena is forced to conform into an ideal woman

Related Documents

  • Decent Essays

    She is an extremely educated woman, but she understands herself so little. One example is that she realizes that she has a “weak heart” in the physical sense, but she also has a weak spiritual heart as well in terms of caring for others. Hulga is a very arrogant woman who always thinks she is one step ahead on everyone else. Mrs. Hopewell, Joy’s mother, is the only one who’s name appropriately fits her attitude and identity. The very idea of Mrs. Hopewell’s beliefs disgusts Hulga who has professed to believe in nothing.…

    • 1238 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    This made the woman realized she wanted all, she didn 't want to stay home when she could be doing more like changing the world. Women during this time wanted to be independent, achieve their goals on their own terms and they were judged by this mindset. Society told women to stay home and doing nothing else besides taking care of the kids, cleaning and cooking. They also said women should love being mothers and wives, when the woman didn 't. She felt like her family was holding her back from her full…

    • 2230 Words
    • 9 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Brief Summary In this essay, Crittenden discusses how wives/mothers are often forgotten when thinking about the upbringing of a child and how they turn out. Obviously there is often a mother involved, but the work that a mother does to make sure her child is healthy, happy, and successful is often overlook and women tend to not receive the credit that they deserve. And it is not just within the household, it is within society in general and how anywhere, women often do not receive any credit for the great things that take place in this world. Summing it up would be that men take all the credit when often it is not deserved and that women are simply overlooked. Response to Content I like this piece because it discusses topics that needed…

    • 736 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    She puts on a brave face for so long that she is unable to find her former, content and youthful self. Miss Bates worries about money, social status and people’s opinion of her too much that it consumes her and becomes all she can think about. She tries to distract herself with constant chatter and social interactions, but it is only a matter of time before the fake smiles wear off and she cracks. Unfortunately, she does not share her pain and hurting with anyone, so it builds up over time. This leads to depression and a numbness that is beyond a point of fixing.…

    • 1033 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Ugly Bettys

    • 691 Words
    • 3 Pages

    The Ugly Bettys are the women known not to fit America’s standard of beauty but who are usually in fact quite beautiful. They lack a sense of style and at times are naïve. These women are vastly inexperienced and unsure about their paths in life, but they usually have a stable job, but not yet set in their career. Ugly Bettys are bridging the gap between independent and dependent. They still reach out for moral and financial support from family.…

    • 691 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Hester had a few children, but she did not love them. This could have led to her filling that void in her life by buying materialistic objects. Early on the narrator says “She had bonny children, yet she felt they had been thrust upon her, and she could not love them.” (Lawrence, 1) Maybe the problem was not her kids, but more so the fact she was not ready for kids when she had them. As a result, of her being spiteful towards her kids, Hester turns her attention to another aspect of her life. Ultimately, the mothers contrast when it comes to their coping methods, but they are comparable in the way they are both trying to fill a void/emptiness they have…

    • 1191 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    These skills are critical for leadership positions but are often overlooked, as they are not task-oriented or easy to measure. By ignoring the value of emotional work, some females are passed over for…

    • 930 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Everyone Leaves Summary

    • 731 Words
    • 3 Pages

    After all the different events that happened in Nieve’s life, she has shown to be persistent in reaching her own happiness. Although her father turned out to be the opposite and did not protect her, her mother could never help her, and Osvaldo her lover let her down, Nieve has always managed to to keep herself together. Some might say that Nieve was just an ordinary girl with ordinary problems, but most people are not like her. She sees the glass half full instead of half empty in the worst of times. Through all her hardships, she began an independent woman and has never given up on life and the future of her…

    • 731 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Yet, women are still being deprived of their rights because of idiotic and sexist reasons, even though they are capable of doing the task at hand. Such treatment causes women to be seen as a minority to everyone because some people believe the sole purpose of a woman is to cook, clean, raise the kids, and have no voice. Yet, similar issues have surfaced in history…

    • 1027 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    She is pressured to help Emily become a certain women yet; she is financially restricted. The mother is told that Emily has a gift. An ideal mother would be ecstatic and overjoyed knowing their daughter had a unique characteristic which set them apart from everyone else but, Emily’s mother is sad knowing she can’t do much about it. Jennifer Baxter and Michael Alexander claim that “the interplay between the work and home environments is crucial” (196) it is important for the mother to balance work life and home life. The mother’s limitations make it nearly impossible for her to balance the needs of her daughter and the need to…

    • 1117 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays

Related Topics