Themes And Imagery In Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome

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Edith Wharton’s novel, Ethan Frome, takes place in the fictional, small town of Starkfield. The novel is divided into three main parts: a twelve page introduction, nine short chapters, and a brief conclusion. The introduction is a short description of Ethan Frome’s life in Starkfield up until the story begins, the nine chapters describe the events of four February days around the late 1890s, and the conclusion is a brief description of what happens after these four days. This small town, wintery setting effects many of the characters, the mood of the town and the atmosphere it creates, as well as the theme of the novel. The setting shapes Ethan’s character as well as it makes Starkfield a dreary place to be. The author uses battle imagery to show how Starkfield has been taken over by the winters. An example of this imagery is, “The wild cavalry of the March winds” (4). Wharton uses this specific metaphor to make the reader aware that winter controls Starkfield by calling the winds wild cavalry. Winter also brings down the mood of the townspeople, because it ruins their land. The land and any crop someone is trying to grow is frozen come winter time and by the time it has thawed out and can be used again the winter is well on its way to brining devastation to the land again. Wharton says in “Authors not to Ethan Frome” that she porpously makes Starkfiels a very dark place. She explains that she is inspired by the “harsh and beautiful” land that takes over New England. This harshness is necessary to Starkfield because it creates the …show more content…
The geographical place and its characteristics are what make Starkfield so different from the rest of the world during that time. The setting influences every aspect of the story from the characters in it to the theme to the mood of the town it takes place in. Wharton created a harsh, dark place for Ethan to be trapped in, and uses that place to effect each important part of her

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