Ethan Frome. Prologue

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1 Edith Wharton ( ) Born Edith Jones in NYC on 1/24/1862 into a wealthy family of American aristocracy Educated privately by governesses and tutors Spent much of her childhood in Europe Smothered by the strict rules and traditions that went along with being part of privileged society Wharton's Marriage Married Edward Wharton in 1885 and remained married to him for 28 years though her marriage was not happy Rigorous moral and social codes trapped Edith in her marriage Edward ("Teddy") was a sick man Finally divorced her husband in 1913 Wharton's Honors First woman to receive a honorary degree of Doctor of Letters from Yale University First woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1921 for The Age of Innocence More Facts About Wharton The House of Mirth was her first novel (1905) Close friends with Henry James, a fellow American author Possessed a large estate, "The Mount," near Lennox, Massachusetts Died on 8/11/1937 (age 75) from a stroke About Ethan Frome Wharton wrote Ethan Frome in 1910 in Paris Ethan Frome was originally published in Scribner's magazine as a serialization from August to October in 1911 It was published as a book the same year Frame Story A frame story is a story within a story The narrator of Ethan Frome introduces and concludes the story of Ethan Frome in the prologue and epilogue of the novel (early 1900s) First person Chapters 1-9 tell the story of Ethan Frome ("vision" of the narrator) from Ethan's POV 24 years earlier Third person

2 Ethan Frome Prologue The Setting Starkfield, Massachusetts Barren, desolate, empty, and unfeeling location Winter season Cold, icy, quiet, isolated, dark, gloomy, sad, bitter, barrenness, and death Winter attacks Starkfield Ethan Frome Protagonist of the novel Improve rushed New England farmer 52 years old but looks older "But the ruin of a man" Red gash across his forehead; shortened right side Involved in mysterious "smash-up" 24 years earlier Reticent; hardly talks to anyone in town Narrator Engineer Resides with Mrs Ned Hale Intrigued by Ethan Frome and his enigmatic appearance/personality (first sees him at the post office) Envisions the events that occurred 24 years earlier Harmon Gow The narrator's main informant "Guess he's been in Starkfield too many winters. Most of the smart ones get away." Severe winter is enough to kill anyone's spirits Absence of communication/interaction leads to loneliness and depression The Narrator's Interaction with Ethan Hires Ethan to drive him to the train station Learns that Ethan had been to Florida once and that he resents being ignorant about intellectual matters Never doubts that Ethan will pick him up, even in a snowstorm shows how loyal, devoted, and dedicated Ethan is Ethan is always the one to have to care for others Ethan's Farm Ethan's house is missing its "L." the "L" creates an image of a life Lin led with soil, warmth, and nourishment. it is the center, the heart Ethan's farm is missing its warmth and nourishment. It is physically broken and cold,

3 missing its heart Ethan blames his mothers death on loneliness, Prologue's End A huge blizzard in Starkfield forces the narrator to spend the night at Ethan's house There is a "woman's voice droning querulously" Zeena Frome "Sickly"- always extremely ill "She was given to abrupt explosions of speech after long intervals of secretive silence" Zeena: seems to know more than she lets on Suggests that Mattie may get married to Denis Eady to see the effect it will have on Ethan Ethan's feelings for Mattie Loves escorting Mattie home Likes to talk intellectually with Mattie and to share his innermost ideas with her Gets up early to complete Mattie's chores (to make up for her shortcomings) Jealous of Denis Eady and hopes Mattie does not marry him; however, Ethan is married to Zeena Exiting The Dance Ethan- "wave of shyness"; he stays in the shadows Ethan wants to see if Mattie will accept Denis Eady's offer of a ride home Denis Eady: young, unmarried man who flirts with Mattie; the som of the twon's grocer, Michael Eady The Frome Graveyard The Fromes are buried by house, not by town Isolated, Removed Used to mock Ethan's restlessness and his desire for freedom: "We never got away-how should you?" represents the inability to escape, to get away Constancy and boredom No longer wants to leave now that Mattie is here Locked Out Dead cumber-vine: symbolizes death like a crape streamer tied to a door for death Secretly Ethan hopes that Zeena has died The missing key Ethan thinks that thieves have found the key and gotten into the house, possibly killing Zeena Zeena felt "mean" (sick) and forgot to put it out Going to Bed Zeena- false teeth; tall and angular;puckered throat; high boned face; crimping pins in her hair Zeena- cold and unappealing; sickness and death Mattie-youthful beauty, rosy checks, and feminine attributes

4 Mattie's Background Both of her parents died by the time she was 20 Father died in bankruptcy Trained as gentlewomen- has no practical skills Indentured servant in the Fromes' household Zeena's News Going to Bettsbridge to visit Aunt Martha Pierce and to consult a new doctor Ethan's Reaction: fears the cost of the trip Relieved that Zeena doesn't know about his feelings for Mattie Home Life with Mother After father's death complete silence on the farm Ethan's mother is sick- doesn't talk Incredibly lonely for Ethan Zenobia Pierce, Ethan's cousin, comes to care for his mother Farm is no longer silent and lonely Zeena adds life and happiness to the house The Marriage Proposal Ethan feels like he owes Zeena something for saving him from loneliness/insanity After his mothers funeral, Ethan cannot bear the thought of being alone on the farm (especially since it's winter) To avoid being alone, he asks Zeena to marry him After the Wedding Ethan and Zeena plan to sell the farm and move to a larger town proves Ethan's restless nature and desire for more Zeena, however, prefers being well known in a small town she looks down on the people in Starkfield Andrew Hale Ned Hale's father Owns a construction company Rejects Ethan's request for a cash advance Ethan's Homecoming Just like the night before, except Mattie stands waiting at the door tonight instead of Zeena Mattie wears a Crimson ribbon in her hair, and she is smiling Last night, Zeena wore curlers in her hair, and she was not smiling Symbols

5 Cat=Zeena's omnipresence between Ethan and Mattie Red prickle dish=ethan and Zeena's marriage the dish was a wedding present which is prized by Zeena It's breaking represents the destruction of Ethan and Zeena's marriage by Mattie Young Zeena She was the original "Mattie" she brought life, energy, to Frome house "The volubility of her voice was music to his ears" ("Then she went silent") She was a snob, felt superior to the other townsfolk The Meeting with Andrew Hale Ethan told his wife he couldn't drive her to the station because he was getting cash from Hale (p.62) Hale refuses to give him the money early Zeena will find out that Ethan lied The Cat The cat symbolizes Zeena's omnipresence between Ethan and Mattie The fall of the pickle dish The dish is a wedding gift, precious to zeena Mattie is upset because she used a forbidden item Ethan reacts calmly, taking charge, solving problem The dish symbolizes marriage of Ethan and Zeena, broken by Mattie Whose wearing the pants in this family Ethan "solves" Mattie's problem, consoles her Feels needed, macho He has hasn't felt "needed" by Zeena, hasn't been in control Zeena has been the dominant partner in their marriage Recap ch 1-4 The recurring theme The recurring theme of isolation, silence, and non communication reverberates throughout the book The recurring use of Wharton's strong symbolism is apparent. The pickle dish; the physical coldness in the kitchen when Ethan and Zeena are there together, the warmth and light in the kitchen when Ethan and Mattie are there together The portents An apparent foreshadowing of disaster The following themes are associated with Ethan's marriage to Zeena: the sense of isolation brought by winter; Ethan's inability to tolerate silence; Ethan's need for companionship and warmth in a cold, run down house

6 Frome ch 5 continued Ethan moves his chair closer to hers; he kisses her sewing Ethan most likely is going to town to buy glue to repair the valuable pickle dish before Zeena gets home Chapter 5 Ethan and Mattie's Night alone Like an alternate universe where Ethan is married to Mattie: peace, love, and happiness Not real: "illusion"; "imagination";"fiction" Mattie sits in rocking char replacing Zeena Feel zeenas presence with them, uncomfortable Ethan kisses Mattie's sewing work Chapter 6 Ethan's Mission Ethan is "irrationally happy" Ethan must get glue to fix the pickle dish Everything goes wrong Unable to fix the dish before Zeena returns (symbolically-unable to fix the problems in his marriage to zeena) The damage Mattie and Ethan have done is irreparable. They can't stop the consequences. Jotham Powell Hired hand on Ethan's farm His decline of dinner with the frames foreshadows trouble Maybe something is wrong with Zeena and she has taken her grievances out on Powell Foreshadowing- occurs when an event earlier in the story hints at a later more serious event Jotham's refusal for dinner Zeena has arrived ahead of Ethan and this refusal of Jotham seems to him to be an ominous hint of Zeena's vindictive mood Zeena's Complications Zeena announcing her "complications" plays to her usual card of playing her sickliness, yet it works to gain compassion from Ethan. While his anger is roused, he is forced to admit that he did not get the $$ from Andrew Hale Zeena has a skillful ability Always to catch Ethan off guard, his anger is subservient to her calm, inexorable authority and his powerlessness and weakness Chapter 7

7 The Prognosis Zeena has "complications" In most cases, "complications" = death Ethan's reaction ("two extremities of feeling") Happiness at the thought Zeena was dying Compassion for Zeena's situation Zeena wants sympathy not consolation Ethan and Zeena's first fight Zeena needs to a hired girl; Ethan gets angry over cost Zeena claims she lost her health while caring for Ethan's mother Tries to guilt Ethan Zeena asks Ethan about the money he was supposed to get from Andrew Hale Catches him in his lie Zeena tells Ethan that she is sending Mattie away Ethan hates Zeena, he nearly punches her The Kiss Ethan finally kisses Mattie Blurts out that Zeena is going to send her away Mattie tries to comfort Ethan In reality, there is no place for Mattie to go safely The Discovery Zeena discovers the broken pickle dish when she is searching for her stomach powders Angry and sarcastic Upset- first time we see Zeena crying Carries the broken pieces of the dish "as if she carried a dead body" Chapter 8 Ethan's "retreat" The study = Ethan's dreams of escaping Starkfield The items in the study (I.e. The shelves full of books, picture of Abraham Lincoln) show Ethan's Plan of Escape Considers running away with Mattie to the West Writes zeena a "goodbye" letter The problem with the plan He doesn't have enough money Zeena wouldn't be able to survive on her own Trapped in his life- a prisoner Getting Money Ethan goes to Mr Hale to get money Mrs Hale is sympathetic to the hard life that Ethan has had to live: "You've had an awful mean time, Ethan Frome" Cannot ask the Hales for money now

8 Guilt, responsibilities, moral obligations

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