Ethan Frome Essay

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Colby Giang Karl H. English 11/ Per.2 5 November 2012 The Luminous Uprising “The winter morning [is] as clear as crystal. The sunrise [burns] red in a pure sky, the shadows on the rim of the wood-lot [is] darkly blue, and beyond the white and scintillating fields of patches of far-off forest hung like smoke” (Wharton 50). The image is serene: as the sun rises, the landscape has a sense of calming clarity. The sun casts shadows on the roads as its effulgence continues to glisten. The vibrant colors of the land pave the pathway to abundances of hanging forest. The rising of the sun signals “refreshing” beginnings. The inclusion of a black forest despite the bright essence of the scene highlights conflicts in Frome’s character. Just as he enters the pathway to the ominous patches of trees, Frome corrupted in his own path of life, rapidly consumed by temptation for Mattie and struggles to escape. Although Wharton portrays the landscape of Starkfield as pure, she also refers to a black forest. She incorporated this element of the land to reflect Frome’s mournful life. By contradicting elements of Starkfield’s landscape, Wharton demonstrates that society’s demeaning standards of marriage hinders one from seeing marriage as an obligation, leading them to make regrettable decisions.
In the beginning of the novel, Wharton illuminates the depression of Starkfield to foreshadow Frome’s collapse. As Frome walks along the streets “in a sky of iron [in which] the points of Dipper [hang] like icicles and Orion [flashes] his cold fires” (Wharton 23), he eventually encounters the church and vivacious Mattie Silver. However, he watches Mattie from a window outside the church. By establishing this distance, Wharton reinforces a sense of separation. In addition to this separation, Frome is outside the church experiencing the frigid weather, whereas the atmosphere of the dance in the church is lively and warm. Through this, Wharton hints at the impossibility of a genuine relationship between Frome and Mattie; in a sense, the vivacity of the church mirrors Mattie’s youth and beauty and the deeply cold night resembles Frome’s trapped, stiff condition. Later, Frome nostalgically views the celestial skies he perceives that “here and there a star [pricks] through, showing behind it a deep blue wall. In an hour or two the moon [will] push over the ridge behind the farm, burn a gold-edged rent in the clouds, and then be swallowed by them” (Wharton 69). Wharton injects a positive nuance of the stars to mirror Frome’s collectiveness and hopes. However, Wharton displays the cloud’s consumptions of the stars implies to suggest that Frome continues to be constrained by his miniscule confidence to show Mattie his impassioned love and the restrictions and pressures placed on him by society and his belligerent, hypochondriac wife, Zeena. Eventually, Frome is…