November 14, 2014
A Tying Anchor
American culture today is brightly colored in with the uniqueness of every American individual. Each has heartaches, and joys, a childhood and past; we are all different yet we all seem to be affected by the same emotions and we are all troubled with pains that life brings us. Although we are similar in this aspect, we all choose to express ourselves in distinct ways and many times seek to escape reality in exchange for fickle moments of happiness. As humans, we desire to be understood, seen, loved, and cared even if we choose to hide our desire. Society’s standards pressure us to build facades that cover up our humanness; this eventually changes the foundations of who we truly are which is precisely why many of us choose to hide and closely guard our natural desires for love. No matter how drastically times change, people’s needs stay the same which is why literature can be a solid anchor for all. It brings unity from generation to generation and satisfies our desires of escaping reality at least for a while. Reading takes us each to new worlds while still giving us a common anchor tying us to the stories, characters, and even authors of past times.
Edith Wharton is one of those beloved authors whose stories have the power to anchor us all together with themes that are true and relatable to anyone, anywhere, at anytime. She authored Ethan Frome, Summer, and Age of Innocence, three magnificent works written in the early 1900s that can apply to any reader's life in today’s twenty-first century world. Emotions are stirred through these historical timeframe novels which originate from the author’s own passion that sprung up from her rebellion against society. Being a woman born into a family of wealth and position in the 1860s meant to be highly pressured by society into fitting a superficial mold. She was expected to become proper and dainty, to marry well and become mistress of a household. Society shunned women who were more successful and intelligent than men; because of this, Edith continuously struggled to fit a mold shat she was simply not made to fill. Her passion for writing had been developed at such an early age that it became greater than her fear of rejection. By the age of eleven she could speak three languages and had written her own stories and poems while girls her age were still playing with dolls and learning the etiquette of how to properly drink tea (Hermione 210). She was different, and because of this was not accepted by her mother who, along with her father, tried to dissuade her from her dreams to preserve their own societal image. Though Edith felt she was a misfit within her family and society, she persisted and let her voice resonate through the pages of her works, stirring human emotions that can bring us close to her, closer to each other, and bring us to a deeper knowledge of our true selves. Readers who immerse themselves in the world’s of Edith’s three novels get a glimpse of her life through the character’s struggles, pains, and heartaches and thus are able to relate them to the painful rawness of their own lives.
In Ethan Frome (published 1911) loneliness, silence, and isolation are strongly seen; it is one of Wharton's few novels that takes place in a more down to earth society, within a small isolated town known as Starkfield Massachusetts. Its themes contrast with her wealthy upper class life yet resemble the life she was living while writing the novel. Throughout the story, each of the characters resemble Edith as they deal with the harsh reality of their own lives and how they try escaping internal misery. Although the novel is shaded with gloominess, many are attracted to it, because of how raw and realistic it is; it portrays the true way life is at times. Ethan Frome is part of that common “anchor that brings us all together”; it unites our similar emotions the same way Edith was able to unite hers to the rugged