Contrast Of Zeena And Mattie In "Ethan Frome"

1256 words - 5 pages

Some decisions have an everlasting effect on one's life. Ethan Frome, the protagonist in Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome, is tormented by his passionate love for Mattie Silver, but is morally shackled to Zeena by the sacred bonds of marriage. After years of harsh life with his wife in the dreary town of Starkefield, Ethan comes to believe that his greatest chance at a happy life is with Mattie Silver, a cousin of Zeena, who has come to live with him. However, in the end Mattie's other side, one which is extraordinarily similar to Zeena's attitude, comes to light, after a thwarted suicide attempt. In Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton makes an ironic comment on the choices present in an impoverished world by presenting contrasting images to describe Zeena Frome and Mattie Silver, yet also presenting details which make them seem alike.Wharton suggests that Mattie's cheerful attitude, her spirited activity, and her ability to inspire confidence in Ethan, prompts him to believe that Mattie could bring him bliss. One of the reasons why Ethan thinks that Mattie could turn his life around was because she usually overflowed with cheerfulness and energy. Ethan is often fascinated by "her gaiety [, which to him,] was a plain proof of indifference." Her cheerful image contrasts sharply with that of Zeena who is selfish and melancholy, and brings some cheer into his otherwise dull life. Mattie again exhibits her ability to spread warmth while she learns her household duties. When Ethan sees her performing her household duties awkwardly, he bursts out laughing, and, to his surprise, Mattie also "burst[s] out laughing and this made them better friends." This incident baffles Ethan who assumed that a woman would blush with embarrassment instead of laughing it away and charms him so that the idea comes to be implanted into him that Mattie would bring him a happy life. Mattie brings him further happiness by simply listening to him especially when he talks of subjects completely new to her. When he talked about stars on their way back from the dance, Ethan and Mattie stood "entranced" and gazed at the starry sky. Talking to Mattie of such subjects gives Ethan a considerable amount of pleasure because he could impart his knowledge to an eager, cheerful and somewhat ignorant listener. Mattie's colorfulness and liveliness also helps Ethan to fall in love with her and strengthen his conviction that she could bring happiness into his life. Mattie's colorfulness and liveliness is seen in the church where Mattie is dancing. Ethan, who is seeing through the window, is entranced by her graceful figure as she danced, and when "scarf flew off her head and stood out behind her shoulders...[revealing her] laughing panting lips." By just looking at her dance, Ethan seems to share the joy that Mattie feels as she dances. Her liveliness also differs with that of Zeena who is something of a cold, selfish introvert and seldom goes outside for the fear of her health. Another scene in which...

Find Another Essay On Contrast of Zeena and Mattie in "Ethan Frome"

Examples of Naturalism in Ethan Frome Characters, Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

978 words - 4 pages that that Ethan and Mattie are having an affair, and the outcome is that they try to commit suicide and fail and have to live the rest of their lives together with Zeena almost in poverty.The decisions that the characters in Ethan Frome impact the rest of their lives. These decisions are all examples of Naturalism. Ethan decisions are based on his instinct and also his emotions of love for Mattie, and his emotion of loathe for Zeena. Zeena’s

The Responsibility of Ethan Frome for His Own Tragedy in Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome

3698 words - 15 pages Zeena in a helpless situation as well. In all the above situations Ethan's plans to make every party happy have backfired. Zeena eventually found out about the pickle-dish and Ethan's helping around the house. She casually slips it in and gives Ethan, who thought she was unaware of all this, a fright. This increases his urgency to do something about Mattie and his relationship with her. Secondly Ethan's nobility acts

Essay on Wharton's Ethan Frome: Absence of Light and Life

939 words - 4 pages . Caught up in a rush of passion, they try to commit suicide and fail. Ethan is crippled and Mattie is paralyzed. They can now never leave town for a life together. And Ethan is doomed to a life of silence with two complaining women. Edith Wharton's writing style in Ethan Frome is impeccable. On the surface, Ethan Frome is simply a good story. Mrs. Wharton however adds incredible depth by the careful use of description, and symbolism. And her use

Literary Elements and Time Setting in Ethan Frome

503 words - 2 pages the novel, "Ethan Frome", a man named Ethan is married to a woman named Zeena (Zenobia) . A problem arises when he finds himself falling in love with Zeena's cousin, Mattie. During the novel, Zeena falls ill and the doctor recommends for her to stay in bed and to hire a housekeeper. Zeena decides to kick Mattie out of the house to make room for the new maid. Ethan, desperate to remain with Mattie, resolves to run away with Mattie into the west

Character Sketch of Ethan Frome

895 words - 4 pages Character Sketch of Ethan Frome “Guess he’s been in Starkfield too many winters. Most of the smart ones get away” (6). That, said by Harmon Gow, was definitely how Ethan Frome could be described. Too many winters in Starkfield had taken its toll on Ethan, and it was obvious to see. Ethan, “the ruin of a man” (3), just hadn’t gotten out of Starkfield in time. Now, as the narrator related, “There was something bleak and unapproachable in

The Story of Ethan Frome

1307 words - 5 pages Ethan Frome is a bleak tale of a man who falls in love with his wife’s cousin, only torealize that he doesn’t have the means to follow through on it. Ethan is fed up with hismarriage to Zeena, a sickly woman who is almost always in a rotten mood and is jealousof her own cousin, Mattie Silver, because she isn’t nearly as beautiful, charming, andhealthy as she is. This is one of the main reasons why Zeena is looking for an excuse

Literary Realism in Ethan Frome

553 words - 2 pages forward in a "matter of fact" manner. The effect of the cat knocking over the dish causes Mattie to immediately rush to clean up the broken dish. Her reaction then eventually causes Ethan to hide the evidence of the accident where it could go unnoticed for weeks.In conclusion after evaluating Edith Wharton's book "Ethan Frome", the author has demonstrated literary realism by describing not just realistic locales, but also the people and how they interact with each other in a realistic manner.

The Awakening and Ethan Frome

1381 words - 6 pages feels beleaguered by Zeena, his sick and irritated wife. As the story progresses, he realizes he is falling in love with Mattie Silver, the youthful and energetic girl who moves in with the Fromes to help care for Zeena. The second noticeable similarity between the two novels is that both protagonists attempt suicide at the climax of the story. Whereas Edna succeeds in her attempt, Ethan does not. As a result of this, he is forced to live the rest of

Ethan Frome and The Great Gatsby: The Progression of Lust and Desire in Early Twentieth Century American Literature

1514 words - 6 pages for destruction which is itself thwarted and seemingly unattainable in this book. The ride on the sled does not kill Ethan and Mattie, but rather renders them incapable of desire (or acting on it), and even changes the dynamic of their relationship so significantly that desire can longer be a part of it.ConclusionThe idea that desire leads to destruction is not new. But it is refreshed in The Great Gatsby and Ethan Frome, where Fitzgerald and

Trapped in Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

1002 words - 4 pages Many people oppose society due to the surroundings that they face and the obstacles that they encounter. Set in the bleak winter landscape of New England, Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton is the story of a poor, lonely man, his wife Zeena, and her cousin Mattie Silver. Ethan the protagonist in this novel, faces many challenges and fights to be with the one he really loves. Frome was trapped from the beginning ever since Mattie Silver came to live

The Passive and Pitiful Ethan Frome

1001 words - 4 pages aspects of his life, leading to his resentment of her and their below normal lifestyle.         Mattie Silver's arrival at the Frome household is everything Ethan needs.  His lack of assertiveness has led to his deep hatred of his wife and his life.  He soon falls in love with young Mattie and when Zeena decides it's time for her to go, Ethan hesitates to stand up for himself and Mattie.  When he is forced to take her away, he

Similar Essays

Juxtaposition Between Mattie And Zeena In Ethan Frome

1258 words - 5 pages According to the Microsoft Word Encarta Dictionary, juxtaposition is to place two or more things, side by side, in order to emphasize contrasts and similarities between them. Edith Wharton deliberately places the characters of Mattie Silver and Zeena Frome together in the novel Ethan Frome to compare and contrast them. Although Mattie has only recently been exposed to Starkfield, Zeena's has lived in there for seven despondent years. Wharton's

Zeena In Ethan Frome Essay

721 words - 3 pages to stay there with him” (29). It is unclear whether Zeena possessed a love for Ethan as Ethan claimed to of have for her. In the end of the novel Mattie is looked at as the annoying one, and he starts to care for Zeena because she is not the one inept to do household chores. Zeena appears to use her illness as a way to manipulate others to do things. Ethan usually does things to please Zeena. He is taking care of her and feels as if he cannot

Zeena And Mattie Essay

753 words - 3 pages Zeena to develop in a dominating, oppressive person. From physical appearance, to personality development, these two leading women share vast differences, and easily draw comparison between; perhaps the intent of Wharton’s writing the novel in this way. In brief, Zenobia Frome and Mattie Silver is an easy pair to compare and contrast. Wharton’s writing style allows for the reader to note one main point: On the surface, these two characters are almost polar opposites, but on a deeper, internal level, they share deep-seeded emotional conflicts and pain during the novel.

Character Of Ethan Frome Essay

2429 words - 10 pages Character of Ethan Frome Ethan Frome, a tragic romance, first published in 1911, is widely regarded as Edith Wharton's most revealing novel and her finest achievement in fiction. Set in the bleak, barren winter landscape of New England, it is the tragic tale of a simple man, bound to the demands of his farm and his tyrannical, sickly wife, Zeena, and driven by his star-crossed love for Zeena's young cousin, Mattie