The Story of Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

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Ethan Frome: A Story Within a Story

Ethan Frome uses the technique of a story within a story (a frame narrative) and begins with the desire to find out more about Ethan Frome. It is through Frome words that the drama of 25 years unfolds. An analysis of the plot further reveals that the story has an initial situation marked by a frame narrative, a conflict expressed in the love triangle, complication and a climax. Other elements like suspense are also evident as readers question what whether Ethan should go or live. A denouement is brought about by the dramatic irony and a conclusion, the last elements of a plot, ends with the Mattie and Ethan surviving the sled accident.

An Outstanding Sense of Inevitability

Readers are aware of that will Ethan will go through and therefore, the author decides to retell the story with an outstanding sense of inevitability since there is no way of altering the events. As the story unfolds, readers question why Ethan would transform into a ruin of a person and which woman would remain by his side between the two. The story’s setting is a fictional place called Starkfield in Massachusetts, spanning about 25 years, an era where there were no innovations in communication and travel technologies. The story has many death symbols from the beginning as the narrator introduces “A dead cucumber…died to the door of the death” (2.58). Considering the genre, Ethan Frome does not have gothic tales, and instead, it has a sense of dread, more focused on death and how many people are trapped in their lives both mentally and physically. Edith Wharton used a writing style that has gaps and a form of complicated foreshadowing. The gaps between the facts are essential in giving the story a deeper meaning because the reader will have many things to explore.

Work Cited

Wharton, Edith. Ethan Frome. Penguin, 2000.

November 24, 2023



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Literature Review

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