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Ethan Frome Essay, Research Paper

Themes are very significant to a story. A theme is a main idea of a story, poem, novel, or play that is usually expressed as a general statement about life. It can easily effect the way a person may think and view life. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton is a great example of this. One theme from the story is that you might not be able to obtain whatever you want in life. Ethan is very unhappy with the way is life is bound. He is very unhappy with his marriage, which was destined to be a failure in the first place. The only reason Ethan marries Zenna is that she had come to take care of his sick mother, and after she died he could bear to be alone, therefore he asks her to marry him. Ethan also had many ambitions such as moving to Florida, which he could never achieve because his wife held him back. Soon Zenna becomes sick, and all she does is complain and bicker about life. He spends most of his money paying for Zenna?s medicine and doctor bills. Although, soon someone is needed to help around the house and this is when Ethan Frome meets the woman of his dreams. Mattie Silver who is Zenna?s cousin moves in.

Throughout the book Ethan yearns to be with her but cannot because of his obligation to Zenna. Every waking moment he dreams of being with her. He even goes as far as lying to his wife to be alone with Mattie. Zenna is not very fond of Mattie, especially of her house cleaning skills. He does this when he tells his wife that he has to get money from Mr. Hale as an excuse not to give her a ride to the flats when she has to go to Bettsbridge for a doctor. Even though Ethan knows he is married, he still tries to woo Mattie. All of his fallen hopes and dreams, and failures just contribute to the theme of the story, which is that you cannot always have what you desire. When Zenna had returned from Bettsbridge, she tells Ethan that her condition has worsened and that she has hired a girl to help around the house. She also informs him that Mattie will have to leave the next day. This makes Ethan very angry. Ethan than contemplates the idea of risking everything and leaving his wife, and moving west with Mattie. Although he soon realizes that he could not do this. Even though he wants to leave this dreadful town he cannot because once again his obligation to his wife holds him back. Again the theme of the story is illustrated here. As Ethan is driving Mattie to the train station, they come to the realization that this was possibly the last time they will ever see each other. Even though this is where they both state the feeling they both have for each other. Soon they come upon a hill and a sleigh, and decided to go sleighing reminding them of the few happy times they had in the past year were with each other. Because they cannot be with each other, Mattie and Ethan decide to commit suicide by sledding into a tree. They go through with their plan yet, they do not die, Mattie is crippled, and Ethan is also injured severely. The whole story is an illustration of the theme mentioned in this paper. In the end, Ethan is once again left alone, he no longer has the relationship with Mattie that he once hoped for. Nothing had changed for Ethan Frome; his life was just as it was before. This situation in this story is also very realistic in real life, people feel trapped in loveless marriages, meet someone they love, but in the end, they are left with less than what they had in the beginning. Ethan Frome personally found out that you can not always have what you desire in life.

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