Social Impact In The Novel Ethan Frome

  • Words 488
  • Page 1
Download PDF

Often a traditional society is characterized by an orientation to the past, not the future, with a predominant role for customs and habits. Individuals tend to become more conservative in society during the 1900s since they’re not accustomed to changes. In Edith Wharton’s 1911 novel, ‘Ethan Frome,’ reveals the social impact in Ethan and Zenobia’s intimate relationship among each other, establishing the gruesome challenges behind them. Ethan Frome marries Zenobia (Zeena) Pierce but soon after realizes he doesn’t love her. He then has an emotional affair with Mattie Silver, Zeena’s cousin. Ethan never establishes his true essence towards Zeena as the reader discovers that he’s in a love triangle. Wharton advocates changes in social attitudes by strongly implying throughout the entirety of the story that divorce from a marriage should be socially acceptable as opposed to being frowned upon and leaving a significantly negative reputation on the woman involved, hinting at the impact that communication between two individuals in a relationship plays as opposed to keeping things hidden, and demonstrates through that the sickly can still contribute to society as opposed to being viewed as incapable.

Gender roles in the 1900’s portrayed women as submissive, domestic companions for men. In a traditional marriage the women usually stay at home to do housework and take care of the children while the men go to work. In Ethan Frome, Mattie lives with the Fromes and helps Zeena with chores around the house with limited free time. Ethan falls madly in love with Mattie but can’t divorce Zeena because they are poor and isn’t sure what he feels for Zeena.During this time, divorce negatively impacted the women’s life. Wharton, though never explicitly advocates for the availability of divorce in an unhappy marriage.

Click to get a unique essay

Our writers can write you a new plagiarism-free essay on any topic

Communication in a relationship is key to a healthy, stable one. Ethan first fell in love with Zeena because he had no one to talk to and when she came to help his mom, Ethan fell in love with her voice. Over the years as Zena became more and more sick, he started to despise her because he didn’t feel that spark anymore and never even communicated his feelings to her. Ethan took advantage of her sickness in order to sneak around to be with Mattie, Zeena taking obvious suspicions. Ultimately, there should be commnication in a relationship in order to have a good relationship.

To conclude, Wharton advocates for change in social attitudes towards divorce and communication between partners. We see that Mattie has Ethans attention, which is what Zeena wants since she is “sick” so that Ethan can take care of her. Throughout the story, Ethan only resents Zeena and hopes for her to leave so that he can be wth Mattie without telling Zeena how he really feels. Ethan wants to just leave with Mattie to the city but can’t because his debt will be left with Zeena, these issues in Ethan Frome can simply be solved with comunication. 


We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you board with our cookie policy.