Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Ethan Frome

I watched a movie adaptation of Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome a few years ago that I found thoroughly depressing. As such, I had no desire to ever actually read the book. However, I just found a Dover edition at my apartment and discovered the text is less than 80 pages. I figured I could cope with depressing for that long.

Maybe it’s because I knew the basic plot, because I was prepared to be overwhelmingly depressed, that I actually enjoyed the story.

The reader knows from the outset that Ethan Frome has a miserable life, that his body is horribly mangled from an accident years before. The rest of the story reveals why. If you don’t want any hints, stop reading now.

Ethan falls in love with his wife’s cousin, Mattie. I was intrigued by their relationship. Neither character shows any hesitation about or remorse for falling in love. The question of morals, the idea that they would be committing adultery, never really seems to cross their minds.

I have a tendency to suspend my own beliefs when I read. How often have I wished for two characters to become romantically involved, regardless of their marital status? As such, I wasn’t disturbed by Ethan’s desire to commit adultery. After all, his wife is a harridan. Doesn’t that make it okay?

The book is tragic but does not wallow in misfortune. Instead, Wharton presents the story in a straightforward manner. This is what happens, this is what motivated the characters, and these are the results of their decisions. She shows great respect for her reader by not trying to manipulate his emotions.

32 comments:

Mrs. Rounds said...

My Honors Language Arts I & II class just finished reading the book. They will be sharing their good thoughs and ideas about the book and the theme in general.

sandra said...

Ethan Frome
I thought the book was not realy a good book i have read better book but it was a allright book i would not care or bother to read it agian. the most tragic charter i thought was mattie becuase she loved Ethan but hide it and her cusion zeena was mean to her. i think the saetting play a big role in tihis book becuase if it had the spring ethna might havenot married zeena and might have never meet mattie.

marquez.sandra said...

Ethan Frome
I thought the book was not realy a good book it was not that insting book i would not care or bother to read it agian. the most tragic charter i thought was mattie becuase she loved Ethan but hide it and her cusion zeena was mean to her. i think the saetting play a big role in this book becuase if it had the spring ethan might have not married zeena and might have never meet mattie so there fourth he would never of meet his true love.

villagomez.monique said...

I just got finished reading Ethan Frome, and i would have to say that it was a pretty good book. I have read a few better books, but this book was still pretty alright. I think that the most trajic character is Mattie because she gets all dramatic when she is about to leave to the train station. When she gets all dramatic, she was to do something very trajic in order to stay totether. The setting played role in the novel because the things that are going on in their lives are only able to happen becuase of where they are. For example, Mattie and Ethan would of never been able to try to kill themselves if the elm and the trail weren't there. Ethan had to know the trail and the place in order for the tragedy to happen.

deherrera.stephanie said...

I have just got done reading Ethan Frome..... I would have to say that it was an alright book, but i have read better books. I wouldnt consider it as one of my favorites. Thier was one character imparticular character that caught my eye... Her name is Mattie. She really suprised me when she told Ethan that she wanted to commit suicide so they could be together forever. The setting played role in the novel because in order for certain things to happen and in order for certain tragedys to happen thier has to be certain different settings.

dark_scar92 said...

I found this book to be very vage and over all sad and not very good at keeping your attention. Simply I wouldn't recomend it for a good reading book.

lobato.taylor said...

I just finished reading Ethan Frome in my Honors Lit class. I thought is was very good but horribly sad and depressing...I guess we can't always get used to fairy tales... To be honest, Ethan and Mattie's relationship kind of freaked me out...mostly because I still pictured Ethan an old man. Yes by the end of it I was definatly rooting for them to be together. I hate to say it though, but I think Zeena was the most tragic charactor. Yes, she was a horrible and coniving wife, but I don't think she knew any different. She didn't know anything else but Ethan and the nothingness of Starkville, and she was loosing Ethan to the sweet Mattie. None of the Charactors could think of anything but their own lives becasue they knew so few people and they couldn't think of anything outside of their own little town.

bri said...

Ethan Frome was too depressing to have fun with, because, Zeena was sick so Ethan never got to spend time with Mattie. Also becuase Zeena is always breathing down his neck all the time, so he never really got to have fun until the end of the story.

dark_scar92 said...

ethan frome
I think that the most tragic character in this book is Mattie. She has lost her dad, she has lost her home, and was once agian going to lose her new home. So on the issue of losing Ethan, I beleave she was more willing to kill herself than lose anything else

sunflower said...

Ethan Frome, was a boring book and I thought it was pointless. I didn't see the reason why everything happened the way it happened. The most tragic character was Ethan, he was the one that suffered the most because he ended up with two bitter old women. The town Starkfeild was sad and it was perfect for the story; sad, depressing, and boring.

guadiana.noella said...

Ethan Frome was not the typical book i would read but it very interesting. Zeena was the most tragic character because of the way she was treated by her own cousin and her husband. Starkfelid played a key role in the novel because it was a boring and secluded town.

dark_scar92 said...

if my memory is correct Spark is itself another word for depressing so the setting itself stands for depresion

Naomi said...

I read the book Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton. Before I read it I didn’t think I would like it because it really wasn’t the type of book I would have pick up. But I really didn’t have a choice because it was the book that my class had picked to read. After I read this book it wasn’t bad at all. Actually it was a good story. A bit detailed but with all the details it helps carve a picture in my head while I read it. I think that the most tragic character would have to be Ethan because he is stuck in love between his wife Zeena and his wife’s cousin Mattie. This book takes place in Starkfield

Portillo.Pedro said...

I have just finished reading Ethan Frome in my honors llanguege arts class and i thought that it was a good book. And there was one Charactor that made me think the most about and that was Ethan but not until the end because of what he had to go thruogh after the smash up of taking care of both of the women. and the setting to a big roll because if it wasnt for the oak tree the smash up wouldnt have happend and if the setting was somewere warmer ethan would have maried zeena because of the lonley cold winters.

Bri Bri said...

I just finished reading the book Ethan Frome, and found it to be very interesting a man stuck between two women, and the thought that one of the women was his wife's cousin, that had me really shocked that he would decieve his wife. By the end of the book, I found that the most tragic character in my opinion would have to of been Ethan, because he had to make some pretty tough decision weather to do the right thing or the wrong thing. Also the setting of the story plays a good roll in the story, because this story is tragic and sad, so it being winter, which is cold and gray, so you just get into the mood of the story and feel how the characters are feeling. So therefore I enjoyed the book, and thought I was quite outstanding.

Deysi said...

When i read the book Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton I tought it was pretty interesting book. As for me i thought Ethan was the most tragic character. I felt sorry for Ethan because he was with Zeena but he didn't like her, Ethan liked Mattie. That's the biggest conflict...that Ethan and Mattie liked each other but yet they couldn't be together. I liked this story the most because of the conflicts and tragedy. The setting was in Starkfield.

archuleta.angel said...

I've just finished the book Ethan Frome. It was fairly good but not the typical kind of book i would often pickup. To me it was the kind of book where you could read the 1st, middle, and last chapter and know what happened. I thought that Mattie was the most tragic character, her thought of suicide was crazy, but Ethan was also caught up in a moment. I thought of Starkfield as a small town like i live in where everyone knows what happens & it isn't always great.

burch.christina said...

As I finished the book Ethan Frome by Edith Warton, I had mixed feelings on whether or not I really liked it. I liked the way that she wrote the story, but the storyline, which suggests adultery, I did not like. I honestly felt most sorry for Zeena because thoughout her marriage to Ethan, it seems like he never once showed her compassion. Starkfeild itself plays a big role in the mood of the story, because its location and time period are both located geologicaly and historicaly in hard places.

Naomi said...

I would have to agree with bri this book was depressing to have fun with i really wouldn't consider it one of my favorites.

DJ said...

When I read the book Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton, I thought it was a really good book. I would definately consider reading this book again. I thought Ethan was one of the most tragic characters because his dad passed away and he was stuck between to girls who were cousins, his wife Zeena and his wife's cousin Mattie. Zeena wasn't a very good wife to Ethan. But Mattie would treat him very good. I also think Zeena was one of the most tragic characters because her husband is falling in love with her cousin. Zeena let Mattie come into their home and Ethan just falls in love with her. I thought that was kind of sad for Zeena although she was a terrible wife. Starkfield was really gloomy and depressing like. It plays a role in the story by being so depressing and sad.

archuleta.angel said...

Christina: i would agree w/ you this book isn't exactly top notch when it comes to certain things such as you mentioned

BRI BRI T said...

SANDRA- IM SORRY BUT IM GOING TO HAVE TO DISAGREE WITH YOU ON THIS ONE. THE BOOK IN MY OPINION IS GOOD, SOMETHING THAT I ACTUALLY ENJOYED READING.

Anonymous said...

NAOMI WAS UP HOMIE
well i agree with your thoughts my are completly different i say that Mattie is tragic compared to your ethan. Mattie is paralyzed and since Mattie and Ethan could not be alone together. Mattie has stick with Zeena and Ethan.

Portillo.Pedro said...

Noella: i do agree with you on this one i think wouldn't realy be o book i would read but it was pretty interesting

burch said...

NAOIMI- I agree with what you said about the book Ethan Frome not being something that I would have picked up to read on my own, and that how latter it really did turn out to be a good book. I do agree that Ethan is a tragic character, but I still stand by my desion that Zeena is the most tragic.

monica said...

Bri: i agree with you I thought the book wasn't all that interesting either.

nick said...

Pedro
im affaid i have to dis agree with you on the book it wasn't very good and ethan was a very sad character but mattie was sadder

lobato.taylor said...

DEYSI- I agree with you that it is very tragic that Mattie and Ethan could not be together and that Ethan was with Zeena evethough he didn't like her. I don't think Zeena liked him either and the only reason she agreed to marry him was because she didn't think anyone else would ask her.

Bri said...

ANGEL,
Hey! I must agree with you chick. His life is boring and we also live in a boring little town that everyone knows everyone elses buisness.

palma.guillermo said...

bri i agree with you 100% because in the first place i thought that Ethan shouldve have been having fun in the first place but instead his was stuck taking care of Zeena but what Ethan actually wanted was tp spend time with Mattie

guadiana.noella said...

NAOMI: i have to agree with you on the fact that i did not at all ever think i would like this book, but at the end it was very thrilling

Bri said...

CHRISTINA
I alsoagree with you. I mean i like it but then i don't because it is a very boreing life that Ethan has.