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She is initially the picture of vibrant health, happiness, and promise.Ethan imagines that life with her would be much more exciting than the one he has.
Edith Wharton packs a lot of heartbreak into her 1911 short, and arguably darkest, novel, Ethan Frome. And how much of who we are is determined by forces outside of our control?
It is the story of star-crossed lovers, Ethan Frome, and Mattie Silver, the dependent cousin of Ethan's embittered wife, Zenobia (Zeena). The Grass Is Not Always Greener On the Other Side: A prevailing concern in Ethan Frome is the burden of one's obligation to family, and especially to one's spouse.
Now Ethan and Mattie are inextricably bound together, but their bond is one of pain and suffering, in consequence of their actions.
Setting: Ethan Frome is distinctive for its use of setting.
Life in Ethan's hometown of Starkfield, Massachusetts is one of grinding poverty, and Ethan knows his actions will financially devastate the Hales, as well as Zeena, whom he would be leaving essentially destitute.
His and Mattie's own financial futures would be bleak as well.
Unable to bear the thought of living without one another, the couple agree to steer the sled into the massive elm tree at the foot of the hill.
It is better to die in one another's arms, they decide, than to live apart.
Her red scarf plays a prominent role in the first glimpses we get of Mattie, and functions as an early warning of what is to come.
The color of temptation, sin, and death, it suggests that the difference between Mattie's blooming radiance and Zeena's withering decrepitude is not nearly so clear cut.