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Setting in Ethan Frome

Research papers on the novel Ethan Frome often focus on the setting as one of the most import parts of Whatron's novel. The American Literature writers at Paper Masters will custom write a research paper on any aspect of Ethan Frome or the setting in any novel.

The setting of the novella by Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome, that of the harsh New England winter, not only provides the backdrop of the story but also adds depth to the characters and provides a glimpse into their reasoning. Throughout the book, the village is described with words like the following:

  • Underscoring its coldness, “a sky of iron”Setting in Ethan Frome
  • The dipper hangs over the village “like icicles”
  • Each farmhouse is “mute and cold as a gravestone”

The words used to describe the village of Starkfield are along the same lines as those used to describe the book’s main character, Ethan Frome. Wharton uses imagery in such a way that the reader gets the feeling that much of the reason Ethan’s character develops as it does is because of the cold and harsh environment in which he is trapped. When Ethan is first introduced to the audience, he is described as “bleak and unapproachable in his face” and “stiffened and grizzled”. Elsewhere in the book, he is depicted in a way that makes him a part of the landscape, “He seemed part of the melancholy landscape, an incarnation of it’s frozen woe, with all that was warm and sentient in him bound fast below the surface”.

Like the New England setting of Starkfield, Ethan is cold and frozen inside, due in part to a life of lost dreams and of feeling bound by his obligation to his wife Zeena whom he does not love. “He lived in a depth of moral isolation too remote for causal access…his loneliness was not merely the result of his personal plight…(but also) the accumulated cold of many Starkfield winters”.

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