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Setting in Ethan Frome Essay


The cold and desolate setting of the novel Ethan Frome often contrasts with the places and times of heat to reveal the authors overall intent of showing that people lie to themselves and allow the conforms of society to suppress their desires.

The cold conditions of Starkfield represent the limitations society put on Ethan Fromes life. Often times in the book, the cold conditions prevented Ethan from carrying out his daily duties. This confinement that the weather puts on him is representative of the many ways society holds him back from what he feel sright for himself. Descriptions of the cold are often associated with his wife, Zeena, who the mass amounts of limitation on his life. Her sickness holds him back from leaving her and her rules often leave him broken. Instead of doing what he desires, Ethan lies to himself about his limitations and allows the cold setting to control him.

In contrast with the cold, heat is often associated with the things Ethan is passionate about. Whenever his love interest, Mattie, is in a room or near him, the setting is always warm. This change in temperature represents how free he feels and his passion for her. Mattie is also associated with red, a color of heat. For Ethan, red objects such as Matties red scarf of the color in her cheeks, represent the joy that Mattie has instilled into his life. Unfortunately, for Ethan, the cold settings outweigh the warm settings and take over his life.

The middle ground that Mattie and Ethan find being outside together is the only time they can find freedom and peace with each other. Outside, they arent stuck in the confines of Zeenas cold and distant aura present in the home. They arent expected to conform to society when they are outside.

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