Ethan Frome Essay

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Ethan Frome: the American Dreamer Everyone has their own ideology of what the American Dream is. Even those from foreign lands seek to achieve this intangible object. For some it may be money, freedom of religion, democracy, education, or any other form of interpretation of the American Dream. Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome characterizes the search of one man’s version of that dream. Ethan Frome is a dreamer, and like many whose dreams do not come true, is a settler giving in to what he cannot have. Ethan Frome, like most people, has common dreams and desires he wishes to fulfill throughout his lifetime. Often enough, he is forced to re-focus or re-evaluate what is important in his life, putting his dreams on the proverbial back-burner. As a younger man, Ethan had hopes to do more with his life instead of working on his father’s saw-mill. His hopes to seek an education and possibly leave Starkfield were put to rest along with his father after being his being kicked in the head. After his father’s death, Ethan’s mother fell ill and rarely talks, leaving the house silent and Ethan longing for conversation often pleading with his mother he would ask her “why she didn’t ‘say something’” (37). Ethan found happiness when Zenobia (Zeena) arrived and helped him to care for his ailing mother. After his mother’s death, Ethan continued to dream of a new life with Zeena and proposed for her hand in marriage promising yet another dream: “as soon as he could straighten out the difficulties resulting from Mrs. Frome's long illness, they would sell the farm and saw-mill and try their luck in a large town” (38). As fate would have it, this dream was also left unfulfilled as Ethan’s wife became ill and needed extra care which lead to the arrival of Mattie Silver, the focus of Ethan Frome’s latest and possibly last dreams and desires. Much like Zeena was a breath of fresh air for Ethan

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