Ethan Frome imagery essay

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Edith Wharton establishes patterns of imagery in her book, Ethan Frome. She associates the imagery and setting with three main ideas; winter, death, and light. When we think of winter, we think of Zeena and more importantly, Ethan. When we think of light, we always think of Mattie. When we think of death, we think of different scenes in the book. To help support the three main ideas, Wharton uses metaphors, similes, and other uses of figurative language. Winter, as the setting, sets the tone of the story throughout the entire book. In the prologue, it describes that Ethan has endured too many Starkfield winters. Wharton gives the feeling of bitterness and depression by using winter as the setting. One way she gave this feeling is when she referred to the sky as a “sky of iron.” Winter also symbolizes the cold, snow, darkness, isolation and loneliness. We learned early in the book that Ethan wanted to leave and go to a larger town, but that dream of his was never fulfilled. Because of this unfulfilled dream, Ethan gives of a depressed feeling up until he meets Mattie anyways. Death is everywhere in Starkfield. If I had to relate it to any of the characters, I would say Zeena, only because she is so sick throughout the book. Also, we know from the beginning of the book that some tragedy happens to the Frome family but we aren’t sure until the last few chapters of the book. So, the prologue sets a feeling of possible death for the whole book. Before the accident when Mattie and Ethan enter the house, Wharton describes the kitchen as “the deadly chill of a vault after the dry cold of the night.” I think this image is appropriate for the experiences of the years following Ethan and Mattie’s accident. Another image I remember is when Wharton describes a vine at the farmhouse “like the crape streamer tied to the door for a death.” That reminds me of

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