Fate and Irony in Ethan Frome Essay

1192 WordsMay 13, 20135 Pages
Valerie Santerre AP English IV February 2, 2013 Ethan Frome Fate and Irony in Ethan Frome Throughout Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome, fate and irony are incorporated in three specific episodes. Fate is crucial to the understanding of the tragedy that appears in the novel. Wharton explains the problem she encountered while trying to write this novel. “I had to deal with a subject of which the dramatic climax, or rather the anti-climax, occurs a generation later than the first acts of the tragedy” (vii). Ethan's lie about getting the advancement on the lumber which led to the breaking of the pickle dish resulted in a series of events that spiraled downwards that ended in tragedy. The Varnum spruces are a symbol of fate, due to the recurring reference throughout the novel. The lone red sled at the conclusion of Chapter 9, is a symbol of Ethan and Mattie's fate of crashing into the elm tree. The lie that Ethan told Zeena about the advancement on the lumber is the start of Ethan's fate. The irony of the fact that if Ethan had really gone to Andrew Hale's to get the lumber, Ethan would not have been home, which would not have resulted in eating supper with Mattie and the breaking of the pickle dish. In chapter 7 of the novel, Zeena finds out of Ethan's lie and convicts him of it. “Why, you told me yesterday you'd fixed it up with him to pay cash down. You said that was why you couldn't drive me over to the Flats” (49). Ethan's fate is awaken when he is trapped in this lie of the lumber. Because Ethan stayed home with Mattie to eat dinner, the incident of the pickle dish occurred. Mattie is responsible for breaking the pickle dish as well as the reason of Ethan and Zeena's failed marriage. In full reality, it was the cat that actually tipped the pickle dish over and broke it. Since in the novel, the cat represented Zeena in many instances, such as the rocking chair,

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