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Explore the devices used by Wharton to communicate character of Ethan Frome in the opening of the novel

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Introduction

Explore the devices used by Wharton to communicate character of Ethan Frome in the opening of the novel The opening line of Ethan Frome suggests an unreliable narrator, 'I had the story, bit by bit, from various people', thus suggesting that the story of Ethan Frome shouldn't be taken at face value and that interpretations should be based on the reliability of the narrator. In addition to this, the narrator, who is never named, appears to air a sense of superiority, 'Though Harmon Gow developed the tale as far as his mental and moral reach permitted', the narrator has made a judgement on somebody he barely knew and therefore highlighting a definite sense of judgement and superiority in his persona. Wharton communicates a sense of failure on Ethan's part by describing him as, 'but the ruin of a man.', the use of the word 'ruin' suggests that the foundations were laid ...read more.

Middle

The significance of 'Starkfield' is also important in terms of the location, stark suggests bare and nothing there, whilst a field is a place where things grow and flourish in, therefore suggesting Starkfield is a place of stunted growth and traps people in it's hold and that Ethan Frome is one of the ones who became stuck. Wharton uses the surroundings a lot to symbolise something involved with Ethan Frome or his story, for example Starkfield is 'snow covered' which suggests that everything is covered up and not everything is quite what it seems, for example holes in the ground are covered up by the snow and it's only when you step over them that you suddenly fall into it and it is too late. In addition to this, the missing L barn on Ethan's home is a fundamental part of the building which links the home area to the barn; this could represent Ethan missing a fundamental part of him. ...read more.

Conclusion

Zeena doesn't seem to talk either; she appears to more of an inconvenient whine in the background of Ethan's life. We are also led to feel sorry for Ethan, yet his thoughts are ghastly towards his wife, for example, 'tied to the door for a death ... If it was there for Zeena'. Once again Wharton uses the surroundings to represent characters and the 'gooseberry bushes' which are sour. Mattie on the other hand in comparison to Zeena is completely different; she's young, beautiful and attractive. For example, 'cherry' suggests fruitfulness, fertility, blood, passion and virginity. Mattie's scarf is described as red, which provides connotations such as sin or devil like in her ways. There is a sense of excitement surrounding Mattie, for example the pace picks up around her, 'light figure swinging from hand to hand in circles of increasing swiftness.' This really creates a sense of liveliness and being alive, emotional when arguably Ethan was dead inside until he met Mattie. ?? ?? ?? ?? Danielle Davies ...read more.

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