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Zeena and Mattie, portraits of antifeminist characters in Edith Whartons Ethan Frome

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Introduction

Zeena and Mattie, portraits of antifeminist characters in Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome When she wrote Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton used her pen rather than her fist to reflect her feminist values. In the novel, Ethan Frome written by Edith Wharton, feminist ideals, principles, and problems are demonstrated in the societal dictations that shape the lives of the characters, the pitting of a woman against a woman, and Wharton's strangely antifeminist characters. Several societal concepts such as these combined to bring Mattie into the Frome household; the idea that a woman should not be allowed to work alone to support herself, the gap left in a home when there is no female figure to fill the domestic role or the female figure is incapable of fulfilling her role, as Zeena was unable to do. ...read more.

Middle

By working against one another, Mattie and Zeena are working for men's expectations: that they will simply care for the man of the house, rely on him completely, while they have nothing of their own and nothing that they do simply for themselves. In the novel, Ethan spends all day working on the farm and bringing in the money to run the household. While he is gone, Mattie cooks his meals and does other household chores but is essentially just sitting around waiting for him to return. As a character, Zeena is strangely antifeminist due to her insistence on work being done for her because she believes that she is too weak of body and mind to do it herself. ...read more.

Conclusion

As a person, Mattie is incomplete in herself: she has earned nothing in her life except for the love of a man who can never be hers. Edith Wharton created antifeminist characters and by having those characters fail, she is able to express her message of independence leading to happiness, something that none of her characters achieved. In the feminist view, women should all be working together, helping each other out, as they are working towards the same goals. Instead of striving towards similar goals or attempting to further the position of the other, Zeena and Mattie continually beat each other down, in that quiet, manipulative way that women often do. Mattie acquires the love of Zeena's husband, which causes Zeena to expel Mattie from her house and send her away. From a feminist perspective, Mattie and Zeena are fighting over that which they should be fighting against, not only society but also a man. ...read more.

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