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Show how Wharton's use of language in chapter five highlights the theme of illusion versus reality.

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Introduction

GCSE English-Prose Assignment "Ethan Frome" Show how Wharton's use of language in chapter five highlights the theme of illusion versus reality. Wharton's use of language in chapter five of "Ethan Frome" highlights the theme of illusion versus reality. The novel delves into Ethan and Mattie's own illusion of how they perceive what married life together would be like. Although the chapter focuses upon this illusion, we are constantly reminded of Ethan and Mattie's status in reality. This is achieved by the frequent references to Ethan's wife (Zeena) still appearing to be within the proximity of both Ethan and Mattie through the characteristics of the cat, and unusual "ghostly" occurences. The novel also focuses upon the theme of marriage and how it is looked upon by society. In the early 1900's, marriage was portrayed as an "un-breakable vow". Divorces hardly occured and were only granted under very special circumstances, of which men had the upper hand. Couples stayed together untill death, even if no love was still shared between them, and if a couple felt the absolute need to divorce, it would be looked down upon by society. Presently, divorce is incredibly popular and more than 132,562 divorces occured in Britain last year. ...read more.

Middle

The connotations of "cherry coloured" can be sexy, beautiful and dangerous, which all fit into the story as Mattie becomes a danger to Ethan and Zeena's marriage. This particular quote also contrasts deeply with a quote about Zeena; "her high-boned face taking a grayish tinge from the whiteness of the pillow". This quote uses the colour "gray/grey", which is a weak colour and has connotations of dullness. In chapter five, it says; "All constrainst had vanished between the two, and they began to talk easily and simply. They spoke of every-day things, of the prospect of snow, of the next church sociable, of the loves and quarrels of Starksfield", this quote makes it seem as if Mattie and Ethan are actually married as it mentions both characters talking with ease about everyday things as couples do. They are also seated near each other by the stove, whilst Mattie knits, which also gives the impression that they are together. With the setting, surrounding both the characters, being very calm and cosy, it makes me accept that maybe this is how it should be as both characters seem to be content together. An example of Wharton highlighting the theme of illusion versus reality is when Mattie places herself in Zeena's rocking chair. ...read more.

Conclusion

This also proves the significance of the cat, as it contributed to the "spectral rocking" of the chair. Through these odd occurences of the cat giving the illusion Zeena is still within the proximity of Ethan and Mattie, it may have unnerved them, stopping them both from commiting adultery. The chapter ends with Mattie and Ethan returning to reality and going their seperate ways to bed. Ethan realises though, that "he had not even touched her hand" during the whole evening. This, in a way, is disappointing as Wharton makes you sympathise with Ethan during the story, making you want him to get with Mattie. Before Mattie and Ethan go upto bed, it quotes, "When these nightly duties were performed there was nothing left to do but to bring in the tin candlestick from the passage", by the way it says "there was nothing left to do", shows that Ethan maybe feels a little disappointed that nothing happened aswel. However, because nothing happened, it made it easier for both Ethan and Mattie to return to reality before the next day. Otherwise it would of raised more suspicisons with Zeena, when she returned, if they both still seemed trapped in an illusion. ...read more.

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