Get help from the best in academic writing.

Essay on Wharton’s Ethan Frome: A Psychological Novel

Ethan Frome as A Psychological Novel

Many authors have tried to convey truths about human behavior and explain the human psyche, often unsuccessfully. Edith Wharton’s novel, Ethan Frome, is an example of a novel that succeeds in revealing truths. She fills her characters with nuances that reflect the subconscious and her setting is alive with reflected symbolism. She is able to interpret the characters actions in a way that can relate to all humans. Each word and phrase seems to be chosen so that it reflects a part of the subconscious in the characters.

Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome is an examination of the human mind, based on her use of setting to reflect emotion, characterization to show human tendencies towards chaos and other psychological aspects of the human mind. In Ethan Frome, Wharton uses the setting to show the feelings and psychology of the characters. Because the tone of the novel is somber and the characters suffer greatly, Wharton used the gothic technique of matching the scenery to the characters emotions. The principal setting of the novel is Starkfield, which is a small farming based community. The houses are mostly several miles from the “center” of town. Richard Worth, a literary critic, says of Starkville, “…even the name suggests utter desolation” (64). The name of the town gives the initial impression of the mindset of the characters: hopelessness. “The New England winter… the physical landscape can reinforce psychic tensions oppressing the people in the community” (McDowell 85). The narrator, Harmon Gow, describes the setting and says, “…the winter set down on Starkfield, and the village lay under a sheet of snow, perpetually renewed from the pale skies”(7). During the entirety of the…

… middle of paper …

…me is a timeless classic that subtly and creatively lets readers understand the hidden depths of the human mind through psychological aspects present in the novel.


Bell, Millicent. The Cambridge Companion to Edith Wharton. New York: Cambridge …..University Press, 1995.

Fedorko, Kathy. Gender and the Gothic in the Fiction of Edith Wharton. Tuscaloosa: …..University of Alabama Press, 1995.

Goodwyn, Janet Patricia. Edith Wharton: Traveler in the Land of Letters. New York: …..St. Martin’s Press, 1990.

McDowell, Margaret. Edith Wharton: Revised Edition. Boston: G.K. Hall and …..Company, 1991

Springer, Marlene. Ethan Frome: A Nightmare of Need. New York: Twayne …..Publishers, 1993.

Wharton, Edith. Ethan Frome. New York: Penguin Group, 1993.

Worth, Richard. Edith Wharton. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1994.

Comparing Marriage in Eveline and The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky

Comparing Marriage in Eveline and The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky

At times, a marriage may be motivated by feelings other than romantic love. Themes of alternative motivations for marriage are explored in the literary works, “Eveline” and “The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky”. Also, in each of these stories, the decisions of a principle character is greatly influenced, by the opinions of others concerning marriage.

Sometimes people do not marry to be with one that they love, instead, they marry to flee a place or a person that they dislike. At the age of nineteen, Eveline consented to marry Frank to get away from her job at the Stores and her father. She thought her comrades at the Stores might call her a fool to run off with Frank to get married and that Miss Gavan would be glad she was gone. Although she feared her father would become violent because of her marriage, she knew some others would respect her.

She planned to explore a new life with Frank in his distant country home, Buenos Aires. Frank seemed older than Eveline from the stories he had told of his experiences. Eveline was acting upon impulse to escape. The more experienced Frank “would save her. He would give her life, perhaps love, too.” (Joyce 331). Her mothers life of commonplace sacrifices closing in final craziness (Joyce 331) was reason enough for Evelines sudden need to marry Frank.

Eveline weighed questions of her decision up to the last minute. She struggled with her feelings toward her known life. As the time for her to leave with Frank approached, she realized that her current life was not all that bad. Marriage would not be the answer to her dilemma. She did not go with Frank.

The people of Yellow Sky knew Sheriff Jack Potter had gone to San Antonio, but did not know why he went nor when he was coming back. However, Potter had gone “to meet a girl he believed he loved, and there, after the usual prayers, had actually induced her to marry him, without consulting Yellow Sky for any part of the transaction.” (Crane 212). Potter and his bride were older than the average newly weds during that time period. They were self conscious because people in the parlor-car stared at them. Potter began to feel a greater self consciousness about how his town of Yellow Sky would respond to his marriage.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.