In society, people are oppressed in many ways, such as blacks not being able to vote back in the 60’s, or women not having as many rights as men. There are many social constraints that hold people back from their dreams and desires. The two novels, Ethan Frome, by Edith Wharton and Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston, both accurately portray the power of social constraints. In each novel the main character struggles with the tremendous impact of social constraints on their lives but their is a great difference between repression and oppression.
In the book Ethan Frome, the main character, Ethan, is oppressed in many different ways. First of all, Ethan’s wife, Zeena, has become a burden on Ethan psychologically and finacially. Zeena seems to have a form of paranoia that makes her think she is much sicker than she actually is. This problem has gotten to Ethan at many points in the book. She has also become a finacial burden on Ethan because of her almost monthy commutes to Bettsbridge, where she sees a doctor about her failing health. In Ethan Frome, Zeena seems to be the one that is always oppressing Ethan. Zeena never lets Ethan do what he wants, when he wants. In the book Their Eyes Were Watching God, Janie is basically oppressed by society and the laws of society. She is oppressed mainly because she is black, but also because she is a woman. In each of her three marriages, Janie is oppressed by her husbands. All of them expect her to do things the way they want them done, and she does not seem to respect this. Janie also is not allowed to strive for her dreams or desires because she is black. In this situation, it seems that it is a combination of society’s oppressive laws and the repression of Janie’s feelings and desires that hold her back from her goals.
In Ethan Frome and Their Eyes Were Watching God, each character finds his or own way to overcome their suffering and pain due to the oppression of their desires and dreams. In Ethan Frome towards the end of the story, Ethan wants to drive Mattie into town to the train station so she can go home.
Free Essays on Wharton’s Ethan Frome: Responsibilities
Ethan Frome – Responsibilities
Ethan Frome is the main character of Edith Wharton’s tragic novel. Ethan lives the bitterness of his youth’s lost opportunities, and dissatisfaction with his joyless life and empty marriage. Throughout the story Ethan is trapped by social limits and obligations to his wife. He lives an unhappy life with many responsibilities and little freedom. Ethan Frome studied science in college for a year and probably would have succeeded as an engineer or physicist had he not been summoned home to run the family farm and mill. Ethan quickly ended his schooling and went to run the family farm and mill because he feels it is his responsibility. He marries Zeena after the death of his mother, in an unsuccessful attempt to escape silence, isolation, and loneliness. Ethan also feels the responsibility to marry Zeena as a way to compensate her for giving up part of her life to nurse his mother. After marring Zeena he forgets his hope of every continuing his education and he is now forced to remain married to someone he does not truly love.
Several Years after their marriage, cousin Mattie Silver is asked to relieve Zeena, who is constantly ill, of her house hold duties. Ethan finds himself falling in love with Mattie, drawn to her youthful energy, as, “ The pure air, and the long summer hours in the open, gave life and elasticity to Mattie.” Ethan is attracted to Mattie because she is the opposite of Zeena, while Mattie is young, happy, healthy, and beautiful like the summer, Zeena is seven years older than Ethan, bitter, ugly and sickly cold like the winter. Zeena’s strong dominating personality undermines Ethan, while Mattie’s feminine, lively youth makes Ethan fell like a “real man.” Ethan and Mattie finally express their feeling for each other while Zeena is visiting the doctor, and are forced to face the painful reality that their dreams of being together can not come true.
The return to reality was as painful as the return to consciousness after taking and anaesthetic. His body and brain ached with indescribable weariness, and he could not think of nothing to say or do that would arrest the mad flight of the moments He desperately wanted to run away with Mattie, but he could not leave because his practical sense told him it was not suitable to do so partly because of his responsibility to take care of Zeena.