Ethan Frome Essay

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Jeffrey M. Lilburn, M.A (The University of Western Ontario) is the author of a study guide on Margaret Atwood's The Edible Woman and of numerous educational essays. In the following essay, he discusses the narrative and moral ambiguity in Ethan Frome.

First published in 1911, Ethan Frome is now considered a classic of twentieth-century American literature. A tale of lost opportunity, failed romance and disappointed dreams ending with a botched suicide attempt that leaves two people crippled and dooms another to a life of servitude, Ethan Frome immerses its readers in a world of unrelenting pain and misery. To some, the suffering endured by Wharton's characters is excessive and unjustified; to others, the novel addresses difficult moral questions and provides insightful commentary on the American economic and cultural realities that produced and allowed such suffering. Others still look to the novel for clues about the author's own life...

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This section contains 2,070 words
(approx. 6 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Ethan Frome Study Guide
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