Ethan Frome Essay

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In the following excerpt, Bernard cites Wharton's substantial use of imagery and symbolism in Ethan Frome as a successful method to establish depth in a tale inhabited by reticent and inarticulate characters.

A common criticism of Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome is that it is too contrived. In the last analysis, the characters seem peculiarly unmotivated, put through their paces in a clever, but mechanical, way. Such an opinion can only be the result of a cursory reading. It is true that the book has a kind of stylistic and organizational brilliance. But it is not merely a display; it is invariably at the service of plot and character The nature of her subject imposed certain difficulties on Wharton, particularly her characters' lack of articulation. How could she, without over-narrating, get at a deep problem involving such characters when they do not speak enough to reveal that problem? Frome's...

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This section contains 3,217 words
(approx. 9 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Ethan Frome Study Guide
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