Ethan Frome

STUDY
PLAY

Terms in this set (...)

Ethan Frome
the protagonist of the novel and its tragic hero, Ethan is 28 years old in the main narrative and 52 years old in the frame story
Zenobia (Zeena) Frome
Ethan's wife, who is 35 at the time of the main narrative, is describes as "already an old woman," with false teeth, wrinkles, a skeletal physique, and a sallow complexion
Mattie Silver
Zeena's vivacious 21-year-old cousin, who comes to live with the Fromes when her parents die and leave her penniless
the Narrator
an engineer who is temporarily residing in Starkfield while assigned to work at a nearby power plant, and who is sympathetic to Ethan's troubles
Mrs. Ned Hale (Ruth Varnum)
as a young woman, a close friend of Mattie's
Harmon Gow
a former stagecoach driver; first to provide information about Ethan to the Narrator
Denis Eady
an arrogant young man, the son of Michael Eady, a wealthy Starkfield grocer
Jotham Powell
a hired man at the Frome farm; a quiet fellow who follows Zeena's orders to get rid of Mattie
Andrew Hale
a Starkfield builder who buys lumber from Ethan; has a reputation for never paying until three months after delivery
Ned Hale
Ruth Varnum's fiancé and later husband, and son of Andrew and Mrs. Hale; has died by the time the Narrator comes to Starkfield
Aunt Martha Pierce
Zeena's relative, whom she goes to stay with in Bettsbridge
Old Mrs. VArnum
Ruth's mother and the wife of Lawyer Varnum
Michael Eady
a rich Starkfield grocer; Denis Eady's father
Mrs. Homan
owner of a grocery store, where Ethan buys glue to fix broken pickle-dish
snow
reflect emotional atmosphere
porch creeper
death, gloom, decay
elm tree
fate, death
geraniums
life-giving, warmth, cheerfulness
cat
reminder of Zeena's presence
birds
Mattie's laugh, delicacy, love
pickle dish
deprivation, loss, shattered dreams
Narrator, spoken about Zenna
"...the one pleasure left her was to inflict pain on him."
Outer Story
Narrator arrives in Starkfield, Massachusetts; Narrator meets villagers who talk about Ethan Frome; Narrator meet Ethan Frome, who is 52; Narrator meets Zeena Frome and Mattie Silver
Inner Story
Ethan is 28 years old, single and living with his mother; Zeena arrives to take care of Ethan's sick mother; Ethan's mother dies and he marries Zeena; Zeena becomes ill and her cousin, Mattie Silver, comes to take care of her; Ethan and Mattie fall in love; Zeena sends Mattie away; On their last night together, Ethan and Mattie crash into an Elm tree on a sled
Theme
society and morality as obstacles to the fulfillment of desire. personal fulfillment verses marital, familial, and social obligations. illness/sickness
Frame Story
an introductory narrative within which one of the characters begins to tell the story
Foreshadowing
the use of clues to hint at events that will occur later in a plot
"There was really, even now, no tangible evidence to the contrary; but since the previous night a vague dread had hung on his sky-line. It was formed of Zeena's obstinate silence, of Mattie's sudden look of warning, of the memory of just such fleeting imperceptible signs as those which told him, on certain stainless mornings, that before night there would be rain.
[...]
His dread was so strong that man-like, he sought to postpone certainty."
Narrator
an anonymous visitor to Starkfield, Massachusetts narrates the Introduction and Conclusion. The story flashed back approximately 20 years to Ethan Frome's youth and the first-person narration gives way to limited third person narration (focusing Ethan Frome's point of view)
Tone
foreboding, bleak, ironic, tragic
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE...
STUDY GUIDE