Ethan Frome Essay Assignment

Down below I attached two PDFs which both are on the novel Ethan Frome. If you’ve read Ethan Frome than great! But I advise you to use the novel I have given for the essay.

*Please use (Prompt 2 for the essay)* If you like another prompt then its okay if you use it.

Write an essay (4 full pages) that has several paragraphs and a thesis statement on ONE of the prompts below. You need to have at least one quote from the book in your essay. Be sure to proofread carefully. All of the prompts are on Edith Wharton’s novel Ethan Frome.

1 In an essay, argue that Ethan Frome represents the literary philosophy of Naturalism. In other words, show how the novel exemplifies or typifies the ideas of Naturalism. Early in your essay you need to have a paragraph that defines Naturalism in detail in about 4 sentences. Then you are to discuss the many instances in the book that are examples of Naturalism.

2 Wharton uses symbolism extensively in Ethan Frome. Discuss the symbolism of the novel and explain what each symbol means. Why does Wharton use each example of symbolism? Remember a symbol is an object that stands for something else. An example of this is when a rose stands for love. Perhaps you can discuss the tombstones, cat, china plate, and snow.

3 Do a feminist analysis of the book. Are the female characters portrayed negatively in the novel? Do women come across in a negative light, as opposed to men? Are all women portrayed as nags or shrews? Does Wharton stereotype the women? Remember in real life women are complex. Some are catty, some are friendly, some are very concerned with astrological signs, etc. Women are not all the same. It is a short novel so there are not a lot of women in it. You can discuss Zeena, Mattie, Mrs. Hale, Ethan’s mom, Mattie’s mom.

4 Do a gender analysis of the book focusing only on the men. How are the male characters portrayed? Do men come across in a negative light? Are all men portrayed as having high libidos or as adulterers? Does Wharton stereotype the men? Remember in real life men are complex. Some are very lustful, some are angry, some are greedy for money, etc. Men are not all the same. It is a short novel, so there are not a lot of men in this book. You can discuss Ethan, Hale, the male narrator, Dennis Eady, Mattie’s dad, and Ethan’s dad.

5 Many critics have said that the novel is depressing and has an unpleasant focus on the ugly side of life. Instead of writing on this topic, some critics say Wharton should have written about a topic that elevates humankind (for example, The Odyssey that tells the mythic story of brave Odysseus after the Trojan War). Write an essay arguing that Ethan Frome’s Naturalism should be read and taught because that is life.
6 Discuss how poverty impacts the novel. In other words, write an economic class analysis of the novel. You should say that the sad events of the novel are driven by the harsh realities of the American business economy. In America some people get rich and some people go bankrupt. Argue and show how poverty drives the events of the novel. The characters have a little bit of free will. They are compelled to act because they lack of money. Perhaps you can discuss Ethan, Mattie, Hale, Zeena, and Ethan’s house.

7 Write an in depth character analysis on Ethan. Here are some things you need to answer. Is he flat or round character? To be flat is to be like a two dimensional fake cardboard character. To be round is to be like a real person with positive and negative qualities. What does Ethan say? What does Ethan think? What does Ethan do? What do other characters think of Ethan? Does he change or does he stay the same in the book?
8 Discuss the setting and point of view of the novel. You need a paragraph on the time setting, a paragraph on the location setting, and one paragraph on point of view. Why is each of these choices good for this novel? What would have been changed or ruined if it were different?

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