While reading "Ethan Frome" by Edith Wharton, there were many themes and imagery that was used to develop the environment to help illustrate the different parallels between Ethan Frome, the main character, and the many circumstances and feelings of his decisions and experiences. Many people would say that Ethan Frome is just wanting to live an American dream and have a life full of happiness. Unfortunately, Ethan's life was a series of unfortunate events that did not encourage self-growth and reflected the nuisances he felt from the results of the decisions Ethan made. Ethan never completely gave up hope, but he may have not remembered or possibly he has truly accepted his place in life. Zeena's cousin, Mattie Silver, ignited a spark deep inside of Ethan that would change his life forever. Ethan then constantly finds himself working hard to impress the youthful Mattie Silver which starts to cause a unfathomable strife Ethan has enduring the unemotional and diminutive behavior of his wife Zeena. The desires and hope of Ethan Frome contribute to his affection and growing adoration that he cultivates for Mattie and are reflected by the developing of his environment in the story.
Edith Wharton frequently wrote about unhappy marriages, and herself divorced a mentally-ill husband at a time when divorce was a hot topic. Wharton was particularly critical of American marriages in which the husband looked down on the wife because she took no interest in his business affairs, and the wife retaliated by spending enormous amounts of money.(LitCharts.com) This could be the reason why she wrote Ethan as a timid, mild mannered man that gives in to his unemotional and unbearable wife Zeena. A brief summary of the story will help to understand the desires and hope that Ethan had for his life that did not go the way he wanted. Ethan had a dream to become an engineer, but those dreams were thwarted the moment his father dies and he returns home to take care of his sickly mother and to manage the family farm.