Thorton Wilder believes, "Most writers firmly guide their readers to what they should think about the characters and events." This means the author helps you to understand what his message is. I agree with this statement. Edith Wharton applies this declaration in her novel, Ethan Frome. She as the author, steers the readers to what he or she thinks about the characters and events by using certain literary elements. Such techniques used are characterization, setting, symbolism, irony, and imaging. These methods help us as the reader, to form an opinion about characters that Edith Wharton has created. .
It is difficult as the reader, to form an attitude for a character in a novel without the author using characterization. Edith Wharton does a marvelous job in illuminating for us, the main character, Ethan Frome. His appearance is constantly depicted throughout the tale. It is altered when interacting with the many unique people that Edith Wharton has created. This is an insight to what Ethan feels for these human beings. In the prologue of this novel, he is seen at the Starksfield post office by a curious and unaccustomed newcomer to the town. Through him, he is described as a "ruin of a man." He drags his leg and looks old, as though he were "dead in hell." Ethan is "a part of mute melancholy landscape." He is quiet, voiceless, and has no communication with anyone or anything. This is the one side of Ethan that we first meet. The stiff, elderly, and unsociable man he has become, due to an untimely "smash up", convinces readers that he may have not always been like this. Up until Ethan meets a young vibrant girl name Mattie Silver, Ethan is the old man he is destined to become. Even as a young man he had a hard time with people. In college they called him "Old Stiff," and he kept largely to himself. Despite all these negative attributes, Ethan was intelligent and informed about the ways of nature, having studied science in college for a year.