English 1 Honors
4 March, 2010
"The inexorable facts closed in on him like prison-warders handcuffing a convict. There was no way out - none. He was a prisoner for life, and now his one ray of light was to be extinguished."(Wharton 116-117) When a reader compares the two works, Ethan Frome and The Age of Innocence, contrasts between the two are easily spotted, but as the story progressed, the characters from two separate worlds began to have a lot of similarities. When Edith Wharton was writing these pieces she created two male characters, both already committed to a woman, who fell deeply in love with another. In both cases, however, the men kept their feelings locked away in their hearts, waiting for the right moment to share their feelings with their new loves. The stories similarities are the color red in association to the new women and the secret suspicions of the male characters’ wives. One point of contrast between the two novels is the reason neither male characters, Ethan and Newland, ran away with his new love, leaving behind his wife.
Throughout the two works, the color red was associated with the temptresses Ethan and Newland fell in love with. When Ethan first spotted Mattie Silver, there was a “cherry coloured ‘fascinator’ about her head”(26) and Ethan loved her instantly, but thoughts of his wife Zeena, a sickly woman waiting for him at home, had caused him to refrain from revealing his true feelings. On the other hand, when Newland had his first chance to reunite with Ellen Olenska, she was draped in a long red dress at the van der Luydens’ dinner party. In both instances, the women were wearing the color red, symbolic of both the passion in the affairs between the two pairs and the danger of their relationships. In Ethan Frome, when Ethan thought about Mattie’s room, he envisioned her red and white quilt covering her bed and the oversized picture of her mother. As Mattie was preparing to leave Starkfield,...