Books and Movies Reviews

Color Imagery in Ethan Frome

Color plays an important part in the novel Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton. There are many examples where you can tell by the imagery what mood the author is trying to convey. One example is in thefirst chapter when Ethan knows to look for Mattie by searching for her red scarf (Wharton 14). The color is cheery and vibrant, characteristics that embody Mattie. Also, in Chapter 2, Mattie's cheeks are very red, unlike the dismal-looking Zeena. When Mattie ties the red ribbon in her hair, Ethan is more attracted to her and it emphasizes her pretty features (Wharton 37-39). When Mattie and Ethan are eating dinner alone together in Chapter 6, the cat accidentally breaks the red pickle dish. He comforts Mattie and commands her to finish supper thinking, "he had never known such a thrilling sense of mastery" (Wharton 36). This parallels to the breaking of Ethan and Zeena's relationship and marriage. Later in the novella, Ethan remembers the picnic by the lake and tells Mattie she was "as pretty as a picture in [her] pink hat" (Wharton 66). She responds by laughing with pleasure. When they are riding together, Ethan "ha[s] the illusion that he [is] a free man, wooing the girl his [is] meant to marry" (Wharton 66). This is thefirst time that they acknowledge their love for one another and their desire to be with one another. As they drive away in silence, the sun sinks behind the hills and the landscape turns from a deep red to grey.That Mattie is always associated with the color red shows that she is a fiery, bubbly, and emotional person, unlike Zeena, who is usually dreary and dull.


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