Gothic Elements In Ethan Frome

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Wharton, Plath and Gilman use the relationship between America’s middle-class idealization of the home and the popularity of the Gothic to distort the icon of the home, from a hub of warmth, joy and growth to a deeply disturbing brokenness that is reflective of the broken relationships within the home, challenging the false claims of the home as a safe, protected place. All three writers subtly link terror - the most important ingredient of the Gothic to acts of transgression, and show how the home in Gothic fiction imprisons those inside it. The enigmatic “otherness” of Gothic lies in their monstrosity and non-humanity which reflects the scale of the domestic alterations, but also that of the inability for the inhabitants to make sense of…show more content…
Wharton explores deep-rooted and troubling domestic struggles that transpire in American families. Starkfield has a powerful effect of on its inhabitants and the continuous wintry imagery becomes both “overwhelming and oppressive” Zeena, initially lively, became increasingly lost to hypochondria and bouts of silence. The effect is to gradually make the reader feel just as oppressed as the main characters in the novel, we too have “been in Starkfield too many winters.” While Plath’s poetry is arguably a dark embodiment of America as the home and great power symbolic of America’s fight for independence which reflects her rejection of Patriarchy and the domestic through her writings. The first line of Lesbos, Plath positions the poem’s conflict in the realm of the domestic: ‘Viciousness in the kitchen!’ These hostilities take place in the kitchen, the heart of the housewife’s home, suggesting an abnormal viciousness. In contrast Gilman’s is praised for her ability to make the reader empathize with the darkness and emotional turmoil of the narrator. Her short stories explore different standpoints of the…show more content…
In Ethan Frome Wharton was criticised for her ‘utter remorselessness’ due to her novel’s ‘gruesome imagery’ in regards to the taboo relationship between Ethan and Mattie. Both Wharton and Plath unapologetically delve into topics that are uncomfortable presenting. Ethan’s desperate thirsting for the forbidden love of Mattie Silver, a light he is unable to have. In contrast Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper depicts the slow deterioration of the protagonist that is linked to discontent and entrapment within her marriage and the domestic setting. Gilman uncovers that there is something menacing about the wallpaper’s yellow colour, representing something stale, old and decayed. The yellow is described as “unclean” that is “strangely faded by slow-turning sunlight.” Similarly Gothic imagery is something presented as ‘grotesque’ in Sylvia Plath’s poem Lady Lazarus. The poem is widely considered by critics to be ‘humanly offensive’ and her illicit appropriation of the imagery of Jewish martyrs which contrasts to the gruesome change in Mattie that occurs in the final chapter of Wharton’s novel. The disturbing twist of the story, emerges from the fact Mattie, who now lives with the Fromes due to having been paralyzed in the accident. Her misery over her plight and dependence has "soured" her. In an agonizing and

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