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Ethan Frome, by Edith Wharton and Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston

In the world today, there are many forms of societal differences that hold people back from their dreams and desires. The two novels, Ethan Frome, by Edith Wharton and Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston, both accurately portray those exact societal problems. In society, people are oppressed in many ways, such as blacks not being able to vote back in the 60’s, or women not having as many rights as men. In this essay, I will attempt to convey the struggles that each respecting character had, and relate them to today’s world.

The thematic bond that I chose to do this essay on was Repression vs. Oppression. In the book Ethan Frome, the main character, Ethan, is oppressed in many different ways. First of all, Ethan’s wife, Zeena, has become a burden on Ethan psychologically and finacially. Zeena seems to have a form of paranoia that makes her think she is much sicker than she actually is. This problem has gotten to Ethan at many points in the book. She has also become a finacial burden on Ethan because of her almost monthy commutes to Bettsbridge, where she sees a doctor about her failing health.

In Ethan Frome, Zeena seems to be the one that is always oppressing Ethan. Zeena never lets Ethan do what he wants, when he wants. In the book Their Eyes Were Watching God, Janie is basically oppressed by society and the laws of society. She is oppressed mainly because she is black, but also because she is a woman. In each of her three marriages, Janie is oppressed by her husbands. All of them expect her to do things the way they want them done, and she does not seem to respect this. Janie also is not allowed to strive for her dreams or desires because she is black.

In this situation, it seems that it is a combination of society’s oppressive laws and the repression of Janie’s feelings and desires that hold her back from her goals. In Ethan Frome and Their Eyes Were Watching God, each character finds his or own way to overcome their suffering and pain due to the oppression of their desires and dreams. In Ethan Frome towards the end of the story, Ethan wants to drive Mattie into town to the train station so she can go home. Instead, he diverts his route into the center of town to the local store. In the store, he makes Mattie get something that he wants to pay for.

The reason he does this is because he had always wanted to do something special for Mattie. After they leave the store, they end up going to a hill to sled down. They end up going down a few times, but on the last run, Ethan surprises Mattie by saying that he wants to sit up front instead of her. The reason he does this is because he wants to feel Mattie holding him, so he can feel a sense of protection. This run ends up becoming a disaster. On the way down, the sled veers of the path and into a tree, seriously injuring Ethan and Mattie.

In my opinion, Ethan steered the sled into the tree on purpose to commit suicide, so he would never have to put up with Zeena again. His suicide attempt failed and he ended up crippled for life. In Their Eyes Were Watching God, Janie overcomes her suffering in her marriages by leaving the men that she was married to. Each time that she was married, she had a problem with each marriage, either the man was too possesive or the man never had enough time for her. Each time that this occurred, she simply left the man that she was married to, so she could find something that she wanted and something that she desired.

In conclusion, each character in their respectful books, had many obstacles and societal differences they had to overcome. Even though Ethan Frome and Their Eyes Were Watching God exhibited two extraordinarily different characters, they both shared one main theme of repression vs. oppression. In my opinion, each character could have dealt with their situations in a much different way than they did, but under the circumstances that each character was in, they chose the way that they thought would end their pains and sufferings. Overall, these books have themes that can be related to the world of today and the world of tomorrow.

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