Symbolism in literature has such a powerful impact on a book, and symbolism makes the audience find clues about what it might mean, and the different types of significances when reading. In the book, “Ethan Frome” there are many examples of symbolism. Symbolism in Ethan Frome is very impactful in this story because a symbol in this certain type of story can be referenced in so many ways. In different situations in the story the same type of symbolism keeps on appearing and shows the audience that it means different meaning each time.
Most of the symbolism that appears throughout the book includes the olor red, the pickle dish, and the weather believe it or not. To begin with, the first type of symbolism that can be seen in this book is the color red. When reading chapter one the color appears when Mattie is wearing a red scarf when Ethan is picking her up from the dance. This red scarf can symbolize many things. For example: it can signify love,passion,desire, or even blood. In chapter one, it signifies desire, love, and passion because of how Ethan feels when he watches Mattie dancing although it may be with Denise Eady.
After, Ethan watches her dancing with Mattie the narrator flashes back to how they met, nd how Young Ethan fell in love with Mattie Silver. This is all connected together with the red scarf because after the Ethan watches the dance, he thinks about all the good qualities of Mattie, and the audience can automatically tell that Ethan has some love for Mattie. In the story Ethan Frome it states “he could show her things and tell her things, and taste the bliss of feeling that all he imparted left long reverberations and echoes he could wake at will. (Chapter 1, page 33). This clearly indicates that this connects with the red scarf because it gives a rief history between them which in a way shows how Ethan loves her in such a little time that he has met her. The color red is used as a romantic color, because women most likely like roses which is why it is used and demonstrated as a color of passion and love between Mattie and Ethan. The color of red does not stop there. Throughout the chapters the author Edith Wharton uses the color of red as the complete opposite of love and passion but instead as adultery.
An example can be seen in chapter 3 when it states, “but through her hair she had run a streak of crimson ribbon”(Chapter 4, page 79). This clearly indicates that the narrator emphasizes the color “red” and gives a hint to the audience that this color is currently meaning adultery. It means adultery because it is the first time that Ethan and Mattie are alone together without Zeena. Meanwhile Ethan is thinking about the life that they could have had together. Also, he starts to think about why he didn’t kiss her when he had the chance to.
This can be seen as adultery because when you are married, you are not suppose to have thoughts about other people especially not your wife’s cousin. Also, in this chapter when there is snow Mattie starts to think that it will delay Zeena. In the text it states, “She feigned great interest. “Is that so? Do you suppose it’ll interfere with Zeena’s getter back? ” She flushed red as the question escaped her, and hastily set down the cup she was lifting” (Chapter 4, Page 84) This clearly indicates that she is also kind of thinking about being with Ethan although she doesn’t show it much.
As a result, the color red is seen in many chapters because it represents different meanings at different points of the story ut the main use of red is used for love, passion, and adultery. There are many themes of the story, and one can figure it out by all the uses of symbolisms presented in the novel. Another use of symbolism can be the pickle dish and in the theme for this chapter can also be adultery. When Ethan and Mattie are alone Mattie decides to use a wedding dish from Ethan and Zeena wedding for the first time, and as a result it shatters.
This can symbolism the marriage of Zeena, and Ethan because their marriage is falling apart since Mattie has come to live with them, and since Zeena got sick. In the text it states, “The cat, profiting by his unusual demonstration, tried to effect an unnoticed retreat, and in doing so backed into the pickle-dish, which fell to the floor with the class. ” This clearly indicates that when the plate shatters completely, this a symbol because Ethan doesn’t feel anything for Zeena anymore, so what is the point of the marriage.
The shattering of this plate overall is the marriage of them, and is a reference to the meaning of the marriage because what is the point of being married if there is no feelings between the spouses. The significance of this dish has more mportance than any other dish because this specific pickle dish was a wedding gift from Zeena aunt that married the minister. This dish which was not supposed to be used but on this specific day, and with this specific cat the dish just accidently comes to “break. ” This dish knows the future of the marriage, and can predict what will happen at the end of the book.
One other symbol that is used in this story is the winter. Without the use of winter, or snow perhaps this story wouldn’t have been possible to construct itself well because with the author’s use of winter nd the snow it gave the audience a little background of how he was the most vulnerable during the winter time, and how he made the biggest mistake of this life. Towards the end of the story Ethan talks about how he met Zeena, and how Zeena took care of his mother during the winter and also when his mother died.
The weather is such a huge symbol because if it was any other season such as summer Ethan wouldn’t have been the most vulnerable and would perhaps never married Zeena. In the text it states, “Sometimes, in the long winter evenings, when in desperation her son asked her why she didn’t “say omething,” she would lift a finger and answer: “Because I’m listening”;. He had often thought since that it would not have happened if his mother had died in spring instead of the winter. (Chapter 4, Pages 68,70)
This clearly indicates that the winter is a symbol and makes the whole plot of the story because in the beginning the audience can tell that it is winter since Mattie is wearing the red scarf, and since Ethan is chopping the logs in order to make fire. Also, if his mother never died in the winter, he wouldn’t want somebody by his side, and would have never be married to Zeena. Overall, the symbolism of winter can be referenced throughout the whole story because from the beginning through the end it has been snowing, and most likely winter.
Last but not least, the last symbol that will be talked about is the farm. Ethan Frome farm is a symbolism in the story because it also creates a plot in the story. Ethan Frome always wanted to escape Starkfield, and become an engineer but then his father died, and his mother became sick. Ethan’s goals has always been to leave the farm because he wanted to make something out of himself, but he ever did successfully leave the farm because the farm and mill were not enough to sell, and wouldn’t give him much profit.
The farm has trapped him in Starks Field for life because it has left him without money, and even when he tries to escape with Mattie he still doesn’t get to gather enough money to leave. In the text it states, “Guess he’s been in Starkfield too many winters. Most of the smart ones get away. ” (Prologue. 9) This clearly indicates that people refer to him as somebody they thought would be able to get out of Starkfield, but just spent so any years in the farm because Zeena never wanted to leave and then she got sick, and then he was stuck with the farm.
Overall, this farm is a symbol because it shows that Ethan will always be stuck with Zeena and always live this unhappy life in Starkfield and will always be reminded of his failure. In conclusion, there are many uses of symbolism and each of these symbols used they each played an important role in the book which include; the color red, winter, and the farm. Also, symbolism can mean all of different types of meanings the way one reads it, and interprets it is the most important.