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Ethan Frome vs Lester Burnham a Lesson in Happiness It is always amazing when a classic novel can be compared with a recent work of fiction One of these comparisons can be made between the Edith Wharton novel Ethan Frome and the new movie written by Allen Ball American Beauty The key difference between these two masterful pieces of fiction is that the lead characters take different stances on the control of their fate Ethan Frome the titular character of the novel is a dreamer who lets others control his fate instead of chancing his dreams Lester Burnham the lead in American Beauty dares to chance the rapids of life and in turn accomplishes his goal and the goal of most people in life which is to be truly happy Ethan Frome is a story about a man Ethan with a nagging sickly wife Zeena that tries to make his life as miserable as possible The wifes cousin Mattie Silver comes to live with the Fromes to help take care of the house In turn Ethan falls silently in love with Mattie as does Mattie with him Zeena seems to catch on to this lovefest and to put an end to it orders a hired girl to replace Mattie When Ethan is forced to take Mattie to the train station to send her away the two proclaim their love for each other Mattie being a young woman with no hope left in her life convinces Ethan that the only way the two can stay together is by killing themselves Wharton lays an ironic twist at this moment in the novel Instead of Mattie and Ethan killing themselves they both end up crippled and Zeena is left to take care of them American Beauty is the story of typical American family living in Suburbia USA Carolyn the mother and wife is a real estate agent who is becoming so wrapped up in
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