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Word Count: 509
In Edith Whartons book Ethan Frome the author descriptively portrayed the inner conflict between the pursuit of pleasure and the burden of obligation as Ethans life unfolded to the reader As a creative device she used the bleak and barren New England countryside to reflect Ethans frame of mind The burden of obligation shrouded Ethans life He felt obligated to his parents their farm his wife Zeena and her cousin Mattie Overcome by his enormous sense of responsibility for others Ethan never had the time for the pursuit of his own pleasures A life without pleasure Ethan Frome was characterized by painful silence and despair The monotonous routine of lifes daily responsibilities held Ethan captive to his farm and unproductive sawmill Abandoned by the death of both of his parents he found comfort in the presence of his cousin Zenobia Pierce Earlier that year she had come to help him by taking care of his dying mother Feeling a sense of obligation to Zeena he married her even though he did not truly love her Driven by a perverted need for attention Zeena became an invalid confined to her bed and no longer capable of managing the household In desperate need of assistance Zeena employed the aid of her cousin Mattie Silver Mattie came to the Fromes household for free She agreed to do the housework in exchange for her room and board Although untalented in the kitchen Matties young and vivacious spirit brought happiness to the house Finding Matties presence refreshing compared to the bleak dismal surroundings of the farm Ethan took a great interest in her He found great joy in her company Since she lacked skill and experience he would often help her by doing her chores The limited time they spent together created a strong emotional bond between Ethan and Mattie When Zeena decided that she no longer needed Mattie the thought of life without Mattie left Ethan heartbroken
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