Ethan Frome

Zeena Frome's Complexity College

Many feminist scholars have lauded Edith Wharton for her refusal to shy away from portraying the misery of married women. A common interpretation of Wharton’s intentions were that this misery stems from the dissatisfaction her characters suffer at the price of adhering to their societal and spousal obligations. As pointed out by Margaret McDowell, this is a consistent theme in many of her works, with over 28 of her 86 short stories focused on women facing “the marriage question” in which they suffer from failing or unhappy marriages (McDowell, 521). Scholars like Min-Jung Lee, claim that the generally accepted consensus literary circles have arrived at when trying to understand where this unhappiness comes from is “The oppression and devaluation of their gender under patriarchy...” (Lee, 7). A common interpretation amongst feminist critics is that one of Wharton’s primary objectives in her writing was trying to depict the damaging effects of marriage on women. When considering how Wharton herself was the victim of a marriage to a man whom she knew cheated on her regularly, (Asya, 28) it seems highly unlikely that her grim outlook on married life for women is not grounded in personal experience, nor is it a coincidence that they...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 1323 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 9881 literature essays, 2501 sample college application essays, 465 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in