In Ethan Frome, Why is the setting relevant to the plot? Or how?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The setting of the story Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton is the town of Starkfield, Massachusetts; a place which is cold, desolate, barren, not festive at all, and limiting due to its weather and lack of everything.

Within Starkfield is the house of Ethan and Zeena Frome: Equally desolate, equally barren, limiting, and as depressing as the lives of each of the characters, themselves.

The way in which these settings are relevant and essential to the plot, is by instilling in the reader the atmosphere that is so necessary to understand the oppression of Ethan's life, and to appreciate the sadness of how it all ended for him. Therefore, Wharton achieves the tone that is so allegorical of the sadness andĀ lonelinessĀ in the lives of each of the characters.