Assignment: Evaluate the following/attached essay that another classmate of mine has written. Use the instructions in 1-4 as a guide for the evaluation.
1. Direct your comments to the essay, and not the person. In other words your feedback should say something like: The thesis of the essay needs some work. NOT — You need to change your thesis.
2. Be courteous, but also direct.
3. Begin your feedback with at least one positive comment about the essay.
4. Offer at least one change you think is needed. This can include grammatical errors.
Most of these works have strong regional ties. How does the author connect the work to the region in which it is set? What do these regional elements contribute to the overall meaning of the work?
Edith Wharton’s “Ethan Frome” is an early American novel that discusses topics and social taboos that previously were not overly expressed in books, especially in pieces written by women in the male dominated society of the time. Wharton broke the mold in this book about the struggles of a poor family from a small blue collar town in New England. Wharton uses many techniques to convey these tragic story but her use of location is what cements many of the realities in this piece. Without her use of the region in which the story takes place a large part of the story would be lost on the reader. Wharton’s use of metaphors to illustrate the setting is masterful throughout the book and helps the reader mind build scenes and construct the story written down.
The story of Ethan Frome takes place in Starkfield, Massachusetts in the winter. In the beginning of the book is the Wharton begins to describe the small town in which the story takes place. “If you know Starkfield, Massachusetts, you know the post-office”, (Wharton 1). Although this is just a short excerpt from the book it says a lot about the town of Starkfield. The declaration of the post-office is a nod to the size of the town and the prominence of the post-office within the town. Later on within the same conversation the narrator states that “Every on in Starkfield knew him”, (Wharton 2). As the narrator’s conversation with Harmon Gow comes to a conclusion one statement resonates with both the narrator and the reader. “Guess he’s been in Starkfield too many winters”, (Wharton 3). It is not until the narrator concludes his business in Starkfield that he thoroughly understand the solitude of Starkfield’s winters. The story takes place before transportation and communication technology connected small towns in New England which further isolated people in the winter. These statements within the initial conversations of the book are paramount in the development of both the character Ethan Frome and the town of Starkfield. At this point the narrator does not know the circumstances surrounding Frome but he certainly understands that all of Starkfield knows something and this small town also has played a large part in the plight of Ethan Frome.
A large part of this story is dependant on the physical isolation of Starkfield and the economical isolation of the Frome’s farm. Wharton uses the following description of the Frome farm to further create the isolation the weighs on Frome throughout the story. “That Frome farm was always bout as bare’s a milkpan when the cat’s been round; and you know what one of them old-water mills is wuth nowadays”, (Wharton 5). Not only does the small town of Starkfield isolate Frome but his own home further creates the world of incarceration that he lives in. Along with the town of Starkfield the entire region that Ethan Frome’s story also impacts the story significantly whether directly or indirectly. Throughout the book Frome is constantly traveling to and from his home, this need to travel to get basic necessities was due in part to society one hundred years ago but also creates conflict in Frome’s story. Whether it was his wife seeking medical attention elsewhere or eventually the departure of Mattie, the tyranny of distance and location always created conflict with Frome.