October 2017 Free Will in Fragments In the novel Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton, Ethan is living in an oppressive town and is torn between love and his responsibilities to his morals, wife, and environment. He makes many decisions throughout the book that limit his free will further. It’s hard to imagine living in a time when people are forced or unable to make decisions based on their true desires. Men and women in the 1800’s had limitations that are unimaginable by today’s standards of free thought.
In Edith Wharton’s novel, Ethan Frome, one major critical theory revolves around the psychological criticism. The novel revolves around this critical theory because Wharton wanted the reader to observe how the setting becomes dependent on the emotional state of the character and vice versa. Throughout the novel, Wharton makes changes to the environment to represent Ethan’s fondness for certain characters. On the contrary, Wharton displays how the setting directly influences Ethan’s mental state.