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An Analysis of Biblical Archetypes in Ethan Frome

Author RenXueLian
Tutor SunJingYu
School Harbin Engineering University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords Ethan Frome biblical archetype displacement
Type Master's thesis
Year 2011
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Edith Wharton (1862-1937) is the first female writer who gained the Pulitzer Prize in American history. She is prolific in her lifetime. Different from her former works which depict the life of the "leisure" class. Ethan Frome precisely records the humble lives of the poor and is highly acclaimed as her most outstanding novella. Among all the research on it. little is done from the perspective of biblical archetypes. Therefore. this thesis. based on Northrop Frye’s theory of biblical archetypal criticism. explores the archetypal parallels between Ethan Frome and the Bible in characters, plot and images. While employing the biblical archetypes. Edith Wharton also displaces the motifs of the Bible, such as "rejection and quest" and "death and resurrection". Through the analysis of biblical archetypes in Ethan Frame, this thesis will help the readers get an in-depth understanding of Wharton’s great sympathy towards the people living in the shadow of Puritanism, her discontent with the traditional ethics and her reflection on human misery. Furthermore, the discussion on the human nature in the dilemma of "responsibility and freedom" is still realistic in the modern socrety.

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