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Ethan Frome, by Edith Wharton
Section I "C" Level
Required Activities : 50 points
1. Take notes on and participate in discussion on background and novel (10 points)
2. Working alone or with a partner, take responsibility for one motivating activity and share it with the class. (5 points)
3. Read the novel, and pass the reading check quizzes. (15 points)
4. Complete the discussion questions and participate in the discussion. (5 points)
5. Demonstrate mastery of vocabulary for novel by written test. (5 points)
6. View the film in class and contribute to the discussion. (5 points)
C Level Activities Maximum: 20 points
1. Complete Literary Concept: Setting, Theme, Symbolism. (5 points)
2. Complete Strategic Reading: Section 1, Section 2, Section 3. (5 points)
3. Locate two passages of extended metaphor other than the one on Page 6. Write a brief explanation of each. (10 points)
4. In Chapter 4, Ethan passes the Frome family cemetery plot and notices this epitaph: "SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF ETHAN FROME AND ENDURANCE HIS WIFE, WHO DWELLED TOGETHER IN PEACE FOR FIFTY YEARS." Write a suitable epitaph for Ethan based on what you know about his life and his marriage to Zeena. Present your epitaph artistically so that it can be displayed in the classroom. (8 points)
5. Read one of the following and complete the activity sheet: (5 points)
A. "The Snow Man" by Wallace Stevens
B. "Desert Places" by Robert Frost
C. "Mirage" by Christina Rossetti
6. Write a lead article for the Bettsbridge Eagle, a local newspaper, giving an objective account of Mattie and Ethan's accident. (5 points)
7. Review descriptions of Ethan's farmhouse. Create a three-dimensional model to show what the farmhouse looks like either with or without the "L." OR Draw a simple blueprint or architectural drawing of the farmhouse. (8 points)
8. Mattie and Dennis Eady dance a Virginia reel at the church dance in Chapter 1. Find out about
the dance steps and music typically associated with the Virginia reel. Teach the class the dance. (5
B Level Activities: Complete only one; each is worth a maximum of 10 points
1. You are the head writer for a popular soap opera. As the Seasons Turn, which is set in the present
time in the fictional town of Starkfield, Massachusetts. Write a script for one episode of the soap
opera, bringing to life a dramatic incident borrowed from the novel. Your script must include dialog
for Ethan, Zeena, Mattie, and other characters as well as suggestions for costumes, lighting, music,
and stage sets.
2. A tragic hero is defined as a "character whose basic goodness and superiority are marred by a
tragic flaw-pride, ambition, or poor judgment-that leads to the hero's downfall." Write a critical
essay stating whether you agree or disagree that Ethan is a tragic hero. Cite details from the novel to
support your decision.
3. Write a comparison contrast essay to examine similarities and differences between Zeena and Mattie. You may want to consider the following points of comparison:
a. Zeena's and Mattie's attitudes toward life
b. Their roles as woman of the late 19th century
c. Their age, appearance, and dress
d. Their treatment of Ethan and each other
Of course, you won't be able to focus your essay on all these points; therefore, after considering
them, narrow your focus. Be sure to provide details, quotes, and examples in your comparison.
4. The critic Lional Trilling writes that in Ethan Frome "..a perpetuity of suffering memorializes a
moment of passion." How often do the newspapers carry stories of catastrophes that resulted from
one poor decision, one abdication of responsibility, or one moment of passion. Think about other
novels you have read and stories you have heard where the action taken or the decision made in a
moment of passion has led to long-term suffering and regret. In your essay, compare those stories
and novels with Ethan Frome.
A Level Activities: Compare only one: each is worth a maximum of 20 points.
1. The characters from Ethan Frome are affected by the isolation of life in a rural area during the
winter. Using a psychology book, a health textbook, or another resource, research the importance of
having social relationships and the emption, physical, and social effects of isolation on an individual.
Then write a short case study to examine how isolation affects either Ethan, Zenna, or Mattie.
Present your case study to the class.
2. Present your soap opera script from B Level Activities to the class. Recruit actors from your
classmates, wear costumes and make up, use props and sets. Entertain us!
3. The critic Lionel Trilling wrote the following concerning Ethan Frome: "There is in Ethan Frome an image of life-in-death, of hell-on-earth, which is not easily forgotten: the crippled Ethan and Zeena, his dreadful wife, and Mattie, the once charming girl he had loved, now bedridden and querulous with pain, all living out their death in the kitchen of the desolate Frome farm-a perpetuity of suffering memorializes a moment of passion. It is terrible to contemplate, it is unforgettable, but the mind can do nothing with it, can only endure it....What is more, it (the novel) seemed to me quite unavailable for any moral discourse. In the context of morality, there is nothing to say about Ethan From. It presents no moral issue."
In your opinion, is there a moral issue to be considered in the novel? What is it?
Who is guilty of violating morality? What has been the result? How does this
moral issue relate to life today? Explore these questions with a partner in a panel
Required Activities: Maximum points-50
C Level Activities: Maximum points-20
B Level Activities: Maximum points-10
A Level Activities: Maximum points-20
50-69 points = D 70-79 points = C 80-89 points = B 90-100 points = A