Ethan Frome, by Edith Wharton :: Ethan Frome Essays
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The 2009 edition seems to follow the path of Penguin Classics, Wordsworth Classics, and Dover Thrift Editions in showing the physical setting of the story through impressionism but it does use a warmer color scheme that seems to imply more hope and less doom. I enjoy this 2009 cover from Signet Classics the most out of all the covers I have seen because, more than anything, Ethan Frome is a tale of a choice between duty and self. Ethan had a choice; he may have made the wrong one but he was never destined for eternal suffering, as some readers erroneously infer from the unforgiving landscape. Ethan does have a terrible life but it was never his preordained fate. I think this book cover emphasizes that possibility and I would like to further emphasize it in my own book cover. The 2009 edition also adds “Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author” above Edith Wharton’s name, which I think is a reflection of a generation that isn’t readily familiar with her name so the publisher is trying to establish credibility and authority.
SparkNotes: Ethan Frome: Plot Overview
The two book covers differ drastically from each other. Once again, the setting is highlighted above anything else but its portrayal has changed. The 1987 cover, instead of an impressionist painting, looks almost like a child’s cartoon drawing of the setting. I don’t quite understand that editorial decision but by looking at the other Signet Classic covers of the 1980’s, it appears that they wanted more simplistic, straight-forward covers. The drawn footpaths on the cover also accent a sense of connectedness, whereas the other covers depicted isolation. The childish appearance of the cover makes this 1987 version my least favorite of all the covers for Ethan Frome I have seen.