Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton is a great example of this. One theme from the story is that you might not be able to obtain whatever you want in life. Ethan is very unhappy with the way is life is bound. He is very unhappy with his marriage, which was destined to be a failure in thefirst place.
The only reason Ethan marries Zenna is that she had come to take care of his sick mother, and after she died he could bear to be alone, therefore he asks her to marry him. Ethan also had many ambitions such as moving to Florida, which he could never achieve because his wife held him back. Soon Zenna becomes sick, and all she does is complain and bicker about life. He spends most of his money paying for Zenna's medicine and doctor bills. Although, soon someone is needed to help around the house and this is when Ethan Frome meets the woman of his dreams. Mattie Silver who is Zenna's cousin moves in. Throughout the book Ethan yearns to be with her but cannot because of his obligation to Zenna.
Every waking moment he dreams of being with her. He even goes as far as lying to his wife to be alone with Mattie. Zenna is not very fond of Mattie, especially of her house cleaning skills. He does this when he tells his wife that he has to get money from Mr. Hale as an excuse not to give her a ride to the flats when she has to go to Bettsbridge for a doctor. Even though Ethan knows he is married, he still tries to woo Mattie.
All of his fallen hopes and dreams, and failures just contribute to the theme of the story, which is that you cannot always have what you desire. When Zenna had returned from Bettsbridge, she tells Ethan that her condition has worsened and that she has hired a girl to help around the house. She also informs him that Mattie will have to leave the next day. This makes Ethan very angry. Ethan than contemplates the idea of risking everything and leaving his wife, and moving west with Mattie.
Although he soon realizes that he could…