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Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

By:   •  October 19, 2018  •  Book/Movie Report  •  1,243 Words (5 Pages)  •  19 Views

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Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton is a story about a man named Ethan and how his life took a turn that would lead to his future despair. Ethan Frome is married to his wife, Zenobia, better known as Zeena. However, Ethan has fallen in love with Zeena’s cousin, Mattie. She is often described as having sweet disposition, charm, and beauty. She appeared in Ethan’s life when she came to know that Zeena needed a maid to help around the house and has nowhere else to go where she can be stay and be safe. Zeena and Ethan agree to let her live with them which caused Ethan to feel that there was finally a life source within the walls of the Frome’s farm. As the story progresses, so does Ethan Frome’s character. Ethan’s character development is caused due to his personal choices and temperament and his physical and social environment. However, the progression of Ethan’s character is primarily due to his social and physical environment.

It can be argued that Ethan Frome’s development as a character was essentially a product of his own personal choices and temperament. For instance, Ethan made the mistake of asking Zeena to marry him, not because he loves her, but so he wouldn’t be alone which led to his current despondent situation. As a result of not thoroughly thinking through this important decision, he has caused himself heartache as he sees the one he’s fallen in love with just out of grasp while he is stuck in an unwanted relationship. "After the funeral, when he saw her preparing to go away, he was seized with an unreasoning dread of being left alone on the farm; and before he knew what he was doing he had asked her to stay there with him. He had often thought since that it would not have happened if his mother had died in spring instead of winter..." (chapter 4). This quote explains that Ethan has come to terms with his unreasonable action in marrying Zeena, and realizes that this relationship was not something that he truly wanted in his life. He wants to be with someone that he genuinely loves which in this case is Mattie. Following, Ethan attempted to make advances toward Mattie, giving her indications that he has come to love her. “For the first time he stole his arms about her, and she did not resist.” (page 45). This quote explains that Ethan wanted to be closer to Mattie physically and emotionally. By not rejecting his affections, it can be fathomed that Mattie does not mind his company which can sooner or later lead to something bigger. Had he not taken the time to get close to Mattie, he would have slowly been able to get over his feelings for Mattie and continue on with his life. Instead, by becoming closer with Mattie, he’s allowed his love for her to grow. Lastly, Mattie confessed to Ethan about her love for him and how they should take their own lives in order to be with one another without consequences. In response to her proposition, Ethan agrees. He had not thought of the consequences of going through with Mattie’s plan. One of the many consequences were that he would have to leave behind Zeena and she would have to suffer on her own while still ill. Also, people that knew of him would think badly of his name when they find out the he left his wife for another woman and went to the extent of dying with her as well, just leaving Zeena to suffer without two thoughts. While this argument is sufficient, Ethan Frome is rather a product of his social and physical environment.

Ethan Frome is affected by his physical environment because the town that he lives in is not like any other normal town. The town of Starkfield was occupied with only a few inhabitants which resulted in isolation of each inhabitant. Since Ethan lives in such an environment, the only other person that he’s been exposed to on a daily basis is Zeena. Even with that, they still don’t speak to each other lovingly. The only moments when they speak to each other are for when supper is ready or if there is a serious issue that has arrived that needed to be resolved. Their seven-year marriage may have included no fights and seemed successful to others, but both characters know very well that their marriage

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