Ethan Frome Character Analysis

607 words - 3 pages

A disabled man, his wife and his mistress, living alone at the top of a hill in a small New England town; these elements seem to belong in the beginning of a cryptic murder mystery. Instead, it is the outcome of Edith Wharton's novel, Ethan Frome. Ethan, the protagonist, is affected by many circumstances surrounding him. Events spanning from the death of his mother to a tragic tobogganing accident have taken a toll on Ethan's mental and physical condition. The protagonist of Edith Wharton's novel, Ethan Frome, is highly influenced by the situations and circumstances he encounters.The most obvious circumstance affecting Ethan's life is the women that live with him. His wife, Zeena, is really a distant cousin that came to live with Ethan to care for his ...view middle of the document...

On the other hand, there was the young girl Mattie. She was Zeena's absolute opposite. Where Zeena was quick-witted and smart, Mattie was absentminded, but she was the obvious beauty when compared to Zeena. To Ethan, Mattie was everything Zeena couldn't give him. Ethan was overcome with lust for this young girl. She used her positive qualities to influence Ethan and get him to do whatever she wanted. Just before Ethan takes Mattie to the train station, they decide to go tobogganing. Mattie tried to convince Ethan to commit suicide with her by sledding into the tree. Ethan seemingly agreed, but the accident did not kill either of them. The women in Ethan's life had different effects on him, yet both changed him forever.Ethan was influenced by both of the women he lived with. Zeena, his hypochondriac wife, tried to get Ethan to pay more attention to her by pretending to be sick and in need of care. I think Ethan knew that she truly wasn't sick. Zeena only succeeded in driving Ethan away and into Mattie's arms. Mattie had a more direct influence on Ethan's life. Before their sledding accident, Mattie had Ethan "wrapped around her little finger" so to speak. He did anything she wanted him to do for her, and even things she didn't want him to do (Like buying her the red hair comb). After the accident, his entire world was changed because now he walks with a limp. Though Mattie influenced him, once might say that all the blame can be put on Zeena's shoulders because she was the one who faked getting sick in the first place. This cry for attention was the first cause in a domino-effect of causes and effects that changed Ethan Frome's life forever.

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