Character Analysis Of Zenobia In Ethan Frome, By Edith Wharton

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In Ethan Frome, by Edith Wharton, Zenobia (Zeena) Frome is deemed as an evil, pesky wife. A hypochondriac, Zeena claims that she is ill and must seek medical treatment from a doctor. Ethan grows tired of Zeena’s complaining of her illnesses and fatigue and takes interest in Mattie, the young woman lodging in the Frome residence. The reader is meant to detest Zeena and side with Ethan, however, analyzing Ethan’s true character and the narrator’s biased point of view allows the reader to sympathize with Zeena. From Ethan’s point of view and adulterous mindset, Zeena is bound to be deemed irritating and a burden. The narrator of this story sides with Ethan, telling the story from Ethan’s perspective. The narrator explains, All the long misery…show more content…
For example, the narrator writes, “Though she was but seven years her husband 's senior, and he was only twenty-eight, she was already an old woman” (Wharton 57-58). The narrator paints an unattractive, unappealing picture of Zeena with hopes that the audience will deem her unfeminine and grotesque. Perhaps compared to the young Mattie Silver, Zeena appears to be much older than she really is. Since the narrator is a male, the female audience of this novel can especially sympathize with Zeena and take offense to attacks on Zeena’s appearance. Secondly, the narrator uses the words “narrow minded”, “ignorant”, and “bitter” to describe Zeena (Wharton 108-109). In this chapter, Ethan still feels burdened by her presence and calls her ignorant, even though she is aching from his adulterous actions. He is about to leave, yet he still desires to immediately escape Zeena. Even though he deems her as a burden and the bane of his existence, he finds it convenient to use Zeena’s illness as an excuse to ask a friend for money. This selfish act gives the audience a reason to see through Ethan’s hateful insults and sympathize with Zeena. Ethan’s harsh diction told through the biased narrator creates a false image of Zeena and shows the effects of the plaguing personality of Ethan…show more content…
Ethan went into town to search for glue to repair the plate, just as he sought out Mattie as a temporary fix to his broken marriage. Mattie’s desire to decorate the table for a beautiful dinner frustrates Zeena because of the meaning behind the plate - it was a wedding gift that is now being used in an adulterous relationship. Ethan is quick to defend Mattie for being blamed for breaking the plate, yet feels no sympathy for Zeena. The memories that are recalled from the shattered plate evoke tears and pain, but Mattie and Ethan disregard Zeena’s suffering. While the fragments of the glass pickle dish resemble pure carelessness, they also resemble a relationship so broken that even glue cannot mend the fragments of their
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