Free Essays on Wharton's Ethan Frome: Responsibilities

705 Words3 Pages
Ethan Frome - Responsibilities Ethan Frome is the main character of Edith Wharton’s tragic novel. Ethan lives the bitterness of his youth’s lost opportunities, and dissatisfaction with his joyless life and empty marriage. Throughout the story Ethan is trapped by social limits and obligations to his wife. He lives an unhappy life with many responsibilities and little freedom. Ethan Frome studied science in college for a year and probably would have succeeded as an engineer or physicist had he not been summoned home to run the family farm and mill. Ethan quickly ended his schooling and went to run the family farm and mill because he feels it is his responsibility. He marries Zeena after the death of his mother, in an unsuccessful attempt to escape silence, isolation, and loneliness. Ethan also feels the responsibility to marry Zeena as a way to compensate her for giving up part of her life to nurse his mother. After marring Zeena he forgets his hope of every continuing his education and he is now forced to remain married to someone he does not truly love. Several Years after their marriage, cousin Mattie Silver is asked to relieve Zeena, who is constantly ill, of her house hold duties. Ethan finds himself falling in love with Mattie, drawn to her youthful energy, as, “ The pure air, and the long summer hours in the open, gave life and elasticity to Mattie.” Ethan is attracted to Mattie because she is the opposite of Zeena, while Mattie is young, happy, healthy, and beautiful like the summer, Zeena is seven years older than Ethan, bitter, ugly and sickly cold like the winter. Zeena’s strong dominating personality undermines Ethan, while Mattie’s feminine, lively youth makes Ethan fell like a “real man.” Ethan and Mattie finally express their feeling for each other while Zeena is visiting the doctor, and are forced to face the painful reality that their dreams of being together can not come true. The return to reality was as painful as the return to consciousness after taking and anaesthetic. His body and brain ached with indescribable weariness, and he could not think of nothing to say or do that would arrest the mad flight of the moments He desperately wanted to run away with Mattie, but he could not leave because his practical sense told him it was not suitable to do so partly because of his responsibility to take care of Zeena.
Open Document