The Passive and Pitiful Ethan Frome Essay

The Passive and Pitiful Ethan Frome Essay

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The Passive and Pitiful Ethan Frome


     Ethan Frome is a man torn between what he wants to do, and what he should do.  Life in a rural town can be tough, but when faced with complications, it can be almost unbearable.  When Ethan decides to marry his distant cousin, Zeena, his life turns down a long and lonesome road.  Ethan's lack of assertiveness and decisive action only worsens his already lonesome and stressful life.

 

 

    Though too intelligent for rural life, Ethan finds himself stuck in an average man's shoes. Leaving any opportunity he had to become someone in life, Ethan moves back to Starkfield to take care of his ailing mother and attend to their farm(Wharton 29).  Rather than living a lonesome life after his mother passes away, Ethan asks Zeena to stay with him, which turns out to be his first mistake (Wharton, 29). As soon as his mother passed away, Ethan should have asked Zeena to leave and sold his farm.  His love for learning and keenness for engineering could have led Ethan to a much better life.  Unfortunately, he feels obligated to stay with Zeena, thus ending all hope  for a better life.

 

 

    Zeena's ailments were nothing more than a way to gain attention from Ethan and everyone else in Starkfield.  Zeena wastes valuable money to buy an electric battery to help her overcome her "sickness", but never figures out how to use it(Wharton, 26); She spends too much money buying useless medicine when she knows money is hard to come by.  Being the man of the house, Ethan should have expressed the fact that her ailments were a factor of them being poor.  Instead Ethan goes by day by day doing what he needs to do, and what Zeena tells him.  Unfortunately for Ethan,...


... middle of paper ...


...controllable circumstances brought him back home, it was he who chose to stay and risk losing all hope for the life he had dreamed for.  Ethan's decision to be with Zeena did nothing but make his already dreadful life worse.  When Mattie finally arrives, it's almost like a small burden has been lifted from Ethan's shoulders and he is almost allowed to live again. Lacking the ability to make decisions, Ethan worsens his life by letting things just slide by; and by not standing up to Zeena, the outcome leaves Ethan more desperate and lonelier than he was before.

 

Works Cited and Consulted:

Bell, Millicent. The Cambridge Companion to Edith Wharton. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995. 

Springer, Marlene. Ethan Frome: A Nightmare of Need. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1993.

Wharton, Edith. Ethan Frome. New York: Penguin Group, 1993.

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