• Category: Book Reports
  • Words: 646
  • Grade: 83
Ethan Frome's Selflessness and Affects of his

Responsibilities By Neil Mehta 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. This is when he finally realizes and affects of

his marrying Zeena out of compensation. Ethan and Mattie

attempt to preserve their happiness and remain together the

only way they can, in death. It was Ethan's job to steer into

the elm tree with the sled so that it looked like a accidental

death instead of suicide. Instead of running into the tree

Ethan thinks of his responsibility of taking care of Zeena and

pulls away. The accident did not kill either of them instead it

just injured them and these injuries stayed with them forever.

At this point Mattie unintentionally becomes the cause of

Ethan's tragic suffering. The aborted suicide attempt leads to

their tragic fate, living a life of physical suffering, so badly

that Zeena is forced to take care of them. After the accident

Ethan took care of Mattie because he felt responsible for the

accident. Now he has to live with the guilt from his wife and

injured Mattie. "If she'd ha' died, Ethan might ha' lived."

Mattie use to be the joy of Ethan life now she is the burden.

After suffering so long with Zeena, Et! han now has to exist

with the horrible deformed remains of a once beautiful,

sensitive, and loving girl. Once again surrendering himself to

the forces of isolation, silence, darkness, cold, and dealing

with his obligations to his wife and now Mattie. Ethan

Frome's practical sense of putting his responsibilities before

his self- interests had a very negative affect on his life. His

first decision of marrying Zeena had a big impact on

everything he did afterward. It seemed that every thing he

tried to do worked against his favor. With all the incidents

that happened it seemed inevitable that responsibilities and

obligations toward Mattie and Zeena would trap him.
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