Essay about Codependency in Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome

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Codependency in Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome

"Dependent personality disorder."(Morris) To people who suffer from this disorder, making a decision is virtually impossible. It is only by getting assistance from others that they can make even the simplest of choices. When some of these people come together, they rely on each other to help them with decision-making. Unfortunately, the codependency created by this situation frequently makes it impossible for these people to separate. In fact, they often become so interdependent that subconsciously they increasingly act in ways that will maintain the status quo. In Edith Wharton's novel Ethan Frome, the three major characters are so dependent on each other that no matter
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Ethan had not wanted to go to bed with Zeena but once Zeena began to pressure him, he backed down and followed her to bed like a hurt child. Thus, Ethan yields to his problem and entraps himself to a life of misery. He illustrates his own dependence by his consistent submission to Zeena and by his inability to take control of events that are occurring in his life.

Zeena Frome, the second of the three important characters, is often unable to take direct action without receiving confirmation from other characters. In one conversation with Ethan, Zeena says "He wanted I should speak to you about a girl"(19) and then later, Wharton adds to this feeling of dependence in the description of Zeena after she returns from the doctor, "She wanted sympathy not consolation"(55). Zeena is trying to get support from Ethan to get a replacement for Mattie. However, when she is unable to get his support, Mattie remains in the house until Zeena finally gets her needed backing from a doctor: "He wants I should have a hired girl"(55). Every time Zeena is confronted with an important decision, she needs to have someone agree with her. Without support, she will not take direct action and will only delay the problem. Wharton emphasizes Zeena's dependence, by having her ask Ethan, who loves Mattie, to support an effort to eliminate

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