Ethan has such a moral dilemma because Zeena and Mattie are so incredibly different. He struggles with which personality and character traits he likes better. Zeena has been by Ethan's side since his mother was ill and he respects her
(p.93). This highlights how much Ethan truly cares for Mattie and his willingness to defend her no matter what. His love and care for Mattie is shown through Ethan’s actions as
In the final chapters, Ethan and Mattie enter the Frome household. Wharton describes that the living room has "the deadly chill of a vault after the dry cold of the night." This quote represents the deathly sled run they are about to experience. Ethan and Mattie pursued their love life to the point of death due to desperation. Ethan felt trapped in his marriage with Zenobia and found an escape in the beautiful, young Mattie Silver. He chose to die with Mattie for an escape to his isolated, unhappy life, but it only backfired in the end.
Often times, when people are hurt and taken advantage of themselves, they in turn take advantage of others. This is true of the character Ethan Frome in the novel of the same name by Edith Wharton. Zeena takes advantage of Ethan, so Ethan takes advantage of Mattie. Mattie is the true victim in the novel because she is young and impressionable, which Ethan uses to manipulate her. She has pure intentions, but ultimately ends up living a miserable life mainly to the fault of Ethan.
That makes him stand between what he want and what he need and all he wants, just to stop at thinking. And Ethan's thoughts become his biggest barrier to reaching happiness. Ethan loves Mattie. Ethan dreams about the happiness of him and Mattie. We know that when Ethan says, "I guess we'll never let you go, Matt," he whispered, as though even the dead, lovers once, must conspire with him to keep her; and brushing by the graves, he thought: "We'll always go on living here together, and someday she'll lie there beside me.". But there is no way that comes true when he becomes passive in front of Zeena. When Zeena figures out what is wrong in her family, and try to indirectly force Mattie to leave the farm, Ethan is passive with his feeble reasoning cannot protect Mattie. Then, Ethan plans to flee with Mattie. But once again, another thought comes up to Ethan's mind as an excuse for his passivity, and make him flinch. The narrator states, " If he gave the farm and mill to Zeena what would be left him to start his own life with? Once in the West he was sure of picking up work—he would not have feared to try his chance alone. But with Mattie depending on him the case was different. And what of Zeena's fate? Farm and mill were mortgaged to the limit of their value, and even if she found a purchaser—in itself an unlikely chance—it was doubtful if she could clear a thousand
Isolation can be the determining factor in changing one’s mindset. In Ethan Frome, Ethan faces many disappointments throughout the novel. In the novel, Ethan is an orphan since both parents have passed. His wife Zeena who is also his cousin has become the dominant one in the relationship taking over full control. While living in Starkfield, Zeena has suddenly become “sick” and is forced to bring in her cousin Mattie for help around the house. Zeena is depicted as a bitter prematurely old woman who is always “sick” while Mattie is the picture of health as well as the sweetest woman alive. When Mattie comes into the picture, she becomes the speck of happiness in which Ethan longs for but Zeena keeps taking away. This brings up a theme of failure throughout the novel.
As previously stated imagery concerning Mattie is very warm and summer-like. Mattie's face seems to Ethan like "a window that has caught the sunset". Her effect on Ethan was likened to " spring rills in a thaw". Mattie's mood changes were, to Ethan "the flit of a bird in the branches.". When Ethan puts his arm around Mattie when they are walking home it seemed that they "were floating on a summer stream." When Mattie tells Ethan that she would never want to leave his house, "The iron heavens seemed to melt and rain down sweetness."
Mattie and Ethan never follow their love due to Ethan's morals and the respect he has for his marriage to Zeena. He wants Zeena to be well and he takes care of her when she is ill. Frome’s feelings for Mattie never oscillate and he wants to be with this woman who is not his wife. Even though Ethan only had one night with Mattie alone, he cannot help but think of what he has done as he sits in the kitchen. Mattie presents minority, beauty, and good health- all of which Zeena does not possess. It seems he favors the more hip, young, and beautiful women than dull, boring, and unattractive women.
When Mattie is to be sent away, Ethan and Mattie grow desperate looking for a way out of their impossible situation. They decide that it is better to die in a sledding accident together than live their lives apart. Ethan hesitates slightly, “But in a flash
Throughout the novel, the readers can gather information about who Ethan Frome is. Ethan Frome is a man who wants to feel free for once in his life. Ethan first tried to escape the isolation of his family’s farm and his ill mother when he goes off to college in Worcester. Here he was beginning to grow as a person, but was forced to drop out and move back to the farm after his father’s death. Ethan feels imprisoned by the farm, his work, and his sick wife. Mattie is Ethan’s particle escape from his isolationism, “The sweetness of the picture, and the relief of knowing that his fears of “trouble” with Zeena were unfounded, sent up his sportis with a rush, and he, who was usually silent, whistled and sang aloud as he drove through the snowy fields.” (Wharton 29). He feels as if Zeena holds him back from exceeding his full potential while Mattie makes him feel free.
There are many characters in the novel Ethan Frome. One of these characters was Ethan Frome. He is the main character of the novel, hence the name. He tells the narrator a story Mattie's trying that revolves around him and his desire to cheat on his wife with his wife's cousin Mattie Silver. If I were to use adjectives to describe him I would say depressed because he ruined his life and Mattie's trying to kill himself in a sledding accident. The other
Mattie Silver is Zeena’s cousin whom has moved in with the Frome’s in order to take care of Zeena while she is sick. When Zeena returns home from her doctor’s visit she informs Ethan that she cannot be left alone… “The doctor don’t want that I should be left without anybody to do for me” (32). Ethan says to Zeena, “Oh, she would never leave us as long as you needed her” (33). Referring to the potential absence of Mattie’s care for Zeena, Ethan quickly becomes defensive and tries to convince himself and Zeena that she will not leave their household. As the story progresses it becomes more and more obvious that there is some tension between the secret lovers.
An Analysis of Ethan Frome In Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome, characters survive during the turn of the century in the bleak town of Starksfield, Massachusetts. The time period presents several challenges; the societal expectations of the time period limits Ethan Frome and Mattie, as well as the opportunities presented to them b oth. In Ethan's case, he does not have access to as many educational opportunities because of his poverty. He lives in a time where many of them are only available to the wealthy. He is also expected to stay with his sick wife in spite of his indifference to her.
Just as how the story started, with the three of them together in a house, the story ends with each trapped in it. Just as Harom said in the prologue, Ethan has been in “Starkfield too many winters,” but could not leave due to his duty to care for his ill parents and wife. Now the only thing stopping him is his own illness, an ironic twist of fate. The three are trapped in a cruel situation caused by disabilities as well as poverty. The harsh winters of Starkfield rage on as their ‘eternal hell’ continues. The social norms that prevented Ethan from fulfilling his desires have finally come into play. What stopped Ethan before was his duty as a husband to never abandon his wife, conforming to the idea that marriage will never put them apart despite otherwise. His morality prevents him from swindling money from two sympathetic characters in his life and running away with Mattie. Although admirable, this eventually leads to his unhappiness. Now, Ethan cannot leave Starkfield ever, due to the many factors that he caused years ago.