Ethan Frome Character Analysis

Decent Essays
The Flaw of Frome
Ethan Frome by Elizabeth Wharton is a short novel describing the life and downfall of Ethan Frome, as told by the man himself to an intrigued narrator spending the winter in Starkfield, Massachusetts. Ethan Frome, like many other protagonists, is burdened with a fatal flaw; This imperfection, his love for his wife’s caregiver and niece Mattie, leads to the loss of his wife and a tragic accident leaving him scarred and lame. We are introduced to Frome as the narrator spots him at the local post office, and subsequently takes an interest in the scars on his face and noticeable limp. He is described as possessing a “careless powerful spite of the lameness checking each step like the jerk of a chain”(2). This scene
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This event, referred to as a “smash-up”(2) by natives of Starkfield, is revealed to be a pact between Ethan and Mattie to commit suicide by sledding into an old elm tree. Ethan finally knew Mattie's “avowal, the wild wonder of knowing at last that all that had happened to him had happened to her too”(52). She confirms finally that she felt the same for Ethan as he had for her, and persuades Ethan to commit suicide with her so that they would “never have to leave each other any more”(52). This grand gesture shows the true devotion they felt for each other, and in agreeing with her, demonstrates Frome’s fatal flaw: he loves Mattie over reason or even life itself. Ethan, while possessing a shy and reserved demeanor, is likely more intelligent than most would assume of a poor farmer from the countryside. The narrator offers Ethan a scientific journal, and he accepts with a polite “Thank you-I’ll take it”(6). This adds another dimension to Frome’s character, adding to his quiet, pensive, and conspicuously intelligent personality. His reserved intelligence also manifests itself in his manipulation of Mattie, casually implying that she would “‘have found me right off if you hadn't gone back to have that last reel with Denis,’ he brought out awkwardly”(16). Ethan resorts to this kind of manipulation to find out how Mattie really feels about him. His plan is to
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