In the novel Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome conflicts with fate and free will. His fate being with his lifelong wife Zeena and him staying on the farm. His newfound free will being Mattie, Zeena's cousin. Ethan believes his free will comes from being with Mattie. He continues doing his farm work and stays with the woman he had married in an act to repay a family debt. In the book he thinks “ 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 and unlikely chance-it was doubtful she could clear a thousand dollars on the sale”(74). When he thinks of Zeena he realizes his fate is to be trapped in a unbearable and boring life. This realization hits him …show more content…
He is suppose to stay with Zeena, who was not a choice, they got married because of debt, growing apart “Then she too fell silent. Perhaps it was the inevitable effect of life on a farm, or perhaps, as she sometimes said , it was because Ethan ‘ never listened’”(42). Ethan feels that with Mattie he is able to express himself, he is able to give love and receive it as well. Him taking action makes him act more bold then he had the whole novel saying to Mattie “ what’s the good of either of us going anywhere without the other one now?”(90). This shows him being bold and taking things into his hand. Ethan with Mattie before she leaves is the only time that Ethan does what he really wants. The way Ethan wants to live his life, to be free to do what he wants, even what he wants to say. Ethan gets the courage to say “Oh,Matt,I can’t let you go!”(90). This shows how Ethan wants to go against his fate of being with Mattie, using his own free will. Avoiding his responsibilities and following his free will to be with Mattie. Ethan wanting to stay with Mattie, is his form of rebellion. Ethan trying to commit suicide and failing, what he says to Mattie after they fail “Oh Matt, I thought we’d fetched it,”(94). This shows Ethan realizing that he was trying to defy his fate. He begins to think this is the result of trying to change your fate. The failed suicide attempt shows Ethan what he was doing was what he wanted to do, but the results had led to something that neither
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After the smash-up, Ethan is still quite a handsome man but his state of mind has changed. Ethan has become consumed with guilt from the smash-up so much so that he has become “bleak and unapproachable” and “so stiffened and grizzled that I took him for an old man and was surprised to hear that he was not more than fifty-two” (page 3). This clearly conveys that Ethan has become bitter and cold.
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
The decision parallels Ethan’s agreement to Mattie’s death wish, his conduct in his marriage, and his attitude toward life in general. He’s unable to face the consequences of any decision, so he lets external circumstances such as other individuals, society, convention, and financial constraints make his decisions for him. Mattie’s death which appears especially appealing to Ethan because it eliminates all consequences for both of them,
The novel, Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton tells of Ethan Frome and his struggles to be with the one he loves, Mattie Silver, and escaping the one he’s married to, Zeena. The tragedy that is Frome’s life is founded on the differences between Mattie and Zeena, such as their physical appearance and their communication and relationship with Ethan.
“‘Most of the smart ones get away.’ But if that were the case, how could any combination of obstacles have hindered the flight of a man like Ethan Frome?” (Edith Wharton). In Ethan Frome, by Edith Wharton, Ethan marries his cousin Zenobia (Zeena), and then cheats on his cousin/wife with her cousin, Mattie. Mattie makes one mistake and Zeena’s prized possession, a pickle dish, is ruined. The pickle dish symbolizes Ethan and Zeena’s relationship.
Ethan’s ingenuity and dexterity in the engineering field had been a preeminent factor in the cultivation of his early ambitions. As it is asserted, “He had always wanted to be an engineer, and to live in towns, where there were lectures and big libraries and “fellows doing things.” A slight engineering job in Florida, put in his way during his period of study at Worcester” (Wharton 36). Essentially, his aspirations were to lead him away from Starkfield and into a place where he become accomplished. However, with the death of his father and obligations to remain at home on the farm his dreams were suppressed, thus becoming an oppressive force in his life as they lead him to feel despondent. As he would never be able to feel the sense of achievement he strived for he would spend the remainder of his life sullen and forlorn. The desire to be with Mattie, as well, remained a prevalent aspiration of Ethan Frome. After the announcement of her departure he began to arrange plans to leave with her, but soon began to see the impracticality of this decision and resolved to stay. Edith Wharton asserts, “The inexorable facts closed in on him like prison-warders handcuffing a convict. There was no way out—none. He was a prisoner for life, and now his one ray of light was to be extinguished” (Wharton, 66). Ethan becomes a
In the beginning of the novel, Harmon Gow discusses Ethan's past with the narrator and informs him of "Somebody had to stay and care for the folks. There warn't anybody but Ethan. Frust his father-then his mother-then his wife" (Wharton 5). Harmon also informs the narrator of his wife, Zeena's need for care, and that there was an incident that required care for Ethan himself (Wharton 5). Not only would Ethan be physically exhausted, but it would take a significant emotional toll on him as well, especially as he worked on the farm as well.
Ethan for a long time attempted to stay with his morals and tried to stay with his wife. Ethan finally breaks, and is unable to keep his morals straight, and he faces another decision when Mattie is forced to leave. This devastating event causes Ethan to change along with his morals. For the first time he stands up to his wife, and he even thinks of running away. He is faced with the dilemma of leaving his ailing wife and run away with Mattie, or stay with his wife and watch Mattie leave.
Before Mattie came into Ethan’s life, he had nothing to fight for. He knew that one way or another Zeena would get what she wants but with Mattie it was different. He knew that she was his only chance at happiness and the fact that Zeena could take that away from him did not settle well with
Ethan’s relationship, like so many in live fades like the wind. His spark of love is gone and all that left is an empty shell felled with hate; Zeena who was always consider hostile
Human beings often make permanent decisions based off temporary emotions. Ethan Frome, the protagonist in Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome, is morally constrained to Zeena, his sickly wife, but is also afflicted by his heartfelt emotions for Mattie Silver. After years of a harsh life with Zeena who he felt he owed, Ethan comes to believe that his greatest chance at a happy life is with Mattie Silver. However, in the end Mattie's other side, one which is extremely similar to Zeena's attitude, comes to rise, after an unsuccessful suicide attempt. Edith Wharton makes an ironic tribute to the book by presenting contrasting personas, including physical appearance and attitudes to describe Zeena Frome and Mattie Silver, but also adduces
Zeena’s cousin Mattie comes to Starkfield after her father passed away begins to live with the Frome family as the caretaker for Zeena. Frome begins to acquire a strange attraction to Mattie. The relationship between the two start to blossom and Zeena takes a notice to Ethan’s change in behavior after Mattie began living in the home, but does not directly confront Ethan instead she gives subtle comments to inform him that she knows something is going on. Ethan decides to disregard Zeena’s attempts and continues to pursue Mattie. At this point he has now married Zeena out of pure selfishness and starts to pursue another mistress right under Zeena’s nose. He is unable to divorce Zeena because she is ill and he thinks it is his duty to stay with abandon her, yet it is more for himself as a hopeless attempt at redemption from his first selfish act, but it is all counteracted by him being unfaithful to Zeena with Mattie. To sum it up two wrongs never make a
The message that Wharton conveys through Frome is that when people fear they are violating the rule of society risk becoming enslaved by those rules. Wharton describes Zeena as unpleasing to the eye and a, while Mattie is kind, gentle, and a perfect match for Ethan. Which Wharton portrays that it is understandable why Ethan would want to leave his wife. Ethan does not leave his wife for the fact he feels bounded by his marriage vows. He wishes to be married to Mattie; however, even though he wrote his goodbye letter to Zeena and talked to Mrs. Hale, his conscious does not allow him to leave his wife. Instead, he lets society rule his life and he remains trapped in a loveless marriage. Ethan had a night alone with Mattie, but he respected his
Ethan and his mother renamed him Bailey. Bailey and Ethan quickly become best friends as they overcome many obstacles, such as dealing with Ethan’s abusive father, escaping his house while it was burning to the ground, and overcoming an injury that occurred during the incident at his house ending his sports career. Ethan moves to his grandparent’s farm in Michigan where his girlfriend, Hannah, lives. Hannah and Ethan break up, as well as Ethan’s parents. Ethan then graduates and leaves to go to college, leaving Bailey behind.