Morality in Ethan Frome Essay examples

705 Words Apr 4th, 2012 3 Pages
Morality in Ethan Frome In The Morality of Inertia, Lionel Trilling argues that Ethan Frome’s inability to make his own ethical decisions ultimately makes his ‘smash-up’ a tragic event caused by the inactivity of morality. The nonexistence of this moral inertia is the explanation, for Trilling, for the outcome of Frome; the lack of moral responsibility in any of the main characters from the beginning of their lives paralyzes their decision making process-- they simply exist and do what is their duty. Trilling’s aspect that Frome was a morally inadequate man is a valid fact affirmed by Edith Wharton’s provided background of him; the idea that he was unable to make choices and is only capable of enduring can be proven inaccurate with …show more content…
Although Frome can be held responsible for his moral inactivity, he can be considered a morally inadequate man in his present state. His inadequacy, however, was not a constant in life or a sudden occurrence-- it snowballed from his youth and finally solidified through the ‘smash-up’. His earlier experiences in a university and the joy it brought him was quickly interrupted after a year by his sickly parents. The unfortunate circumstance forces Ethan Frome to move back to the depressing Starkfield he had just escaped. His parents’ illnesses bring along Zenobia, who would be another future, unseen oppression along with Starkfield. For years, Ethan lives in depressing conditions that decline as time goes on. The chance to finally leave them behind, however, comes in Mattie, Zenobia’s cousin and maid. Ethan’s inability to act on this chance of escape finally seals his fate when Mattie is paralyzed and he is critically injured. Although jinxed with unfortunate circumstances, Ethan Frome’s life could have been bettered if one small step or action was taken by him for himself with the intention to create personal joy or pleasure. The importance of taking steps in life betterment can be seen in Ethan Frome. Although one may lack a history of “making moral decisions,” the human instinct to do so is always there (from Morality

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