Ethan Frome

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Ethan Frome

All of us have things in our lives we dislike performing, but we must do them on a daily basis because they are part of our existence. Marriage or a relationship with another person should not be a task. It should be a full measurement of enjoyment and pleasure. In Edith Whartons novel, Ethan Frome, the main character, Ethan Frome, is in a marriage that renders little pleasure or enjoyment. He detests his life and his wife, but falls prey to the belief he is in love with someone he cannot attain. Ethan perceived his life to be unsatiated and because of this his life was out of control and near tragic.


You could call Ethan Frome your average man for his time. He had nothing to smile about. He was fairly poor and was married to a woman he despised. Ethan and his wife, Zeena, were married not for love, but almost as a payoff for Zeenas services to Ethans ill and dying mother. He hated his bond with Zeena ever since they said I do. The two had only been married for seven years and positive comments about the couple from the townspeople made him sick. On one occasion Andrew Hale reminded Ethan how it was not too long ago since they fixed up a place for he and Zeena to live. On Ethans way home from Hales home, He reflected that his seven years with Zeena seemed to Starkfield not so long (p.56) Ethan was always complaining about his relationship with his wife. Probably even after their wedding day. He was the root of his own misery, not Zeena. After all, he had married her.


A miserable wife, a terrible life. What could make it better for poor Ethan Frome? The infatuation with a woman he could never have? Mattie was Zeenas distant relative who stayed with the pitiful couple, and helped around the house. Mattie made Ethans life so much more worthwhile, or so he thought. It was the first time that Mattie had ever written to him, and the possession of the paper gave him a strange new sense of her nearness; yet it deepened his anguish by reminding him that henceforth they would have e no other way of communicating with each other. For the life of her smile, the warmth of her voice, only cold paper and dead words! (p. 94) Perhaps Ethan would never be happy. Not even a lovely note from the woman he loved was enough for Ethan. He was always in need of more. No one ever gave him enough.


At one point it seems as if Ethan makes an attempt to save his horrid life and run off with Mattie. He would leave behind his wife whom he loathed and and his hidden love for Mattie. But, this wonderful thought pulls him back. With the sudden perception of the point to which his madness had carried him, the madness fell and he saw his life before him as it was. He was a poor man, the husband of a sickly woman, when his desertion would leave alone and destitute; and even if he had had the heart to desert her he could have done so only by deceiving tow kindly people who had pitied him. (p. 103) After all of the lying, cheating, and hating, he still cannot leave and enjoy a life full of happiness and freedom. He feels like he owes his wife something, or maybe he loves his misery.


The thought of suicide comes into the mind of his forbidden love and they decide to go coasting and run into a tree, killing themselves so they can live happily together in the after life. Their fate was already sealed for them. After the crash Mattie turned into the woman he was trying to get away from in the first place, Zeena. After all the wasted time, Ethan was happy, he just did not know it. This was his life, he was destined to be an unhappy person. It was in the Frome blood. But, were all of the problems necessary? Ethan created problems in his life with Zeena because he wanted to. He was always looking for something better, never just settling for what he had. No one forced him to Marry Zeena, but he did. Ethan Frome thrived on misery and now he was truly happy, he was miserable with the two women he loved.