Passive Villain Essay

1078 words - 5 pages

In many cases, the villain of a story is the malevolent character that actively complicates the life of the protagonist. But in some cases, the villain ruins the life of the protagonist in the background by sucking the protagonist dry of hope. Zenobia Pierce Frome from Edith Wharton's novel, Ethan Frome, is the passive villain. She ruins Ethan's life and shows her evil side by neglecting Ethan, complicating his life, and taking away everything Ethan holds dear.
Zeena's first weapon against Ethan is neglect. Ethan needs human interaction to function properly. But Zeena, being the villain she is, deliberately deprives Ethan of it. Wharton symbolizes Zeena's neglect with the pickle dish ...view middle of the document...

Zeena neglects Ethan's desires and asserts her own. Zeena is, in essence, trying to suck out Ethan's happiness to satisfy her desires. Also, Zeena is neglecting Ethan's ability to make decisions. Although Zeena is the auxiliary of the house, she makes important decision that affects Ethan without consulting him. By doing so, she implies that Ethan is incapable an neglects his masculinity and his role as the man of the house.
Zeena's second attack is complicating Ethan's life. Ethan marries Zeena because she solves his problem during the winter. But within in a year after their marriage, Zeena starts to act like a hypochondriac and complicates Ethan's life. The complications that Zeena causes to Ethan's life and Ethan's feeling of disgust is evident during their argument about Mattie. When Zeena makes her point and does not consider Ethan's argument, Ethan becomes furious and thinks, "[Zeena] was no longer the listless creature who had lived at his side... But a mysterious alien presence, an evil energy secreted from the long years of silent brooding..." (87). At first, Zeena is, or appears to be, a helpless and powerless creature that needs help. However, once she is cared for, she reveals her dark and evil side. Her evil side nurtures itself in Ethan's protection and waits for the perfect time to strike. When Ethan sees Zeena's evil side surface, anger clouds Ethan's vision as he thinks, "all the long misery of his baffled past, of his youth of failure ... rose up in his soul in bitterness and seemed to take shape before him in the woman who at every turn had barred his way" (88). Zeena stands in Ethan's way throughout the entire novel. Everytime Ethan wants to do something or achieve some goal, she stands between him and his goal. Zeena's interference is so profound that her victim places the blame for his past failures on her. Zeena's second attack reduces her victim from a man of hope to man of anger and failure.
Zeena finishes her prey by taking away everything that is dear to him. Early in the novel, Zeena takes...

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