The Passive and Pitiful Ethan Frome
Ethan Frome is a man torn between what he wants to do, and what he should do. Life in a rural town can be tough, but when faced with complications, it can be almost unbearable. When Ethan decides to marry his distant cousin, Zeena, his life turns down a long and lonesome road. Ethan's lack of assertiveness and decisive action only worsens his already lonesome and stressful life.
Though too intelligent for rural life, Ethan finds himself stuck in an average man's shoes. Leaving any opportunity he had to become someone in life, Ethan moves back to Starkfield to take care of his ailing mother and attend to their farm(Wharton 29). Rather than living a lonesome life after his mother passes away, Ethan asks Zeena to stay with him, which turns out to be his first mistake (Wharton, 29). As soon as his mother passed away, Ethan should have asked Zeena to leave and sold his farm. His love for learning and keenness for engineering could have led Ethan to a much better life. Unfortunately, he feels obligated to stay with Zeena, thus ending all hope for a better life.
Zeena's ailments were nothing more than a way to gain attention from Ethan and everyone else in Starkfield. Zeena wastes valuable money to buy an electric battery to help her overcome her "sickness", but never figures out how to use it(Wharton, 26); She spends too much money buying useless medicine when she knows money is hard to come by. Being the man of the house, Ethan should have expressed the fact that her ailments were a factor of them being poor. Instead Ethan goes by day by day doing what he needs to do, and what Zeena tells him. Unfortunately for Ethan, he lets Zeena control him and many aspects of his life, leading to his resentment of her and their below normal lifestyle.
Mattie Silver's arrival at the Frome household is everything Ethan needs. His lack of assertiveness has led to his deep hatred of his wife and his life. He soon falls in love with young Mattie and when Zeena decides it's time for her to go, Ethan hesitates to stand up for himself and Mattie. When he is forced to take her away, he tells Mattie about a story similar to theirs(Wharton, 56); he offers the chance for them to run away together, but Mattie declines. If Ethan had only made the decision for them, or stood up to Zeena, his life would be much better off.
When Mattie is finally forced to go, Ethan faces the hardest decision he's ever had to make. Both Mattie and he are in love with each other and neither of the two know what to do now that they...