In the novel, Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton, Ethane’s life, although
difficult, was full of discontent because of his choices. Ethan’s poor choices have
made him a miserable man with little to look forward to and only agony to look back
on. Three topics that display this discontent for life and the poor choices that Ethan
made are that Ethan’s experiences personal misfortune that hurt his chance for
happiness, Ethan made choices too quickly and gave them little or no thought, and
Zeena’s hypocondriact nature was a huge weight on the soul of Ethan Frome.
Ethan experiences personal misfortunes that hurt his chances for happiness.
Ethan Frome’s troubles began he made poor choices in his life. When Ethan was
attending his college classes his father had become deathly ill and soon after the
illness had struck, he died. As a result of his fathers death, Ethan’s mother was left
all alone and so was his father’s saw mill. Ethan had no choice but to leave college
and stop his classes so that he could go home and take care of his poor mother. Ethan
went home like any respectable young man would do those days,
As Marline Springer writes “Ethan Frome gives up scholarly ambitions to help an
improvised motherly figures.”
This move started a domino affect of bad choices and bad karma falling towards
Ethan made decisions too quickly and gave them little or no thought
Some of the decisions that Ethan made were not well planned and were blinded by
quick thinking and natural human instinct. When Ethan got back from college, to
his distress, his mother was stricken with a deadly disease. Now poor Ethan had
double the work on his hands, taking care of the saw mill and his mother. So his
cousin, Zeena, came to take care of his ill mother. Ethan saw how well Zeena had
taken care of his mother, which gave him the idea that because she took care of his
mother so well that maybe she would care for him as well as she cared for his
mother. Ethan also thought that being alone during the hard cold winter was
unbearable, which made him turn towards the decision of asking Zeena to marry
him. After his mother had died he had also felt he owed Zeena for all her hard work,
so he did the only thing he could afford and married her; this would turn out to be
one of the worst decisions Ethan would ever make.
Zeena’s hypochondriac nature was a huge weight on the soul of Ethan
Frome. Zeena became “ill” from nursing Ethan’s mother, so Ethan thought it a
good idea to bring Mattie Silver to his household to help nurse Zeena back to health.
As the narrator states “when she entered the household as Zeena’s cousin her aid it was
thought best.”
Ethan Frome then foolishly fell in love with Mattie, which complicated matters
even further. Ethan would then have to make many choices about advancing his and
Mattie’s relationship or staying faithful to Zeena.
Ethan was about to commit suicide with Mattie so that Zeena would not be in
the way, but instead supposedly made the decision to stay with Zeena by veering
away from the tree at the last second leaving Mattie crippled and him with a warped
left side.
In this novel there were many choices that were made by Ethan Frome, most
of which were poor and not well thought out in consequence these decisions brought
him anguish and pain, and one short leg.