Ethan Frome, Tragic Hero Essay Example
Ethan Frome, Tragic Hero Essay Example

Ethan Frome, Tragic Hero Essay Example

Available Only on StudyHippo
  • Pages: 3 (761 words)
  • Published: December 20, 2017
  • Type: Essay
View Entire Sample
Text preview

The novel Ethan Frome, by Edith Wharton, is a tale of a man and the eventual downfall of his life and well-being. Ethan emerges as the main protagonist and hero of the story. He is a proud man of tall stature and good nature. Although Ethan is not of noble blood and is very poor, he is still seen as a hero. Starkfield looks on Mr.

Frome in tacit respect. As a young man, it looked as if Ethan would escape the dullness of the small Massachusetts town. However, when his parents became ill, Ethan showed unyielding care and gave up his life to prolong his parents’.The town looks on as Ethan’s love for his parents slowly drags him towards poverty.

The novel begins with Ethan living a meager life married to Zeena, but he still mana


ges to have a high set of morals and self dignity. Ethan, however, is not without one tragic flaw in his character. It is this flaw, a lack of judgement, which leads to his downfall at the end of the novel. From the beginning of the novel, it can be seen that Ethan is very unhappy with his marriage to Zeena.

She seems to bar the way for Ethan’s success in life. It is apparent that Ethan greatly resents Zeena, but his self-righteousness prevents him from leaving her.Ethan becomes very frustrated by her illness and the rude disposition Zeena is always in: All the long misery of his baffled past, of his youth of failure, hardship and vain effort, rose up in his soul in bitterness and seemed to take shape before him in the woman who at ever

View entire sample
Join StudyHippo to see entire essay

turn had barred his way. She had taken everything else from him; and now she meant to take the one thing that made up for all the others. (Wharton 107) Ethan disregards his wife’s medical condition, and lacks the judgment to avoid the impending argument with Zeena over Mattie.At this point the reader is aware that Zeena is very suspicious of Mattie and Ethan’s interactions.

Ethan’s poor judgment boils down to his longing for Mattie. Ethan is a married man, and despite the fact that he is unhappy he cannot leave Zeena. The novel is set in a time period where adultery is looked down upon even more so than today. To even think about kissing Mattie shows extreme poor judgment on Ethan’s behalf.

“He knew that most young men made nothing at all of giving a pretty girl a kiss and he remembered that the night before, when he had put his arm about Mattie, she had not resisted” (Wharton 84).Thinking romantic thoughts about Mattie begins the downfall of Ethan Frome. Correct judgment would be for Ethan to never let those thoughts manifest in his mind. The reader can reason that Ethan’s poor judgment is taking over his more sensible side. His judgments ultimately lead him to act in a negative fashion.

At the end of the novel, Ethan’s poor judgment wins his moral battles. Mattie and Ethan confess their true love for each other, and Ethan’s tragic downfall occurs. Perhaps his greatest misjudgment of the novel, Ethan attempts suicide so he is never separated from Mattie.The attempt fails and the readers are left with an emotionally hollow Ethan Frome: Well, I say it's

a pity she did .

. . if [Mattie] ha' died, Ethan might ha' lived; and the way they are now, I don't see's there's much difference between the Fromes up at the farm and the Fromes down in the graveyard… (Wharton 163) Mrs. Hale alludes to the observation that Ethan has become a walking dead man. His heart has been broken twice, and now he is just a shell of a man.

This is Ethan’s tragic downfall due to poor judgment. He must live out the remainder of his life poor and in shambles.He must take care of the two women who drove him to the very point of suicide. Ethan Frome’s complete lack of sensible judgment leads him to his ultimate downfall by the end of the novel. His parents’ illnesses trapped Ethan in the mediocre town of Starkfield.

He greatly resents his own wife, and falls in love with the youthful girl who helps out around the house. Ethan lets his poor judgment take over his mind as he tries to win over Mattie Silver’s love. This forbidden love and his lack of judgment lead to the tragic downfall of Ethan Frome.

Get an explanation on any task
Get unstuck with the help of our AI assistant in seconds