Ethan Frome Character Analysis Essay

520 Words3 Pages

In the novel Ethan Frome, surroundings influence the protagonist, Ethan, in simple daily decisions and larger life decisions. Ethan’s surroundings go beyond just the setting; they also extend to the culture and people around him. The town of Starkfield, societal norms, and the characters of Zeena and Mattie influence Ethan’s life, majorly impacting the decisions he makes and his morality. Starkfield, Ethan’s home town, is a desolate place plagued by harsh winters. The town is described as covered in a blanket of snow and always bitterly cold. This results in little greenery or any sign of new life in the town. Much like Ethan, growing things around him are smothered by the cold snow, with the potential to grow, but not allowed to. The coldness outdoors is similar to the metaphorical coldness in Ethan’s life. Ethan is not seen as a happy man on the outside, and is not happy on the inside either. He is stuck in a marriage with a coldhearted woman that he must now take care of. The coldness outside reinforces the cold his wife puts off and the lack of new beginnings around him. …show more content…

Ethan’s main purpose for moving back to Starkfield was to take care of his sick mother, which he felt was a family duty. It was seen as though family members and married couples should stay together and take care of each other no matter what. Zeena’s neice, Mattie Silver, is a warmth to Ethan he so desperately needs, but he knows he must stay loyal to Zeena. Ethan preferred trying to kill himself with Mattie, than divorcing Zeena, showing how unorthodox divorce was at the time. Pressure from society is something Ethan could not overcome and is a major factor in Ethan’s misery and morality in the

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