Ethan Frome Determinism Analysis

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Determinism vs. Free Will in Ethan Frome The novel Ethan Frome introduces many different themes throughout the plot. Probably the most apparent of these is the concept of whether Ethan Frome is able to exercise his own free will or if his life is already determined for him ahead of time. Due to the various situations that Ethan encounters during the course of the novel such as him not being able to obtain his engineering degree, his unpleasant marriage to Zeena, and ultimately his attempt to escape everything with Mattie, all pertain to the fact that although Ethan was able to make some choices, the overall path of his life seems to be predetermined for him already. The first introduction of Ethan’s lack of free will can be traced to when…show more content…
He and Mattie are sledding down the large hill near his home when Mattie tells him to steer “Right into the elm tree … So ‘t we’d never have to leave each other any more” (Wharton 71). This was one of the few opportunities that Ethan procures to escape his dismal life at home, yet he messes it up again after thoughts of Zeena poured into his mind, causing him to steer away from his target. This is practically a representation of Ethan’s entire life. He has many hopes and dreams of escaping his disheartened life in pursuit of a superior one, but right as he is about to act, something always seems to impede his judgement, causing him to be incapable of enacting his own personal free will. In conclusion, throughout the novel, Ethan Frome is never truly able to carry out his own free will. He seems to be forever bound to Starkfield and his demanding life. Even at the beginning of the book, Ethan always seemed to be imprisoned by the difficult situations that he is put into, causing him to be inevitably stuck in the deep rut that is his life. Overall, if Ethan had been able to exercise free will during the course of the storyline, there is no doubt that, at the conclusion of the book, Ethan would have ended living a considerably more joyful
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