The Character Of Zeena In Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome

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Ethan Frome takes place in Starkfield, Massachusetts, in the late 1890s to the early 1900s. One of the three main characters Zenobia, better known as Zeena, is Ethan Frome’s wife. Zeena and Ethan came to be a couple when Ethan’s mother became sick and Zenobia came to assist her. After Ethan’s mother passed, Ethan felt lonely and did not want Zeena to leave. Ethan fell in love with Zeena and later married her, although she was seven years older than him. After a small time of being married to Ethan, Zeena became sick herself. Throughout the story Zeena went from being a nurse to a patient, only to return to her role as being a nurse for both Ethan and Mattie, the help. In Edith Wharton’s naturalist novel Ethan Frome, the main character, Zeena, is a jealous, hypochondriac who ends up becoming the most responsible character in the novel. Mattie Silver is Zenobia’s cousin who came to live with the Frome’s after her parents both died. She is a beautiful young lady that is, as Zeena states, “of marrying age.” Zeena’s jealousy is…show more content…
Zeena’s jealousy is displayed early on in the story when Ethan starts showing more interest in Mattie than his own wife. Zeena’s negativity ultimately leads to Ethan shutting her out altogether and not speaking. Zeena’s hypochondria and few legitimate illnesses serve as an excuse for her to find remedies for her many unresolved sicknesses. Despite her distasteful qualities, Zeena responds to the tragedy at the end of the novel with resigned tenacity as she takes the responsibility for the care of Ethan and Mattie. Zeena continues to find fault and complain; however she comes out of her hypochondriac self-pity by the need to care for her loved ones. Despite her constant negativity, this goes to show that Zeena Frome is the most responsible character in the whole
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