Throughout the novel Ethan Frome, by Edith Wharton, the main character Ethan goes through hard time in his life, internal and external which eventually lead to his downfall. Ethan is very much a tragic hero because of various tragic flaws in him. Ethan From has very poor judgment and lacks the ability to analyze situations. This flaw leads to problems, including marrying Zeena, his wife, as well as having a relationship with Mattie. Another flaw which Ethan has is his lack in ability to communicate with the people around him. His final flaw is that Ethan Frome does not stand up for himself and it almost leads to a dire conclusion.
Ethan has had many problems throughout his whole life, but his biggest problem was that he married Zeena. From that point on his life has been completely different. From the point where Zeena came into his life to help Ethan out with his parents his life changed. The only reason that he married was because he did not want to be alone, and they were not meant to be together, for they were different and she was much older. At the end of chapter 2, when Ethan returns home with Mattie and finds Zeena awake, the scene is described as Against the dark background of the kitchen she stood up tall and angular, one hand drawing a quilted counterpane to her flat breast, while the other held a lamp. The light, on a level with her chin, drew out of the darkness her puckered throat and the projecting wrist of the hand that clutched the quilt, and deepened fantastically the hollows and prominences of her high-boned face under its rings of crimping-pins (P. 35). This describes Zeena as not really of a woman but more of a creature. Wharton paints a picture as if Zeena was a cold person and was bad trouble. Another problem is that Ethan starts to have a morons feelings for Mattie and Mattie for Ethan.This relationship leads to conflicts and fight between the characters. If Ethan had common sense or the ability know what was going on, this could have been avoided. This is one of Ethan Fromes tragic flaw.
Another of Ethans tragic flaw is his ability to communicate. If Ethan had talked to Zeena about the whole situation, things would have been different. Ethan knows that Zeena is upset with Mattie and does not like her, but Ethan does not talk to her about it, he just lets it continue so it will build up and get worse. This tragic novel keeps on continuing with more tragedy and it all could have been stopped if someone stopped for a second and had the courage to talk about what was going on. Everything could have been avoided.
Ethan Fromes last tragic flaw is his inability to stand up for himself. Zeena has always worn the pants in the relationship. She told Ethan what to do and what not to do. In chapter 7, Zeena says that Matties time in that household has past and she must go. Ethan does nothing. Wharton writes, 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 every 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. For a moment such a flame of hate rose in him that it ran down his arm and clenched his fist against her. He took a wild step forward and then stopped (P. 77). This quote shows that Ethan is not a strong man and he takes in everything that Zeena beats into him. He is inferior to his wife and they both know. This leads to more conflicts and consequences.
The results of Ethans tragics flaws as a tragic hero lead to one climatic event. In the final chapter, when Ethan is taking Mattie to leave, they stop by a hill and start sledding. They decide that they want to die together by hitting an elm tree, but when they hit the tree they do not die. The result of all of Ethans flaws and choices is that Ethan has lived a tragic life and now she must spend the rest of it trapped with Zeena and he is not able to be with his one true love.