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Conflict in Ethan Frome Essay


Ethan Frome Essay

Throughout Edith Whartons novel, Ethan Frome, internal conflicts occur and are apparent through the protagonists actions. Ethan has struggles in his life His mother got queer and dragged along for years as weak as a baby (8). Zeena comes down with the same sickness as Ethans mother, and Ethans marriage starts to fall to pieces.

Ethan has a rough time trying to live his life happily, while his mother is sick. He feels as if he does not have much to look forward to until Zeena helps take care of her. Ethan marries Zeena but questions whether he would have married her if his mother would have died in the spring. Sickness and trouble: thats what Ethans had his plate full up with, ever since the very first helping, and Zeena stays by his side through all the challenges he faces (8).

Once it is known that Zeena is sick, the idea that Most of the smart ones get away, why didnt he? is brought up in conversation (3). Instead, Mattie Silver, Zeenas cousin, arrives to help take care of her. It isnt long after Mattie arrives that Ethan seems to be interested in her. Zeena notices that Ethan makes adjustments to his daily routine and confronted him by saying, Now you shave every morning, in hopes to impress Mattie (27). Zeena begins to be less mobile around the house and She has always been what Starkfield called sickly (25).

All his life was lived in the sight and sound of Mattie Silver, and he could no longer conceive of its being otherwise (28). It is obvious that Ethan has fallen for Mattie when saying The girl was more than the bright serviceable creature he had thought her (23). Ethan is having a secret affair with Mattie, which isnt so secret when Zeena becomes suspicious and starts catching on. They fool around while Zeena isnt around, and yet they got caught. Zeena cannot believe what Mattie has done to her, And I tried to keep my things where you couldnt get at em-and now youve took from me the one I cared for most of all (91).

Zeena realizes that Ethan wants nothing more than to spend the rest of his life with Mattie, and there is no hope for their relationship to piece back together. Ethan creates the conflicts for himself, as he makes poor choices when dealing with his mothers death, Zeenas sickness, and Mattie coming to live with them. He should never have gotten involved with Mattie but his internal conflicts were telling him to go for her, as she is the one who makes him happy. Ethans unfortunate times in his life such as his mom dying, and his wife becoming sickly, cause him to be depressed, and he turns to Mattie as a way to brighten his days.

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