EthanFrome_FinalProjectAmericanLit - 1 Literature 221...

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Literature 221 February 21 st , 2015 Ethan Frome: Uniquely American Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton is a novella in which the introductory and the conclusion of the story is told from the narrator’s point of view, a vast majority of the story is told from Ethan Frome’s perspective and his actions throughout the story. Ethan Frome is a much more transparent character, compared to the others in this novel, which leaves him be somewhat easier to understand and relate to. Not only Ethan Frome, but also the storyline as well is uniquely American in many ways. Ethan Frome is described as being a tragic hero, meaning that he has several surprising talents and qualities about him; however, sometimes these hero’s have a tragic flaw about them which ends up being the downfall of them. Ethan’s extraordinary talents and qualities would be his physical strength, intelligence, and he comes off as being a very kind, gentle, and loving gentleman as well. ( “Analysis of Major Characters”) The story portrays this when Wharton talks about Ethan taking care of his mother and father until they pass away. The flaw that Ethan has is his general concern for others, and his inability to make a decision that could negatively affect others. When Ethan has taken a liking to Mattie, he cannot stand the thought of abandoning his wife Zeena. “He was a poor man, the husband of a sickly woman, whom his desertion would leave alone and destitute; and even if he had had the heart to desert her he could have done so only by deceiving two kindly people who had pitied him.” (Wharton 74) Ethan Frome is also a passive hero in this story as well. For being the main character of this story, Ethan Frome certainly does not do very much and he has difficulty 1
making decisions to control his own life. He lacks the ability to drive his own life and make his own decisions, letting the actions of his life drive him, instead of vice-versa. With Ethan’s extreme passive behavior, there would never have been the love affair between Mattie and Ethan if she were not the one actively pursuing it. “Confused motions of rebellion stormed in him. He was too young, too strong, too full of the sap of living, to submit so easily to the destruction of his hopes. Must he wear out all his years at the side of a bitter querulous woman?” (Wharton 67) Even when Mattie and Ethan attempt suicide, Ethan sits in the rear of the sled, allowing Mattie to drive. Just as she did

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