November 18, 2007
Ethan Frome Character Analyses
Ethan Frome, the main character of the novel, is a complex character who possesses both positive and negative traits. These traits prompt his actions and are influenced by his surroundings and his interactions with other characters in the novel. Ethan is a physically strong man. His “great height,” (3) and “careless powerful look,” (3) support his powerful appearance. The narrator says, “How gallantly his brave with its shock of light hair, must have sat on his shoulders before they were bent out of shape,” (5) though it has been years after the “smash-up”, Ethan’s strong appearance prevails. Harmon Gow says that the “smash-up” was, “More’n enough to kill most men. But the Fromes are tough,” (5), he shows Ethan’s will to “carry on”. The fact that the accident only cripples Ethan, when it would have killed most men, shows Ethan’s strength. Ethan appears as a hero who has met his obstacle triumphantly, but this image appears to be strange when one looks at the state of his life.
Ethan’s strength is also shown through his sense of duty and his commitment. He takes seriously the role of being the sole provider for his family and the caretaker of his household. In addition to taking care of his personal needs, Ethan has to care for his parents, his ailing wife and tend to numerous odd jobs around the farm. Ethan never complains because he knows that people rely on him and that these duties are actions that he has to fulfill though they are tiring and monotonous. Ethan could not perform these duties without his strong disposition.
Ethan’s decision to stay with his wife, Zeena, illustrates his ability to endure something painful. Though Ethan is miserable with Zeena, he never tries to leave her. He chooses to stay with Zeena because he feels committed to her. Enduring his marriage to Zeena shows Ethan’s strength. Although he does not love Zeena, he feels that he has to persevere...