Ethan Frome: Zeena vs. Mattie

Topics: Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome, Love Pages: 2 (666 words) Published: November 16, 2008
The tragic novel turned movie, Ethan Frome, has two main female roles: Zeena and Mattie. These two women have very diverse personalities. Zeena can be best described a controlling, over-bearing, self absorbed person who thrives for attention. On the opposite, Mattie can be looked at as lively and free spirited. But as we continued watching the movie we saw some major changes in both of these characters, some physical and some psychological.

When first introduced, Zeena was shown as a lively, caring, young woman who very easily captured the heart of Ethan Frome. She cared for him and the household while his parents were ill. When winter came and his parents had passed away, Ethan asked Zeena to stay and take care of him. Very hesitantly she said “yes”. Later they married out of lust, not love, and even Zeena said that “if it was any other time I would have left.” As time progressed Zeena started to look sickly. She turned a ghostly pale, became bed ridden, and her personality turned sour. Although she looked very weak, she was still the dominant spouse. In most peoples eyes she over exaggerated her sickness, she became a hypochondriac. She needed to be constantly looked after and spent and endless amount of money on doctors and medicines that never worked. Because of this she told Ethan that they should get a housekeeper, her cousin.

Mattie, a penniless orphan and Zeena’s cousin, was called to run the Frome household. When she first got off of the train we could see that she was depressed. She was pale and very weak. But as weeks pass she gets out of her depression and very quickly becomes a vibrant young woman who shone with natural beauty, something Zeena never had. She was able to win the heart of many young men in a heartbeat. Mattie was everything Zeena wasn’t and she too was able to captivate the heart of Ethan.

Although Ethan was strongly attracted to Mattie, he felt that he still felt obligated to care for his wife. After all, she did take care of...
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