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Ethan Frome Essay

1057 words - 5 pages

Entrapment or Cowardice in Ethan Frome? Corey James Haygood American Studies Honors, Periods 3 & 4 Ms. Gossard 3/3/2000 Throughout Edith Wharton's novel Ethan Frome, Ethan is forced to make crucial decisions that affect the outcome of his life and others' lives. He regrets most of the outcomes of his decisions and wishes he could change them. Yet, when given the opportunity to change his fate, he never seems to fully seize what could become of him. It has been suggested that Ethan was a coward for never taking advantage of seizing his fate, but that is not true. Life, responsibility and reality trapped Ethan. At each turning point in his life, there is nothing he can do without ...view middle of the document...

Ethan's mother needed him. There was nothing Ethan could do; he was trapped and that was only the beginning of Ethan's problems. When Ethan's cousin Zeena came to help take care of his mother, he did not fell trapped for a little bit. "He [Ethan Frome] felt that he might have 'gone like his mother' if the sound of a new voice had not come to steady him." (p. 29) Wharton writes. After some time though, Zeena also traps Ethan. After his mother's death, Ethan felt trapped. He, along with Zeena and her family, felt he should marry Zeena. The common belief was that it was the least he could do for her after helping his mother. Also, Ethan did not want to spend the winter alone. Once again, he was trapped. One who believes Ethan is a coward, would say, he could have very easily packed his bags and moved on with his life. He did not love Zeena or the farm. In fact, he disliked them both. There appears to be no reason to stay. He could not leave and empty farm, or a perspective wife, so he married Zeena not out of love, but out of convenience. Zeena's entrapment did not end there. The appearance of Mattie in the story even further traps Ethan. When Zeena took ill, Ethan hired Mattie to help take care of Zeena, much the same way Zeena was called in to help his mother. Ethan then falls in love with Mattie. He is unable to act upon these feelings because he is trapped in his marriage to Zeena. He really wants to run a way with Mattie and head west, but he can not. He is trapped and must stay with Zeena. A person favoring the coward approach would say that there was nothing holding him back. He could get the money and just leave. He was a coward for not doing anything. He could...

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