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‘He was but the ruin of a man’. What factors have contributed to Ethan’s tragic fate?

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'He was but the ruin of a man'. What factors have contributed to Ethan's tragic fate? The first factor which adds to Ethan's tragic fate is time. The book is mainly set in the nineteenth century and in those times things like divorce and adultery were less acceptable. Ethan would have felt morally wrong to leave this wife working on a poor farm or just leaving her money. Ethan's birth into a poor family and in the time he was born, meant that he couldn't really do anything so he was left unhappy. There was no welfare state in the nineteenth century America so again Ethan had to accept the burden of looking after his parents and wife, paying all of Zeena's medical 'needs' with no help. Ethan must have found these times hard because he received no help, he was the one who had to help everyone else. Ethan Frome's wife Zeena is quite a hypochondriac, as we hear in the prologue that the post-master at 'intervals' would hand him medicine packages. Again we hear of this at page forty seven that Zeena's last visit to the doctor cost Ethan twenty dollars, money he can't afford to be wasted. We are also told about Ethan's desire to learn about science but with no university grants at that time and Ethan being part of a poor health stricken family he had to stop studying and go back to 'caring' just like he does for the rest of his days. ...read more.


Ethan Frome is again associated with the 'melancholy landscape', an incarnation of it's frozen woe, with all that was warm and sentient in him fast bound below the surface'. Ethan Frome is very quiet and depressed, he is an embodiment of silence, keeping all of his feelings to himself. We can conclude that he is only like this because of the harsh winters, the suffering and repression. Another little reminder to Ethan that he has been stuck in the depressed village is the Frome gravestones at his house. Ethan did want 'change and freedom' and because he never found it they mock him, 'we never got away - how could you?'. His farm is his existence, his farm is ghostly as it stands 'in all it's plaintive ugliness'. His house has rubbed off on Ethan and the ghostly house has contributed to his hard life. Ethan has been left to 'carry the burden of the farm', since his 'father's accident' and when his mother fell ill he was left alone, so since he was young he has looked after his mother and the farm. Ethan's mother's illness led him to meet Zeena, his future wife. When his mother died, 'he was seized with an unreasoning dread of being left alone on the farm', so he asked Zeena to marry him, without really loving her. Ethan's economic problems have had a major effect on his life because he has been poor all of his life so he has had to work very hard. ...read more.


Ethan's longing for freedom is being weighed up against the fear of leaving Zeena all alone. Zeena even gives Ethan a clue that she wasn't cared for, when she 'reflectively' tells him about some geraniums that wasn't cared for. Ethan has to decide from the economic hardship, social and moral obligations and everything that he has been trained to do from childhood for example caring and putting people before himself. All of these situations that have occurred has made the situation become intolerable for all three of them, this led to the 'smash up'. Ethan and Mattie realise that because they can't be with each other because of these factors I have discussed they discide to end it together. Both Mattie and Ethan express their love for each other on the top of the slope, the first time that they actually kissed and expressed love for one another. They sooner realised 'what's the good of either of [them] going anywheres without the other one now?' 'Some erratic impulse' and their love drove them to try and commit suicide. Ethan suffered after the 'smash up'. He became 'the ruin of a man' through his 'warped right side' and 'red gash' across Frome's forehead. The accident scared both Mattie and Ethan for life and changed their life forever and with the mental factors for example the economic problems along with the last physical factor, the 'smash up' has contributed to his tragic fate. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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