Ethan Frome Essay, Research Paper
In the novel Ethan Frome, the reader is presented with the character of Ethan, who seems to commit wrong and immoral acts throughout the book. From lust to lies, we see Ethan seemingly jump from one sin to the next. But one can only say these things about Ethan if they have a severe case of tunnel vision. If one looks at the entire character that is Ethan, he can see that while Ethan may commit immoral acts, he is a character that the reader reacts to in a very sympathetic way.
At the beginning of Ethan?s story, the reader is told about a man who is in love with his wife?s cousin. A natural reaction to this idea would be to think that Ethan is a bad person, a man with no morals. But as the plot develops, we are shown the true nature of Ethan; a kind man forced into a marriage with a nagging and bothersome wife. Ethan has spent many years alone with his hypochondriac partner, and the entrance of Mattie into his life is the ray of hope and happiness that he needs to survive. Mattie is not portrayed as a home-wrecking tramp, and therefor the reader feels much differently toward the relationship between Ethan and Mattie than he otherwise would. Even though his affair with Mattie is most definitely an immoral act, the reader feels sympathetic to his situation. Perhaps in her depiction of the lonely man?s situation Warton evokes emotions that the reader has experienced in his own life, therefor causing the reader to become even more sympathetic towards Ethan and his troubles.
Even as Ethan is preparing to commit suicide, a sin that is definitely considered immoral, the reader feels both sympathy and relief that Ethan will escape his situation. When the reader finds out that he survived, there is a kind of let down that he will continue to be tormented in his situation for the rest of his life.
The reader is told a story about a sad and tired man and his situation, and even through all his lies and deceitfulness, somehow the reader can relate to Ethan and his troubles and understand his pain. After reading the entire story, it is almost impossible to dub Ethan an immoral and evil man, even though some of the things he does are not considered to be right and moral.