Ethan Frome Essay In many books, a hero has a major flaw, which contributes to his downfall in the story. In the book Ethan Frome, the main character, Ethan, encounters a tragedy and is brought to ruin and suffers extreme sorrow, especially as a consequence of tragic flaw. Tragic flaw is a flaw in character that brings about the downfall of the hero of a tragedy. Ethan lacks the qualities that would help him take control of his life because he lets others boss him around and he gives in to any pressures he is faced with.
However, his insecure self got him stuck in the midst of bad situations with no ways out, making him doomed to make the wrong decisions. Ethan first bad decision was moving to Starkfield in the first place. Even though he couldn’t possibly know what was in store for him, Ethan made a dreadful decision because he moved to Starkfield under his power, and could have left just as willingly at the right time if he knew how to handle himself.
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Instead, Ethan stayed in Starkfield, married Zeena, and things just went downward from then on. Ethan’s decision to stay in Starkfield eventually made him a victim of the circumstances because he had no one that he could actually relate to, forcing him in the middle of a miserable situation. A characteristic of a tragic hero that applies to Ethan is that he must fall from great heights or high esteem. During chapter 7, we learn that Ethan is a physically strong man, but he lacks force of personality.
Zeena had just announced that she wanted Mattie out of the house, and Ethan’s relationship with Zeena now seems to be inevitable. “She had taken everything else from him; and now she meant to take the one thing that made up for all the others. For a moment such a flame of hate rose in him that it ran down his arm and clenched his fist against her. He took a wild step forward and then stopped. ” (Chap 7. Pg. 5) In this quote, the narrator is talking about how Ethan controls himself in front of Zeena. When the narrator says that “She had take everything else from him; and now she meant to take the one that made up for all the others”, the narrator is saying that Zeena has already deprived him of many things, and now she is depriving him of the one thing that he loves the most, Mattie. It also shows how much Mattie means to Ethan because he would he would sacrifice everything he has for her.
The fact that “such a flame of hate rose in him that it ran down his arm and clenched his fist” hints at potential physical violence, but shows his inability to stick up for himself with his words and his inability to control his emotions properly. Yet these emotions ultimately lead nowhere, as his anger breaks away into a “bewildered voice,” different from his inner “flame of hate. ” Ethan may be filled with emotional distress, but he ultimately proves to be weaker than Zeena. She can use her will upon him as she likes, and he doesn’t have power to defend himself.
The fact that “he took a wild step forward and then stopped” shows that he is too weak to take charge and make things the way he would like them to be, and not just what others want. Therefore, he must fall from great heights or high esteem. Another characteristic of a tragic hero is his inevitable fate must result in tragic flaw. Tragic flaw is a flaw in character that brings about the downfall of the hero of a tragedy. Ethan’s insecurity gets himself stuck in the midst of a bad situation. Not Zeena, not Matte, but he. The inexorable facts closed in on him like prison-warders handcuffing a convict. There was no way out ??? none” (Chapt. 8) The uncontrollable facts are going to imprison him for the rest of his life. A “prison-warders handcuffing a convict” shows that the facts are so deep and so inevitable, that they come down on him so violently because a prison-warder handcuffs and criminal violently. Obviously, his flaw his lack of strength and inability to take control and his life and take control of tasks at hand.
His poor judgment got him into all got him into this mess. He could have stopped all of this when he had the chance and proved to be physically strong, but not mentally strong enough to handle it and as a consequence, “there was no way out ??? none. ” Ethan was trapped within his own town. Whether Ethan liked it or not, he was stuck in Starkfield for as long as he was alive. No matter how hard he tried to get away he could never leave. Ethan’s only way out of Starkfield and to be with Mattie was to attempt to commit suicide.
However they could be together, whether it is by running away or by death, was the path they felt they needed to take. Ethan’s lack of responsibility, lack of strength, and the miserable situation his was in the midst of, led to a devastating ending. Even though it was an inevitable situation, it was his own life, and his cowardly character could have taken control of it, making him responsible for his own fate. Even through all the struggle and bad decision-making Ethan Frome had to go through and made, he in the end is a tragic hero.