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Ethan Frome4

‘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. He runs a farm which seems to be run down and again because of the time there were no farm subsides to help Ethan out so the farm worries add to his plight. Mattie’s ‘coming to [the] house’ was due to her having no work to do or anywhere to stay. After her father’s death she was ’left on her own to make her way on fifty dollars’. There were fewer job opportunities for women in the nineteenth century, he...

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