Ethan Frome Questions and Answers
by Edith Wharton

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In Ethan Frome, would you say Ethan Frome is a victim of circumstance? Yes or no, and why?

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mrs-campbell eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I believe that it is a combination of the two.  He definitely had some odds stacked against him that determined the quality of his life as he lived it.  However, everyone is given free agency, and the ability to make choices to either better or worsen their lives.  Ethan's fatal flaw was his feeling of obligation and duty to his family members--that is what kept him from making the choice to leave them behind, and live his life in his own way, forging his own happiness.

Circumstances gave him sickly parents, which brought him home from his studies.  He was a victim of that--what only son wouldn't come home to care for his parents?  That did determine his life for a while.  And, it even brough him...

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mkcapen1 | Student

Ethan Frome had always been a victim of circumstances with the exception of the short period he had spent away at school.  His mother

His illness required him to quit school and move back home to care for his mother.  Zeena is brought in to care or his mother and is the only female he has really been around.  Zeena took care of his mother.  When the time came to send her away she as quite panicked by the idea of having no where to live nor a way to support her self.

Ethan is a fair man who was lonely and had worried about bills and hurting Zeena.  He marries her and then meets Mattie whom he falls in love with.  If it had only been different time and circumstance, Ethan could have had a happy life with Mattie, but he is married to a bitter, boring, whiney, and hypochondriac woman instead.