In Ethan Frome, what makes Ethan a tragic hero?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Ethan's tragedy lies in what his life could have become had he been able to free himself from Starkfield, first as a very young man and then later at the age of 28. When he was very young, Ethan was intellectually curious and full of dreams; he was very sociable. He wanted to move away from tiny, isolated Starkfield to live in a busy city where life was exciting and full of possibilities. This was not to be, for Ethan's adult life would be largely determined by chance and circumstance.

He was born into poverty, the only child of farm people who worked hard but never got ahead financially. The Frome farm provided only a bare existence, but it was the family farm handed down through generations. Ethan was tied to the farm by tradition and by responsibility. When his father died and his mother became ill, he had to give up school and return. It never occurred to him he had a choice.

The farm was located miles from Starkfield, a small New...

(The entire section contains 503 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team