How are Ethan Frome and Willy Loman similar? 

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ethan Frome and Willy Loman are similar. Both men worked very hard through all their adult lives, but never managed to achieve financial success. Ethan inherited the Frome family farm, which had always been a poor one, and despite his labor, the farm never prospered. By the end of Willy's life, he struggled to make payments on his house and even the refrigerator. Then he found himself borrowing money from Charley just to survive. Finally, after being fired, he killed himself so that his family would at least have the insurance benefits.

Ethan and Willy were both trapped by circumstance. Ethan gave up his education to return home to care for his parents and work the farm. Once there, his poverty and his marriage to Zeena kept him in a miserable life to which he became resigned. His love for Mattie was doomed; he could not abandon Zeena, leaving her without financial support. Willy was trapped by his lack of education in a fiercely competitive business world. All he knew was sales, but as he aged, earning a living for himself and his family became more and more difficult. He would never have abandoned his family. He toiled on, until he broke under the pressure.

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Death of a Salesman

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