Does Zeena or Ethan shoulder greater responsibility for the Frome's failed marriage? How does this interpertation affect the theme of the text?
Although the responsibility rests on both Ethan and Zeena, Ethan shoulders greater responsibility for the Frome's failed marriage. Zeena does not hold most of the responsibility for
the failed marriage, but she is not inncocen of allowing it to fall apart. Ethan not only falls in love with another woman, but persues her as well. He married Zeena in his own selfishness;
because he did not want to be alone rather than because he loved her. The interpertation of these actions brings about the theme, that marrying for any reason other than love will have a
consequence of a failed marriage.
Ethan falls in love with his wife's family member, Mattie Silver. Mattie lives at the Frome's house where she does house work in return for a place to live and food.
Zeena is wan and needs help with house chores, which is why Mattie came to live with them. Mattie's father passed away and the Frome's are the only people who will allow
her to stay in their home. When Zeena becomes faitily sick, a doctor recommends that she gets a hired girl to work on the house chores and tells her husband that Mattie has to move
out. In rage he says, "You may forget she's your kin but everybody else'll remember it. If you do a thing like that what do you suppose folks'll say of you" (Wharton 117). Ethan, at
this time is no longer in love with his wife and wishes he could marry the woman his wife is sending away.
Sending Mattie away would not just be a simple event in her or Ethan's life, but a distraught period of helplessness. "He was a prisoner for life, and now his one ray of light
was to be extinguished" (Wharton 134). Every change of mood Mattie experiences has an importance in Ethan's life; "These alterations of mood were the despair and joy of Ethan
Frome" (Wharton 46). Even eye contact and...