Ethan Frome Themes

This Study Guide consists of approximately 53 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Ethan Frome.
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The theme of frustration is central to Ethan Frome. Sometimes the frustration is a product of the oppressive environment, and sometimes it stems from their personalities. Ethan's early plans to become an engineer are frustrated by the need to care for his father and mother as well as for the farm. He had always wanted to "live in towns, where there were lectures and big libraries and 'fellows doing things.'" His marriage to Zeena is a study in frustration, not only because of her hypochondria and the fact that they are childless, but because their interests are so different. "Other possibilities had been in him, possibilities sacrificed, one by one, to Zeena's narrow-mindedness and ignorance. And what good had come of it?"

Mattie, in turn, is limited by her poverty and lack of skills. Even Zeena is frustrated. As the narrator of the story tells it, "She...

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This section contains 769 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Ethan Frome Study Guide
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Ethan Frome from Novels for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.