All three of the main characters in the novel Ethan Frome bear responsibility in the tragedy. Each one made mistakes that led to the horrible accidents which should have killed Ethan and Mattie. Zeena should have acted more sweetly towards Ethan, Mattie should have not led Ethan on, and Ethan should have honored his commitment to Zeena and his marriage.
Zeena bears responsibility for the tragedy because she should have been more kind to people and to Ethan. Zeena is always complaining about everything and Ethan was trying his hardest to keep her happy. Zeena should have stopped complaining about everything and gave compliments to Ethan. Simple things like giving Ethan compliments might have made Ethan more attracted to Zeena than to Mattie. Ethan and Zeena might have been happier if Zeena wasn't always spending money to see crackpot doctors who didn't help her to get better. In the book it says, "Zeena always came back laden with expensive remedies, and her last visit to Springfield had been commemorated by her paying twenty dollars for an electric battery of which she have never been able to learn the use."
Ethan was getting frustrated that he was working so hard and Zeena was spending it like nothing on things she didn't even use which made him more attracted to Mattie. Zeena should have talked more to Ethan so that she knew what was happening. She could have acted differently and could have fixed the problem in her and Ethan's marriage.
Mattie also bears responsibility for the tragedy. Mattie shouldn't have led Ethan on. She knew Ethan was married yet she still led Ethan on. If Mattie would have told Ethan to back off that he was married than the tragedy would have never happened. Mattie should have found someone...