Ethan Frome is a story that shows the continuous effects of no affection, but out of the three main characters who suffered the most? Was it Mattie, a barren young woman with nothing but the head on her shoulders? How about Zeena, a woman who has been contingent on broken promises, all surrounded by a marriage that god himself could not save. Or was it Ethan, the man who married Zeena because he felt that he owed himself to her? All the characters suffered a great deal that almost balances out. But if you want my opinion, then I would have to say that Mattie suffered the most out of the three characters. I think that her life began to go down the toilet right after her father died. She is a girl with no one to take care of her now and on top of that she has to be having a hard time supporting herself.
She had no choice but to call upon her cousin Zeena for help. It wasn't much help but it was better than nothing. She is now doing really unnecessary housework for Zeena and Ethan. After a while Ethan begins to form feelings toward Mattie but I think that they both knew that it would never actually be right because Zeena would always stand in the way of their love for each other. Toward the end Ethan and Mattie decide that the only way that they could ever be together is in death itself. The weak attempt at death on top of everything left Mattie a quadriplegic and had to be spoon-fed for the rest of her life by Zeena.
Mattie was in a way, taken advantage of by Ethan. He made her sense that she was needed, which was something that she deserved, but after he found out that he couldn't have what he wanted; he brainwashed her into thinking that that only way that they could be together is in death. And left them both disabled.