The Tragic Heroism of Ethan Frome(Edith Wharton

Essay by rondaheartsyouHigh School, 11th gradeA+, October 2008

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What makes a tragic hero? It is not simply a person that is involved in a tragic event. There are many other qualifications that must be met for a character to be given this title. Webster's New Millennium Dictionary defines a tragic hero as "a literary character who makes an error of judgment or has a fatal flaw that, combined with fate and external forces, brings on a tragedy". On top of possessing a fatal flaw, the person must realize their imperfections. Also this character must suffer more than he or she deserves and evoke sympathy or empathy in the reader. In my opinion, Ethan Frome had all of these traits.

First of all, Ethan Frome was an overall good person. He cared for both people and his animals. Throughout the entire book, Ethan made it a priority to make sure that his horses were well taken care of.

Even when he was badly injured at the bottom of the hill, he still "heard the old sorrel whinny across the road and thought: 'He's wondering why he doesn't get his supper…"' (P. 131). Ethan was also a good person because he could not take advantage of others. He attempted to lie to Andrew Hale to get money from him, but found that he could not deceive one of the few people that had ever been good to him. It is this goodness that helped make Ethan Frome a tragic hero.

Ethan was also a tragic hero because he was touched by fate. Although he did not love Zeena and was unhappy being married to her, Ethan would have never even met Mattie if he hadn't married Zeena. Mattie was Zeena's cousin. Mattie's mother and father had died, leaving her with nothing and nowhere to go. Because Zeena was...