Ethan Frome is the type of individual who makes decisions that put himself in certain situations that he can’t get himself out of because of his lack of mental and emotional strength. He also tends to feel the need to put others before himself. By doing this he causes himself to suffer internally and also lacks incentive to voice his opinions, feelings and to act on these decisions which makes the situation substantially more difficult for him. The decisions he makes are caused by his reclusive behavior. As a result of Ethan’s decisions he, himself is only to blame for his tragic fate.
Ethan starts this terrible trend of misfortune when he decides to marry Zeena after his father’s death. Frome merely doesn’t want to be alone so he marries her which sends himself into a downward spiral filled with the worst decisions contributing to his fate. He neglects to attend college in Florida because of Zeena and her wanting to remain in Starkfield. He benefited very little after marrying Zeena in that he never attended college as well as issues regarding his wife’s cousin, Maddie. The initial feeling of wanting and needing company completely backfires when he starts talking to her. He falls in love with his wife’s cousin which in itself is another problem separate from him being disloyal to his wife. He never ceases his thoughts about Maddie and he always focuses on her wants and needs rather than his own. It isn’t limited to Maddie but also Zeena, and is evident in how he is treated by her.
Frome’s life and his decisions revolve around Zeena’s needs because he feels obligated to take care of her. His choices are made because of others’ needs as opposed to his own wants and more importantly his own needs. This ultimately leads to him making decisions for everyone else, the pickle dish incident, for instance, was problem he chose to solve based on what he thought best for Maddie and not himself. Ethan was also pressured by Maddie to die by their own hand by sliding into a tree and for her sake he went through with it however not fully committed to the decision he veers off and cripples himself and Maddie. This results in them not fully recovering and leading miserable lives together with Zeena.In short, he ultimately meets his horrible fate because of his own actions and choices throughout his young life as a result of him marrying Zeena. He simply cannot make his own decisions.
He relies on others needs and wants as incentive to making choices. He also can’t seem to voice his own opinions which in turn produces complications when it comes to making choices. Frome’s resolve for most things presented to him are influenced by others and mostly by Zeena’s needs.
Ethan then pays the price for his terrible settlements with others.