Ethan Frome as a Tragic Hero Essay

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In an essay he wrote about his play Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller argues that a tragic hero is not necessarily one who is noble of birth.   However, the tragic hero must have these traits: he must suffer, be doomed from the start and his decline inevitable, be basically noble in nature, and have free choice to some degree.   Also, his inevitable fate must result from a tragic flaw, and his story must arouse fear and pity.   If these qualities are truly what makes a tragic hero, then it can be said that Ethan Frome is a tragic hero, and, therefore, that his story is a tragedy.   This can be said because Ethan Frome meets every requirement listed by Miller.
The first quality is that he must suffer.   This is probably more clear with Ethan Frome than any other tragic hero.   He is miserable for the rest of his life after his accident on the sled.   But Frome must also be doomed from the start.   This requirement can be easily met by Frome as well, because at the very beginning of the novel, Frome is already badly disfigured and miserable.   The plot leading up to that moment comes later on in the book.   In other words, the reader is certain that Frome will end up miserable because Edith Wharton tells that tale first.
The third trait is that he must be basically noble in nature.   This can be applied to Ethan because of the noble qualities that he shows throughout the novel.   He always acts gentlemanly towards Mattie, and is quite kind to the author of the novel despite his bitterness.   Unfortunately, despite his mostly noble nature, Ethan does have a tragic flaw that ultimately leads to his demise: naivety.   Ethan gets so caught up in his romance with Mattie that he makes a very poor decision.   Attempting to kill oneself in the name of love generally is not a very bright idea, but to Ethan and Mattie it seems like such an exciting prospect that they ignore their own logic.   In this decision, it is also clear that Ethan had a choice: to try to kill himself or not.   He...

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