Ethan Frome is a book I really did not like. What bothered me the most about this book is that Ethan Frome, the main character seems to wimpy. The technical term for this is emasculated...in other words, made to be not masculine! While reading the story I was constantly finding myself annoyed and frustrated by Ethan's lack of personal dignity, lack of initiative, his fear of his wife, and his apparent inability to make a decision. I suppose it is possible that this is a credit to the author, Edith Wharton, but since she was a woman who grew up in this kind of atmosphere I tend to think that it is a reflection of her opinion of men.
I had the feeling the whole way through the story that the author had a general disdain for men, a desire to make men, as a group, seem to be powerless and weak. Each chapter she wrote seemed to add fuel to the fire of my opinion and provided, what I thought to be, more and more evidence of her opinion.
Being a man, I felt insulted by the tone of the book. I realize that there are sad, self-conscious, people who waver in their mind much of the time and seem incapable of making even the most simple decision. I realize that many people grow up in difficult situation and may have learned to act this way in order to survive a difficult childhood. I also realize that an ending where Ethan would learn to stand up for himself, make a decision, or at least make a choice, might be difficult to believe given his personality flaws. When I read I want to learn, I don't want to be depressed and irritated. I want to grow, I want to grow up, I want to learn from other people's examples and gain courage to become a better, stronger person. Reading Ethan Frome did not do that for me.