how does repressing passion lead to ethan's downfall?
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Ethan is in love with a vibrant younger woman while his wife lies in bed with imaginary illnesses and gives orders. Wharton deliberately paints Zeena in a most unflattering light. She has few, if any, redeeming qualities. I think poor Ethan would have been better off courting a racoon. I suppose that Ethan's sense of Victorian honour and values helped him repress anything that was fun or real in his life. Ethan should have jumped into the sheets with Mattie when they had the chance (Zeena's sick trip) Instead Ethan ignored anything passionate. So, what happens when you ignore your animal passions for a sickly old she-witch? Well, apparently you end up in a suicide pact to sled into a giant elm tree.