by Edith Wharton
Character Role Analysis
Zeena is a classic antagonist because she is constantly thwarting the goals of our protagonist, Ethan. She stops talking to him soon after they are married, and holds him back from pursuing his dreams of the scholarly life in a big town. She also stands in the way of his relationship with Mattie. Zeena constantly finds fault with Ethan and tries to dominate him. She spends money on seemingly ineffective doctors and cures, thus keeping Ethan (and herself) stuck in poverty. In addition, everything Zeena does seems mean, vindictive, spiteful, critical, and negative. She appears to delight in manipulating others and making them feel small.