Lady Brett Ashley From The Sun
Also Rises Essay, Research Paper
The majority of people assume Brett Ashley in The Sun Also Rises is nothing more than a nymphomaniacal slut.
Hemingway’s symbolic portrayal of women may be best revealed through an investigation of the much-maligned heroine of The Sun Also Rises, Lady Brett Ashley. Popular opinion dismisses her as a shallow, selfish, vain, alcoholic bitch. (”Bitch”, though admittedly crude in casual conversation and a term I despise, is the technical term the critics have assigned to the Hemingway heroines they don’t particularly like.) One particular critic summarizes the range of popular opinions:
Like other Hemingway heroines, Brett Ashley has been denounced as a weak character The more serious and frequent critical charges against [her], however, are that she lacks the characteristics of a woman and, worse, that she is a “bitch” the sentimentally regarded dare-devil, and she never becomes “real”. (Whitlow 148) Brett’s seemingly insatiable sexual appetite and apparent lack of moral inhibitions do not aid the reader in reaching the conclusion that she is a romantic symbol. However, there are a few twists of plot in The Sun Also Rises that, when taken into account, explain not only Brett’s behavior but also the narrator’s reaction. First, the narrator, Jake Barnes, is impotent. Not even Viagra can help him; he had an unfortunate run-in with a shell fragment in the war. However, in this encounter he was not “emasculated”, per se; his sexual appetite is tragically spared, but he is left without a physical means to act on it. Second, he is in love with Brett and she with him. On a romantic drive through Paris, the couple speaks of their unrequited passion.
‘Don’t you love me?’ [Jake]
‘Love you? I simply turn to jelly when you touch me.’ [Brett]
‘Isn’t there anything we can do about it?’ [Jake] She looked [at Jake] as though there were nothing on earth she would not look at like that, and really she was afraid of so many things. [Brett and Jake are obviously deeply in love.]
‘And there’s not a thing we could do.’ [Jake, answering his own rhetorical question.] (The Sun Also Rises 26)
Brett loves Jake. Jake loves Brett. Brett loves sex. Problem! This is Brett’s true underlying role: she symbolizes all that Jake can’t have. She is his true love, his soul mate, and they are forever separated through his sexual wound. Love in the consummated sense is not possible, and for Brett, things romantic can’t be simply platonic or, as far as she’s concerned, they don’t exist. However, Jake clings desperately to that possibility:
“Couldn’t we live together, Brett? Couldn’t we just live together?”
“I don’t think so. I’d just tromper you with everybody. You couldn’t stand it.”
“I stand it now.”
“That would be different. It’s my fault, Jake. It’s the way I’m made.” (The Sun Also Rises 54)
The whole affair is pathetic, poignant, and tragic. The entire novel’s view of love in general is warped, though. Considering the fact that the novel speaks for the “Lost Generation” following WWI, it may well be that the portrayal of love as a denial is a type of distortion technique. (Didn’t Fitzgerald, one of Hemingway’s contemporaries, portray the love Gatsby had for Daisy as a distorted, masochistic sort of denial?) Maybe the whole time period was warped. Consider, as evidence, this passage in which Jake states to himself, alone in a moment of helpless bitterness, his personal code:
Women made such swell friends. Awfully swell. In the first place, you had to be in love with a woman to have a basis for friendship. I had been having Brett for a friend That only delayed presentation of the bill Just exchange of values You gave up something and you got something else. (The Sun Also Rises 148)
Love is not, and has never been, a “simple exchange of values”. This concept only applies to prostitution. What makes this so ironic is that when Brett is introduced at the beginning, Jake is out with a prostitute (not for the ever-impossible sex, but “because it might be nice to have dinner with someone” (The Sun Also Rises 43). Brett says he is “getting romantic”, when in fact she is the only real romantic symbol for Jake. The point is, in the face of lost or distorted love for lost generations (the theme of the novel) Brett is a powerful romantic symbol, running the entire gamut from puppy love to romantic fantasy to “other”. She makes the theme. Without Brett, Hemingway couldn’t have used this “death of love” theme; all the other characters were men. Brett, by her role as female lead, exposes Jake’s romantic side. We see him grow and change because of her. “Irrevocably committed to his unavailing love, Jake is forced to see his attitude in perspectives provided by the calculating appraisal of the Count, the lusty dependency of Mike, the romantic worship of Cohn, the passing interest of Bill.” (Baskett 112) The other men here are Brett’s other “sometime loves” Jake must watch her go through during the course of the novel, not counting the nineteen year old bullfighter. “Here again is the familiar tone of helpless, desperate commitment. Jake seems ready to resume his dance around Brett’s image, transfixed in a desire that can neither be denied nor satisfied ” (Baskett 118) Brett is the mover and the shaker; she creates the conflict, the romance, the desires, the actions of the other male characters. She is most certainly a symbol; she is nearly, for them, an idol to be worshiped. She is not, by any means, an oversimplified “bitch”.
This loneliness of men is why Hemingway’s women are so important. The women are pivotal; they are vital in everything he writes even if they are only alluded to or not even mentioned in the first place. Sometimes, their absence makes us realize how much we wish they were there. We love them, we sympathize with then, and we even hate them at times. Hemingway has managed to find a way to make his women more that just characters; they are symbols, ideas, stereotypes, feelings, and sometimes, even people.
Hemingway, Ernest. The Sun Also Rises. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons,
It is kind of ironic that Lady Brett actually hold this title. Yes she is of noble blood but there seems to be a play on this word lady. Brett in those times, is actually very far from the image of lady: feminine, reserved, conservative. Brett seems to be more like a tramp. This is a characteristic of the post-war society; the loss of morals and values.
The count is our only hope for restoring the story. He is the only one who has found the meaning in life after the war. It’s all about the physical…not about emotions or values or anything that can be falsified….it all comes down to the physical. That is the only true thing. But in a world of a “lost-generation”, he is quickly discarded.
” Fair enough…though I think it’s meant to be seen as a very temporary improvement. Everyone who cares about bullfighting in the book seems to think that Romero’s involvement with Brett is the beginning of the end for him. His greatness is not elminated overnight but there is no suggestion at all that he is better off for his fling with Brett than he was before he saw her.”
[The larger argument of the story suggests that "whole" men - especially morally whole men - are improved by their association with women. Pedro is a "whole" man both physically and morally. I quote the whole paragraph of p. 216 here to show that:
"Pedro Romero had the greatness. He loved bull-fighting, and I think he loved the bulls, and I think he loved Brett. Everything of which he could control the locality he did in front of her all that afternoon. Never once did he look up. He made it stronger that way, and did it for himself, too, as well as for her. Because he did not look up to ask if it pleased he did it all for himself inside, and it strengthened him, and yet he did it for her, too. But he did not do it for her at any loss to himself. He gained by it all through the afternoon."
[Unlike some other bullfighters and men in general, Pedro is not in danger of Brett or of any of her kind. That quality in him does not, of course, excuse Brett or Jake for their "arrangement"; they know they have done wrong and, so far as Brett knows - and she *does* know, for that is what Jake has shown her at an earlier bullfight and what she reflects in changing her man's hat for a mantilla to wear to church to pray for a windless day - so far as she knows, I say, she *is* bad for Pedro. (It is no moral relief for her that Pedro is made even better by his association with her.) But to the irrestible tight green pants she has added respect and love for the man - the girl can't help herself.
Even Brett understands this...sadly no copy of the book to hand to quote from, but doesn't she leave him rather broken up?
[She says so, but then she also reports that Pedro has insisted that she let her hair grow long, which seems to mean that she has to give up the "manly" independence that she has developed. Pedro has made conditions, she has declined, declaring with the face-saving remark to Jake that she "will not be one of those bitches that ruin children." I don't think Pedro can *be* broken up, any more than the Count when last we see him calmly accepting his loss of Brett to Jake, or than Bill, who manages to do the right thing every time. ]
: In connection with another question you began to develop a definition of plot or story as arising from the ways a character changes or fails to change. What do you make of the characters in SAR — do you see them as changing at all? or do they fail to rise to the occasion?
[(Great in-joke there!) Jake and Brett "fail to rise to the occasion," yes. Jake, particularly, is given opportunities to strengthen himself and react like Pedro and the Count - that is what Spain was supposed to do for him - but he dodges the little challenges that might have strengthened him and made it possible to save himself in the Pedro/Brett arrangement. That is his tragedy. ]
Thanks for this detailed reading and the quotes to support it. Not sure I agree with you that “‘whole’ men are improved by their association with women” — I think it takes a certain kind of man AND a certain kind of woman — maybe Pedro is the ‘right’ kind of man but Brett, as she well knows herself, is not the right kind of woman. My view is based on her decision to leave him — I had always assumed this was because she ‘knew’ she would only ruin (corrupt) him — therefore acted relatively nobly in leaving him — but as you point out, her motives are more complicated — she doesn’t want to accept his conditions — what she does is therefore probably best for both of them.
You say that Pedro “is not in danger of Brett or of any of her kind”. Is it possible that the “danger” arises from the people around Pedro who disapprove of his going off with Brett, and withdraw their support from him — a withdrawal prefigured by Montoya’s refusal to speak to Jake after the fiesta? Do you detect any “vanity” in Pedro — I remember feeling a sense of danger (to him as a bullfighter) in the way he turns his back on the people around him — is he really so totally self-sufficient? In your reading, Pedro doesn’t compromise himself at all; I’m suggesting that he is led to the brink by the selfish Brett, but ultimately turns or is turned back — maybe too late, or maybe not. One thing that suggests his “corruption” to me is that — in my admittedly imperfect recollection — he offers her money to stay with him? Money comes into it somewhere…linking the Brett/Pedro relationship with the whole theme of money in the book?
Incidentally on a minor point, do you see Brett as referring to Pedro when she makes that remark about “not ruining children”? I mean is Pedro the “child” she doesn’t want to ruin? Or is she talking about actual children she might one day have — doesn’t Pedro actually propose marriage to her? Just wondering.
“Thanks for this detailed reading and the quotes to support it. Not sure I agree with you that “‘whole’ men are improved by their association with women” — I think it takes a certain kind of man AND a certain kind of woman –”
[As I have said, I disagree. Pedro is a man essentially dedicated to his work which he approaches as a dedicated monk approaches God (an image that is used to describe Pedro in monastic circumstances of his dressing room). The passage I quoted for you reflects his absolute dedication to his own integrity in this regard that is proof against any temptation. And besides his "shadows" in the Count and in Bill here in the novel, there are other examples in Marjorie of "The End of Something" and the wife in "Snows", both women whose love for men morally inferior to themselves still is a source of improvement for the women, themselves. And beyond all the works of Hemingway or of anyone else, there is the world of experience, wherein we see that it is not the quality of the person loved, but the act of loving in the lover that improves the latter - a love for what is best in the beloved which, finally, is indistinguishable from what is best in and for the lover - integrity, honor, God. Where it is faint in the beloved, the lover is enjoined by his or her own perception of it in himself/herself to encourage it in the other. It is when the lover abandons that ideal in himself and surrenders to the pursuit of something less, perhaps evil in himself and in the beloved, that the beloved can and does corrupt the lover. That is what is happening to Jake with regard to Brett. (By the way, this is a meditation on the service of Cohn in the story of Jake: Jake's failure to save his friend, to improve him, is a further, perhaps central, mark against him.)]
“… You say that Pedro “is not in danger of Brett or of any of her kind”. Is it possible that the “danger” arises from the people around Pedro who disapprove of his going off with Brett, and withdraw their support from him — a withdrawal prefigured by Montoya’s refusal to speak to Jake after the fiesta?”
[Montoya and others of his school think of Pedro as a victim; neither ideally nor practically will they turn against him. As they see it, he is young and vulnerable; unlike Jake, who is older and aged and highly respected - even consecrated - in the world of aficion - whose "sin", therefore, is unforgiveable.]
” Do you detect any “vanity” in Pedro — I remember feeling a sense of danger (to him as a bullfighter) in the way he turns his back on the people around him — is he really so totally self-sufficient?”
[Oh, Pedro has his faults. But they are peripheral to his "proof", a mere chink in his moral armor. (And he is very young.) The notes on that begin with the telling scar on that perfect face, and include his considedration for and allowance of the fact that his public do not like to know that he can speak English. They continue with his giving Brett the cape of his suit of lights - but insisting that she not display it. Then he is aware of the "ragging" he is getting for taking up with a "manly" woman (and so the insistence that Brett let her hair grow out.) But the paragraph I quoted treats of matters much deeper than those things and defines Pedro's essential soundness. These others are "but the trappings and the suits" of weakness. ]
” In your reading, Pedro doesn’t compromise himself at all; I’m suggesting that he is led to the brink by the selfish Brett, but ultimately turns or is turned back — maybe too late, or maybe not. One thing that suggests his “corruption” to me is that — in my admittedly imperfect recollection — he offers her money to stay with him? Money comes into it somewhere…linking the Brett/Pedro relationship with the whole theme of money in the book?”
[Yes, he offers her money - not to marry him, but to have money to take her back to Paris after they have decided to part. Then, when Jake appears in Madrid to rescue her, they find that Pedro has paid the hotel bill. ]
” Incidentally on a minor point, do you see Brett as referring to Pedro when she makes that remark about “not ruining children”? I mean is Pedro the “child” she doesn’t want to ruin? Or is she talking about actual children she might one day have ”
[Yes, she is referring to Pedro. In the conversation with Jake she repeats references to the difference of age between her and Pedro: he is nineteen, she is thirty-four; she was in school in Paris when he was born, etc. ]
“– doesn’t Pedro actually propose marriage to her? Just wondering.”
[Yes, he does. But she must let her hair grow out; i.e, become a woman, give up her promiscuous freedom - which she can no more do than Jake can regrow his p*nis. In her story, her sick promiscuity is her particular moral challenge, as, in his story, Jake's impotence is his.}
[I hope I do not insult you when I say that I DO wish you would re-read the novel. It's certainly worth your time.]
The very last sentence when Brett and Jake are
talking about what a good time they could of had together, Jake
“Isn’t it pretty to think so?”
He acknowledges what could have been between them and
he takes his loss.
Another thing is that they are always drinking alcohol
They are always drunk and if they’re not, they’re waiting
for a beer.
That definess the whole sadness of the story.
All the characters have the same problems at the end
of the book. They drown their sorrows in alcohol.
What do you think? If we put our minds together,
maybe we can both pull an A out of this one!
“No man embraces her (LAdy Brett Ashley) without being, in some sense, castrated…and when she leaves the 19 year old bull fighter, one suspects she is really running away because she thinks he might make her a woman”
think, however, one of the most defining traits of a modern woman is the willingness to be “one of the guys.” Still, maybe Brett is only a woman with some modern traits – not fully a “modern woman.”
Hemingway ends his novel by describing a scene where Brett tells Jake “Don’t get drunk . . . You don’t have to.” After getting drunk throughout the whole novel, Brett accepts their lives and doesn’t feel the need to escape by drinking anymore. There was no perfect ending where the circumstances of their lives magically changed to a new life; they just learned to accept late and deal with things as they are. This subtly ends the novel with a different attitude, but with no real changes taking place in their situations.
Lady Brett is a 34-year-old Englishwoman who is beautiful and emotionally scarred. She had an innocent love affair when she was a volunteer nurse in the war, but ever since her young soldier died, she has drifted from one worthless man to another. Her husband, a British Lord from whom she is separated, gave her her title, but also made her sleep on the floor and more than once threatened her with a gun. Now she runs around Paris with a group of homosexuals. She is engaged to Michael Campbell, a drunk and bankrupt Scot, but she has numerous affairs. She also loves Jake Barnes, but because of his wound, they can’t make love; their relationship only frustrates them both. Like Jake, she is a hardboiled realist. Lady Brett represents everything that offends the prevalent sensibilities of her time. She smokes and drinks too much. She is in the process of a divorce, and is promiscuous. She has no religion and no strong moral beliefs. In short, she is irresponsible and neurotic. Brett is considered a goddess by the dancers at the Spanish fiesta. She is said to collect men, and indeed at one point all the principal men in the book–Jake, Robert Cohn, Mike, Bill, and Pedro Romero–are in love with her. One character calls her Circe, after the mythical woman who turns men to swine, and many readers see Brett as having an evil magic that emasculates men. Brett herself is mannish and tries to act like the men she associates with. She has very short hair and often refers to herself as “one of the chaps.” Sexual roles are confused in The Sun Also Rises–the hero is impotent and the heroine behaves like a man. This confusion represents the perversion and failure of love Hemingway saw in the postwar world. Brett is an example of an individual trying to cope in a world that has lost the unquestioned moral order of organized religion.
Name: Lady Brett Ashley
Brett was “damned good looking.” She wore a slipover jersey sweater and a tweed skirt, and her hair was brushed back like a boy’s. She started all that. She was built with curves like the hull of a racing yacht, and you missed none of it with that wool jersey. (Hemingway 22)
Role: Idle socialite
Evaluation: Theory; Cause;
Purpose: Desire; Self Aware;
The objective characters fail to find meaning and fulfillment in their lives. This failure is particularly well depicted in the character of Lady Brett Ashley. She changes her amoral ways and begins to acquire a conscience, but her potential for peace and contentment will always remain unfulfilled:
It is unclear whether or not Jake’s insights and Brett’s final moral act give meaning to the lives of these exiles.
The catalyst of “instinct” is embodied in the character of Lady Brett Ashley. It is her acting on her sexual impulses, in particular with Robert Cohn and Pedro Romero, that accelerates the objective story.
Brett Ashley is a consummate manipulator of everyone–both men and women. Although she loves Jake, (as much as she is able to love anybody), she clearly manipulates him and uses him throughout the story. She plays upon his great love for her (which he allows) to gain sympathy, unconditional love, and emotional support.
Brett’s self image is very close to her state of being, whereas Jake’s perception of himself is different from his essential nature. This thematic counterpoint underscores the improbability of their relationship:
Hemingway shows war wounds as the destroyer of love: Jake pursues love without sex and Brett pursues sex without love. The author states:
So I ] tried to find out what his problems would be when he was in love with someone who was in love with him and there was nothing that they could do about it
Thematic Conflict as it relates to Sense of Self vs. State of Being:
As an example of how the conflict between “sense of self” and “state of being” is explored in the subjective story, Jake’s self image is that of a flawed individual. Brett’s self image is one of a man destroyer. Jake’s state of being is that of a good, kind man who is always looking out for his friends. Brett’s state of being is actually quite close to her sense of self. Brett knows that Jake is a good and kind individual. She also knows that his physical flaw will always stand in the way of their potential happiness. Jake perceives Brett as one who is searching for something in her meaningless affairs, and he feels that if she would only settle down with him, she would find meaning. She, on the other hand, knowing herself so well, refuses to do so because she doesn’t want to hurt him.
Problem as it relates to Projection:
It is a problem for Jake and Brett that a future for their relationship is improbable:
“Don’t you [Brett] love me?”
“Love you? I simply turn all to jelly when you touch me.”
“Isn’t there anything we can do about it?”
She was sitting up now. My arm was around her and she was leaning back against me, and we were quite calm. . . .
“And there’s not a damn thing we could do,” I [Jake] said.
Solution as it relates to Speculation:
The love affair between Jake and Brett is a doomed one, however, they are able to diminish their conflict using “speculation:”
Could they have been happy? Jake says that it’s “pretty to think so,” knowing full well that sex would only have eased them into a beginning of God-knows-what. Brett suggests that sex would have been terribly good between them and would have served them well but Jake does not accept this conjecture. It’s only a game, this speculating, and it is, in a sense, comforting, but it has nothing to do with reality. (Carey 60)
Lady Brett Ashley’s THROUGHLINE:
Brett was “damned good looking.” She wore a slipover jersey sweater and a tweed skirt, and her hair was brushed back like a boy’s. She started all that. She was built with curves like the hull of a racing yacht, and you missed none of it with that wool jersey. (Hemingway 22)
Brett Ashley is an alcoholic nymphomaniac. She is admired and pursued by all kinds of men. She ruthlessly and systematically pursues those in whom she has a prurient and financial interest. She keeps retreating to Jake, who offers solace and non-judgmental support. She is bored and world weary and will do anything to distract herself from her senseless world: “I’ve always done just what I wanted” (Hemingway 184). She has a clarity of vision when it comes to her relationship with Jake–something he has yet to see. He is the only man she can’t and will not knowingly destroy, which actually lends her a certain kind of redemptive grace.
Don’t we pay for all the things we do, though?. . . When I think of the hell I put chaps through. I’m paying for it all now.
Brett Ashley’s “own true love” had died of dysentery during the war and she had then married the aristocratic Ashley. Mike Campbell gives Jake some insight into Brett’s marriage to Ashley:
“Ashley, chap she got the title from . . . ninth baronet . . . always made Brett sleep on the floor . . . when he got really bad, he used to tell her he’d kill her. Always slept with a loaded service revolver . . . She hasn’t had an absolutely happy life . . .”
While serving as a hospital volunteer during the war, Brett had met Jake, who was there recovering from war wounds. He has been irrevocably in love with her ever since. Brett is currently engaged to Mike Campbell while awaiting the finalization of her divorce from Ashley.
Domain as it relates to Mind:
Brett Ashley is unwavering in her determination to keep Jake at physical and emotional arm’s length. She will not ever change her mind about the state of their relationship, not even when Jake continually pleads with her. Although it seems to be very difficult for her, she stands fast against his emotional entreaties, knowing in her heart that she would surely destroy him if they did get together.
Concern as it relates to Memory:
Brett’s impact on men is such that they cannot forget her.
Range as it relates to Evidence:
Brett’s range illustrates the thematic impact of evidence, in that Brett’s reputation as a man-eater is substantiated throughout the story.
Counterpoint as it relates to Suspicion:
If a man is attracted to Brett, he puts aside any suspicions that she may destroy him.
Thematic Conflict as it relates to Evidence vs. Suspicion:
“What do you know about Lady Brett Ashley, Jake?”
“She’s a drunk,” I said. “She’s in love with Mike Campbell, and she’s going to marry him. He’s going to be rich as hell some day.”
“I [Robert Cohn] don’t believe she would marry anybody she didn’t love.”
“Well, I said.” “She’s done it twice.”
“I don’t believe it.”
“Well, I said, don’t ask me a lot of fool questions if you don’t like the answers.”
Problem as it relates to Projection:
Despite Brett’s love for Jake, and her numerous affairs, it is probable that she will marry Mike Campbell:
“You are a rotten dancer, Jake. Michael’s the best dancer I know”. . . . “I’m going to marry him,” Brett said. “Funny. I haven’t thought about him for a week.”
“I’m going back to Mike . . . he’s so damned nice and he’s so awful. He’s my sort of thing”
Solution as it relates to Speculation:
Brett does not employ “speculation” to satisfy her personal drive:
Pedro is not destroyed because Brett sends him away before she can do any damage. More than simple altruism is involved in her decision. Life with Pedro held the possibility of wholeness for her–as it held the possibility of dissipation for him. By sending him away rather than risk damaging him, she relinquishes her last chance for health and happiness.
Focus as it relates to Equity:
Brett’s focus on being fair to Jake by refusing to lead him on, creates problems for Jake, as he desperately wants a relationship with her.
Direction as it relates to Inequity:
The direction Brett takes, to remedy the difficulties created by her attempts at being fair to Jake, is to throw him off balance in hopes he will finally understand they cannot be together. One way she accomplishes this is by pressuring him to arrange an introduction with a man he knows she would like to take as a lover:
“I say, Jake,” Brett called from the next table. “You have deserted us.”
“Just temporarily,” I said. “We’re talking bulls.”
. . . “You might introduce your friends,” Brett said. She had not stopped looking at Pedro Romero.
Stipulation as it relates to The Conscious:
The more Jake sidesteps the unpleasant truth Brett is trying to show him, the closer Brett draws to the inevitable conclusion that they cannot be together.
Unique Ability as it relates to Truth:
Brett is truthful about herself and honest about her relationships with other men. Her honesty should compel Jake to face the fact that they will never be together, but he continues to ignore this.
Critical Flaw as it relates to Situation:
The situation of being financially dependent upon others, alcoholic, and promiscuous, undermines Brett’s efforts to lead a meaningful existence.
Brett Ashley recalls the way she has been treating men: “When I think of the hell I’ve put chaps through” (26). Referring to Jake’s war wound, she comments: “I laughed about it too, myself, once . . . It seemed like a hell of a joke” (26-7). Commenting on their previous frustrating attempt at a physical relationship, she tells Jake: “I don’t want to go through that hell again” (26). Brett says of the count: “He remembers everything that happened,” and adds: “Who’d want to?” (54)
Although Brett recalls with distaste the way she has been treating men, she continues to behave in the same manner towards them, following her basic overwhelming sexual drive.
Brett keeps dropping hints to Jake about San Sebastian. She wants him to ask with whom she went. She tells him that she was a fool to go away and that she didn’t have a “frightfully amusing” time. She says that she hardly saw anybody. “I never went out” (75).
Brett’s strong drives keep her impulsive nature going. Her immediate response to Pedro Romero is one of overwhelming desire over which she has no control. “I’m mad about the Romero boy. I can’t help it. I’ve never been able to help anything . . . I can’t stop things” (183).
Brett’s impulsive and instinctive response to Pedro Romero is: “Oh, isn’t he lovely, and those green trousers. . . . And God, what looks” (165,168). Her immediate response to the horses being gored by the bull is: “I couldn’t help looking at them . . .I couldn’t look away, though . . .I didn’t feel badly at all” (165).
Obstacle Character Journey 3 from The Preconscious to The Conscious:
Brett makes a conscious decision to change her impulsive, thoughtless ways. She demonstrates her newfound sensibility by physically leaving Romero, and emotionally leaving Jake: “I made him [Romero] go. He shouldn’t be living with anyone” (241). Although she always has treated Jake with consideration, her parting gift of “We could have had such a damned good time together” (241) is clearly meant to try and make him feel better.
Obstacle Character Signpost 4 as it relates to The Conscious:
Brett is fully aware of how she has treated men in the past. She is conscious of the fact that she might have ruined Romero, had she stayed. She knows she was really too old for him and that his compatriots heartily disapproved of her. Brett is aware that she would be less destructive by staying with Mike, since they are two of a kind. She also knows that Jake is drinking too much because of her, and assures him that he will be all right and survive.
Yet, he can still envision of future with Brett. Brett, who will always remain in her conquests’ memories, is trying to forget herself in drink and meaningless sex. In spite of this, she can clearly and accurately visualize the improbability of any future with Jake.
Jake Barnes is hopelessly in love with Lady Brett Ashley, but although she loves him as much as she’s able to, she makes it clear to him from the start that they can’t ever live together. She knows that with his permanent impotence and her boundless sexual needs she would only cuckold him continuously, which she knows would destroy him in the end. Jake is her trusted, non-judgmental confidant to whom she turns for comforting and validation after each brief fling. At one point, he even acts as a procurer when he introduces her to the bullfighter Romero, then adds to the complicity by pointedly leaving them alone. In the end, Brett concludes that she must stop hurting men with her thoughtless actions, and Jake finally, albeit reluctantly, acquiesces to the unhappy truth that they cannot ever live together.
The portrayal of Lady Brett Ashley as a drunk, flirtatious, desexed woman, who can be called an equivalent to a male philanderer signifies the lost values of that time. Her rudeness is ironical to her title of “Lady,” which gives her an air of honor and respect. The other main character is Robert Cohn, a Princeton graduate. From the beginning, Robert places his manhood on boxing or upon a woman’s love, never upon internal strength (Spilka 264). As a result of this adolescent behavior, he becomes attracted to Brett. Hemingway uses a satirical style to portray Robert as the last chivalric hero (Kotas 4). Robert holds a romantic view of life but is unable to defend the outworn faith love. His absurd willingness to endure public humiliation for Brett’s “unforthcoming affection,” reinforces the Lost Generation’s belief that love died in WWI (Kwan 3). Hemingway used the characters of Micheal Campbell and Bill Gorton to portray the group of exiles who had resigned their lives to expensive wine, apathy and cynical humor (Ramirez 3). Michael is Brett’s undisciplined, bankrupt fianc who becomes violent and boisterous upon drinking. The other representative of this group is Bill Gorton, an American writer who seeks refuge in drinking, while maintaining his self-discipline. The whole group meets in Pamplona to celebrate the fiesta. There is nothing but more partying at the bullfights and the seven day fiesta. While at Pamplona, the reader is introduced to Romero Pedro. Romero, the other code hero, is the young, handsome, energetic bullfighter, who is na ve and easily seduced by Brett. He realizes that it is nothing more than an affair and moves on, personifying the good life, which survives failure (Anderson 2). As the fiesta ends, Brett realizes she cannot achieve Jake’s companionship and thus is unable to retrieve her true identity of a woman. Similarities begin to appear in Jake’s and Robert’s characters as Jake fails to control his growing passion for Brett (Symons). Hemingway’s characters become heroes in the secondary world of his novels, inspiring the readers.
Style Analysis of The Sun Also Rises
Hemingway employs a unique style of writing to enhance his work. Even though he uses simple and imperative sentences, connotative diction like “You are a case of arrested development” fills the whole novel (66). The novel comprised mostly of simple dialogues like “Brett was happy” (21). Repetition such as “Brett, you are a lovely piece,” was used to get the point to the reader (21). Hemingway used simile (”I slept like a dog”), irony (’”I wish to hell I was bankrupt ” said Bill.’ Bill was bankrupt) and sarcasm (”I would have thought you’d loved being a steer, Robert. They never say anything and they’re always hanging around about so.”) to give the story a deeper meaning than that expressed by his simple declarative sentences (119,131,145). Even though most of the novel was dialogues, in sentences the idea was first stated and then elaborated. The purpose was to make the reader fully aware of the environment. Disillusionment of society is the major theme of the story. Hemingway uses complex characters to show how people of the modern world after the war began to take a carefree approach to life because the war was over and there was nothing to worry about. Hemingway used drinking and fiesta as a symbol. Throughout the book, characters drink constantly as means of escape from reality. They are disillusioned because they think they can solve their problems simply by drinking. They deceive their own souls. The fiesta that lasted for seven days stands as a symbol on its own. It is nothing more than an orgy of drinking and parties. The fiesta serves as a false sense of hope for the characters. The Sun Also Rises captured the hearts of its readers because of its honest portrayal of theme prevalent at that time.
Hemingway spent his whole life writing stories to which the readers can relate. As he solved the problems of many others, his own life grew worse. Desexualized by the war, Hemingway married four times, but never found his true love. Due to severe depression and mental illness, Hemingway committed suicide in 1961. Hemingway has died but his works live for eternity.
Lady Brett Ashley remains a victim throughout The Sun Also Rises. She places herself in situations with men that lead to abuse such as harassment, rejection, and degradation. Her need to associate with those beneath her financial and social level gives the reader an indication that she has low self-esteem. She resorts to “slumming” to punish herself for her faults and gets drunk to numb the pain.
Hemingway developed this character with sensitivity. His portrayal would have been rougher and cruder if he thought the woman without endearing traits. Brett has a feline grace that overrides her undesirable ways, like the domesticated cat has more good than bad characteristics. Brett is a sympathetic character readers will find intriguing, if not fun-loving and likable. Everyone knows a drunk who’s enjoyable when intoxicated. Brett is this type.
Her physical attributes make her promiscuous behavior understandable. Beautiful, well-dressed women are popular and subjected to temptations the average woman need not contemplate. Brett doesn’t lead an ordinary life. She’s wealthy, titled, and high-class, with expensive taste in men. She acts as though she’s seen it all, but her vulnerability is still there. She protects herself from serious involvement with Jake Barnes for this reason. He’ll hurt her because she loves him.
Her callous exterior is a shell. She shields herself from further pain without cutting social ties. She lightens up, then hardens her demeanor. She does this to survive.
The loss of her first love may have caused her drinking problem or the effects of war could have led to an emotional crisis. Her relationship with Mike Campbell is a convenient standby. The man is a prop to keep her from feeling and appearing alone. Their commitment is superficial. Mike tolerates her infidelity and brags about her beauty. That she has chosen him as her official “someone” is a compliment.
Robert Cohn’s attachment after a short fling with Brett is excessive. He obsesses over her, irritating everyone. He wants her because he thinks he can’t have her, and the more he makes his feelings known, the more Brett turns away. He cries like a baby and humiliates himself by showing his weakness. Brett appears not to care, yet she’s concerned. Her association with Cohn is evidence that a bond formed during their short-lived affair.
Romero is Brett’s villain. He’s the tough, alpha man with charm and no qualms about hurting anyone he becomes involved with on his destructive path. He romances her, takes her away, then dumps her just as he conquers her. She claims to have made him go, but her Lady Brett Ashley, a near-nymphomaniac Englishwoman who indulges in her passion for sex and control. Brett plans to marry her fiancee for superficial reasons, completely ruins one man emotionally and spiritually, separates from another to preserve the idea of their short-lived affair and to avoid self-destruction, and denies and disgraces the only man whom she loves most dearly. All her relationships occur in a period of months, as Brett either accepts or rejects certain values or traits of each man. Brett, as a dynamic and self-controlled woman, and her four love interests help demonstrate Hemingway s standard definition of a man and/or masculinity. Each man Brett has a relationship with in the novel possesses distinct qualities that enable Hemingway to explore what it is to truly be a man. The Hemingway man thus presented is a man of action, of self-discipline and self-reliance, and of strength and courage to confront all weaknesses, fears, failures, and even death.
dramatic reaction dramatic reaction to the end of their entanglement strikes the reader as odd since she left him. Her words are bravado, a cover-up for what really happened. He left her.
Jake is Brett’s true love. They have the basis for a fulfilling relationship, but they choose not to pursue more than friendship. Their sexual attraction comes forth when Jake kisses her in the taxi. She pushes him away and tells him to stop because she can’t handle the emotions and physical sensations he arouses. Jake conveys the story through his eyes. He loves Brett and can’t get involved. Brett is suited to this man. Her choice of companions, lovers, and dates is disappointing when compared to the prospect of a romance with Jake. He is her savior.
She is a very strong woman (even wears a man s hat), and confronts situations that she might easily avoid. As he describes her eyes, Jake expresses his admiration for this quality, saying that “She looked as though there were nothing on this earth she would not look at, and really she was afraid of so many things.” Although he is clearly an extremely close acquaintance, Brett guards her relationship with Jake. Because a sexual relationship with him is no longer possible, Brett does not want to tempt herself into trying one again, telling him when he tries to kiss her: “You musn t. You must know. I can t stand it, that s all. Oh darling, please understand!” She is frustrated somewhat that she and Jake cannot be together. She can have any man she wants including Mike, Cohn and Romero except her first true love and the only man she really admires. Brett acknowledges this frustration (”I don t want to go through that hell again”), but when Jake futily suggests that they avoid each others company, she immediately protests, and even dares to ask Jake to kiss her “just once before we get there,” although she has previously discouraged him from doing so.
Lady Brett Ashley was also an allegory of the impotence after the war. She first appeared with a group of homosexuals, she wore a man s hat over her short hair, which gave her a masculine appearance, and she spoke of men as her fellow chaps . All completed the distortion of sexual roles and released her from her Hemingway 7 womanly nature (Bloom, 1985, p. 113). This is similar to Barnes condition. Brett stepped off of the romantic pedestal to stand beside her equals (Bloom, 1985, p. 118).
: I was having an arguement with one of my friends about this quote about Hemmingway’s novel “the sun also rises”.I think its very true. she didnt agree with it. what is anyones view???
: “No man embraces her (LAdy Brett Ashley) without being, in some sense, castrated…and when she leaves the 19 year old bull fighter, one suspects she is really running away because she thinks he might make her a woman”
: do you agree??…..or not??
I tend to agree. Near the end she is in the car with Jake and says,
“I’m thirty-four, you know. I’m not going to be one of these bitches that ruins children.”
Which leads me to believe that, aside from the young bullfighter, she gave herself the leeway to ruin
older men, men she knew she could toy with and still have a clear conscience.