Hemingways Heroe Essay Research Paper Hemingway

Hemingways Heroe Essay, Research Paper Hemingway’s depiction of the traditional hero The Hemingway Hero Prevalent among many of Ernest Hemingway’s novels is

Hemingways Heroe Essay, Research Paper

Hemingway’s depiction of the traditional hero The Hemingway

Hero Prevalent among many of Ernest Hemingway’s novels is

the concept popularly known as the “Hemingway hero”, an

ideal character readily accepted by American readers as a

“man’s man”. In The Sun Also Rises, four different men are

compared and contrasted as they engage in some form of

relationship with 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.

Jake Barnes, as the narrator and supposed hero of the novel,

fell in love with Brett some years ago and is still powerfully

and uncontrollably in love with her. However, Jake is

unfortunately a casualty of the war, having been emasculated

in a freak accident. Still adjusting to his impotence at the

beginning of the novel, Jake has lost all power and desire to

have sex. Because of this, Jake and Brett cannot be lovers

and all attempts at a relationship that is sexually fulfilling are

simply futile. Brett is a passionate, lustful woman who is

driven by the most intimate and loving act two may share,

something that Jake just cannot provide her with. Jake’s

emasculation only puts the two in a grandly ironic situation.

Brett is an extremely passionate woman but is denied the first

man she feels true love and admiration for. Jake has loved

Brett for years and cannot have her because of his inability to

have sex. It is obvious that their love is mutual when Jake

tries to kiss Brett in their cab ride home: “‘You mustn’t. You

must know. I can’t stand it, that’s all. Oh darling, please

understand!’, ‘Don’t you love me?’, ‘Love you? I simply turn all

to jelly when you touch me’” (26, Ch. 4). This scene is

indicative of their relationship as Jake and Brett hopelessly

desire each other but realize the futility of further endeavors.

Together, they have both tried to defy reality, but failed. Jake

is frustrated by Brett’s reappearance into his life and her

confession that she is miserably unhappy. Jake asks Brett to

go off with him to the country for bit: “‘Couldn’t we go off in the

country for a while?’, ‘It wouldn’t be any good. I’ll go if you

like. But I couldn’t live quietly in the country. Not with my own

true love’, ‘I know’, ‘Isn’t it rotten? There isn’t any use my

telling you I love you’, ‘You know I love you’, ‘Let’s not talk.

Talking’s all bilge’” (55, Ch. 7). Brett declines Jake’s pointless

attempt at being together. Both Brett and Jake know that any

relationship beyond a friendship cannot be pursued. Jake is

still adjusting to his impotence while Brett will not sacrifice a

sexual relationship for the man she loves. Since Jake can

never be Brett’s lover, they are forced to create a new

relationship for themselves, perhaps one far more dangerous

than that of mere lovers – they have become best friends. This

presents a great difficulty for Jake, because Brett’s presence

is both pleasurable and agonizing for him. Brett constantly

reminds him of his handicap and thus Jake is challenged as a

man in the deepest, most personal sense possible. After the

departure of their first meeting, Jake feels miserable: “This

was Brett, that I had felt like crying about. Then I thought of

her walking up the street and of course in a little while I felt

like hell again” (34, Ch. 4). Lady Brett Ashley serves as a

challenge to a weakness Jake must confront. Since his war

experience, Jake has attempted to reshape the man he is and

the first step in doing this is to accept his impotence. Despite

Brett’s undeniable love for Jake, she is engaged to marry

another. Mike Campbell is Brett’s fiancee, her next planned

marriage after two already failed ones. Mike is ridiculously in

love with Brett and though she knows this she still decides to

marry him. In fact, Brett is only to marry Mike because she is

tired of drifting and simply needs an anchor. Mike loves Brett

but is not dependent on her affection. Moreover, he knows

about and accepts Brett’s brief affairs with other men: “‘Mark

you. Brett’s had affairs with men before. She tells me all about

everything’” (143, Ch. 13). Mike appreciates Brett’s beauty,

as do all the other males in the novel, but perhaps this is as

deep as his love for her goes. In his first scene in the novel,

Mike cannot stop commenting and eliciting comments on

Brett’s beauty: “‘I say Brett, you are a lovely piece. Don’t you

think she’s beautiful?’” (79, Ch. 8). He repeatedly proposes

similar questions but does not make any observant or

profound comments on his wife-to-be. In fact, throughout the

entirety of the novel, Mike continues this pattern, once

referring to Brett as “just a lovely, healthy wench” as his most

observant remark. Furthermore, Mike exhibits no self-control

when he becomes drunk, making insensitive statements that

show his lack of regard for Brett and others. After Brett shows

interest in Pedro Romero, the bullfighter, Mike rudely yells:

“Tell him bulls have no balls! Tell him Brett wants to see him

put on those green pants. Tell him Brett is dying to know how

he can get into those pants!” (176, Ch. 16). In addition, Mike

cannot contemplate the complexities of Brett and her

relationships: “‘Brett’s got a bull-fighter. She had a Jew

named Cohn, but he turned out badly. Brett’s got a

bull-fighter. A beautiful, bloody bull-fighter’” (206, Ch. 18).

Despite Brett’s brief affair with the bullfighter, she will

eventually return to Mike who will no doubt openly welcome

her again. Brett is a strong woman, who can control most

men, and Mike is no exception. She vaguely simplifies their

relationship when she explains to Jake that she plans to

return to him: “‘He’s so damned nice and he’s so awful. He’s

my sort of thing’” (243, Ch. 19). Mike is not complex enough

to challenge Brett, but she does go on and decide to accept

his simplicity anyways. Furthermore, despite his engagement

with Brett, Mike betrays Hemingway’s ideal man. Although he

is self-reliant, Mike possesses little self-control or dignity.

Engaged to one man and in love with another, Brett

demonstrates her disregard for the 1920’s double standards.

Very early in the beginning of the novel, she reveals to Jake

that she had invited Robert Cohn to go with her on a trip to

San Sebastian. Cohn, a Jewish, middle-aged writer

disillusioned with his life in Paris, wants to escape to South

America where he envisions meeting the ebony princesses he

romanticized from a book. However, he cannot persuade Jake

to accompany him and then completely forgets about this idea

upon meeting Brett. Cohn is immediately enamored with her

beauty and falls in love with her: “‘There’s a certain quality

about her, a certain fineness. She seems to be absolutely fine

and straight’” (38, Ch. 5). Cohn is immature in his idealization

of Brett’s beauty, as he falls in “love at first sight”.

Furthermore, like an adolescent, he attempts to satisfy his

curiosity about Brett by asking Jake numerous questions

about her. After Cohn and Brett’s short-lived affair in San

Sebastian, Cohn is nervous around Jake: “Cohn had been

rather nervous ever since we had met at Bayone. He did not

know whether we knew Brett had been with him at San

Sebastian, and it made him rather awkward” (94, Ch. 10).

Moreover, Cohn is scared that when Brett appears she will

embarrass him and so he does not have the maturity to

behave appropriately in front of Jake and his friend, Bill

Gorton. Nonetheless, Cohn is proud of his affair with Brett

and believes that this conquest makes him a hero. When Brett

appears with her fiancee Mike, Cohn still believes that they

are destined for an ideal love despite her blatant coldness to

him. However, it is apparent that Brett simply used Cohn to

satisfy her sexual cravings: “‘He behaved rather well’” (83,

Ch. 9). Cohn does not understand the triviality of their trip to

San Sebastian in Brett’s mind and has become dependent on

her attention and affection. In his rampant drunkenness, Mike

blasts Cohn: “‘What if Brett did sleep with you? She’s slept

with lots of better people than you. Tell me Robert,. Why do

you follow Brett around like a poor bloody steer? Don’t you

know you’re not wanted?’” (143, Ch. 13). Cohn is like an

adolescent, as he vainly ignores the truth and continues to

love Brett: “He could not stop looking at Brett. It seemed to

make him happy. It must have been pleasant for him to see

her looking so lovely, and know he had been away with her

and that every one knew it. They couldn’t take that away from

him” (146, Ch. 13). Cohn over-exaggerates the significance of

his affair with Brett. He does not understand that Brett simply

used him and that their brief relationship has no meaning to

her. Moreover, Cohn cannot conduct himself with dignity and

he intrudes upon people and places where he is obviously not

wanted. Naively, Cohn dwells on the fact that he has slept

with Brett and obsesses with her. When Brett begins to show

signs of interest in Pedro Romero, Cohn irrationally

approaches Jake demanding to know Brett’s whereabouts,

punches him in the jaw, and then calls him a pimp (190-91,

Ch. 17). Later that night he encounters Pedro and Brett

together in their hotel room. His actions of knocking Pedro

down repeatedly until he eventually tires demonstrate a

divergence from his character. Cohn for the first time takes

some action in what he feels, rather than merely thinking

about it or complaining about it. However, despite his

persistence, Pedro does not remain down according to Mike:

“‘The bull-fighter fellow was rather good. He didn’t say much,

but he kept getting up and getting knocked down again. Cohn

couldn’t knock him out’” (202, Ch. 17). Eventually, Cohn gives

up on this pursuit, is knocked twice by Pedro, and loses his

battle for Brett. These events show that Cohn’s boxing skills,

a defense mechanism that he once used in college, will no

longer pull him out of rough situations. Cohn fails to show the

strength and courage needed to face the circumstances like a

man. Pedro Romero, on the other hand, comes closest to the

embodiment of Hemingway’s hero. Brett is almost immediately

enchanted by this handsome, nineteen-year-old, a promising

matador. Pedro, a fearless figure who frequently confronts

death in his occupation, is not afraid in the bullring and

controls the bulls like a master. Pedro is the first man since

Jake who causes Brett to lose her self-control: “‘I can’t help it.

I’m a goner now, anyway. Don’t you see the difference? I’ve

got to do something. I’ve got to do something I really want to

do. I’ve lost my self-respect” (183, Ch. 16). In contrast, Pedro

maintains his self-control in his first encounter with Brett: “He

felt there was something between them. He must have felt it

when Brett gave him her hand. He was being very careful”

(185, Ch. 16). Brett falls in love with Pedro as a hero who

promises new excitement. In the scene between Pedro and

Cohn described previously, Pedro demonstrates his

confidence and strong will. Knocked down time and time

again, Pedro rises each time refusing to be beaten. His

controlled and dignified demeanor in an unusual situation

contrast sharply with Cohn’s fear and weakness. Soon Pedro

and Brett run off together but when he demands too much

from her, Brett asks him to leave. “‘He was ashamed of me for

a while, you know. He wanted me to grow my hair out. He

said it would make me more womanly.” In addition, Pedro ”

really wanted to marry” Brett because “‘he wanted to make it

sure [Brett] could never go away from him’” (242, Ch. 19).

Pedro will not compromise his expectations for a woman and

will not accommodate Brett’s character even though he loves

her. In his affair with Brett, he has performed according to his

rules and when he discovers that his ideals are impossible for

Brett to accept, he leaves willingly. Pedro has been left

untainted by Brett, sustaining his strong-willed, correct

behavior. Moreover, Pedro leaves without sulking like Cohn

or whining like Mike. Brett’s acceptance or rejection of

particular qualities in each of the four men she becomes

involved with help define Hemingway’s male hero. Mike is not

dependent on Brett but does not maintain his dignity and

self-discipline in his drunken sloppiness. Cohn is a

complaining, weak, accommodating adolescent who has little

understanding of others or himself. Pedro is the near perfect

embodiment of strength, courage, and confidence. Jake is the

lesser version of this perfection as the hero of the novel.

Hence, Hemingway’s ideal hero is self-controlled, self-reliant,

and fearless. He is a man of action and he does not, under

any circumstances, compromise his beliefs or standards.

Jake, as the supposed hero of the novel, is challenged by his

emasculation in the deepest sense possible, because the

traditional ways in which masculinity are defined are

insufficient and impossible for him. Jake needs the strength

and courage to confront his impotence because he has not

yet adjusted to this weakness. It is ironic that Cohn, a

character least like the Hemingway man, has slept with Brett

while Jake will never be able to accomplish this feat.

However, because Cohn so inadequately fulfills the roles of a

true man, Hemingway implies that the sexual conquest of a

woman does not alone satisfy the definition of masculinity.

Nevertheless, Jake fails to fulfill other requisites of the

Hemingway man as he deviates from his own ethical

standards. Jake sees that Brett is mesmerized by Pedro’s

skillful control and extraordinary handsomeness and

recognizes the possibility of furnishing her carnal desires with

the most perfect specimen of manhood that he can offer in

place of himself. Jake thus betrays the aficionados of

Pamplona and the trust of a long-time friend, Montoya, who

fear that this rising star may be ruined by women. Thus,

regardless of his physical impotence, Jake’s true weakness is

the impotence of his will and the supposed hero of the novel

is flawed due to his failure to adhere to what he believes is

right and wrong. Hemingway thus refrains from presenting a

true hero in his novel. With the absence of a leading male

ideal, Hemingway betrays the larger socio-cultural

assumptions about men and masculinity and questions the

conventional means in which they are defined in his society.