Hemingway vs. Hemingway: Femininity and Masculinity in the Major Works

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1986

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Abstract

As the most famous American writer of the twentieth century, Ernest Hemingway inspired not only a generation of writers but a generation of critics. Within this matrix of composition and commentary, the Hemingway myth developed, with generous help from the author himself. This myth fostered a masculine ideal which eschewed women, courted death and danger, and depicted man as alone and as a loner in a hostile universe. This myth is now undergoing a re-evaluation. As part of that re-evaluation, this study examines the confluence of femininity and masculinity in Hemingway’s fiction by arguing that, contrary to popular belief, the masculine and feminine worlds are not as antithetical to Hemingway as many had previously supposed. In Chapter One, I discuss the importance of women in the short stories and argue that Hemingway was empathetic toward and desirous of the feminine world. In Chapter Two, I examine love and friendship as portrayed in The Sun Also Rises, and offer a new and positive reading of this novel. With regard to A Farewell to Arms, I explore the possibility of romantic love as it exists between two sexual equals. Turning from romantic love to domestic bliss, I argue in Chapter Four that To Have and Have Not is Hemingway’s feminist manifesto. Chapter Five traces Robert Jordan's abandonment of the macho ideal for a more personal, less code-oriented ethos in For Whom the Bell Tolls. In my final chapter, I argue that Hemingway's public and private selves correlate with his hypermasculine and submerged feminine selves as demonstrated in Across the River and Into the Trees and The Garden of Eden, respectively.

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