Control and Compliance in the Sun Also Rises

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What, really, is liberation? In Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, Lady Brett Ashley appears, on the surface, to be a liberated woman- she refuses to commit to any one man, and makes her decisions based upon what she wants to do. Upon further analysis, though, Lady Brett Ashley’s independence is shallow. Having decided that she is in love with Pedro Romero, a young bullfighter, and needs him for her own self-respect, she loses control over herself. She relies on Jake Barnes, a longtime friend, to help her find him, and he complies, becoming an outlet for her control as well as a necessary assistance. In this passage, Ernest Hemmingway uses language, word choice, and sentence structure as well as many other literary devices to portray the loss of control in both Lady Brett Ashley and Jake Barnes. Lady Brett Ashley’s loss of control is probably most evident from her repetition of the statement “I’m a goner.” The childish word choice and use of onomatopoeia almost make her appear hysterical- a true illustration of her inability to manage herself. However, this manifests itself in a number of ways- she loses the ability to manage herself physically, as well- her hand trembles, for instance. “I can’t stop things. Feel that?” The words “I can’t” are repeated throughout the dialogue- not only in her feelings toward Romero when she says “I can’t help it,” but even when she is talking about her future lifestyle- “I can’t just stay tight all the time.” This repetition reiterates the notion that Lady Brett Ashley does not have control over things, as she appears to on the surface from her desire to stay autonomous from men and domineering relationships. The contradictory role of Brett as both independent and dependent is exemplified by her inability to comprehend what is and is not right. She says, “I don’t say it’s right. It is right though for me.” This nonsensical paradox of her imprudent desire to leave and find Romero indicate that she is only shallowly committed...
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