Masculine Dominance in Hemingway

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 335
  • Published : March 21, 2006
Open Document
Text Preview
Ernest Hemingway and Masculine Dominance
"But man is not made for defeat. A Man can be destroyed but never defeated." This quotation from the late Ernest Hemingway in the Old Man and the Sea summarizes his view on masculinity. Hemingway's works are both criticized and praised for their portrayal of masculinity. Hemingway equated masculinity with toughness and guts. Also Hemingway's beliefs on masculinity were dependent upon control of women. Hemmingway once said, "To me heaven would be… two lovely houses in the town; one where I would have my wife and children and be monogamous and love them truly and well and the other where I would have my nine beautiful mistresses on different floors." From this quote one can easily see Hemingway's emphasis on masculine dominance in his own life. This was reflected in his work.

Hemingway's works are widely thought to mirror his own life. He once said, "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed." He also often referred to his typewriter as his "physiatrist." The struggles his protagonist faced in his stories were often similar to those that he himself faced in his own life.

Even in Hemingway's writing style were his ideas on gender relations evident. He often used short concise sentences this is sometimes referred to as muscular prose.

Ferreira-2
Hemingway even through his syntax embodied his own ideal of masculinity. Female authors often tend to be more descriptive writers and tend to use more flowery language. Hemingway used very concise and pithy sentences in his writing. About writing Hemingway said, "It wasn't by accident that the Gettysburg address was so short. The laws of prose writing are as immutable as those of flight, of mathematics, of physics."

Hemingway was accused of misogyny, hatred of women, in his writing. Mark G. Newton in his dissertation argued against this. "Clichés abound," he says. "Hemingway was in search of his manhood (an ignoble quest?); he hated women; he had a "death wish" and a "thin persona"; he was the archpriest of violence, etc." Newton argued that Hemingway portrayed women as supporting characters; they aided the male protagonist and supplemented their masculinity. A common saying is "Behind every good man is a great woman." Newton is argues that in his works Hemmingway is attempting to show women in a favorable light.

However, in The Forgotten Female by Janice Walker, Janice argues that Hemmingway is indeed a misogynist. She does not feel that Newton's argument is at all compelling. She says, "My problem with Newton's approach to the feminine in Hemingway is that Newton seems to accept that, in presenting women as archetypal Eve's, the woman as "help-meet"-type image, that Hemingway is somehow presenting women favorably." Walker says that in putting females in this position, as a "savior to mankind", Hemingway is not actually portraying women. He is portraying a stereotypical male fantasy that women have had to live up to for years as homemakers and stay at

Ferreira-3
home mothers. In her paper Walker quotes Wilma Garcia who said, "myths are narratives used to validate standards of belief and behavior, and mythologies are metaphorical descriptions of reality." Walker determines that Garcia means that Hemingway uses these depictions of women to validate his own masculinity and to cover up his own insecurities. Walker concludes her paper without a complete conclusion and only questions whether Hemingway was a misogynist or an androgynist.

A good example of Hemingway's depiction of masculinity can be found in The Sun Also Rises. This is a prototypical Hemingway war story. It deals with the realities of World War I. WWI signaled a change in the idea of a brave soldier. As a result of the straying away from linear warfare, the brave, stoic, stately soldier could no longer be a war hero. The masculine soldier was almost animalistic and ruthless. This ideal came from the advent of trench warfare in...
tracking img