In Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, we are taken back to the 1920’s, accompanied by the “Lost Generation.” During this time, prohibition was occurring in America. Hemingway uses alcohol as an obstacle that causes distresses between the main character, Jake and his life. Along with alcohol, promiscuity is prevalent throughout the novel. The heroine of the novel, Brett, displays the theme of promiscuity throughout the novel. She uses her sheer beauty and charming personality to lure men into her lonely life. The themes of alcohol and promiscuity intertwine with the Lost Generation in this classic love saga.
To begin, Jake Barnes the protagonist is a journalist in Paris. He spent the earlier part of his life serving Italy in World War I. To put his mind at rest, Jake would drink until he became drunk, in order to escape reality. This became a way of life during, and subsequent the war. His drinking to escape the war parallels how he eases his mind pertaining to his love, Brett. In one dinner in particular, Jake depicts Brett looking beautiful in her black sleeveless dress. At the same time he realized Robert was admiring Brett. Immediately following his summary of the night, Jake says, “Under the wine I lost the disgusted feeling and was happy” (Hemingway 150). This statement by Jake makes it obvious he is no longer socially drinking, but drinking to in excess to solve the problem at hand. Being drunk helped Jake cope with his friends and other men whom had affairs with Brett. However, by solving his problems with Brett, drinking caused other problems as well. Mike becomes quarrelsome with the aid of alcohol. He drinks in excess and is not safe to be around after a while of drinking. Alcohol loosens Jake up and he ends up saying things that he does not mean and when he wakes up the next day, he immediately regrets it.
Next, Brett is no stranger to dampening her life because of excessive alcohol abuse. She drinks the night away and attracts all of the men around her. She is caught up in rebelling from the pre-war Victorian ideals of women. “Brett is one of Hemingway's richest female characters; her personality gradually emerges as an intriguing mix of femininity and masculinity, strength and vulnerability, morality and dissolution” (Fulton). She is no way seeking marriage, and hangs with out primarily men, engaging in manly acts. She is a frequent bar hopper, and engages in watching bullfights. With that said, Brett is the personification of promiscuity. She has an uncanny amount of beauty and charisma. Any guy she meets immediately falls for her. Although she is an independent woman, she always feels alone. This leads to her promiscuity because she goes from guy to guy. She is so beautiful that men put her on a pedestal, allowing her to treat them like puppets. She has many sexual rendezvous during the novel, none of which are with the one man who truly loves her: Jake. She too likes Jake, but because Jake has a problem and is unable to please her sexual needs, she can not act on her feelings. Brett gets drunk with several men throughout the novel, and declines the love the men offer to her, and leaves them after she is sexually pleased.
As stated before, Brett treats men in the novel like puppets. She has the ability to control their every move, and when she is tired of them, she dismisses them. Brett was not a lady of great financial stature. She uses her sex appeal to bring in Mike Campbell. He likes her so much that when he expects she is interested in Romero the bullfighter, he tell Jake, “Be a good chap, Jake. Don’t tell her anything more about him. Tell her how they beat their old mothers” (Hemingway 172). When you are poor and a drunk, the one thing you still have is your word, and Mike is dismissing his validity just to try to win over Brett. Mike was blinded by her light, and before he realizes what happened, he is left bankrupt, and broken hearted....
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