Critical Essay on for Whom the Bell Tolls

Topics: Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls, English-language films Pages: 4 (1349 words) Published: January 15, 2007
It takes a very talented writer to bring a work of fiction to life. Every single detail must have some minimal degree of appropriateness for the author to include it in his work, and this is especially true for Ernest Hemingway in the case of For Whom the Bell Tolls. The most prevailing theme in the novel is the loss of innocence in war, which, at some point during the story, happens to every character. Hence it is not surprising that For Whom the Bell Tolls is rich in imagery, motifs, and symbolism. Using these literary devices Hemingway paints a clear picture of humanity, and doing so unmasks the true nature of man; men are easily corrupted and are capable of doing evil without feeling guilt. Death is very abundant throughout the novel. Hemingway writes of normal men being corrupted by both their values and those of their enemies and being driven to kill another man, a brother, to defend an ideal. Dignity, an attribute that is scarcely present in the novel, separates the hero, Robert Jordan, from the rest of the characters. It is with dignity, his tragic flaw, that Jordan is able to triumph over his conflict, even though this means death. Yet another symbol that Hemingway employs is the motif of technology. The presence of planes, tanks, and machine guns reminds us that the mechanical hand of man has crushed the classic art of war. Mankind's loss of dignity, the frequent event of death, and the recurrence of technology all help Hemingway illustrate mankind's true face.

Being a war novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls embraces death. The fact that the story takes place in a civil war contributes so much to the significance of fate, and with this Hemingway helps himself in emphasizing the loss of innocence during war. A war between men of the same colours is much more powerful than a war between those who would see their enemies' colour smeared with blood. Perhaps Hemingway was trying to embellish the presence of death in the novel by making Jordan so comfortable...

Cited: Hemingway, Ernest. For Whom the Bell Tolls. Scribner Paperback Fiction. First Scribner Paperback Fiction edition. New York: 1995
Perkins, Wendy. Novels for Students, Vol. 14, "A critical essay on For Whom the Bell Tolls". Toronto: Doubleday, 1997.
Martin, Robert A.. The Hemingway Review, "Robert Jordan and the Spanish country: learning to live in it ‘truly and well '". New York: Ernest Hemingway Foundation, 1996.
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