Ernest Hemingway’s Portrayal of Masculinity Essay

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Ernest Hemingway’s Portrayal of Masculinity

When thinking of masculinity in literature, one author has who has become synonymous with manliness comes to mind, Ernest Hemingway. Critics have spent countless hours studying his writing in order to gain insight into his world of manly delights, including his views on sex, war, and sport. His views can be seen through his characters, his themes and even his style of writing.

The characters in Hemingway’s stories reveal much about how he feels about men and the role they should play in society. Most of Hemingway’s male characters can be split into one of two groups. The first of which is the “Code” Hero. This is the tough, macho guy who chooses to live his life by following a “code of
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But perhaps the greatest figure of masculinity found in Hemingway’s work is Santiago from The Old Man and the Sea. He keeps his composure and maintains dignity after the fish that he has been fighting is lost to the sharks.

The other male character used often by Hemingway is the coward or the “messy man”. This is the man who follows no code and has no honor or bravery. He is often dominated by a woman, by far the most humiliating condition according to Hemingway. In The Sun Also Rises, Hemingway writes “Cowardess is the worst kind of luck any man could ever have” showing his despicable view towards any man lacking masculine qualities. One of the best examples of the coward is portrayed in “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber” by Francis. He is dominated by his wife and looked down upon by manly hunter Wilson. But as the story goes on, Macomber overcomes his cowardliness and becomes the sought after “code” hero for the short while before his death. The hunting expedition serves as an opportunity for Francis to learn the code and reassert his power over his wife. The male characters used by Hemingway in his stories say a lot about his own views of masculinity.

Also, Hemingway was considered to be “vitally concerned with re-establishing what he felt were the proper rules of man and women in their relationship to each other” (Fiedler, 305). This is shown in his portrayal of women in
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