Hedonism in Hills Like White Elephants, by Ernest Hemingway Essay

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The search of pleasure has always been an inherent desire in human nature. The roaring twenties witnessed the uprising of a society that extolled such desire through the creation of a culture solely dedicated to consume. Ernest Hemingway analyses the behavioral patterns of such culture in his short story "Hills Like White Elephants", where the concept of Hedonism- fathomed as an egotistical action whose only purpose is to bestow pleasure- and its consequences on the individual is explored. Through the characters' dialogue in which they avoid a substantial conversation and implicitly state their disappointment in life, Hemingway explores the emptiness generated by pleasure-seeking actions. Additionally, he also explores such behavior…show more content…
Such behavior is an obvious attempt to postpone their responsibility and continue, for as long as possible, their pleasure-seeking life. This is additionally evidenced in the woman's unorthodoxly engagement in drinking. It is unseemly for a pregnant woman to drink alcohol for it jeopardizes the health of the unborn child; thus, when Jig decides to have a "big cerveza" and an "Anis del Toro" (268) she is attempting to delude herself into believing that she can still carry on with her life. Hemingway further enhances dialogue in order to demonstrate the voidness of such life by means of a symbol. As Jig and the American are chatting incessantly about extremely elemental affairs, the poster of a Spanish drink catches the girl's eye. She hurriedly, and with a note of excitement, orders the Anis del Toro and, after a sip of the drink, complains about how "everything, especially all the things you've waited so long for, tastes of licorice" (269). Hemingway connotes through the girl's behavior how, when pleasure is the ultimate endeavor of life, every new experience becomes overshadowed by an irrational anticipation. The girls previous experiences have transformed what she initially felt would be an adventure into a monotonous repetition of "looking at things and trying new drinks" (270) . Ergo, Hemingway shows how the pursuing of pleasure brings a desire for bigger and more pleasant experiences and eventually causes an incredible deception and voidness in one's life.

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