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Analyzing The Theme In Hemingways Novels English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1785 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Born in Chicago on July 21, 1899, Ernest Hemingway connected with this suffering and ruthless world, responding to its pressure, approaching its deepness, and growing into age. People who have read the manuscript of his novels agree that they are his best (V.Gelder). As a naturalist, Hemingway said: “most men die like animals, not men,” (Hemingway 3). According to his tough experience, the meaning of death makes more sense to him. At the old age, Hemingway wrote less and less as he grew older, as a writer, he lost his way and will to live. However, his hard work, talent and ambition were harmonized in his stories and novels, and became a permanent figure of the American cultural inheritance (Jonson 143).

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Burwell says, “Writing was the only intimate human relationship Ernest Hemingway could sustain” (Burwell 160). Hemingway was wary of and distrusted critics, often feeling violated or misunderstood, by both men and his work, but he knew as a writer, writing is his life, faith and soul. Virtually all of Hemingway’s writing is elegiac in tone, continually confronting loss and probing its pain. The bloody war joined in his dramatic life and played an absurd and radical role; the fear and sight of slaughter built his personality and his writing style; the elements in his stories were made up by love, war, wilderness, and loss. In “Farewell to Arms” the First World War is most directly treated, and the loss of love through Catherine Barkley’s death in childbirth is not merely paralleled by the war. In the novel the many losses of the war become nearly equal in dramatic force to the loss of love (Putnam 69).

The novel shows a brave solider who lost his way in life, incapable of finding which way is right to him. The narrator Frederic Henry conceptualizes his relationship as a game; he has no thought of loving his girlfriend Catherine. The lessons of unselfish love exemplified by a young Italian chaplain are easily overlooked by Frederic. Through the war he realized the love of Catherine: he had not known it before, though Hemingway suggests that in the hospital comes not the moment of love, but the moment of the realization of a love that already exists. This happened very differently from the last time, After he left the hospital, he went into the war again, but this time, he felt alone himself and separate from the group which he used to love and proud. Everything had changed already. Disappointed in the army, Frederic escaped the war, he does not often think of the war and the comrades he has left behind. Only through Catherina’s unselfish love does he gradually grow toward maturity. At the end of the novel, Henry lost his wife and baby in childbirth, and he walked in the spring rain away from the hospital where Catherine died.

Even though one may not believe in fate, chance ruled Henry’s life – in his meeting with Catherine, in his wounding, in his return to that hospital and fulfillment of love, in finally seize back his wife and his son’s life. What are the things he should own, what is the opportunity he should chose, what is the experience he must endure, and what is the right way for him to get happiness? There is no way to get truth, but many people go the same way, many people think that is the right way to live. God has the only rights and truth which man can not expect. However, there is no right or wrong in this world, so there is no way to regret either. Life is full of suffering and pains that touch the heart, but are they worth to bear? Maybe the narrator finally understands the meaning of life, but he loses everything he own. Actually, life itself is painful and difficult to understand.

The Spanish Civil War of “For Whom the Bell Tolls” offers another tale of love and war. However, the stakes in this war are different, and the lovers are perhaps more positive than those of A Farewell to Arms. The novel’s narrator, Robert Jordan, is a university instructor of Spanish from Montana, crossing behind enemy lines. Robert Jordan will have three days to prepare to blow a strategic bridge and prevent reinforcement from Republican offensive. Jordan faces a question of whether it is possible in three days for a person to live a life as fully and meaningfully as one might live in the biblical threescore years and ten. Jordan made it possible, but it is not all Hemingway’s pose, the soldiers are more individual and contribute more to Jordan’s fate. The conflict between two women Maria and Paco Berrendo and the fight between two men Robert and Paco Berrendo contribute to the end of the story when these two men who should have been brothers kill each other. Fate always comes as an ironic coincidence. The bitter loss of war should not have happened, but life brings them together.

While Henry is reborn in his crossing of the Tagliamento, he then loses all with the death of the Catherine; Robert Jordan is reborn with his love for Maria and with his responsibility for the members of guerrilla band. Following Jordan’s wish, Maria stayed and died with him. Jordan will live in her memory, and in the memories of the members of guerrilla band. Life is like this: they will return to the cycle of life, drawn from the biblical book of Ecclesiastes: “One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh; but the earth abideth forever…”(Hemingway). The immature Henry loses his lover in finding the way of life, but Jordan proves his rights of life and his meaning of life. In this point, Jordan is more charming in his personality.

Neither Jordan nor Henry end in a happy way, but both of them find out the truth to live and rights to stay with the person who they love. What is the right to live under God, while at the same time, to our self, to live as a realist? Hemingway proved that the loss of love in war and loss of the beauty of wilderness exists not only in his novels, but also the world.

At the peak of his career, Hemingway, a foremost American author who went six years without writing any new fiction, after all sorts of stress, finally fell into depression. In high school Hemingway took the then-standard pre-college curriculum: six semesters of science, four of math, six of Latin, eight of English literature and composition, four of history, two of music, and another two years of orchestra (Wagner-Martin 20). The outstanding talent created a wonderful writer yet also destroyed a strong but sensitive man. People always in a long travel, in order to find the reality of themselves, sometimes believe they found themselves but actually lose their identities; other times they find their identity but lose themselves, leaving behind only the mind which exists in a biblical way. Victories of life are like Frederic Henry’s maturity or Robert Jordan’s immortality. Who can understand the sorrow of the natural? Who can understand the grief of Hemingway who had no choice but to be “slaughtered” (Wagner-Martin 125)? He wrote all his hopes and pains in each character, the epitome of Hemingway who devoted his whole life to writing his feeling.

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By the end of 1950, Hemingway finished Island in the Stream and may have begun The Old Man and the Sea. Fifty-one years old, sicker than before, and eleven years without a successful novel, Ernest Hemingway seemed to have reached the end of his career. Meanwhile, the first draft of The Old Man and the Sea have been finished and returned to add Thomas Hudson’s last sub chase to the Islands manuscript, which he declared finished in May 1951 (Wagner-Martin 45). A year later, Hemingway was sick and more alone than he had ever been in his life. Between 1955 and 1961 Hemingway’s life alternated between short cycles of euphoric writing and paranoia-ridden depressions. His weight increased and fell alarmingly; his hypertension worsened. Medication for his blood pressure exacerbated his depression. Even when his health got worse, Hemingway still worked on his novel writing. Sickness could not beat him, but made him mentally stronger. Even though the public cannot recognize his value, Hemingway did not stop trying to create now stories. The Garden of Eden expanded in several drafts, and he was now working alternately on A Moveable Feast.

Like his mother, Hemingway was an artist; like his father, he was a natural historian, but like neither parents, he was a child who born in a wrong century, leaving only that dark country within himself to explore. His wives, children, war, injuries, mental and physical illness, and his strenuous life turned out to be his barrier to protect him without fall from this massive world.

Hemingway’s stories of the lost generation arose out of historical and geographical circumstances. As the leader of “lost generation” he put loss of love and war in his theme of stories. The difficult period made him lost and panic, keep him in a huge cage and tied his wings. However, he desired to speak out about the dirt and chaos of world. He cannot change this society, but he uses the power of knowledge to change the people who read his novel. This is the way Hemingway faces his condition, and bears his responsibility. Approaching the theme he wrote in the novels, about love, war, wilderness, and lose, he shows the spirit of a writer, sees through the vanity of the world, and wants to change the way people live. Hemingway’s novels usually follow a straightforward chronological progression as in the three days of For Whom the Bell Tolls; Hemingway does make use of summary accounts of the past, of memories related externally as stories, and of flashbacks. These devices lend further depth to his characters and create narrative structures that are not completely straightforward chronicles.

Hemingway thinks no one can run away from death, and no one can surpass it become the most awful reality. death have a magic superpower which instantly take away all rights of human, tear the human’s subjective imaginations and blind optimism to pieces.

Ernest Hemingway said: “Dominated by their own God, if they would like to conquer the world, they must first conquer themselves”. At the end of his life, Hemingway committed suicide with his favorite gun. He lost the final game to be a biblical human, but won the game of gaining success in his creative novel. In his old age, he was suffering in the physical pain, and lost the ability to write (Hallengren). He chose death as the final way to defend his fate.



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