The Double View of Women in “The Sun Also Rises”

  ”The Sun Also Rises” is Hemingway’s first novel published in 1926, and it is also his most famous work. In the past, many commentary articles on “The Sun Also Rises” revolved around the “lost generation” represented by the male protagonist Jack or Hemingway’s concise and lively style, while the heroine Brett received less attention. Before the 1980s, the comments were all classified as “witch” and “demon girl”. In 1952, Carlos Baker compared Brett to the witch in Homer’s Odyssey, calling her a “beautiful and dangerous figure”, and concluded that “in short, she is a hell-worthy, terrifying creature”. The fatal 30-year-old woman”, the “witch” has been established since then. Edmund Wilson also considered Brett to be a “witch” and “completely destructive”. Many well-known Hemingway experts also hold similar views, so Brett has become the most destructive “witch” in the history of literature. But with the changing times, several papers in “The Cambridge Hemingway Guide” published in 1996 and “Bret Ashley” in 1991 pointed out that Brett was not a witch, but a new woman in the 1920s in the West. So is Brett “a demon with complete destructive power” or “a new woman in the 1920s in the West”? By creating such a female image, what kind of view of women did Hemingway express?
  ”The Sun Also Rises” concentratedly reflects the ideological and moral crisis of the post-war generation of young people, expressing their inner distress and confusion. If we want to truly and accurately understand Brett’s image, we must understand the cultural background of the United States after World War I at that time. The first is the spiritual crisis after the war in the West. The war not only took away countless lives and destroyed people’s homes, but also ruthlessly destroyed traditional values. With the collapse of the traditional value system, the young people after the First World War fell into the spiritual wasteland. They broke the shackles of traditional morality, wiped out their spiritual beliefs, and could not find their own spiritual outlet. In addition, after World War I, the United States made a fortune from the war and obtained huge material benefits. The economy developed vigorously, and the American society changed from a production-oriented society to a consumption-oriented society. , publicize and publicize individuality, these new life concepts have made many young people grow up with the idea of ​​”now there is wine and now drunk”, timely enjoyment, and self-indulgence. The whole American society is permeated with an indulgence of pleasure-seeking mood. The combination of the desolation of the spiritual world and material enjoyment has killed a generation of young people after the war. They evade responsibility, have no ideals, and want to get rid of their spiritual pain in pleasure-seeking. , that would only lead to greater suffering.
  The second is the flourishing of the feminist movement. After the First World War, the revolutionary changes and shocks in American social life caused changes in women’s political and economic status. In the 1920s, with the deepening of the industrial revolution, more and more women went out of their homes and joined the work as men. Especially during the First World War, a large number of men went to the front line, and many job vacancies were filled by women. Instead, the independence of women in economic status will inevitably make women want to improve their political status. From the 1920s to the 1930s, the first climax of the women’s liberation movement appeared in the West. The British Parliament passed bills in 1918 and the US Congress in 1920 respectively, enabling British and American women to win the right to vote. Changes in economic and political status have brought about great changes in women’s values ​​and morals. They are no longer satisfied with the role of good wives and mothers, but demand equality between men and women, liberation of individuality, and freedom of marriage. They desire the same rights as men, so they imitate men, wear men’s clothes, smoke, drink, and break into the fields of men’s activities in order to be the same as men. As Malcolm Cowley described in “The Return of the Exile”: “Young women in both the East and the West cut their hair short, store their corsets in the cloakroom at balls, or don’t wear corsets at all, when They don’t feel restrained when they talk about finding a lover, and they go from making a lover to birth control while smoking between dishes at lunch.”
  Because of the growing role of women in cultural and social life, and the Some moral values ​​are disintegrating, the dominance of men in American society is beginning to disintegrate, patriarchal culture is gradually declining, men’s rights are undergoing changes before and after World War I, political economic and cultural changes are forcing men to work hard to readjust their masculinity Identity consciousness, in the opinion of men at that time, should strengthen their masculinity in this change, in order to maintain the dominant position of men in society, and resist the loss of male status caused by women.
  The third is the influence of Freud’s thought. The theory of the Austrian psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud had a huge impact on the traditional values ​​and moral standards that had tended to collapse at that time. After the First World War, Freudism was widely spread in the United States, especially the theory of “sexual repression” was not only greatly strengthened but also distorted. Freud believed that “sexual desire” is innate, a manifestation of human nature, and has different manifestations in different stages of life. If people’s normal sexual desire is suppressed, then people’s physical and spiritual will be affected. Suffering from disease, resulting in personality disorders. Conversely, the free expression of sexual desire or sexual vitality is beneficial to mental health. Young Americans are clamoring to break all traditional moral constraints, believing that everyone has the right to satisfy their own sexual desires, and that satisfying their natural sexual desires should not be subject to any moral constraints. So young Americans at the time took it as a theoretical pillar of “sexual liberation”, they found an excuse for their indulgence, “previously condemned outrageous sexual behavior and sexual relations, have been rationalized and even romanticized explanations , and the person who condemned it turned into a pervert who suppressed humanity.”
  The vigorous feminist movement and the influence of Freud’s thought have made more women awaken to their sexual consciousness. They have abandoned traditional moral concepts, no longer have the concept of “chaste”, but actively satisfy themselves and men. sexual desire.
  Through the above understanding of the cultural background of the times, we can know why some critics at that time regarded Brett as a “witch” and “demon girl”. Judging from the text of The Sun Also Rises, Brett’s actions are inconsistent with the role these male critics expected of women. Under the influence of patriarchal culture, women should be subordinate to men, and should be beautiful, gentle, kind, and play the role of good wife and mother. As soon as Brett appeared on the scene, she was shocked. “She was wearing a knitted tight jumper and a tweed skirt, her hair was pulled back, like a boy.” A buttoned shirt, but a soft, curvaceous skirt, and no hat yet. Women in the Victorian era had to wear not only skirts, but also hats when they went to the streets or to public places and churches. So Brett was turned away from the church. Brett also hangs out in bars, drinking and flirting in bars, attending Basque festivals, watching bullfights in Pamplona, ​​and her activities are traditionally male only, women are not allowed in these places appeared. Brett, on the other hand, was having fun in these places and living a life of lavishness.
  Although Brett abandoned traditional women’s words, deeds, behaviors and dresses, he was still a very attractive woman. The six men in the book are very obsessed with her, and they fight and abuse each other for her, while Brett faces many suitors, controls the choice of emotions in his own hands, deals with many suitors, and enjoys full emotional and sensual freedom. But we can see from the book that Brett’s indulgence is because she was deeply hurt in the war. As a nurse, she witnessed the cruelty of the war with her own eyes. Her lover also died of dysentery in the war. Her second husband, traumatized by the war, made Brett sleep on the floor at home and threatened to kill her. . After the war, Brett was greatly traumatized psychologically and spiritually. She sought pleasure everywhere, trying to forget the pain in the stimulating activities, but this unrestrained life made her fall into deeper pessimism and despair in, but not able to extricate themselves.
  There were quite a few “rebellious” women like Brett at the time, and we can call them “new women”. The difference between them and traditional women is that they are independent in thinking, not bound by traditional concepts, and dare to pursue personal freedom and happiness. Many “new women” claimed to have the same status and the same rights as men at that time, so they imitated men’s smoking and drinking, and entered the field of activities unique to men, in order to subvert the traditional social gender model and promote social gender roles. refactoring. The rebellious behaviors and behaviors of these “new women” aroused men’s fear that they would lose their dominant position. Therefore, critics represented by men emphasized that “witches” like Brett are very destructive. , is a virus in male society, and their fate must be tragic.
  So how did Hemingway portray such a female character in this book, and what kind of view of women did Hemingway express? Hemingway was born in Oak Park, a suburb of Chicago, USA in 1899. Hemingway lived in a time when women’s consciousness was awakened and the women’s movement was flourishing. Hemingway’s family was a family with loose gender boundaries. Hemingway’s parents were both born in middle-class families, and his mother Grace showed her self-improvement and competitiveness since she was a child. Social customs at that time did not allow women to ride bicycles, but when she was a girl, Grace wore her brother’s pants and rode a bicycle. Take a walk around the street. Grace has studied music since she was a child and has a high talent, but due to an eye disease, she could only stop her further studies and married Hemingway’s father Edmund, who had always loved her deeply. Edmund is an indecisive, kind and generous person who likes hunting and fishing very much. After graduating from medical university, he worked as a doctor in Oak Park. Because Edmund loves Grace very much, he basically does the housework after marriage. In addition, Grace teaches music at home, and his income is much higher than that of her husband who just graduated as a doctor, so the family has formed a sinister situation. The atmosphere of prosperity and decline. In Hemingway’s eyes, his mother was strong, while his father was cowardly. Hemingway struggled with two kinds of education from an early age. His mother dressed Hemingway as a girl from a young age and forced him to learn music; his father taught him to hunt, fish, and take him to play sports in nature when he was three years old. So Hemingway grew up in such an environment, which resulted in him being both feminine and masculine. However, due to the strength of his mother and the cowardice of his father, he has always been afraid that he will lose his manhood like his father, which led to his unconscious fear of “castration” and the fear of losing manhood.

  After participating in World War I, Hemingway went to Paris to learn the skills of writing, and he loved writing since he was a child. Paris at the time was the center of the feminist movement. Hemingway met a lot of writers in Paris, such as: Gertrude Stein, Pound, Dos Passos, Faith Gerald, etc. The acquaintance with these writers increased Hemingway a lot of knowledge, Especially Stein, Stein’s home was a gathering place for writers at that time, Stein taught Hemingway a lot of writing skills, Stein was a supporter of feminism, and she herself was gay, so Hemingway not only learned Writing skills, and some reflections on the living conditions of women. He believes that today’s women should have the right to receive education, enjoy the same employment rights as men, should play their role and value in politics and economy, and should have their own sense of independence and independent economic rights. He agrees with women who seek liberation and equality. However, it was opposed to the rebellious behavior in words and deeds that appeared at that time, such as smoking, drinking, women who could not distinguish between men and women by appearance, and who tried to control men. Although the patriarchal culture has declined in the era Hemingway lived in, the long-standing concept of patriarchal culture has penetrated into the marrow and soul of everyone, and Hemingway is also a victim of the patriarchal culture. Hemingway believed that the freedom and equality that women seek can only be obtained with the permission of men, without infringing the equality of men’s subjective consciousness. He was terrified of women dominating men. Although he created the image of Brett as a “new woman”, he exposed his complicated view of women. He also sympathized with Brett’s experience, made Brett flesh and blood, and told the reason why she became like this. But he doesn’t agree with Brett’s control over male behavior, so throughout the text, Hemingway gives Jack the right to speak, and sees everything through Jack’s eyes. Even more subtly, he made Jack incapacitated, which reflects Hemingway’s patriarchal idea that men should control women, even those who have been “castrated”. He also made Brett financially dependent on men, and she wanted to turn to Jack for help when she was in trouble at the restaurant. She is also mentally empty, and in the end Brett still threw himself into Jack’s arms in order to seek spiritual solace. This shows that no matter how emancipated women are, they should ultimately depend on men.
  In his later works, Hemingway created a series of “tough guy images”, began to consciously choose male themes, and portrayed himself as an authoritative male figure, in order to strengthen the masculinity of himself and his contemporaries. Save the fading patriarchal culture. By shaping Brett’s new women in this particular historical context, Hemingway expressed his disapproval of seeing women as worthless, incapable, and dependent on men for survival, nor with radical feminism’s Turn a patriarchal society into a feminist society, and men in turn are enslaved by women. He believes that in the existing social structure, that is, in the patriarchy, women should be given a certain power. Of course, this power is a power that is filtered by the male consciousness within the range allowed by the male, so as not to subvert the male subject consciousness.

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