Masculinity In The Works Of Ernest Hemingway

Masculinity is hard to define. What is it that truly makes a man masculine? One of the American writers who was seen to have epitomized the masculinity of the time was Ernest Hemingway. His style of writing, his content all seemed to be no nonsense and for want of a better word, ‘manly’. This essay looks into his perspective from several angles.

Homophobia and Misogyny

The women in his works are not often allowed to be full characters. His focus on masculinity and toughness makes women into poor substitutes for men who exist as props, objects of desire but never true people in their own right. Homosexual characters are not given much better treatment. It was not uncommon for people of his generation to have negative feelings toward people with non binary genders or same sex attractions but the way that this was expressed in his work makes it hard to use from a modern more enlightened perspective.

Modern Feminism

With this in mind, one can consider the more modern manifestations of the social dichotomy theory known as feminism. Where in previous generations it ma have been more occupied with women being allowed the same rights and privileges as men, it has become something very different. It now seems to be about a slow descent into madness as the largest of abuses against women are ignored as long as the women are not in the same demographics as the feminists. Instead, minor slights are treated as major and the energy is wasted that could have been much better directed. One cannot help but wonder how Hemingway would have rationalized this.

Deeper Issues

The life that Hemingway lived may offer a few explanations for how he became so antagonistic to those stated groups as well. His father committed suicide moments before a letter that Ernest sent to reassure him arrived. This event was the culmination of years of suffering from an illness that slowly robbed him of both mental and physical capabilities. And it was hereditary. Hemingway’s brother and sister committed suicide as well and even though early reports listed his fatal self inflicted wound as accidental, it is common knowledge that he took his own life.

Every person who makes a choice in expressing a creative vision does so for more than one reason. History may not judge Hemingway kindly but undoubtedly he was dealt a few difficult cards.


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