Gender Roles In Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises?

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In The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway, Jake Barnes narrates the affairs between Brett, or Lady Ashley, and Mike Campbell, Robert Cohn, Pedro Romero, and himself, Jake Barnes. Through these different relationships, Hemingway examines the gender roles. Specifically, the relationship between Brett and Pedro addresses the shift in power, but also the sexist nature of the relationship. With the metaphor of Pedro’s bullfight, Hemingway informs the reader of the sexist affair in which Brett exemplifies the feminine traits, while Pedro exemplifies the masculine traits. Hemingway uses the blind bull fight to depict the relationship between Pedro and Brett. Pedro Romero is the first guy to encapture Brett, who thinks that “He’s a damned good-looking…show more content…
Although Brett is successful, her love for Pedro blinds her from seeing that he only seeks her beauty. Juxtaposing the blind bull metaphor and Pedro and Brett’s relationship, the reader can see that Pedro is manipulating the relationship. As the reader knows, Pedro is a matador, famous for making any bullfight a spectacle. One of his most daring ventures is his fight against a blind bull, forcing him to use his body as a way to catch the bulls attention. With his apt skills, he is able to control the fight, “rocking the bull to sleep,” (219). Eventually, Pedro kills the bull in one swift stroke from his sword. Although a dangerous bull, Pedro manages to control its actions. Similarly, Brett is controlled by Pedro. Contrary to the current relationship, Brett is the one to manipulate the men. In the case for Mike, “He’s [her] sort of thing,” (247). She is able to dominate the relationship. Because Brett is accustomed to taking on the dominant role in a relationship, she does not realize that Pedro has shifted the power. Brett is the blind bull, unable to see anything except Pedro. Like the bull, Brett is only drawn to his…show more content…
Although the fiesta is over, the blind bull metaphor is extended. Romero is still toying with Brett and eventually, when the two settle down, Brett sees his true intentions. Now that Brett is under his control, Romero wants her to be “more womanly,” asking her grow out her hair (245). Afterwards, he asks her to marry him, but only to ensure that Brett would “never go away from him,” (246). As the reader can see, Romero has fit into the typical, dominant male in a relationship. He suggests her to do things in order to be more feminine, controlling her life. It is as though he is treating her like an object. He conforms to society’s view of a man that is to control his woman. A woman is not suppose to argue with a man and is only to please him. Pedro, the dominant figure, demands Brett to change her ways. In order for her to stay with him, she must conform to gender norms. With the extended blind bull metaphor, we can see the Romero is more controlling than ever. He seems to overpower Brett and almost takes control of her life. However, this is where the metaphor ends. Because Brett is not “womanly,” she is able to take control of the relationship (246). Pedro asks Brett to change her masculine traits because his masculinity is questioned. Although Pedro is taming the ‘blind bull’, he still needs to be careful of the horns of the bull.
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