The Vixen and Immortal: A Comparison of Brett Ashley and Dorian Gray

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Much like Dorian Gray, Brett Ashley questionable morality is hidden behind a façade of beauty. Before we can proceed to examine Brett‘s façade we must first establish Brett as the main character of The Sun Also Rises. As Kathy G. Willingham states within her article, “The Sun Hasn’t Set Yet: Brett Ashley and the Code Hero Debate, “the novel unequivocally sets Brett at center stage, thus making a strong case that she is the central protagonist as well as the hero of the book” (Willingham 45). Jake may be the narrator of the book, but his entire perspective throughout the novel are in relation to his feelings for Brett Ashely. This can be seen in the opening of the book when Jake criticizes Robert Cohen. Throughout the novel Cohen is criticized for his obsession with Brett. For example, when the group of friends is preparing for the fiesta in Pamplona Mike Campbell begins a fight with Cohen in regards to Cohen’s obsession with Brett. After Cohen has left Campbell exposes his frustrations to Jake stating, “Brett has gone off with many men. But they weren’t ever Jews” (Hemingway 148). Jake’s mockery of Cohen within the beginning of the novel echoes the same strings of jealousy present within Campbell’s hatred of Cohen. Due to Jake’s obsession with Brett, the novel becomes less about Jake and more about the perception of Brett that we are given. Within this context Brett is attempting to break out of a male dominated society through her feminity. Brett’s struggle within society is symbolized within the bullfighting that is central to the second half of the novel. Bullfighting pits man against beast. Thus this sport is normally considered very manly, but the femininity within bullfighting is normally ignored. As Willingham discusses wit... ... middle of paper ... ...within a society where he and his sex already hold a great deal of power. While Dorian is able to entirely escape the physical signs of old age until his death, Brett runs from old age through Romero and her other sexual pursuits. Both characters face obstacles within their novels. Dorian’s must deal with the guilt he is forced to face due to James. Brett is forced to deal with Cohen’s obsession over, which later leads to an implication between Cohen and Romero. While both characters have the same goal and face the same obstacles, Brett has something Dorian does not. Brett has Jake, and through his separation from society Dorian has alienated himself from all potential to form such a relationship. Brett is able to confide in Jake and show him her faults. It is through these dialogues that she finds redemption and is able to continue her life the way she always has.

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