Essay about Hedonism in Hills Like White Elephants, by Ernest Hemingway

Essay about Hedonism in Hills Like White Elephants, by Ernest Hemingway

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The search of pleasure has always been an inherent desire in human nature. The roaring twenties witnessed the uprising of a society that extolled such desire through the creation of a culture solely dedicated to consume. Ernest Hemingway analyses the behavioral patterns of such culture in his short story "Hills Like White Elephants", where the concept of Hedonism- fathomed as an egotistical action whose only purpose is to bestow pleasure- and its consequences on the individual is explored. Through the characters' dialogue in which they avoid a substantial conversation and implicitly state their disappointment in life, Hemingway explores the emptiness generated by pleasure-seeking actions. Additionally, he also explores such behavior through the male character's selfish reaction to the central issue of the story, embodied in his attempt to preserve his life's status quo through manipulation and deceit. Finally, through the description of the setting, seen as the juxtaposition of the two diverging scenery's and the metaphorical comparison between the landscape and the central object of the story, Hemingway further develops his analysis on hedonism and its consequences on the individual. Thus, Ernest Hemingway, in his short story "Hills Like White Elephants", explores how hedonistic and selfish actions generate a shallow and superficial life through the characters' dialogue, the man's reaction towards the central issue and the setting in which the plot develops.

Through the characters' dialogue, Hemingway explores the emptiness generated by pleasure-seeking actions. Throughout the beginning of the story, Hemingway describes the trivial topics that the two characters discuss. The debate about the life-changing issue of the woman's ...


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...ty to relate in a non-shallow way when pleasure is one's only concern. The Pre-Socratic Greek philosophers believed that the secret of a fulfilling life was achieved in the balance of the Apollonian and Dionysian elements of life. The same statement is hold true, to some extent, in our contemporary society where a non-excessive balance or a stand-point between pleasure and responsibility should be found to live both pleasantly and emotionally fulfilled.


Works Cited
• Hemingway, Ernest. "Hills Like White Elephants." Perrine's Literature: Structure, Sound, and Sense. Ed. Thomas R. Arp and Greg Johnson. Boston: Thomson Wadsworth, 2006. 268-272.

• Stukas, Jake. "Literary analysis: Hills Like White Elephants, by Ernest Hemingway." Helium.com. Web. 21 Nov. 2009. .

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