gender changes in the sun also rises Essay example

gender changes in the sun also rises Essay example

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The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway is a story of being apart of

the “Lost Generation” in the 1920's. The Great War had changed the ideas

of morality, faith and justice and many people began to feel lost. Their

traditional values were changed and the morals practically gone. The “Lost

Generation” rejected Victorian ideologies about gender, sex and identity.

The main characters, Brett and Jake, redefine masculinity and femininity,

drifting away from the Victorian ideals of sexuality and identity.


     Lady Brett Ashley is a perfect example of how women in the “Lost

Generation” changed. Brett strives for an individuality that Victorian women

would not look for. She also seeks more activity in the social sphere. By

doing these things, Brett rejects the Victorian ideals of proper behavior of

women and marriage. The time after the Great War is a perfect stage in

which Brett can begin to express herself freely. She enters the social scene,

which is predominately male, even though she is not socially accepted. She

goes to bars and gets drunk, she even goes to bullfights, which are bloody

and violent, to try to become accepted by her male counterparts as not just

a ‘woman’ but a person equal to them. Brett also uses sex to break free of

the traditional Victorian ideals and to explore a new lifestyle where women

are free to do as they please. “Victorianism established clear [emphasis

added] sexual boundaries and a single standard of monogamy for men and

women that ensured a stable family and allowed for passion within

committed relationships. ” (White) Brett obviously throws these boundaries

out the door. She is characterized as a female unconstrained by sexual

repression, going about sleeping with whomever she feels fit, unstoppable

by the Victorian ideologies of what women and sex should be. However, her

many meaningless, broken relationships with men are repeatedly as

tumultuous as the new, modern world in which she lives.

     Throughout her many attempts to set herself apart from the traditional

world, she still acts uncertainly about what she wants. Lady Brett in many

ways is torn between the new modern woman and the idealistic Victorian

woman. You can see this in her dependence on men for money, as in her


... middle of paper ...

... to be with Brett, but he can not because of his

accident. Since sex is such a driving force in Brett’s life, she could not stand

to be with him. Jake can only be friends with Brett, this gives us the idea of

a new kind of relationship between men and women.

     In conclusion, Jake and Brett do a very good job of making the

transition from Victorian ideas to modern beliefs visible to readers. Not only

do they redefine their sexuality, but they seem to go though a sort of role

reversal, where females aggressively express their feelings and men cry.


Works Cited

Elliott, Ira. “Performance Art: Jake Barnes and Masculine Signification.”
     American Literature Mar. 1995: 1-2

Fulton, Lorie Watkins. “Reading Around Jake’s Narration: Brett Ashley and
     The Sun Also Rises.” Hemingway Review Fall 2004: 20-61

White, Kevin. Sexual Liberation or Sexual License?: The American Revolt      
     Against Victorian Sexuality. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2000.

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