Psychosocially Therapeutic Aspects of The Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway

Psychosocially Therapeutic Aspects of The Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway

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Psychosocially Therapeutic Aspects of The Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway


This exceptional story should be used as a therapeutic aid for hopeless and depressed people who needed a powerful force for continuing struggles of life against fate. They should say as the boy Manolin, "I'll bring the luck by myself." In the story the old man tells us "It is silly not to hope...besides I believe it is a sin." Hemingway draws a distinction between two different types of success: outer-material and inner-spiritual. While the old man lacks the former, the importance of this lack is eclipsed by his possession of the later. He teaches all people the triumph of indefatigable spirit over exhaustible resources. Hemingway's hero as a perfectionist man tells us: To be a man is to behave with honor and dignity, not to succumb to suffering, to accept one's duties without complaint, and most importantly to have maximum self-control. At the end of the story he mentions, "A man is not made for defeat...a man can be destroyed but not defeated." The book finishes with this symbolic sentence: "The old man was dreaming about lions."

It is a psychological analysis of Hemingway famous story that we have used it as a psychotherapeutic aid for hopeless and depressed people and also psychological victims of war in a more comprehensive therapeutic plan.

The first sentence of the book announces itself as Hemingway's: "He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish" . The words are plain, and the structure, two tightly-worded independent clauses conjoined by a simple conjunction, is ordinary, traits which characterize Hemingway's literary style.

Santiago is the protagonist of the novella. He is an old fisherman in Cuba who, when we meet him at the beginning of the book, has not caught anything for eighty-four days. The novella follows Santiago's quest for the great catch that will save his career. Santiago endures a great struggle with a uncommonly large and noble marlin only to lose the fish to rapacious sharks on his way back to land. Despite this loss, Santiago ends the novel with his spirit undefeated. Some have said that Santiago represents Hemingway himself, searching for his next great book, an Everyman, heroic in the face of human tragedy, or the Oedipal male unconscious trying to slay his fat...


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...session of the later. One way to describe Santiago's story is as a triumph of indefatigable spirit over exhaustible material resources. As noted above, the characteristics of such a spirit are those of heroism and manhood. That Santiago can end the novella undefeated after steadily losing his hard-earned, most valuable possession is a testament to the privileging of inner success over outer success.

Triumph over crushing adversity is the heart of heroism, and in order for Santiago the fisherman to be a heroic emblem for humankind, his tribulations must be monumental. Triumph, though, is never final. Hemingway vision of heroism is Sisyphean, requiring continuous labor for quintessentially ephemeral ends. What the hero does is to face adversity with dignity and grace, hence Hemingway's Neo-Stoic emphasis on self-control and the other facets of his idea of manhood. What we achieve or fail at externally is not as significant to heroism as the comporting ourselves with inner nobility. As Santiago says, "Man is not made for defeat....A man can be destroyed but not defeated" .


Works Cited:

Hemingway, Ernest (1952). The Old Man and the Sea. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.

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