Gender Roles In The Sun Also Rises By Ernest Hemingway Essay

In the renowned novel The Sun Also Rises (1926) by Ernest Hemingway, there is a reoccurring theme of sexuality. The new mindset that the moderns have when it comes to relationships is that men and women should be able to enjoy their sexual relations without the commitment of being in a relationship, such as marriage. Men and women struggle with relationships and sexuality during the modern age because the women are confused as to what type of affection they want, the men are spiritually broken, and two important complexes.

In the story we read about a woman named Lady Ashley Brett, the purpose f her character is to give the reader an idea of what the modern women was like during the lost generation. When we first meet Brett it is at a club which is what all of the rich, young men and women enjoyed doing. Our narrator Jake Barnes describes Brett by saying, “Brett was damned good-looking. She wore a slipover jersey sweater and a tweed skirt, and her hair was brushed back like a boy’s” (Hemingway, 30).

The way that Brett is described is as a flapper, which is a woman who enjoyed the freedoms of partying and having sex with anyone they chose. As the novel progresses we see her struggling with her ew found freedom as a woman, and how she falls in love with being promiscuous. The beginning of the story we read about her failing marriage and how she is going to leave her husband and marry another man. According to The Sun Also Rises (1926) by Ernest Hemingway, the only reason she is marrying him is because of his wealth. “She’s in love with Mike Campbell, and she’s going to marry him. He’s going to be rich as hell some day” (Hemingway, 46).

Brett then later seeks on building a relationship with Jake Barnes, a man who struggles with his own sexuality. As I was reading the novel I often questioned myself s to why was Brett using men for her own benefit and going from relationship to relationship. After class discussions and hearing other views I found that I was the only one who thought that Brett’s promiscuous behavior had to stem or develop from her childhood. I came across the electra complex which was introduced by psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud. According to Psychosexual Stages (2008) by Saul McLeod: “For girls, the Oedipus or Electra complex is less than satisfactory. Briefly, the girl desires the father, but realizes that she does not have a penis. This leads to the development of penis envy and the wish to be a boy.

The girl resolves this by repressing her desire for her father and substituting the wish for a penis with the wish for a baby. The girl blames her mother for her ‘castrated state’ and this creates great tension. The girl then represses her feelings (to remove the tension) and identifies with the mother to take on the female gender role” (McLeod, 3). The meaning that I perceive behind the electra complex is, that around the age of three years old to six years old during the phallic psychosexual stage, daughters look for affection from their fathers. In many women’s lives their fathers are absent and as the child grows nto adulthood and looks for affection in all of the wrong ways.

There father’s aren’t there as a representation of what a man should be like so in contrast women often find themselves in bad relationships. In the novel we don’t read about Brett’s past life or how she was raised I just assume that she had a bad connection with her father because of the ways she looks for affection. Brett enjoys being in a sexual relationship but also fears commitment, as a fiance she still continued to flirt with other men. For example, when we meet Pedro Romero a young bullfighter who is extremely passionate about what he does

Brett automatically falls in love with him. Lady Brett’s fiance Mike often had a hard time accepting his fiance’s promiscuous behavior. Her actions make me believe that she is broken on the inside, something occured in her childhood that causes her to be attracted to men who are wealthy and she uses the power of sex as a way to keep them around. The male character who struggles with his sexuality the most is Jake Barnes. Due to an injury that occurred while fighting in the war, Jake can no longer participate in sexual activities. Barnes is completely opposite from Lady Brett, he can’t have sexual relations with her so he as to be able to show her affection in other ways. Throughout the story we read about the many times the couple spend together, Jake really wants to be in a relationship with Brett but she only wants one thing, sex. Since Brett knows about the incident she doesn’t give Jake the affection and love that he deserves also.

At the very end of the story one of the most heartbreaking scenes we read is when Jake is rejected by Brett. Hemingway portrays the intimate moment where Jake progresses his love for Brett only to be brushed off by writing, “Do you still love me, Jake? ” “Yes,” I said. Because l’m a goner,” Brett said. “I’m a goner. I’m mad about the Romero boy. I’m in love with him, I think. ” (Hemingway, (186-187). Imagine being in love with someone and confessing your love for them only to be told that they love someone else. Brett telling him that she is in love with another man she barely knows should’ve made him feel like he wasn’t good enough because he can’t have sex with her. Very similar to the electra complex, males can be affected by the way they are treated by their parents. Sigmund Freud introduced the oedipus complex, according to Psychosexual Stages (2008) by

Saul McLeod, “In the young boy, the Oedipus complex or more correctly, conflict, arises because the boy develops sexual (pleasurable) desires for his mother. He wants to possess his mother exclusively and get rid of his father to enable him to do so. Irrationally, the boy thinks that if his father were to find out about all this, his father would take away what he loves the most. During the phallic stage what the boy loves most is his penis. Hence the boy develops castration anxiety” (McLeod, 3). The message behind the oedipus complex is that as men grow they tend to look for a woman who resembles their mother.

Even though we don’t know anything about Barnes’ childhood, he could of grown up in a home where his mother wasn’t very affectionate. If this is true then that explains his reasoning of wasting his time trying to find love in Lady Brett when she doesn’t like him. Another reason for him to be spiritually broken in finding love is his physical condition, which causes him to be very vulnerable to find love. Brett is distracting Jake from finding true love, because he is so heartbroken and doesn’t know how to find real love. In conclusion, I believe that the relationship you have with your parents at a very young age will affect the ype of partner you choose in life.

The electra and oedipus complex provided by Sigmund Freud proves that there is a special bond that a child has with their parent throughout their lifetime. When there is a lack of affection and love from a parent the child will grow to find affection in the wrong ways such as being in multiple sexual relationships. Lady Brett and Jake Barnes are the perfect example of many individuals we see in the world we live in today. Many people are okay with the idea of having sexual relations with someone and intentionally not being in a committed relationship with them.