The Sun Also Rises

Circe, Circa 1925

In <i>The Sun Also Rises</i>, Earnest Hemingway depicts the independent Lady Brett Ashley, the main female character in the novel, as a selfish, careless, and superficial woman. She was perhaps once a compassionate woman: she was a nurse during the Great War, and was by Jake Barnes' side during his recovery from his wound. However, the loss of her "true love" to dysentery during the war and Jake's inability to physically love her are two factors that have left her disillusioned. She is just as unhappy and aimless as every other character in the novel; she drinks constantly, and sleeps with nearly every man she meets. Furthermore, like the sorceress Circe in Homer's <i>Odyssey</i>, she "turns men into swine" (148). Often her mere presence is disruptive: on many occasions, she only has to appear, and the men will begin to fight among themselves about her.

As she confides to Jake Barnes, "Oh, darling, I've been so miserable" (32), Brett is just as unhappy as the other characters in the novel, and her depression leads her to engage in self-destructive behavior. Just as the men in the novel aimlessly wander from bar to bar, trying to imbibe enough alcohol to forget...

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