The Sun Also Rises

Sexual Obsession in Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises

Sigmund Freud theorized that the primary motivating force for all human behavior is sexuality. Freudian theory greatly influenced the “lost generation” affected by World War I. Those who were coping with the effects of the war on society had begun a search for meaning in new places. They found what they were looking for in Freud’s theories. Great American modernist Ernest Hemingway reflected this Freudian theory throughout his 1926 novel The Sun Also Rises. The sexually driven motivation of Hemingway’s characters shapes their actions, and ultimately the novel, into a tangled web of sexual desires and frustrations. This is specifically true for Lady Brett Ashley, who hurts everyone around her with her sexual pursuits. Hemingway uses the character Lady Brett Ashley to reflect Freudian theory throughout the novel.

Lady Brett Ashley’s affair with Jewish writer Robert Cohn indicates that she is Hemingway’s personification of Freudian theory. Her life is lived from one sexual experience to the next. She enjoys having many admirers. Because Robert Cohn takes notice of Brett, Jake Barnes says to her, “You’ve made a new one there. I suppose you like to add them up” (30). Other than acknowledging “So what if I do,” Brett takes no notice...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 923 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 7317 literature essays, 2077 sample college application essays, 302 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in