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"The Sun Also Rises" By Ernest Hemingway: Lady Brett The Promiscuous Protagonist

1573 words - 6 pages

Every story has to have a hero, the character that the book revolves around. After reading through The Sun Also Rises, it is a common assumption that Jake Barnes is the hero of the story. But is he really? After I completed the book, I came to the conclusion that Jake was not the protagonist. It is clear to me that the protagonist is actually Lady Brett Ashley, Jake's love interest.Most people scoff at the thought of Lady Brett being the protagonist. On the surface, Lady Brett is nothing but a non-stop partying, sex-crazed alcoholic with commitment issues. But the protagonist is one whom the story centers around, and the story does seem to center around Lady Brett. If you refer to the quote I selected, you will see that the point of significance in this particular passage pertains to the peasants in Basque putting her on a wine cask and dancing around her, literally forming a circle around her. Even though Brett is a complete stranger to these people, they acknowledge her as some sort of heroine or goddess and treat her as such.There is more to this passage than just the peasants circling Brett. These peasants symbolize how every major male character in the novel center around and attach themselves to Brett. They are so in love with her they are willing to do anything for her. Their love for Brett is so profound that it allows her to make both positive and negative impacts on their very existences, more so than the impacts made by any other character. The circle that encompasses Brett continues to grow as the novel progresses, until it eventually shrinks and collapses in the end.If there were one character that sustained a bigger impact on their life via Brett than any other, it would have to be Jake Barnes. While most people see the relationship between Jake and Brett as one in which Brett uses Jake, I see it differently. Similar to the peasants that encircle Brett in Pamplona, Jake voluntarily attaches himself to Brett. Jake's love for Brett is not forced, and even though it is constantly brought back up that he and Brett can not have a real relationship because of his impotence, he still emotionally binds himself to Brett. Jake is so enamored with Brett that he is satisfied with just being near her.Brett does indeed rely on Jake for emotional support at certain times, and there are a few times where Jake goes out of his way to lend aid to his love. But how does that make Brett the protagonist and not Jake? The reason is that Jake gets something out of going out of his way to help Brett. Not only is Jake just satisfied with being around Brett, he also knows that if he loses Brett, he loses the one woman in his life that he has any semblance of a connection to. Their relationship is mutual, but Brett does not need Jake as much as Jake needs Brett.Another character that is heavily reliant on Brett is Robert Cohn, the outsider of the gang of expatriates. Cohn falls in love with Brett the minute he lays eyes on her in the club early in the novel....

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