Lady Brett Ashley

Author: Ernest Hemingway

Novel: The Sun Also Rises

Lady Brett Ashley is an unusually beautiful femme fatale, with whom almost all men fall in love, including the main characters. But there is a tear, a malfunction in her. What is her weakness? It can be an unhappy marriage, disappointment in a higher society, the ease of success with men, an unfavorable environment or a psychological trauma left over from the time of the war. Does the reader approve her behavior, her throwing, her actions? Let the reader decide.

Lady Brett Ashley is a volunteer of the First World War. She worked in military hospitals, lost her beloved, in the hospital she really falls in love with Jacob Barnes, a man who can never be her husband. Her post-war fate and marriage to Lord Ashley are also tragic. This has conditioned the chaotic lifestyle of the heroine, which she has been leading for more than a year. Lady Bret Ashley has survived a lot in her youth, and so now she considers herself entitled to do what she wants.

Bret Ashley, a woman suffering from alcohol addiction, constantly changing lovers, reaching the age of 34, appears before the reader young and beautiful.  Depending on her mood and attitude, she wears the most extravagant headdresses: a man’s hat, a Basque beret, a cocked hat of a matador.  And ыhe drinks a lot. She does it more often not for pleasure, but in order to forget about insuperable circumstances or people who she is obliged to endure next to herself.

Of course, in real life, a 34-year-old woman with such a difficult life experience and with such a way of life cannot look like a young girl with all the desire. It is interesting and important in what environment Ashley first appears on the pages of the novel.  It happens late in the evening when she gets out of the car, surrounded by men near the doors of a nightclub.

Is the appearance of Brett Ashley in such a company accidental?  Her behavior has an explanation: on the one hand, this is a protest against bourgeois decency, the traditions of Victorianism, the desire to shock the public; this is also part of the general clownish dance that reigned in Europe after the First World War. But here, apparently, there is a second, subtext meaning and it is a hint at the “great goddess,” the goddess of fertility.

The fifteenth chapter depicts religious processions, ecstatic collective dances on the street. E. Hemingway fixes here only the external side of the behavior of his heroes and Spaniards. However, this does not prevent the writer from showing how the heroes are organically flowing into the carnival crowd of participants in the celebration, how they accept its nationality, its ancient essence. And the Fiesta takes them. Moreover, the Carnival crowd directly identifies Bret with the goddess of vegetable fertility.

It is interesting and important to understand the novel that the great goddess, the goddess of fertility, was virgin and disingenuous. And if the debauchery of Bret can at first be explained on the basis of the circumstances of her personal destiny, then the beauty, purity, and virginity of the heroine of the novel are indicated by the writer with the help of traditionally mythological attitudes and ideas.

In this case, Barnes’s unusual wound and his relationship with Brett Ashley can also be understood through the ancient notions of the fertility goddesses well known in ancient and later European cults (Cybele, Astarte, Artemis of Ephesus, etc.), whose priests were eunuchs. From the mythological point of view, one can also explain the inseparable, at first glance incomprehensible connection between these people, and Barnes’s selfless service, and the attitude of ordinary Spaniards to her during the carnival.

She manipulates men as she wants, and they tend to forgive her anything. But this does not bring happiness. Brett loves Jack (or thinks she loves), but because of the injury received in the war, they can only be good friends with him. This is the kind of the irony of fate. After different men and different adventures, Brett invariably returns to Jack to say, “Darling, how unhappy I am!” And in this, there is torment, trust, bitterness, warmth and something above love.

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