Ernest Hemingway’s “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber”

As can be inferred from the paragraph below, Hemmingway portrayed Robert Wilson as possessing the much-idolized style to masculinity, namely the Hegemonic Masculinity, which the author does not seem to completely endorse. The passage chose for the analysis is as follows:
“Oh, anything,” said Wilson. “Simply Anything.” They are, he thought, the hardest in the world; the hardest, the cruelest, the most predatory and the most attractive and their men have softened or gone to pieces nervously as they have hardened. Or is it that they pick men they can handle? They can’t know that much at the age they marry, he thought. He was grateful that he had gone through his education on American women before now because this was a very attractive one.

The paragraph above appears in the story following Macomber’s cowardly retreat after being charged at by the wounded lion. It presents Wilson’s reply to and reflections upon Margot’s question as to Wilson’s hunting conquests. The first sentence shows Wilson’s self-confidence in himself when he makes an absolute statement that he is capable of hunting “anything.” This reply shows that Wilson held himself in high regard and considered himself superior in comparison to Macomber, who conversely portrays the character of a modest individual. The reply could simply have been made stating “anything” once, but Hemmingway follows it up with “Simply Anything” to stress on the level of pride and confidence Wilson had in his work. It almost makes one feel as if Wilson thought that he could not be paralleled by anyone else at hunting – a predominantly masculine craft.

The next part of the paragraph is a depiction of Wilson’s thoughts about Margot’s character. Even though he is charmed by her beauty, yet he does not hold her in high regard. These reflections show that the author wanted Wilson to come across as an arrogant and highly opinionated individual. Therefore, even after being attracted to Margot, Wilson’s thoughts about her character instantly reveal that he does not respect her in any way but because he finds her “attractive” he would not abstain from either making advances towards her or encouraging her advances towards himself. The passage suggests that Wilson believes himself completely equipped with the necessary knowledge to be able to deal with “American Women” instead of being dealt with by them, which he believes is the case Macomber in his marriage with Margot.
This hegemonic style of masculinity is very different from the Victorian style of masculinity, which was dominated by chivalry and respect for women. In the case of Wilson, possesses a self – idolizing characteristic and it appears to be obvious from the passage that he believes that men are a more superior species when compared to women. There is a tone of voice in the passage which implies that Wilson regards women as objects that can be used to please men like himself but not to be respected or taken seriously. By highlighting such negativities of Wilson’s personality, one can infer that Hemmingway did not endorse Wilson’s masculinity rather by writing this passage he wanted the reader to develop a contrast between the personalities of Macomber and Wilson.

 

Works Cited
Hemmingway, Earnest. “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber.” Hemmingway, Earnest. The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber and Other Stories. Stuttgart: Klett International, January 1, 1999. 1 – 23.Web. 16 November 2011.

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