Ernest Hemingway’s Life
Ernest Miller Hemingway was a brilliant man, a Nobel laureate, and a prolific writer with outstanding works. Interestingly, his early life was laced with perfection, something his music teacher mother tried to instill in her children to spice up the middle-class status of the 20th century. He perfected playing different musical instruments, was the best writer in his class, attended orchestras with his mother, and was way ahead of his peers. However, his later life turned opposite to his parents’ expectations as he declined college and followed his dreams of perfecting his literary prowess and traveling the world. Young Enerst could not enlist in the army because of a faulty eye but did not kill his dreams of being in the warzone, as he landed a stint as a red cross ambulance driving in Europe where an accident scarred him for life. Suffice it to say, his eventful life shaped his character traits as a persistent individual, self-conceited, overly indifferent personality, promiscuous, and melancholic individual later in life. Ernest’s troubled relationship with his parents, the war trauma, travels around the world, and Agnes’s heartbreak, the Red Cross nurse, contributed mainly to his character traits.
Essentially, all the hard work put in by Ernest to change the literary environment of the 20th century was to prove his parents wrong about his choices, which points to a persistent individual. Before Ernest attained thirty years, he had already composed two of the best novels of his generation (Wagner-Martin 15). Incidentally, his parents disapproved of his lack of college education and, worse, lack of a job as they considered writing a waste of time. They were accomplished individuals and well-educated. Hence they wanted all their children to follow in their footsteps. On the contrary, he had other plans and wanted to live outside the Hemingway’s perfection’s confines.
Furthermore, his love for writing, particularly fueled by persistence, is evident from his struggles with writing with broken arms during the several accidents that plagued his life. After a 1930 car accident, he struggled to use single-handed typing of his works (Hays 101). The incident epitomized his zeal for writing since he could not stand his inability to write. Ernest was a persistent man, and his consistency to nurture his talent against all odds brought him into the limelight as one of the best.
Besides his persistence, Ernest was self-conceited, a trait acquired from his travels. Seamlessly he created a persona of who he desired to be (Wagner-Martin 15). After the post-war years, the writer traveled widely and met other great writers of his time, whom intrinsically, Ernest wanted to outperform. As a result, he created an image of himself that he felt best suited him from his younger years and was overly ambitious. Fortunately, this trait brought him to the limelight despite his shyness. He disguised his weakness with the courage to achieve the American dream (Wagner-Martin 3). The young Ernest conquered beyond Paris, an insignificant writer recognized only by fellow expatriates to a world-renowned writer. Evidently, his larger-than-life depiction directly resulted from a meticulously crafted self ambition.
Remarkably, his stay in Spain and experiencing the bloody bullfighting inculcated Ernest’s indifference and lack of empathy. He developed more interest in bloody sports and engaged in big game hunting (Roos 123). Also, he developed an enthusiasm for violent sports that he once loathed. Moreover, this trait resulted in him profiling his close associates and generally appearing anti-semitic in one instance. There exist records of him reiterating his casual dissatisfaction with doing business with jews (Hays 102). Ideally, it depicts an individual who had become unconcerned about his environment and the people surrounding him. It could be argued that experiencing a lot during his travels, witnessing both world wars affected him. During his stint as a red cross driver in the world war, he briefly transported dead civilians’ bodies. The gory scenes could have instigated the indifferent trait later in his life that even caused relationship problems in his love life.
Consequently, Ernest had four different marriages due to his infidelity and was generally promiscuous, something he developed after being rejected by an older nurse, Agnes, in Italy. Ernest had treasured this relationship but was rejected, severely wounding his emotions (Wagner-Martin 131). Henceforth, he believed women serially failed him depicted by his mother’s disapproval of his choices and Agnes’ betrayal. Eventually, this precipitated relationship instability, culminating in his first wife Hadley divorcing him due to his affair with his mistress Pauline. In a strange twist, he once bragged that he had never failed to bed any woman he was attracted to (Roos 124). Perhaps this nature came about due to his low opinion of women, whom he often blamed for wounding him his entire life after giving them nothing but love. The character he exhibited was that of a promiscuous man.
Finally, the old Ernest had a persistent foul mood, depressed and utterly melancholic due to Italy’s world war one trauma. During his stint with the Red Cross, his leg was blown up by a war mortar (Wagner-Martin 23). Close associates intimated that this experience, alongside the numerous accidents the writer had been involved in, cumulatively yielded a traumatic disorder. The sadness and low mood were intertwined with chronic alcoholism in his later life. Unfortunately, his persistent melancholy and paranoia culminated into suicide eventually (Wagner-Martin 145). The mental instability exhibited by the prolific writer was tremendous, and he had been in and out of hospital care for both physical illnesses and depression. In essence, the near-death experience in his teenage years at the war front scarred him his entire life in the worst possible way.
In conclusion, the main events in his life, including the fallout with his parents, the Italian war front, his postwar travels, and his crashing heartbreak, shaped his character as a persistent personality, self-conceited trait, indifference, promiscuity, and melancholic personality. He changed over the next decades of his life to embrace what he termed as living his best. However, most critics paint his undesirable character traits in the grimmest picture possible.
Hays, Peter. “The Letters of Ernest Hemingway, Vol 4, 1929-1931 ed. by Sandra Spanier and Miriam Mandel.” The Hemingway Review, vol. 38, no. 2, Jan. 2109, pp. 100-104. Research Gate, doi:10.1353/hem.2019.0008.
Roos, Michael K. “The Letters of Ernest Hemingway, Volume 5: 1932–1934 ed. by Sandra Spanier and Miriam B. Mandel.” The Hemingway Review, vol. 40, no. 1, Jan. 2020, pp. 122-125. Research Gate, doi:10.1353/hem.2020.0029.
Wagner-Martin, Linda. A Historical Guide to Ernest Hemingway. Oxford University Press, 2000
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