Ernest Hemingway had a significant influence on the literature of the twentieth century; many of his novels have become classics. Hemingway also influenced writing of many American authors, such as J.D. Salinger and James Joyce. He had a life, full of adventures, and he was courageous and brave enough to go through all of them. Some of Hemingway’s characters possess features of character as the author himself. They show strength of will and unbreakable spirit in the challenging and sometimes even hopeless circumstances. His writing style is concrete, direct and simple, but yet powerful enough to evoke strong feelings from readers. Hemingway’s prose consists mostly of bright and concise dialogues while his descriptions of places and things are exact and simple. Thus, readers easily recognize and appreciate the writer’s style.
Famous Hemingway’s novel The Old Man and the Sea helped him to improve his literary reputation, which at that time had not been good enough and enabled Hemingway to get the Nobel Prize for Literature, in 1954. The novel, published in 1952 was a true success. At first glance, the story seems to be very simple, and some readers may even consider it boring, but there is much more behind it. In his novel The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway depicts an old fisherman's life and his efforts for catching a huge fish as an example of an invincible fortitude, and as a proof that people can reach even unattainable goal while chasing their dreams.
Santiago was an old fisherman and many people from his village had doubts that he could still do his job. He had no luck during long time and was not able to hook any decent fish. Young man Manolin, who was his only friend and apprentice, was forced to leave Santiago and to go to a more successful fisherman. One day Santiago goes out too far into the sea in the small boat in desperation to hook a fish. “An old man overwhelmed by life is given one last chance to determine the strength of his character” (Herlihy 29).
At noon, an enormously big swordfish is hooked on the line, but the fish is too big for an old man to handle. At this moment “enormous stamina and power arise in the breast of Santiago” (Hemingway 72). He knows that it would be a battle between him and the forces of nature, and his great desire to survive and prove himself and others that he is not that hopeless fisherman. The fish, which has also instinct to survive, drags the boat even farther to the sea. The battle lasts for almost two days. “The old man holds on to the rope – even though he is cut and bruised by it, even though he wants to sleep and eat. He holds onto the rope as though his life depended on it” (Herlihy 34). He is exhausted, wounded by a line that stretches across his back, has no food, but still does not give up. Moreover, Santiago has respect and admiration for his fish – “his brother in suffering, strength, and resolve” (Hemingway 68).
Finally, Santiago manages to kill the fish that was exhausted by the battle. Still the story was far from the happy end. The fish was too big to fit into the boat, so its blood attracted sharks. Fisherman had to defeat himself from the sharks, but at the end they ate the flesh of the fish.
By the time Santiago managed to get back to shore, there was only the skeleton of the fish left. However, it was a victory for him; he at least had an evidence of being not that hopeless fisherman as many thought of him. This experience had changed him and strengthened his hope. Santiago then became determined in his position “never give up”.
Hemingway had his own strong and vivid style of writing, which millions of readers all over the world value high. His character was an example for great respect and admiration. He was definitely one of the most adventurous writers. He strived to explore this world and lived his life as how he wanted to live.
The story is very simple but touching. It evokes deep feelings and emotions of readers, like compassion for an old fisherman, admiration of the strength of his character and determination to win. His refuse to give up in the difficult and stressful situation can be a good example for many younger people nowadays. “The story is told with incredible economy of words and description, yet nothing is sacrificed which drives home the power and inner strength of this man, who just takes it as what he does, what it is to be a serious fisherman” (Robert P. Weeks 191).
There are major themes that Ernest succeeded to highlight in this book. This connotes the type of past he experienced. The first acute topic of the book is heroism. Despite of all the trials Santiago had to go through, he never gives up. This is a strong character seen in the author, Ernest Hemmingway. Despite of holding onto the fishnet for two days, Santiago never threw in the towel because he was determined to make a meal out of his catch, regardless of what happened. This is an illustration of strong will and determination in a deed one is doing. It is a message of strong will and endurance.
Another topic very outstanding and closely related to the heroism is manhood. As evident from the book, there is an element of manhood. Considering that Santiago was an old man and managed to pull through the ordeal that had taken two days to end, he still held on the rope with determination not to let go. It proves that he is a real man. This shows that Santiago was not only a hero, but a man as well. Even when the sharks came after the carcass of the dead fish, Santiago still hoped that he would come back to the shores alive, which he did, albeit without his “big fish”. This is a show of strong will and determination, which Ernest showed throughout his lifetime.
The other theme that is clearly documented in this book is the concept of pride. Santiago is a man who has a lot of pride. For this reason, he sets out deep into the sea beyond all problems in the world to catch the marlin. Santiago admits killing the marlin for pride. Contrarily, even after losing his catch, Santiago never swallows his pride and fights to return to the shore. Ernest Hemmingway was a man of great pride and never let whatever situation held him down.
Ernest Hemmingway draws a clear theme of success. Santiago sailed in the sea very far in search of marlin. It was a success for him, though his catch was too big to fit into his boat. He did not give up his efforts from this point, but held onto the fish two days until the carcass was attacked by the sharks. Fighting for his life until he gets back to shore is an illustration of success, since even Santiago came back with no evidence of his catch but the skeleton, he still came back alive. In spite of all he had to go through, he came back with triumphant glance and pride for his achievements. This is an illustration of success that comes at the end of hard ordeals.
Another theme that stands out is the concept of worthiness. In the book, Santiago has a thirst inside him to prove Manolin that he can kill the marlin. Santiago goes ahead to prove his worthiness in search of the fish. He eventually managed to lay his hands on it. It was disappointing that he did not have his meal; however, he proved his worthiness by killing the marlin. This is a strong message that Ernest succeeded to mask in the story The Old Man and the Sea.
Literary critics state that comparison of writers’ works, their manners of depicting, styles is very valuable method of estimation. I would like to compare Hemingway’s literary masterpiece to Charles Dickens’ one. Dickens is the renowned author of the book Oliver Twist, published in 1838, which is considered to be one of the best known selling books by this author and was well received by readers worldwide. Dickens uses satirical characters and events that point to a particular social evil between the people depicted in the book, as well as that government institutions that had a seriously flawed judicial system. According to Dickens, he had not written the book to offer solutions to the societal inadequacies, but he was singling them out for people to see in what a morally decadent society they were living. Dickens believed that people were kind, but mostly corrupted by the influences of the immediate surroundings. As a young lad, Dickens had one of the roughest upbringings, considering the fact that he was from a financially unstable family and had to do odd jobs to make ends meet. This is what Charles Dickens tries to depict in the book, Oliver Twist. He tries to depict how the poor and destitute in the society are usually looked down upon and often exploited, which likens his upbringing experiences. This included long spells of poverty, which tagged along hunger and homelessness and resulted in spreading societal evils. This extreme depravation brought crimes that corroded human nature that Dickens viewed as “good”. Dickens says that society is completely dehumanized. I strongly believe that Charles Dickens wrote this book to show the tribulations that the weak people in society experience with each passing day (Cliffnotes).
The book is about a boy, Oliver Twist born in the impoverished society filled with pitifully suffering individuals. He is immediately thrown into a children’s orphanage where he leads undernourished life. He is raised by Mrs. Mann, alongside many more orphans. Twist leaves his village of birth and travels to London, almost dying because of freezing. He encounters a boy, Artful Dodger while travelling, and they become friends. Twist later discovers that they share a common past; both are orphans and have a common goal, seeking for protection. In the search for protection, Dodger and his friends depend on a criminal known as Fagin, who provides them with shelter, food as well as clothing at no charges. They do not know how Fagin provides their needs until he teaches them how to steal in their home and later takes them to the streets. This becomes a part of them until Oliver realizes that what they are doing is not the right thing. His fate is postulated by what he does not want to commit a crime. But it is the society that has taught them to do it; they are just trying to find a way round the harsh society. In the wake of his stealing career, he is thrown into a jail where he is bailed out by Mr. Brownlow, who offers him a place to stay.
Here, Twist meets Nancy, a female member of Fagin’s ring. Nancy actually realizes the fact that she was exploited when she was younger. She saw in Twist a ruined life. She grasps this chance to save herself and Twist from further exploitation. It is here that Twist changes his life around and lives one full of happiness with good people. Nancy dies of exploitation from the wrong choices she made in the past.
Charles Dickens’ story relates to almost everything he has experienced being a child. He was born in the society that had the least resources, which is brought out in the book as the theme of poverty. He lived in temptation to steal from his neighbor that had come as an influence from the friends. This explains why Twist found himself in a gang of thieves, not from choice, but desperation. This is another theme brought out in the book. Desperate situations call for desperate measures as it is always said. This reflects back to Dickens childhood where he was coerced to steal from people by his peers and older people, who were gang members.
As evident from the two books, both authors, Ernest Hemmingway and Charles Dickens create a vivid picture of their personal experiences. They both write about their experiences, but use different symbols in the form of characters to unmask the societal evils that no one seems to notice. They both write in order to pass a hidden teaching, which is presented as the theme to the relevant narrations. For someone like Charles Dickens, his pointing out of the societal suffering, extreme poverty, illegitimate children of women who had babies out of wedlock, is not out of Christian values. He has showed his personal experiences. As in the case with Ernest Hemmingway, in his book The Old Man and the Sea, who also gave an account of his personal experiences by coining the book. The relevance is that, no matter what we are currently going through, never give up because there is always a brighter day at the end of suffering. The same applies to Twist whose life changed for the better once he decided to make that change in his life. Both the authors narrating their stories add literary value to literature.