Title

“I Do Feel Such a Bitch” Lady Brett Ashley’s Trauma and Androgyny in Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises

Faculty Mentor(s)

Cameron Williams

Campus

Gainesville

Proposal Type

Presentation - completed/ongoing

Subject Area

Gender Studies

Location

Nesbitt 3218

Start Date

25-3-2016 10:15 AM

End Date

25-3-2016 11:30 AM

Description/Abstract

When discussing Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises (1926), scholars often criticize Lady Brett Ashley as a “bitch-goddess,” “a perversion of femininity” and a “nymphomaniac,” marginalizing her and ignoring Hemingway’s hints at her harrowing past. Leslie Fiedler and Carlos Baker use Brett’s sexual promiscuity and detachment as ways to support their misogynistic readings, but they do not consider trauma to account for Brett’s behavior. To address this gap, I parse Brett’s trauma, specifically her marriage to a war veteran, whom readers know only as the “chap she got the title from” (Hemingway 207). Recently, in an attempt to salvage Brett’s infamous reputation, Charles J. Nolan Jr. diagnosed Brett with “borderline personality disorder” (113). More accurately, I believe Brett is trying to reconfigure her identity after experiencing trauma. A survivor of rape and attempted murder herself, feminist Susan J. Brison outlines a victim’s difficulty to live after a traumatic incident occurs: “Not only are one’s memories of an earlier life lost, along with the ability to envision a future, but one’s basic cognitive and emotional capacities are gone, or radically altered, as well. This epistemological crisis leaves the survivor with virtually no bearings by which to navigate” (146). Witnessing the effects of World War I and living with an abusive husband, Brett loses herself and she must adapt afterward. Accordingly, she develops androgynous characteristics in order to salvage the identity she has lost because of domestic violence and subsequent hardships.

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Mar 25th, 10:15 AM Mar 25th, 11:30 AM

“I Do Feel Such a Bitch” Lady Brett Ashley’s Trauma and Androgyny in Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises

Nesbitt 3218

When discussing Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises (1926), scholars often criticize Lady Brett Ashley as a “bitch-goddess,” “a perversion of femininity” and a “nymphomaniac,” marginalizing her and ignoring Hemingway’s hints at her harrowing past. Leslie Fiedler and Carlos Baker use Brett’s sexual promiscuity and detachment as ways to support their misogynistic readings, but they do not consider trauma to account for Brett’s behavior. To address this gap, I parse Brett’s trauma, specifically her marriage to a war veteran, whom readers know only as the “chap she got the title from” (Hemingway 207). Recently, in an attempt to salvage Brett’s infamous reputation, Charles J. Nolan Jr. diagnosed Brett with “borderline personality disorder” (113). More accurately, I believe Brett is trying to reconfigure her identity after experiencing trauma. A survivor of rape and attempted murder herself, feminist Susan J. Brison outlines a victim’s difficulty to live after a traumatic incident occurs: “Not only are one’s memories of an earlier life lost, along with the ability to envision a future, but one’s basic cognitive and emotional capacities are gone, or radically altered, as well. This epistemological crisis leaves the survivor with virtually no bearings by which to navigate” (146). Witnessing the effects of World War I and living with an abusive husband, Brett loses herself and she must adapt afterward. Accordingly, she develops androgynous characteristics in order to salvage the identity she has lost because of domestic violence and subsequent hardships.