Sunday, March 7, 2010

Hemingway Woman

The Hemmingway Woman

After reading both The Sun Also Rises and The Garden of Eden by Ernest Hemmingway it is clear that there is a new kind of woman that is created in these novels. For example, Catherine is a completely different character than what we normally would see from a novel that started around 1946. During this time period women were expected to be pleasant homemakers, take care of their husbands, have children, and essentially be submissive. However Catherine cannot have children, she wants to make all of the decisions about her and David’s life, and she’s the one who takes control over the narrative. This combined with the fact that she has bisexual tendencies creates a template for what “the new woman” is turning into. For instance, one major change that has occurred in “the new woman” is her assertiveness and desire to be in control of the relationship rather than her submissive nature. A new woman pushed against the limits set by male-dominated society, especially as modeled in the plays of Norwegian Henrik Ibsen (1828 - 1906). "The New Woman sprang fully armed from Ibsen's brain," according to a joke by Max Beerbohm (1872 – 1956). “The idea of the new woman was also classified as an icon of changing gender norms which first emerged in the late nineteenth century. Less constrained by Victorian norms and domesticity than previous generations, the new woman had greater freedom to pursue public roles and even flaunt her "sex appeal," a term coined in the 1920s and linked with the emergence of the new woman. She challenged conventional gender roles and met with hostility from men and women who objected to women's public presence and supposed decline in morality. Expressing autonomy and individuality, the new woman represented the tendency of young women at the turn of the century to reject their mothers' ways in favor of new, modern choices.” This is seen a lot in The Garden of Eden with Catherine who is at the central of all the sexual relationships within the novel and could certainly be seen as the most perverse of the three characters. She loves being nude out in public at beaches, she explores a homosexual relationship with Marita and transforms herself into looking more like a man (dressing in men’s clothes and a boyish hair cut). Catherine would be prime example of the ideals that centered around the new woman of the 1920s and one of Hemingway’s favorite character types.


also check out this website for the trailer to the movie because it looks absolutely fantastic!


  1. So interesting that "sex appeal" was coined in the 1920s!

    While reading this novel I was thinking about Catherine in A Farewell to Arms: it's all about hair!!
    Laura, I appreciate your cognizance of the time period in which literature takes place (demonstrated in this post as well as your Passing post).

    Greatly enjoyed the trailer--thanks for sharing!

  2. Laura,

    The trailer looks amazing!! I think a Group 2 reunion is in store for the movie!! haha