"The Sun Also Rises" by Ernest Hemingway: Lady Brett - The Promiscuous Protagonist

Essay by FobManXCollege, UndergraduateB, October 2007

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Every story has to have a hero, the character that the book revolves around. After reading through The Sun Also Rises, it is a common assumption that Jake Barnes is the hero of the story. But is he really? After I completed the book, I came to the conclusion that Jake was not the protagonist. It is clear to me that the protagonist is actually Lady Brett Ashley, Jake's love interest.

Most people scoff at the thought of Lady Brett being the protagonist. On the surface, Lady Brett is nothing but a non-stop partying, sex-crazed alcoholic with commitment issues. But the protagonist is one whom the story centers around, and the story does seem to center around Lady Brett. If you refer to the quote I selected, you will see that the point of significance in this particular passage pertains to the peasants in Basque putting her on a wine cask and dancing around her, literally forming a circle around her.

Even though Brett is a complete stranger to these people, they acknowledge her as some sort of heroine or goddess and treat her as such.

There is more to this passage than just the peasants circling Brett. These peasants symbolize how every major male character in the novel center around and attach themselves to Brett. They are so in love with her they are willing to do anything for her. Their love for Brett is so profound that it allows her to make both positive and negative impacts on their very existences, more so than the impacts made by any other character. The circle that encompasses Brett continues to grow as the novel progresses, until it eventually shrinks and collapses in the end.

If there were one character that sustained a bigger impact on their life...