Ernest Hemingway is an American author, short-story writer, and essayist who was granted the Nobel Prize for Literature. He was noted both for the extraordinary manliness theme of his composition and for his courageous and generally public life. His concise and clear composition style has an incredible impact on American and British fiction. His works are popular because of the themes of love, hatred, war, gain, and loss he has included in his literature. Ernest Hemingway’s “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber” is a short story illustrating a third-person omniscient story with snapshots of an untrustworthy interior monologue displayed mainly through the perspective of leading characters. The story presents the protagonists of the story, Francis Macomber, who needs the courage to live his life of manhood. Francis’s wife, Margot who needs money instead of love. Also, Wilson who is a hunter who knows how to guide and hunt. The entire circumstance in the story, Francis lost his courage because his wife demotivates him by saying he is a coward. Integrated into the plot, Hemingway’s real theme of this story is courage, masculinity, a failed marriage, and domination. In this story, psychoanalytical criticism is used to reflect the effects of these themes through the use of characters, symbols, and settings of the story.
The main characters of this story are Francis Macomber, Margot Macomber, and Robert Wilson, who have reflected the theme of the story through their nature and activities. The protagonist of the story, Francis Macomber, is a young American man on a safari in Africa. He is wealthy, but he lacks power and conviction. His target was to kill a lion in that safari, but he failed many times because of the fear of that giant wildlife. According to Harold Bloom, “Macomber flees, ‘bolting like a rabbit’ and leaving Wilson to shoot the lion again and again as it forces itself toward him.” This shows that Francis had fear inside him which discourages the hidden power inside him. However, at last, he achieves his manhood by killing the lion. Also, he shows his masculinity to his wife. He dominates Margot in many scenes such as in the car, while hunting, and while having breakfast with others. His stubborn nature is focused on his aim which can be seen in his happiness after killing the lion and buffalo.
Margot Macomber is Francis Macomber’s extremely beautiful and well-kept wife. She is a socialite and former model who knows how to control men. Margot is a female predator who opposes images of distant femininity by intensely attesting her excellence and examining riches rather than love. She is with Francis because of his wealth. According to Abby Werlock, “The Macomber marriage is on shaky ground, but Margot was too beautiful for Macomber to divorce her and Macomber had too much money for Margot ever to leave him.’ Thus, she is rendered despicable, her existence without her husband was grim in light of the fact that he continues her daily life and prosperity.
Robert Wilson is a British “white hunter” who is hired by an American, Francis Macomber, to get help in the African safari. The author presents himself through this character in the story as he was a hunter in his age. Wilson seems like a cool guy who is supporting women in her wrongdoing; Margot kills Francis and Wilson gets the chance to be closer by giving sympathy to her. He is a hunter who hunts women. In the story, the skeptical nature of Francis, the unsatisfied nature of Margot, and the attractive nature of Wilson have created conflicts that lead to the death of Francis. After killing her husband, Margot is getting sympathy and help from Wilson to overcome the murder of her husband.
Besides the characters, symbols have significant roles in the story to enhance the theme of masculinity, courage, risk, and domination. Mainly, the author has focused on two symbols to portray the theme. They are the lion and the car. The lion is a symbol of courage and the power of masculinity. This is the animal Francis encounters first while hunting. The lion causes fear in him. The sound of the roar of a lion in his tent makes him awake with weakness due to fear. This disturbing sound of the giant, life-threatening animal plunged him into paralyzing fear, which prevents him from killing the lion. This event caused him to be embarrassed in front of Margot and Wilson. According to Hemingway, “It had started the night before when Francis had wakened and heard the lion roaring somewhere up along the river. It was a deep sound and in the end, there was sort of coughing grunts that made him seem just outside the tent, and when he woke in the night to hear it he was afraid”(21). From the beginning, Francis is afraid of the lion even with its roaring, which presents a character with fear and who needs courage and power to face the lion.
The car represents the risk, rush, and control in hunting. The car that Wilson and Francis use to hunt is striking since it is prohibited. It is a symbol of development, masculinity, and mankind’s endeavor to rule the natural world. It reveals all through the narrative, encouraging the two parallel hunters and bearing characters between the campground and the hunting ground that is among safety and threat. The hunters should not use cars to hunt and shoot creatures since this gives them an advantage and it is unsportsmanlike. The car is itself a space of security that isolates people from conceivably awful creatures. However for Margot, who is kept in the car while her husband and Wilson hunt, the car is a symbol of imprisonment. It is doorless and box-bodied, enabling her to observe the safari but preventing her from being a part of the hunting. Her femininity keeps her apart from the space of the hunt, where manhood rules. Along these lines, the car symbolizes a central conflict between power, uncertainty, and defense both the hunt and sexual attraction between characters.
Along with the characters and symbols, the settings of the story “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber” has supported the theme of the entire story by shadowing the beliefs of that time and the territory where the scenes were captured. As per the time, this story was set in the 1930s which reflects the stereotypes of that time. Amidst the Great Depression, the way that Francis can stand to take an extravagance excursion takes on incredible significance. It indicates that they are far expelled from the substances of their day, which incorporate neediness, monetary unsteadiness, and general hopelessness. In a time before present-day feminisms were held, the thoughts of what established a genuine man or a genuine woman were regularly those dependent on custom. Men were bold, fearless, and chivalric, and women were feminine, refined, and respectful to men. Hemingway additionally used this female generalization, especially in the character of Margot Macomber. Oliver states, “…..she would like to leave Macomber, she is afraid she would not be able to attach herself to anyone else with as much money.” She does not adore her husband and has been unfaithful. Nevertheless, he is extremely rich which is why she does not leave him. The readers, at that point, can decipher her plan to kill him and turning into a rich widow all the while, as the activity of a femme fatale. Hemingway, whose works much of the time remark on the idea of masculinity, considered himself to be a paragon of manhood through his affinity for hunting, fishing, and bullfighting.
The entire story takes place in Africa, in a safari. Margot’s reference to Nairobi may show that the safari is someplace in Kenya, yet nothing precise about the safari area is indicated. In the story, Francis and Margot Macomber are well off Americans for whom hunting creatures on a safari is something fun. For some, rich outsiders, hunting for wild creatures in safaris is just a game; they could not care about the prosperity of creatures or about the way that they devastate valuable pieces of the natural world. Francis certainly chose to go hunting in the African safari since it was a casual adventure for him because he was not genuine in hunting.
Hemingway’s story ‘The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber,’ has presented various conflicts and scenes of rising activity by using characters, symbols, and setting of the story, which lead to an extraordinary ending. The contentions Francis has with himself, nature, and man prompts a demonstrated fear of the wild, and his deficiencies. These events lead to the unanticipated climax of the story where the actions of both Francis and his wife are addressed. It is also amusing that his wife, the real person who ought to secure him, is the reason for his death. Furthermore, the way that it might have been Margot’s drive to secure Francis which devastates him makes the peak of the story interesting. Hemingway uses the logical inconsistencies to give enough ambiguity in the account for the result of the story to be uncertain. Even though Francis’s life was short in years, it was admittedly cheerful as he had the option to confront his feelings of fear and beat his greatest deterrents. At last, he dies as the prime of his own life.