Themes of Love and War in A Farewell to Arms Essay

Theme is a literary element used in literature and has inspired many poets, playwrights, and authors. The themes of love and war are featured in literature, and inspire authors to write wartime romances that highlight these two themes. Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms deals with the collective themes in the human experience such as love and the reality of war. A Farewell to Arms is narrated from the perspective of Fredric Henry, an ambulance driver in the Italian army, and pertains to his experiences in the war. The novel also highlights the passionate relationship between Henry and Catherine Barkley, a British nurse in Italy. Henry’s insight into the war and his intense love for Catherine emphasize that love and war are the predominant themes in the novel and these themes contribute to bringing out the implicit and explicit meaning of the novel. Being a part of the Italian army, Henry is closely involved with the war and has developed an aversion to the war. Henry’s association with the war has also made him realise that war is inglorious and the sacrifices made in war are meaningless. Specifically, Henry wants the war to end because he is disillusioned by the war and knows that war is not as glorious as it is made up to be. The state of affairs and the grim reality of the war lead Henry towards an ardent desire for a peaceful life, and as a result Henry repudiates his fellow soldiers at the warfront. Henry’s desertion of the war is also related to his passionate love for Catherine. Henry’s love for Catherine is progressive and ironic. This love develops gradually in “stages”: Henry’s attempt at pretending love for Catherine towards the beginning of the novel, his gradually developing love for her, and finally, Henry’s impas…

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…so provided the reader with realistic descriptions of the warfront. Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms realistically explores the inglorious and brutal truths of war, and idealistically analyzes the power of true love.

Works Cited

“A Farewell to Arms Essay – A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway.” Twentieth Century Literary Criticism 115 (1929): 121-126. JSTOR. Web. 19 Feb. 2014.

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Hemingway, Ernest. A Farewell to Arms. 1929. Reprint. Toronto: HarperCollins, 2013. Print.

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