The Tragic Nature Of A Farewell To Arms By Ernest Hemingway

June 23, 2022 by Essay Writer

The art of writing a book, is based upon the author’s goal upon which genre the author would wish for the piece to fall in. Many works of literature do not fit conveniently into just one literary genre. Such as the piece, Romeo and Juliet which was written by William Shakespeare, has the common theme the literary piece A Farewell to Arms, written by Ernest Hemingway. A Farewell to Arms as well as Romeo and Juliet share the features of a pair of “Star-cross’d Lovers” and can be classified as both a romance or tragic in nature. A tragedy is defined in the dictionary as “a drama or literary work in which the main character is brought to ruin or suffers extreme sorrow, especially as a consequence of a tragic flaw, moral weakness, or inability to cope with unfavorable circumstances”. Based upon how the novel unravels, A Farewell to Arms can be categorized to be tragic in nature built upon the plot, characters, and themes. From the importance of the rain, to the death of the baby, as well as the death of Catherine Barkley, have the ability to distinguish as well as define this book as a tragedy.

The use of bad weather in literature, can make or break a theme. While rain may cause a calming scene, rain is also able to create a gloomy, or tragic scene throughout a piece of literature. Rain can be referred to as ominous, this is reinstated by the fact in of which rain accompanies every disaster in the book, from the marching of the soldiers in the firstchapter to the night of Catherine’s death. The rain played an effect upon Catherine one night, in of which she went and stated ‘I’m afraid of the rain because sometimes I see me dead in it’ (114). Another instance in which the rain plays an important role would be when Fredrick is warned by the barman, that Fredrick would go and be arrested the following morning, in of which it is storming with rain at this point. During this section Frederic and Catherine leave by the barman’s boat to Switzerland. Towards the end of the novel, where they go to the hospital, there is no rain, however when the baby and Catherine die, the use of rain is applied. It thus can be determined that Ernest Hemingway had intended for the rain to play a significant role in the tragedy of A Farewell to Arms. Catherine is expecting. She is three months pregnant when she eventually tells Frederic. Catherine was hesitant to tell him, “I don’t want to. I’m afraid I’ll make you unhappy or worry you” (120). Frederic was persistent until she had finally told him, “I’m going to have a baby, darling. It’s almost three months along. You’re not worried, are you? Please please don’t. You mustn’t worry” (120). At this time, Frederic has no problems with the baby. After Catherine first tells Frederic she’s pregnant they talk about the baby as a boy. When Frederic and Catherine are living in Switzerland they suddenly start calling the baby, ‘young Catherine. ‘

In March, Catherine tells Frederic she’s due in about a month so they move to be closer to the hospital. They stay at a hotel until Catherine goes into labor. When Catherine goes to the hospital she is initially happy, yet as time progresses so do her spirits. She has gotten in a lot of pain, and eventually it has been decided for a Caesarean section, in which Frederic is not a fan of, but there is not much choice by this time. After the procedure, the nurse asks Frederic if he’s proud of his son, he says he’s not. Frederic is unhappy of the thought that baby, since he believes it tried to kill Catherine. He says they did not want a son. However his mood quickly changes when he finds out that the baby was a stillborn. “I could see nothing but the dark and the rain falling across the light from the window. So that was it. The baby was dead. That was why the doctor looked so tired. But why had they acted the way they did in the room with him? They supposed he would come around and start breathing probably. I had no religion but I knew he ought to have been baptized. But what if he never breathed at all. He hadn’t. He had never been alive. Except in Catherine. I’d felt him kick there often enough. But I hadn’t for a week. Maybe he was choked all the time. Poor little kid” (279).

A text that shares this concept, would be The Hunger Games when Rue dies. Like the baby, she was a bigger character to the book than may be initially let on. Rue’s death was straight-up tragic in which affected the reader. Rue was so young and harmless, not asking for death. Rue not being able to live her life outside of the capitol’s strict stipulations, can be compared to not have had a life to live, much like the baby in A Farewell to Arms. Frederic, at this time, is already down on his luck, as upon the death of the baby. Frederic walks through the rain back up to the hospital after having his supper. When the nurse tells Frederic that Catherine has had a hemorrhage, and that it is very dangerous his demeanor drops. “I could not think. I knew she was going to die and I prayed that she would not. Don’t let her die. Oh, God, please don’t let her die. I’ll do anything for you if you won’t let her die” (282). Frederic is given hope by the doctor that Catherine would not die.

However, in tragedy, nothing goes well for characters. “It seems she had one hemorrhage after another. They couldn’t stop it. I went into the room and stayed with Catherine until she died. She was unconscious all the time, and it did not take her very long to die” (283). From here the book ends, the end of this tragic story. Much like in Romeo and Juliet when Romeo believes that Juliet is dead, he takes his life, not knowing how to live without her. When Juliet realizes what has happened, she takes her life not knowing what to do without him. In A Farewell to Arms Catherine found someone she felt like she could not live without. Frederic feels the same way. When Catherine lays dying, she asks Frederick not to do the same things that he had done with her, to a different girl. Frederick not sure how to live without her, says that there will be no other girls. A Farewell to Arms can be categorized to be tragic in nature built upon the plot, characters, and themes. While literature can fall into more than one category, A Farewell to Arms is more tragic than anything else. From the incoherence of the repetitive use of rain throughout the book, to the death of the baby, as well as the death of Catherine, have the ability to distinguish as well as define this book as a tragedy. Much like the play Romeo and Juliet.


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