Saturday, October 12, 2019

A Clean, Well-Lighted Place Essay -- Literary Analysis, Ernest Hemingw

Ernest Hemingway captures the essence and origins of nihilistic thought in â€Å"A Clean, Well-Lighted Place†, written in a time of religious and moral confusion shortly after The Great War. The ideas expressed in this short story represent the post World War 1 thinking of Hemingway, and the notoriously nihilistic Lost Generation in Paris, which was greatly influenced by the many traumas of war. Learning from his unnerving experiences in battle, Hemingway enforces the idea that all humans will inevitably fade into eternal nothingness and everything valued by humans is worthless. He develops this idea by creating a brilliant mockery of two coveted religious documents, revealing authority figures as typical, despicable, human beings, and reducing life into the most raw, simplistic, and frightening reality imaginable. He states that all humans will naturally die alone and literally be â€Å"in despair† about â€Å"nothing† (494), and that people will either seek a â€Å"calm and pleasant cafe† (496), or a self-inflicted death simply to escape despair. Undoubtedly, Hemingway destroys any existence of a higher meaning because, in reality â€Å"[life is] all a nothing, and a man [is] nothing too† (496). By viewing the actions of three different generations, Hemingway’s â€Å"A Clean, Well-Lighted Place† elaborates on the idea that life is not continual enlightenment and growth, but gradual despair, and an inevitable death into â€Å"nada† (497). The youthful and confident waiter, representing the youngest of the three male generations, is the only apparent spec of existentialist thought in the story. However, this young man is simply an unconcerned person due to his age; he is not in despair because the end of his existence is not breathing down his neck at thi... ..., Well-Lighted Place†, represent the opinions and views of one typical person, in one ordinary life. The theme of a world of nothingness is overwhelming to the human brain, and almost inconceivable, and everything we do in this life is simply designed to help us take our mind off of death; suicide is the ultimate escape from â€Å"despair† over â€Å"nothing† (494). Hemingway’s brilliant transitions in time explain how life eventually grows worse with age, and humans will succumb to suicide, drunkenness, or something comforting and safe, much like a clean, well-lighted cafe. Further, Hemingway has shown the world that man has created many bogus ways to cope with the insurmountable fear of nothingness, namely religion. People can try to kid their selves into feeling soulful, genuine, or meaningful, but there is no need to â€Å"fear for [the human] soul†, as it is non-existent.

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