Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Ironic Life of Francis Macomber

In The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber, by Ernest Hemingway, the main character Francis meets his untimely death while on a safari with his manipulative wife Margot. Francis’ largest flaw lies in his cowardice, not only in regards to fleeing from a lion but in not confronting his wife’s passive aggressive nature, which dominates their relationship. In the end, it is Margot who in fact does kill Francis, taking with her his pride despite his last attempt to finally reclaim it.

In Emily Dickinson’s poem “Tell the Truth but Tell is Slant,” the speaker is advising her audience to tell the truth, however, to tell it in a way that does not offend. “The Truth must dazzle gradually Or every man be blind,” points out the sharp edge the truth may have. Margot was constantly using the truth, or her version of such, as a knife to cut her husband Francis, causing his blindness to seriously affect his bravery.

Dickinson’s poem “Success is Counted Sweetest” was my favorite poem as it presented a seriously ironic point, delivered in a manner reminiscent of a nursery rhyme. “Success is counted sweetest By those who ne’er succeed,” depicts the struggle in life to succeed, whether it be in a small task such as a daily run or a lifetime goal of finding a medical cure. No matter the task, success is always the goal. Ironically, however, the closer one gets to achieving success the more it becomes their obsession when in reality the journey and what is gained along the way should also count towards achievement. Francis Macomber measured success in terms of bravery; his serious lack of courage when facing the lion caused Macomber to feel inadequate. However, nothing is more bittersweet than achieving ones goal and as a result not being able to relish in its glory. As was the case in The Birthmark, success is not, after all, what was truly desired in the end. At the end of Francis Macomber’s short and sweet life, he faces his fears and obtains success by challenging the water buffalo. At this very moment, his life is taken and although he will forever live in memory as a brave man, he will never be able to receive the praise or respect that would have befallen him.

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