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The Old Man and the Sea Essay

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The short novel The Old Man and the Sea was written by Ernest Hemingway in 1951 and got a significant award – the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. If you do not have enough time to read the full version of the book, you can always look through its summary. The work has a well-developed system of allusions and philosophical ideas that imply much more than the plot suggests. In this The Old Man and the Sea essay, our company will analyze the novel from different angles so that you can understand its plot, characters and ideas. This post can help you in your college literary studies, giving you grounds for further research.

The origin of the novel

The Old Man and the Sea is the work that Ernest Hemingway wanted to saturate with his life and literary experience. He spent a lot of time writing this novel, thoroughly outlining each episode and thinking over the philosophical ideas that Santiago had to advocate. Then the writer let his wife read his sketches, and her reaction helped him understand how good this or that passage was.

Ernest Hemingway admitted that The Old Man and the Sea could have been a large novel with many characters (fishermen for the most part) and several plot lines. But all this was already present in literature, while Hemingway wanted to create something radically new: a novel combining the features of a parable, symbol and life.

The work is closely connected to religion. We can follow this thread even on the level of characters’ names. The boy is named Manolin, which is the diminutive form of Manuel and points at Jesus Christ. Pedrico is none other than Saint Peter; and while Peter helped the Redeemer fish for souls, Pedrico helped young Manolin fish for food. Santiago’s reflections about life, humanity and sins present another layer of religious allusions. Moreover, we should not forget that the man in the novel remembered major Christian prayers – Hail Marys and Our Fathers.

Literary interpretation

Now in our Ernest Hemingway essay we move on to analyzing the literary features of The Old Man and the Sea. The plot of the novel develops rather under the law of a myth, not a fairy tale. The action is circular, which means it does not come to an end, repeating itself over and over again. We can read it in the words of Manolin, who starts and finishes the novel with the idea of him and Santiago going fishing together. What is interesting is that we do not encounter the boy in the middle of the book.

The old man regards things and even parts of his body as animate, although they are not. PurEssay concludes that we come across a case of personification – a literary device that attributes a personal nature or characteristics to a non-human object.

Hemingway also includes repetitive motifs in his novel. They are important for a work of fiction as they can help readers focus on what is really important in the book. Moreover, they often have a symbolic meaning. Touching upon recurring themes in The Old Man and the Sea, it is important to point out that some people and images regularly make their appearance throughout the text: DiMaggio, the big fish, the sea and so on. Even Santiago’s resort to prayers illustrates this interesting feature of Hemingway’s writing.

The author’s style is his another literary peculiarity that draws readers’ attention. His descriptions are rather laconic because he focuses on context, believing that the most part of his work is hidden between the lines. His style is what we call minimalist, while the writer himself coined another term – the “iceberg theory”. Thus, The Old Man and the Sea is characterized by short sentences, especially in dialogs, lack of adjectives, focus on nouns and verbs, as they are the parts of speech that convey action. But interpreting the novel from a philosophical point of view is what was left to readers, and the next part of our essay is devoted to it.

Philosophical interpretation

The first thing that draws attention is that the author managed to reproduce a human being with inner strength; somebody who can appreciate the beauty of the world and find his own place there. The great ocean where the old man sails away becomes a symbol of material space around us, but also of our spiritual life. The giant fish with which Santiago fights is, on the one hand, a personification of all the fish the man has managed to get in his life; but, on the other hand, it is also a symbol of Almighty God himself.

Unlike many classics of literature, The Old Man and the Sea does not contain criticism towards anything. Hemingway does not feel that he has the right to judge others. The main goal of the writer is to show how the world is organized: some are born fishermen, while others are born fish. They are not enemies; however, a fisherman must kill a fish as it is his life purpose.

Santiago is a symbol of heroic origin in a human being and also a symbol of a real victory that does not depend on circumstances and events. Using this character, the author interprets the purpose of life, which is a constant struggle towards your goal. Santiago cannot be defeated because of his virile character and stand in life. His inner strength helps him win in spite of his age, physical weakness and unfavorable conditions.

The novel does not have a tragic ending; on the contrary, one can say that it is open for readers’ imagination. This embodies the ultimate power of Ernest Hemingway’s philosophy, who leaves it to us to sum up the moral aspect of the novel.

All in all, our Old Man and the Sea essay written for you has shed light on such a disputable issue as the literary and philosophical analysis of the book. Now you know that Ernest Hemingway relied on a lot of symbols in structuring his work. The most apparent allusions in the novel are connected with Christianity and can be found in the names of the characters and their behavior. The philosophical interpretation of The Old Man and the Sea proclaims the importance of people’s inner power, which helps us survive through any troubles.

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