The use of repetition in “The Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea" is a literary masterpiece that tells the story of an old fisherman named Santiago, who struggles to catch a giant marlin in the waters off the coast of Cuba. Throughout the novel, Hemingway employs repetition to create a sense of rhythm and emphasis, to develop characters and their relationships, and to explore the themes of the novel. This essay will examine the use of repetition in "The Old Man and the Sea" and its significance to the novel.
One of the most notable examples of repetition in the novel is the phrase "man is not made for defeat." This phrase is repeated multiple times throughout the novel and serves as a refrain for Santiago, who repeats it to himself to reinforce his own sense of determination and strength. This phrase is a reflection of Santiago's personal philosophy, which emphasizes the importance of resilience and perseverance in the face of adversity. By repeating this phrase, Hemingway creates a sense of rhythm that reinforces Santiago's determination and helps to convey the novel's theme of the power of the human spirit to overcome obstacles.
Another example of repetition in the novel is the use of the word "fish." This word is repeated throughout the novel in various forms, such as "big fish," "little fish," and "fishermen." The repetition of this word highlights the centrality of fishing to the novel's plot and themes. It also underscores the relationship between Santiago and the fish, which becomes more complex as the novel progresses. At the beginning of the novel, Santiago sees the fish as an adversary to be caught and conquered. However, as the novel progresses, his relationship with the fish becomes more complicated, and he begins to feel a sense of respect and admiration for it. The repetition of the word "fish" helps to convey the novel's theme of the relationship between humans and nature and the interconnectedness of all living things.
Repetition is also used in the novel to develop the character of Santiago. Hemingway repeats certain phrases and images associated with Santiago throughout the novel to create a sense of continuity and to reinforce his character traits. For example, the image of the old man's hands is repeated multiple times throughout the novel, emphasizing Santiago's physical strength and his experience as a fisherman. Similarly, the image of the sea as a living entity that Santiago talks to is repeated multiple times, emphasizing his connection to nature and his spiritual worldview.
Furthermore, repetition is used in the novel to explore the theme of memory and its relationship to identity. Santiago frequently reminisces about his past and his experiences as a fisherman, repeating stories and phrases from his past. This repetition serves to reinforce Santiago's identity as a fisherman and to create a sense of continuity between his past and present self. At the same time, it also emphasizes the fragility of memory and the fact that memories can be lost or distorted over time.
In conclusion, the use of repetition in "The Old Man and the Sea" by Ernest Hemingway serves multiple purposes, including creating a sense of rhythm and emphasis, developing characters and relationships, and exploring themes such as the power of the human spirit, the relationship between humans and nature, and the fragility of memory. Hemingway's use of repetition is subtle yet effective, reinforcing the novel's themes and creating a sense of continuity and coherence throughout the narrative.