Essay Example Analyzing The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

Published: 2022-02-21
Essay Example Analyzing The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Ernest Hemingway The Old Man and the Sea
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1360 words
12 min read

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

The story, The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway was published in the year 1951 winning him the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. In this story, Hemingway expresses his desire to go on despite being old and worn out from war, failed marriages and journalism career. Davis reported that Hemingway was himself a champion of boxing matches and game fishing contests at Key West, and the Bahamas but was almost retired when he authored the book, the old mand and the sea probably to portray his desire to end his journey as a hero despite the difficult ups and downs of any normal human relationship.

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The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway is a story of heroism and triumph in the sea. In the story, a veteran fisher Santiago, who had gone for 84 days without luck in the sea finally catches a big merlin fish hoping to the end his unlucky streak. However, became of his age, and exhaustion after two days in the sea, he is unable to haul the big fish into his boat forcing him to tie the fish on the boat side. His apprentice had previously been warned by the parents from working with him because of his latest unlucky streak so he had to work alone. As the merlin's blood dripped into the ocean leaving a trail, the bloodthirsty sharks attack the boat forcing him to invent a harpoon using his hunting knife. The sharks ate a large portion of then merlin leaving only the tail and the head. When he got to the shore, he leaves the skeleton on his boat side and goes home. The people are amazed by the size of the merlin and his apprentice Manolin is again inspired by his achievement at the sea. By examining the story of the old mand and the sea, the author argues that when old ages set in, strength is replaced with perseverance and skills. By examining three critics of the story, The Old Man and the Sea , the writers argue that the old man was a tragic hero who prides and desire to salvage honor and respect almost lead to his tragic end, but his perseverance's made him a hero of the Gulf Stream, 600 feet down even in old age.

Carlos Baker's Tragic Hero Argument

According to Baker (1952), the protagonist, in this case, Santiago is a tragic hero who is faced with the unavoidable trajectory in life- old age. As he ages, the once strong and skilled Santiago is faced with old age and can longer maneuver the sea to end his unlucky streak. He had gone for 84 days without catching any fish and to his chagrin, Manolin had been warned against him because of his hard luck. He is a tragic hero because of his tragic flow- old age that leads to his unlucky streak, hubris or pride that he had in his experiences in fishing.

I ahgree with baker's argument that Santiago was a tragic hero because of his anagnorisis. For example, when he finally catches a large merlin, he finds that his strength is not a match for the 18 feet merlin. Instead, of staying at home, he ventures into the sea to prove his critics wrong and in the process catches a big fish that leads to his injuries and loss of harpoons. His experiences in the sea cause the people to sympathize with him (catharsis). His heroism dies in the sea when the finally comes ashore with the merlin's skeleton instead of a full fish (Hemingway 122).

On the other hand, Scribner considers Santiago an antihero who had a long streak of good luck and one season of bad luck. The critic's view of the protagonist is partly true because the hero, in this case, has a flaw that that elicited pity among the audience. Even though he reached the seashore tired, sick and hurt, he realized that there is none better than him when he looked at the full length of the merlin. The other fishers who once dared him were utterly astonished by the 18 feet merlin and Manolin already arranged another voyage with him.

While the author referred to Santiago, it is not right to name Santiago an antihero but a tragic hero. Old age is not a flaw but a circle of life. The once strong and agile man, a brave fisher finally captures a magnificent fish in the sea to reclaim his lost glory as of the best fisher of the time. He was not successful because was just unlucky and not because he did not use his skill, energy, and experiences to fish. He did not go to the Gulf Stream near Cuba, 600 feet down to fish but this time he went deeper into the sea. Hemingway reports that, "He answers himself aloud: "Nothing, I went out too far." (119) When he realized that he was at risk, he wished he had the Manolin because the fish was towing in away and he was in the towing bitt. It is at his lowest point that he realizes that his pride and recklessness is becoming his undoing and wishes he had someone to help him

Finally, Robert Gorham Davis referred to Santiago as a classical hero because he had unique fishing skills, qualities of characters such as courage and perseverance. In the story of triumph, Santiago is considered as a hero because, in the past, Santiago was the "El CampEon" of the docks. He is known to have fished for his living in the gulf stream but this time, he went too far probably because he was pushed to the wall by his streak of bad lick and he wanted to break the jinx of 84 days. The lesson learned in the novel is that if a man exceeds his limits, he pays a price for it in more than his suffering and that is what happened to Santiago.

Santiago's suffering is attributed to his wandering deeper into the sea. He knew he was already aged to go into the sea and Manolin was surprised that he was going deep into the sea. He was already aged and did not have the strength to maneuver the deeper part of the sea because of the strong waves when he was still young but he removed his limits when he was already old (hemignway 47). He went to the deep water where the biggest fish were despite known that it would be impossible for him to land them. He knew that it would be tragic but he was fixated on ending the unlucky streak.


Santiago would have been a classical hero or antihero but his flaws almost lead to his tragic end. The old man was a renown fisher with years of expiries in the sea. His 984 days of bad luck and the desire to prove to the villagers and his apprentice made him to the deep waters in search of a catch to end the long streak of bad luck. Nevertheless, his decision to ride the high wave into the deep waiters almost lead to his demise as the merlin he caught was too big for his boat and was also hunted by sharks that threatened his life. when he got to the shore, he regained his title as the best fisher in the area but at a steep cost characterized by injuries, exhaustion and terrifying sharks in the lake. His search for recognition and pride made him go to the deep waters without his assistant forcing him to deal with the raging waters, hungry sharks and turban merlin alone. Therefore, Carlos' reference to Santiago as a tragic hero is right while Time's antihero and Davis' classical hero references are wrong.

Works Cited

Baker, Carlos. "The Marvel Who Must Die". Saturday Review, 1952, pp. 10-11, Accessed 23 July 2019.

Davis, Robert Gorham. "Hemingway's Tragic Fisherman By". TIMES, 1952, Accessed 23 July 2019.

Hemingway, Ernest. The Old Man And The Sea. Charles Scribner's Sons, 1952.

Scribner. Time. "Books: Clean & Straight THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA -Ernest Hemingwa.". TIME, 2019, p. 140, Accessed 23 July 2019.

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