Robert Jordan As A Typical Hemingway Hero In ” For Whom The Bell Tolls”. Hemingway’s heroes have their own brand of uniqueness in their characterization. They are not less than Shakespeare heroes in their unique traits of heroism. His heroes are successful in their presentation of action and adopt themselves as the action follows or proceeds. That’s why, most of the critics dub Hemingway as a successful writer of tragic heroes. The element of pessimism is very much evident in it. He creates his own fiction style in his writing.
Hemingway’ writings because his heroes often fail in their struggle and get nothing in the end. Santiago in The Old man and the Sea, Romero in The Sun also Rises and Jordan in For Whom the Bell Tolls can be best quoted in this regard.
A tragic hero in the play or novel is that person who achieves greatness at the cost of himself. As it is known that the tragic death of a hero turns a play or novel into a tragedy and it is the death of the hero which mounts the appeal of the tragedy. The hero intentionally does everything for the good of the public and it is his death for the fulfillment of his mission which fills the hearts of the readers, with sympathy and respect. The greatness of the tragedy depends on the bigness of the goal of the hero. In other words, it means to say that the bigger the goal of the hero the higher the tragedy.
In For Whom the Bell Tolls, we see that Robert Jordan plays a role of such character who fights for an ideal in a foreign land. He has a firm belief in the Republican cause because he loves Spain. He is of the views that if there establishes a government of fascists in Spain then the future of this country will be in danger and the country might be spoiled. Moreover, he thinks that in spite of all its flaws a republican form of Govt. It is better than a totalitarian state because an individual feels cramped and suffocated under fascism.
This novel has been written in order to test the quality of Jordan’s idealism and the chain of obstacles in his path forms the basic structure of the novel. As the action of the novel proceeds, Jordan’s task gets more and more complicated. Pablo is absolutely against Jordan’s plan. He takes it impossible to put into practice because it means the destruction of the land. Hemingway’s heroes are always brave in their acts. Jordan is brave enough that he even does not feel fear in his great risky task of blowing up the bridge.
The reason being, Hemingway’s heroes always like to face risks like Santiago in The Old man and the Sea, Jake Barnes in The Sun Also Rises, Frederic Henry in A Farewell to Arms and Jordan in For Whom the Bell Tolls.
Jordan is such a character who does not give any importance to what happens to himself. He accepts the risky task of blowing up the bridge with an open heart and never shows any sign of cowardice. Though General Golz warns him about the difficulty of the assignment yet he gives a promise to complete it within the limit of time. In spit of creating obstacles by Pablo, he balances Pablo’s hostility by Pilar’s support. It was being assumed by some critics that Jordan’s falling in love with Maria might become a threat or obstacle in fulfilling his mission. In spite of this, he does not care and we see with the passage of time that it is his love for Maria which enhances his zest. He keeps the two roles that of lover and that of a dynamiter apart, though towards the end of the play, they merge into one another.
Some critics raise objections by saying that sometimes, Jordan appears like a dummy but Hemingway makes him a convincing and imitable personality by his superb art of characterization. So, their objection does not remain for a long time when we see that it is Jordan who fights against many abstractions: liberty, equality, rights of the people, democracy and atrocities of the fascists.
In fact, he is a religiously zealous who fights for a secular ideal. A prominent critic has very rightly said, “He dies for the American dream”. He sacrifices for all the poor people in the world. There is no doubt in saying the fact that his ideals are worth imitating for the people of the rest of the world. He fights for those ideals which are practicable for most of the sensible persons.
Some critics might term it as a flaw in his character that his love for Maria is a weakness in his character. But it is very convincing by his weakness as a human being. His love for Maria is pure and genuine because he loves her by the cores of his heart unlike a boozer or a womaniser. He wants to remain in her heart forever. He tells his philosophy of love to Pilar that he loves the good things of life and he will die only if it is a necessity. It is his love for Maria which makes him more zealous and enthusiastic in his mission. He is well aware of the sufferings of the Spanish people in a civil war. It is Maria’s rape by fascists which compels him to ‘teach a lesson to fascists by blowing up the important bridge. He takes Elsardo’s death as a serious one which reminds him of all other such deaths. By thinking so, he deeply becomes sad and gloomy.
It is worthy to note here that the influence of his father’s profession is very much in his life. His father was a guerrilla in the American civil war, as he is in the Spanish. Just like an ordinary human being, he is totally dominated by Maria’s love. Here we should not forget that he is an ordinary human being and not a supernatural creature or perfect human being. He has a lot of weak points like ordinary and commonplace human beings. He is an American volunteer who fights for the genuine cause of humanity and feels this crusade in his blood and soul. Being a dutiful, he loves Spain. He remained there when the civil war broke up. He joined the war inorder to contribute his service for the welfare of the country.
He is an anti fascist and does not like to give himself any other political label because he only feels proud of being anti-fascist. He loves Spanish people and learns their language in order to teach this language to them as an instructor in Spanish at a small college in America.
In addition to Jordan’s love for Spanish people and their language, Hemingway also shows his love for Spain and its sports especially bull-fighting in his another novel The Sun Also Rises. The Russian General Golz has full confidence in him and regards him as a very high dynamite. That’s why, he assigns him the toughest task of blowing up the bridge within a limited time. Jordan accepts it as a challenge by his open hearts. He carries out the task and justifies the faith placed in him. He is of the views that life is dear but dear than life is the need for the justification of his courage.
One of the best traits of his personality is that he is not : an ordinary hero like other heroes of Hemingway but a complicated one. His complicated nature of psychological vacuum is filled by the dream like love of Maria. He is not a coward like his father who committed suicide. That’s why he idealizes his grandfather more than his own father.
There is no doubt in saying that he becomes a new man after the arrival of Maria in his love and he starts living only for Maria’s sake but it does not mean that his sense of Dutifulness eclipses at any cost. His love for Maria and his risky mission of blowing up the bridge becomes one because fascists have now become his personal revenge for him as they rape his sweetheart. This very thinking of him leads him further to his fight for Republicans and Republic Spain and Maria becomes one for him.
Summing up the above mentioned discussion of the characteristics of Jordan as a tragic hero, we can say in the concluding remarks that at the end; his loyalty becomes personal loyalty and he is just a husband covering the retreat of his wife whom he loves by the cores of his heart. He sacrifices his life for Maria and her people i.e., Pablo and his land. He is justified in his act of sacrifice because his idealism is worth imitating and practicable for many others.