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Hills Like White Elephants, Essay Example

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According to Robert Schales and Walton Litz, an epiphany can be defined as a “showing forth” (in the Greek language) or some type of revelation. In a stage play, an epiphany occurs when one of the characters experiences a “climatic moment” (“Epiphanies and Epicleti” 247) or in other words, a moment of enlightenment related to suddenly knowing the truth about a given situation or event or as Schales and Litz describe it, a moment when things or individuals reveal their true character or their essence” (247). Most of the time, when a literary character experiences an epiphany, it tends to either move the plot along more rapidly or in the case of Ernest Hemingway’s short story “Hills Like White Elephants,” tends to help bring the story to a satisfactory conclusion.

In Hemingway’s masterful “Hills Like White Elephants,” although the male antagonist, being the unidentified American, does not in any way experience an epiphany, it is obvious that the female protagonist whom Hemingway refers to as “Jig,” the American’s pregnant girlfriend, does indeed experience a “moment of enlightenment.” This occurs when Jig suddenly comes to understand that her relationship with the American is over, partially because of his insistence that she undergo an abortion. Hemingway allows the reader to experience Jig’s epiphany through her admission to the American that she feels fine, even though she knows that at the end of their train ride she will have what the American refers to as a simple operation. Jig’s epiphany is also strengthened when she realizes that perhaps for the first time in her life that she has power over men via her “moment of enlightenment” related to knowing that she will be free of the American’s influence via the termination of their relationship as well as her pregnancy.

Works Cited

Schales, Robert, and Litz, Walton, eds. “Epiphanies and Epicleti.” In Dubliners: Text and Criticism. New York: Penguin, 1996.

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