Example research essay topic: Themes And Characters Of “the Snows Of Kilimanjaro” – 1,114 words

With millions of deported Jewish and around sixty
million lost souls, World War II was most probably
the worst blood bath humanity ever experienced. In
addition, its numerous disturbing events, all
under the command of one man, influenced peoples
daily lives: their habits, their hopes and
especially their vision of life. After the war, in
order to recuperate the lost time, people,
repressed by the tragedies, wanted to live life to
its fullest and, by seeking happiness, they found
an escape valve for all the pressure caused by the
war. Ernest Hemingway, an author touched by the
horrific consequences of war, expressed his notion
of life and happiness in his short story The Snows
of Kilimanjaro. In fact, in his short story,
Hemingway explores the protagonists laziness,
emphasizes on the animal symbolism and represents
Sisyphus of the ancient Greek mythology by his
opposite to suggest that perseverance is the key
to happiness. The main character, Harry,
demonstrates his laziness which results into his
unconscious desire to die by neglecting his own
infection, by refusing to express his feelings and
by going after easy money women make.

The fact
that [Harry forgot] to put iodine on when [he]
first abolished [his leg] (1655) shows negligence
towards his own body and especially laziness.
Furthermore, since the gangrene on Harrys right
leg causes him to weaken and to die, his own
carelessness and sloth lead him to his death and
thus symbolize his unconscious desire to kill
himself. In addition, as he had saved to write
[his thoughts] until he knew enough to write them
well (1654) Harry stops writing even though it is
his career, clearly demonstrating his passivity.
He thus ceases to express his feelings and his
thoughts through his writings causing an emotional
build-up within his unconscious that results into
an outburst. In Harrys case, he quarrel[s] (1653)
with his wife, Helen. Moreover, his regular
alcohol consumption demonstrates his constant
desire to repress his feelings creating a more
important outburst, calling his wife a rich bitch
(1657). Also, by accusing his latest wifes bloody
money (1655) for his failure, he blames himself
for it as he is the one who scavenges for womens
money. By depending on his wife, Helens money,
Harry is clearly overpowered by his own laziness
and Hemingway uses the latters characteristic in
order to show that, with no motivation, a person
can not fulfill his/her goal therefore can not
attain happiness.

In Hemingways short story, two
different kinds of animals are being used to
symbolize Harrys opposite and the person he really
is. The leopard is only mentioned in the opening
paragraph but its perseverance is underlined
throughout the story. The reader is first
familiarized with the myth of the dried and frozen
[leopard] carcass (1653) that tried to reach the
climax of Kilimanjaro, known as the House of God
(1653). People like to think of heaven as some
place joyful, elevated and cool to believe that a
superior and better life awaits them where they
can comfortably rest on Gods side. Therefore, the
leopards perseverance, strength and courage
enabled it to attain heaven. In addition, the
leopard suggests that its qualities can not be
associated to Harrys qualities since the latter
lets himself carry by helicopter to the House of
God as opposed to the beast which made its own way

Also, similarly to hyenas, Harry scavenges
womens money as every time he fell in love with
another woman, that woman should always have more
money than the last one (1658) therefore the hyena
represents Harrys personality. In addition, hyenas
are known to be lazy animals as they search for
the leftovers of other animals in order to
survive. Similarly, Harry stays on his cot while
[Helen goes] to kill a piece of meat (1657) in
order to make him broth so that he can recover
from his infection. Harrys physical death occurs
when he is being transported to the House of God
(1653) by helicopter while his psychological death
occurs when the hyena started to make a strange,
human, almost crying sound (1669). In fact, when
Harry realizes he did wrong by blaming his wife
for his failure, his physical body joins the
leopard by helicopter although his mind stays in
the heat shimmer of the plain [of Africa] (1654),
in other words in hell. Hence, Harrys
psychological resemblance to hyenas prevents him
to get full forgiveness and, hence, full happiness
in the House of God (1653).

In The Snows of
Kilimanjaro, Harry can be considered as the
opposite representation of the Greek hero Sisyphus
therefore revealing that effort, perseverance and
motivation is essential for happiness. As Sisyphus
tried to defeat death, the gods condemned him to
continuously push a massive rock to the top of a
hill. Though the stone would always roll back down
obliging him to push it back up, Sisyphus never
gave up. After his condemnation, he had one goal
in life, which was to push a rock. Sisyphus was
aware of his fate and accepted it without
complaining. In fact, he found a purpose to his
life; to attain the climax and have the rock

This Greek myth suggests that life is a
continuation of meaningless events and in order to
live happy, a goal must be established and
attained. Although Sisyphus was doomed to do
fruitless work, he was happy as he did not think
of killing himself and continued his unprofitable
labor. On the other hand, Harry considers his wife
as a bloody fool (1654) to believe that [he] cant
die if [he doesnt] give up (1654), therefore
showing a sign of renunciation and the desire to
die. As opposed to Sisyphus, Harry abandons his
career as he let himself softened his will to work
(1658) and destroyed his talent himself(1658),
showing no sign of perseverance at all. The latter
has the potential to do well in his writing but
instead gives up to live off his wifes money
whereas Sisyphuss goal was quite impossible but he
persevered instead of giving up. Besides, Harry is
consciously aware that he is dying although he
does not make the slightest effort to defeat

Hemingway insists on Harrys sloth in order
to contrast it with Sisyphuss determination, which
led to his happiness. Laziness, dependency,
abandonment are all flaws which restrain Harry
from happiness. In fact, he has no specific goals
in his life therefore can not have the
satisfaction of fulfilling them. Besides, money
often seems to be the easy way to achieve
happiness but Hemingway suggests that money does
not buy happiness and Harry is a perfect example.
The author also conveys through his short story
that joy is not always easy to find and there
exists a thin line between happiness and despair..

Research essay sample on Themes And Characters Of the Snows Of Kilimanjaro