The Sun Also Rises

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Lady Brett Ashley Character Analysis

A British, charismatic, and independent woman with a drinking problem. She is the love of Jake's life and she loves him too, but she (and Jake) both see his impotence as an impossible obstacle to a relationship and she leads a promiscuous life of romantic adventures. She is waiting to get divorced from the aristocrat from whom she got her title, and then plans to marry Mike Campbell. She is terminally unhappy and always wanting someone else. She falls in love with Romero at the bullfight and becomes his inspiration at the ring.

Lady Brett Ashley Quotes in The Sun Also Rises

The The Sun Also Rises quotes below are all either spoken by Lady Brett Ashley or refer to Lady Brett Ashley. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Lost Generation Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Scribner edition of The Sun Also Rises published in 1954.
Chapter 7 Quotes
"This wine is too good for toast-drinking, my dear. You don't want to mix emotions up with a wine like that. You lose the taste." – Count Mippipopolous
Related Characters: Count Mippipopolous (speaker), Lady Brett Ashley
Page Number: 66
Explanation and Analysis:

Count Mippipopolous offers this piece of advice to Brett while enjoying a bottle (the first of three) of what Jake calls “amazing champagne." We are by this point familiar with the role that alcohol plays in these characters’ social lives. Though their fondness for alcohol may at times appear a vestige of the era, the count’s words should lead us to think more deeply about these tendencies. 

Mippipopolous’ remark suggests that Brett uses alcohol to manipulate her emotions, while he claims to drink with a simpler purpose in mind, namely to enjoy himself. His comments might apply equally to Jake, who represses traumatic memories of WWI with constant drinking.

The count’s drinking seems far more innocuous. He has come out of a few wars with the ability to appreciate finer things (specifically good wine) for their own sake—the alcohol is a pleasure in itself, not a tool with which to numb pain. And yet his advice seems to have no effect on our protagonists. Indeed, as the count finishes his sentence, Brett finishes her glass of wine.

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Chapter 13 Quotes
It was like certain dinners I remember from the war. There was much wine, an ignored tension, and a feeling of things coming that you could not prevent happening. Under the wine I lost the disgusted feeling and was happy. It seemed they were all such nice people. – Jake
Related Characters: Jake Barnes (speaker), Robert Cohn, Lady Brett Ashley, Bill Gorton, Mike Campbell
Page Number: 151
Explanation and Analysis:

Jake concludes chapter 13 by referring to the first dinner between Brett, Mike, Robert, Bill, and Jake, after the group has seen a bullfight and tensions between Mike and Cohn have calmed. The war continues to be on Jake’s mind, even in the midst of fighting, partying, and foreign adventure. Nor can its damages be relegated to the distant past: Jake’s current love life is spoiled by the war, his favorite sport is compared to war, the war comes up in conversation with many of his companions, and now the group’s love rivalries seem in some ways analogous to life on the battlefield. Alcohol, as always, seems capable of providing an escape; drinking is a way for these travelers to numb their feelings and distort their perception of the present into something bearable, if only briefly.

Chapter 14 Quotes
That was morality; things that made you disgusted afterward. No, that must be immorality. That was a large statement. What a lot of bilge I could think up at night. What rot, I could hear Brett say it. What rot! – Jake
Related Characters: Jake Barnes (speaker), Lady Brett Ashley
Page Number: 153
Explanation and Analysis:

At the beginning of Chapter 14 we find Jake in his bed, inebriated, thinking about Brett, and struggling to define his moral precepts. Night seems once again to bring out Jake’s anxious, insecure, and, here, over-analytical tendencies. Jake retracts these general, ethical guidelines almost as quickly he defines them. The difference between friendship and love, the way life works, how one ought to behave—these questions remain unresolved. Just one chapter ago, "aficionado" Jake was explaining the rules and nuances of the art of bullfighting; these he understands perfectly. Outside of the sporting arena, however, rules are much harder to explain and hold to.

Chapter 17 Quotes
"She hasn't had an absolutely happy life, Brett. Damned shame, too. She enjoys things so." – Mike
Related Characters: Mike Campbell (speaker), Lady Brett Ashley
Page Number: 206
Explanation and Analysis:

Here Mike, Bill, and Jake are talking about the fight between Cohn and Romero. Mike mentions that he has talked with Brett, and has scolded her for her various affairs. Just before this line, Mike had reported disturbing details from Brett’s past marriage: he reports mistreatment by her ex-husband, who used to threaten to kill her, and slept with a loaded pistol that she had to unload every night while he was sleeping.

Mike’s comments offer some critical insights into Brett’s character and appeal. Brett is surrounded by men who idealize her, primarily for how she exudes freedom, giving the impression of being able to enjoy her life to the fullest. To men who have been scarred by the war, and who are visibly or invisibly racked with insecurity, her confidence is all the more attractive. But Mike suggests that there is great misery underneath it all, that Brett is not a carefree agitator, but a scarred and vulnerable victim as well.

When Mike calls it a “shame” that Brett hasn’t been happy all her life, we are reminded of Mike’s own desire to be happy. Mike is a war veteran who drinks to forget perhaps more than any other male character in The Sun Also Rises. He appears to have given up on happiness for himself, so now places some vicarious hope in the happiness of his future wife. 


Chapter 19 Quotes
"Oh, Jake,' Brett said, "we could have had such a damned good time together." Ahead was a mounted policeman in khaki directing traffic. He raised his baton. The car slowed suddenly pressing Brett against me.
"Yes," I said. "Isn't it pretty to think so?"
Related Characters: Jake Barnes (speaker), Lady Brett Ashley (speaker)
Page Number: 250
Explanation and Analysis:

These are the final lines of the novel. Jake has come to Madrid to save Brett; here the two are in a taxi after dinner, both quite drunk. Brett, in spite of all she’s been through in the past few weeks, continues to feel the same way about Jake. When she says they could have had a great time together, the implication is that Jake's impotence has prevented them from consummating their relationship. As if to address any doubts about the sexual undertones of this line, Hemingway describes, at this very moment, the policeman holding his baton. The baton is on the one hand, and perhaps most obviously, a phallic symbol, but it also seems to signal the novel’s conclusion: with its movement, the policeman signals the car to halt, effectively signaling to us the end of the novel’s drama.

In Jake’s final lines, we sense traces of emotional maturity. He has struggled greatly with the fact that he could not be with Brett, and has been troubled, in particular, by his war injuries. He has seen Brett run off with Robert Cohn for a couple of weeks, and watched, too, as Brett had a brief affair with the champion bullfighter (who attempts to pin her down and marry her). Both relationships ended shortly after, and caused great pain to the male characters involved. Jake’s realization here is that sex with Brett may have left their relationship in tatters as well. Without sex, the two can maintain a friendship, and can share in the comforting, though perhaps illusory idea that they would have been good and happy together, if only circumstances had allowed.

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Lady Brett Ashley Character Timeline in The Sun Also Rises

The timeline below shows where the character Lady Brett Ashley appears in The Sun Also Rises. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3
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...the breeze and watching a group of men arrive along with someone he knows: Lady Brett Ashley, a beautiful woman with short hair. (full context)
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The men in Brett's group have spotted Georgette and are talking about dancing with her as if for a... (full context)
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Brett walks over to Jake. As they greet each other, Jake notices Cohn looking at the... (full context)
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Brett suggests she and Jake go to a different club. Jake leaves fifty francs in an... (full context)
Chapter 4
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Brett and Jake's cab winds through the streets of Paris. As they pass the lights of... (full context)
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In the dark, they kiss, but Brett pulls away, begging Jake to understand. Jake asks if she loves him and she "turns... (full context)
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...his injury, but agrees that it is funny, and fun to be in love, but Brett persists that it's hell. She says that it's not about wanting to see Jake but... (full context)
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In the club, a painter named Zisi approaches Brett in order to introduce her to a man named Count Mippipopolous, who has taken a... (full context)
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...his life. Jake comments that he always just played along, but that it was meeting Brett that caused him trouble, and, like all people, she only wanted what she couldn't have.... (full context)
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...in the middle of the night. Downstairs, he finds the concierge dealing with a drunken Brett. Jake brings Brett up to his apartment, where Brett tells him that the count is... (full context)
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...and come down to the car to carry on the evening with the count and Brett. Brett and Jake kiss goodbye. As he watches Brett leave from the window, he pours... (full context)
Chapter 5
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Cohn then asks Jake about Lady Brett Ashley. Jake tells him what he knows: that she's getting a divorce and marrying a... (full context)
Chapter 6
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That night, Jake goes to meet Brett at a hotel. She stands him up. After looking around for her a little bit,... (full context)
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...than the first time. Jake, as narrator, comments that until Cohn fell in love with Brett, he was good at sports and had a boyish, cheerful "undergraduate quality." He had been... (full context)
Chapter 7
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When Jake gets back to his flat, he learns from the concierge that Brett and the count had stopped by, and will return in an hour. They do, with... (full context)
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Jake asks Brett about standing him up. She claims she didn't remember because she was drunk, which Jake... (full context)
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Alone now, Jake asks if they can't just live together, or go to the country. Brett responds that she can't live quietly in the country and doesn't understand why men like... (full context)
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...about the usefulness having a title, and then to the count asserting that even if Brett didn't have a title, she'd still have more class than anyone. He is not joking,... (full context)
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Brett suggests a toast, but the count dislikes mixing up emotion with good wine, as it... (full context)
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They enjoy a good meal, during which the count tells Jake and Brett that they should get married. The two of them respond with quick, evasive answers. When... (full context)
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The three of them continue the night at a dancing club. The count tells Brett and Jake how nice they look dancing, saying he doesn't dance himself but enjoys watching... (full context)
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Jake takes Brett home, while the count prefers to stay a little longer at the club. When they... (full context)
Chapter 8
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Jake doesn't see Brett or Cohn for a good long while. He receives one brief, appropriately warm postcard from... (full context)
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Suddenly they see Brett in a passing taxi. She stops the cab and gets out, reporting that she's just... (full context)
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Before going to meet Brett and Mike, Jake and Bill go for a walk. They cross the Seine and see... (full context)
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When Jake and Bill get to the bar, Brett introduces Mike as a drunkard. Mike is, in fact, drunk, and he keeps commenting about... (full context)
Chapter 9
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That night, Jake runs into Brett and Mike at a bar. Mike apologizes for his drunkenness the evening before, and asks... (full context)
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Once they're alone, Brett asks Jake if Cohn is coming on the trip. When she learns that he is,... (full context)
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Four days later, Brett tells Jake that she's heard back from Cohn, who wants to come even though he... (full context)
Chapter 10
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...meat courses. He seems nervous, and doesn't know that Jake knows about his trip with Brett. Cohn says, with a superior tone, that he doesn't think Brett and Mike will actually... (full context)
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At dinner, Cohn arrives shaved, shampooed, and nervous. Brett and Mike are due on the train, and Cohn wants to go to the station... (full context)
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That night they get a card from Brett, saying they've stopped in San Sebastian. Jake, jealous and angry, spitefully tells Cohn that they... (full context)
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...them. In a confidential tone, he tells Jake that he is afraid that he gave Brett the impression that he would meet them at San Sebastian. Jake thinks that Cohn is... (full context)
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Back at the hotel, Bill says that Cohn told him all about the date with Brett, which makes Jake angry. Bill comments that the funny thing about Cohn is that he... (full context)
Chapter 12
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...nap. As they wind down, Bill asks Jake if he was ever in love with Brett. Jake admits that he was, and Bill offers his sympathy. When they wake, it's late... (full context)
Chapter 13
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One morning at breakfast, Jake gets a letter from Mike saying that Brett fainted on the train, they spent three days in San Sebastian for her to rest,... (full context)
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Jake and Bill find the others at a bar across the square. Mike and Brett are wearing traditional local hats. Bill asks Mike if he knew Harris in the war,... (full context)
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...quivering. Steers (castrated males) mill around to help calms the bulls. As Jake explains to Brett how the bull uses his horns like a boxer, another bull is released and gores... (full context)
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...at which Mike erupts in fury, saying that Cohn is exactly like a steer with Brett, always following her around. Bill takes the upset Cohn for a walk to calm him... (full context)
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...a bad feeling about them. That night, despite everything, the group has a nice meal. Brett looks stunning in a black dress, and Cohn watches her relentlessly. Jake likens it to... (full context)
Chapter 14
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...how different things are in the nighttime than during the day. He curses women, and Brett in particular. He thinks that in order to have a woman as a friend, you... (full context)
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...meeting up for drinks. On the day before the fiesta, Jake goes to church and Brett wants to come along, wanting to see him at confession but he tells her she... (full context)
Chapter 15
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...a religious procession passes outside, a crowd of dancers in a wine shop dance around Brett, as if she's an idol. (full context)
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The bullfights begin that afternoon. Jake and Bill sit close to the action, while Brett, Mike and Cohn sit further up in the stands. Jake warns Brett not to look... (full context)
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When Brett mentions Romero, Mike says she couldn't keep her eyes off him. Mike then adds that... (full context)
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During Romero's next bullfight, Brett sits next to Jake, who explains Romero's skill to her move by move. He shows... (full context)
Chapter 16
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Brett and Mike shout to Jake from across the room. Mike wants him to tell Romero... (full context)
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...and he and Mike decide to go off and make fun of the English tourists. Brett decides to stay behind. Cohn tries to stay with her, but she snaps at him... (full context)
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When they're alone, Brett complains to Jake about Mike and Cohn's behaviors, both of which she finds disgusting. Jake... (full context)
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Brett and Jake take a walk to the old fortifications around the town. Brett asks Jake... (full context)
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...sure enough he does. He accepts Jake's invitation to sit. The attraction between Romero and Brett is immediately obvious: Brett playfully holds his hand and reads his fortune. Jake then translates... (full context)
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Jake leaves Brett and Romero at the table, and as he does so he notices that bullfighters and... (full context)
Chapter 17
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They go to another café, where Cohn finds them. He demands to know where Brett is. Jake claims not to know, but Cohn doesn't believe him. Mike says that Brett... (full context)
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Later that day, Mike berates Brett for having affairs with "Jews and bullfighters." She responds that the British aristocracy is no... (full context)
Chapter 18
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By the next morning, Cohn has left Pamplona. Brett, looking beautiful but with shaking hands, meets Jake, Bill, and Mike at a café. She... (full context)
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Brett and Jake take a walk. Soon, they see a chapel and Brett wants to go... (full context)
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...they reach the hotel, Montoya bows to them but doesn't look happy to see them. Brett goes to Romero's while Jake checks in on Mike. Mike's room is a mess, and... (full context)
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The bullfights begin with a procession and pageantry. Brett is mesmerized at the matadors' bloodstained capes, and marvels at how unphased they all are... (full context)
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Later on, a very drunk Jake goes to Brett's room. There he finds Mike, who tells him that Brett has left Pamplona with Romero... (full context)
Chapter 19
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...is out of money. He has twenty francs left in the world. He adds that Brett also has no money, since she gave it to Montoya to cover Mike's debts. Jake... (full context)
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The next day Jake gets a telegram from Brett, saying she is in trouble, followed quickly by another, asking him to come to Madrid.... (full context)
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When he arrives at Brett's hotel, she kisses him. She explains that she sent Romero away, but wrote to Jake... (full context)
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Jake and Brett go to lunch. Brett has a drink, which steadies her. She says she's decided not... (full context)
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...hot and bright. As they pass a policeman directing traffic and raising a red baton, Brett laments that if only things were different "we could have had such a damned good... (full context)