What are some of the characteristics of Robert Wilson from the story "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber"?

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Wilson, like most human beings, has a personality that is a mixture of good and bad, to put it simply. By the standards of our time regarding gender issues, he doesn't come off very well. Though we have no way of knowing how he treats women in general, his attitude...

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Wilson, like most human beings, has a personality that is a mixture of good and bad, to put it simply. By the standards of our time regarding gender issues, he doesn't come off very well. Though we have no way of knowing how he treats women in general, his attitude toward Margot is one of at best condescension and at worst contempt, in spite of the fact that he gladly takes advantage of her nocturnal appearance in his tent. Margot herself is contemptuous of her husband and, we learn, has a history of infidelity to him even before the lion incident, but this doesn't justify the cruel way Wilson speaks to her at the close of the story, after the shooting of Macomber.

Wilson exemplifies the attitude of men who believe in the basic virtue of courage in the face of physical danger. He also is at least outwardly respectful to others, regardless of what he may think of them, until some glaring fault in them pushes him over the edge, as happens eventually with both Macomber and Margot. For instance, after Macomber has fled from the lion, Wilson initially doesn't say or do anything to show the contempt he feels for him. He mentions nothing about Macomber's cowardice and tries to turn the subject away from any discussion of what has occurred. Even after Macomber has shown himself a "bloody four-letter man" as well as a coward by asking Wilson if he is going to talk about the incident at the Club, Wilson at first continues to act respectfully, quietly reassuring Macomber, though telling him "it's considered bad form" to ask a professional hunter such a question. Wilson's refraining from telling Macomber what he really thinks of him is partly due to Wilson's professionalism, to the fact that Macomber is his client. But one senses that Wilson is basically not an unkind man, and that it's simply not in his nature under most circumstances to take advantage of another person's weakness or to "hit a man when he's down." It really is only the following morning, and briefly, that Wilson's contempt has grown to the point where he talks down to Macomber, saying "I'd pull yourself together, laddy-buck," and taunts him, though in a veiled way, by describing last night's sleep as "topping."

Wilson nevertheless has empathy and helps Macomber in the latter's process of finding himself, of gaining courage for the first time in his life. It is almost an understatement when he tells Margot, after the catastrophe has occurred, "I was beginning to like your husband." But this seems to be an empathy reserved only for men. Margot herself is a cold woman, though we have little knowledge of the backstory of her marriage that might be responsible for her own contempt for her husband. But Wilson's attitude to her is misogynistic, as he now taunts her by saying, "Why didn't you poison him?" and, when she pleads for him to stop, responding, "Please is better. Now I'll stop."

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Robert Wilson appears to be the ideal Hemingway male - masculine, strong, unemotional, coveted by women, and, above all, fearless. Yet notice as the story progresses that he is not really all we are led to believe. Remember, he is hired by Francis and his wife, so he is really at their service. Plus, there is that quote about him traveling with the rich and fast type of high society people, whose wives don\'t feel like they have gotten their money\'s worth until they have slept with the great white hunter. So even though Wilson appears to be the ideal Hemingway male, he also has a very pathetic side to him as well.

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Well, no character has just a single characteristic, but if I had to name just one, in Hemingway's world, Wilson is masculine. He is a hunter, he's confident, he's calm, he's assertive, and all of those describe him (though technically "hunter" is not an adjective).

If you'd accepted other terms based on his emotional tone, he is cool, judgmental, and opportunistic. Finally, he is flexible/adaptable: he can change to meet the needs of the situation, which Macomber cannot.

 

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