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Francis Macomber
Francis Macomber is a man of enough wealth that he can afford a private, guided hunting trip in Africa. He is a man of questionable courage who is more comfortable shooting from the car than stalking his prey on foot. His humiliation at being cuckolded prompts him to an act of foolish bravery that reveals in its outcome his wife’s lack of faith in him. His marriage to Margot is not a happy one, but Hemingway tells us that “Macomber had too much money for Margot ever to leave him.” After he flees from a lion that he has wounded, his wife sleeps with their guide, Robert Wilson. Hemingway’s statement that Macomber “was dressed in the same sort of safari clothes that Wilson wore except that his were new” illustrates the essential difference between these two men. Wilson is what Macomber pretends to be—a hunter and, at least in the eyes of Margot Macomber, a man. Macomber tries to rectify this by standing his ground before a charging buffalo. Just as he takes aim, however, he is felled by a gunshot from his wife.

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Margaret Macomber
Margaret Macomber’s love for her husband is debatable at best. She seems much more interested in flirting with their guide, Robert Wilson, than in encouraging her husband. In fact, she is brazen and unabashed about her sexual dalliance with Wilson and taunts her husband with it. Hemingway writes that she is “an extremely handsome and well-kept woman.” The phrase “well-kept” is particularly revealing in its multiple meanings. On one hand, Margot is fashionable and presents herself well. Furthermore, she is “kept” by her husband in a state of luxurious affluence. Ironically, she is not “well-kept” by her husband at all, as she freely and unapologetically commits adultery. Her marriage to Francis Macomber is obviously not a happy one, but, as Hemingway writes, “Margot was too beautiful for Macomber to divorce her.” She is critical, abrasive and petulant. She shoots and kills her husband just as he is standing his ground in a moment of danger, but the reader is left to consider whether this final act is one of concern that arises from love or pity, or of convenience that arises from hate and disdain. That Margot is spoiled is certain. Whether she is a cold-blooded murderer has been the subject of critical debate for decades.

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Robert Wilson
Robert Wilson is...

(The entire section contains 631 words.)

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Critical Essays