In his essay, “Margot Macomber’s Gimlet,” Bert Bender examines the complex psychological condition that afflicts Margot Macomber in Ernest Hemingway’s short story by the same name. Through an analysis of the symbolism and diction employed by Hemingway, Bender argues that Margot is a manifestation of her husband Robert’s fear of female sexuality, but also a representation of his desire for it. In other words, he desires and fears her simultaneously.
This ambivalence is expressed through numerous symbols throughout the text: from Margot’s gimlet (which contains both quenching and poisonous substances), to her fawn hunting outfit which suggests both innocence and sexual provocation. Furthermore, while Robert often speaks in hyper-masculine terms—for instance referring to himself as “the hunter”—Bender notes how he constantly battles with his own role as a successful man in society who must prove himself through violence against women or animals alike. This fact culminates when Robert kills Margot at the end of the story; having been unable to control either his fear or desire for her. Therefore, Bender ultimately concludes that Hemingway uses this story to illustrate how men take out their anxieties towards female sexuality on women themselves; thereby preventing them from fully realizing their potential in society.