Don't be a fool - play the man! : imperial masculinity in victorian adventure novels
Late nineteenth-century Victorian adventure novels offer a complex depiction of manhood in relation to colonial adversaries. H. Rider Haggard's 1880s novels portray imperial adventure as an opportunity for masculine rejuvenation, while later adventure novels express a sense of imperial dread and suggest that adventure traumatizes, instead of rejuvenates, masculinity. All of these novels offer insight into a larger shift in Victorian thought concerning Britain's role as an imperial power.
The novels define masculinity in two distinct ways: as modern and as medieval. Each novel approaches modern manhood as impotent when faced with the colonial threat, but the narratives all offers a different interpretation of medieval masculinity, underscoring the vexed nature of the Victorian's relationship with the past. H. Rider Haggard's novels, King Solomon's Mines (1885) and She (1887), suggest that imperial adventure offers modern manhood rejuvenation and purpose through interaction and eventual suppression of the colonial female. Haggard offers an optimistic portrayal of adventure because of both the men's distinctly medieval form of physical rejuvenation and the men's ability to influence the landscape in their favor.
Authors Bram Stoker and Richard Marsh present a vastly different interpretation of empire and medieval masculinity in their 1897 novels Dracula and The Beetle. Adventure traumatizes the men in the later novels, and their hysteria attests to their effeminate lack of masculine virility. The 1897 novels critique both the optimistic depiction of imperial adventure and the unnatural reliance on medieval forms of masculinity offered in novels such as Haggard's.
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Jones, Anna Maria
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)
College of Arts and Humanities
Arts and Humanities -- Dissertations, Academic;Dissertations, Academic -- Arts and Humanities
Length of Campus-only Access
Honors in the Major Thesis
Broussard, Brittany, "Don't be a fool - play the man! : imperial masculinity in victorian adventure novels" (2008). HIM 1990-2015. 785.