English (United States)
This thesis explores the relationship between Victorian discourses on masculinity and three works of popular fiction written in England in the 1880s and 90s. I discuss Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray. While Doyle celebrates the fact that Holmes and Watson both possess a mixture of masculine and feminine traits, Stevenson and Wilde heavily condemn their male characters that do not conform (most notably Jekyll and Dorian). Informed by historical research, I divide Victorian debates on masculinity into three broad categories and consider their implications on these fictional narratives. First, I address the notion of the home as a feminine space and the external workplace as a masculine one. Secondly, I explore Victorian ideals of masculine athleticism, outdoorsmanship, and courage. Finally, I speak to Max Nordeau's conception of a degenerate. I conclude by analyzing early illustrations of these stories, as well as their adaptations for screen and stage in the modern era.
Shanis, Bodie Stone, ""The Frightful Degradation of Manhood": Masculinity in Victorian Popular Fiction" (2018). Honors Theses - All. 2015.
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