Masculinity in Great Expectations

Late Victorian Masculinities are bound up with discourses of advancement and appearance. Analyse this declaration with regards to Charles Dickens' Great goals and Oscar Wilde's The Picture ofDorian Gray

This essay will attempt to examine the validity of the abovestatement using the text messages explained, and also referring to existing criticism onthe subject matter. In answering the question, I will break the assertion into twosections. First of all, I'll discuss masculinity in Great Expectations inrelation to advancement, considering Pip's transition from humble beginnings to amore flamboyant presence, and how this fits in with Darwin's theory ofevolution. Aswell as this, I will take a look at how masculinity is symbolized insome of the other individuals, and lastly to what level Pip's life history cantruly be reported to be an progression.

Next, I'll discuss masculinityin The Picture of Dorian Gray in relation to aesthetics. This part ofthe essay will focus on the way the portrayals of masculinity in the novel fit inwith the idea of Art work for art's sake, promoted by followers of the aestheticmovement. Specifically I will take a look at the id of the eponymous hero, whoembodies a lot of the cosmetic ideal. There will also be a factor of theunderlying theme of homosexuality and exactly how some criticism has suggested that theaesthetes used such styles to be able to illustrate their own ideas aboutidentity and masculinity. I will then consider to what extent looks arepart of the representation of masculinity in the book.

Masculinity in Great Objectives doescertainly intertwine with the idea of advancement. Pip is in many ways thearchetypal bildungsroman, progressing from a simple home life in ruralKent, to London and lot of money (although his finishing does represent a variant onthis principle). His masculinity is developed along the way. In early on chapters, he is governed basically by fear, such as the reader's first encounter with Mrs. Joe, where he is educated that he's in trouble. At this dismal intelligence, Ilooked disconsolately at the fire. Tickler was a wax-ended piece of cane.

Contrast this with his behaviour down the road in the book, after he has begun to make his way on the planet - Being on one occasion threatened with legal proceedingsI went as far as to seize the Avenger by his blue training collar and tremble him off his feet. By comparisons like this, we can view a relationship between the type of personal advancement, common to the Victorian book, undergone by Pip, and an increase in recognized masculine attributes, such as dominance and physical aggression.

However, underneath this, there is perhaps amore clinical form of advancement under dialogue. No novel is accessible in avacuum, and being published in 1861, Great Expectations Darwin'sgroundbreaking Origin of Kinds by only two years. Darwin mentions theStruggle for Lifetime, where all life strives to reach your goals, identifies some key factors in this success. I should premise that I take advantage of theterm struggle for life in a big and metaphorical sense, includingdependence of 1 being on another, and including, which is more important, notonly the life of the average person however the success in leaving progeny.

Pip's struggle is clearly dependent on others, for example Magwitch, his benefactor, and it is eventually Joe who helps him in his time of need. Interestingly, however, he does not have an heir. Indeed, in the original ending, Pip notes in an unmistakably gloomy firmness Estella's a reaction to Little Pip, She intended the child, I believe, to be my child. In this sense, Pip's progression can be seen to be imperfect. But what will this mean with regard to masculinity?

It is interesting to notice that masculinity in GreatExpectations is not limited to the male character types. One example of this isMrs. Joe, who, as one critic notes, wore the pants in the household, while Joeserves as an effete and effeminate child like physique. Since Joe'ssimple character evolves significantly less than Pip, this might be observed as fitted in withDarwin, but, as has already been stated, Joe achieves the best inevolution - leaving progeny - while Pip does not. In the same way, Mrs Havisham isgiven a slightly masculine-tinted information - her tone had fallen, so thatshe spoke low, - and yet she is arguably the most static characterin the book, being unable to move beyond the trauma of her recent. Inside the lightof this, it seems doubtful that Dickens supposed a strictly evolutionary picture.

Although there is a hyperlink in the book between masculinity and evolution, the two do not go entirely together. Dickens uses the bildungsroman model, but Pip's development is one of acceptance of his role in life as opposed to the outright triumph evolutionary theory suggests. However, I do not assume that Dickens set out to critique Darwin either. The novel's talk of masculinity sometimes coincides with development, and sometimes will not. I think it would be fair to state that Dickens was inspired by the result of development on masculinity, but his character types' successes and failures do unfit within any distinct theory.

In The Picture of Dorian Gray, masculinity is associated less to advancement and even more to aesthetics. This is largelya result of Wilde's adherence to the key points of the visual movement, particularly that of Artwork for Art's sake. This includes the theory, outlinedin the novel's preface, that Artwork can be an entity alone and this its ownbeauty, rather than its interpretation or purpose, is exactly what provides it the right to exist -All skill is quite pointless. This idea permeates the primary character, Dorian Gray, in lots of ways, not least in the id of his masculinity. This is observed in Lord Henry's description of him in the first section -this young Adonis, who appears as if he was made out of ivory and rose leaves. Whyhe is a Narcissus. Using its classical sources and focus onphysical attributes rather than personality characteristics, this presents aquite different masculine ideal from whatever the evolutionists favoured. Masculinity here is perhaps closer to the Platonic ideal, and there is noparticular emphasis on such traits as physical durability and courage, eitherphysical or moral, with that your bildungsroman might be associated.

Moreover, some of the most fundamental aspectsof masculinity are challenged. Wilde was, of course, a homosexual, and thistheme is implicitly covered within the Picture of Dorian Grey. For instance, although all of the main characters have heterosexual connections, such asDorian's love for Sybil Vane, there's a advice of homosexuality as well. The men are certainly homosocial, and there are implications in therelationship between Lord Henry and Dorian. The past discussions very dotingly tohis protg, right up to the finish of the reserve, My dear boy, You are much toodelightful, etc, and perhaps more significantly, it isDorian's visual appearance that first attract him. This affects the way masculinity isdealt with in the novel in the respect that it takes away the component of hoping towin the female love interest that people see in Great Targets. DespiteDorian's quick fixation with Sybil, women seem largely incidental to the livesof the main male characters. That is arguably because they are onlyrequired when they are of visual value, not for his or her emotional insight. Dorian does not in the end let Sybil's suicide hinder thepseudo-homosexual, plus more aesthetic, marriage he has with Lord Henry.

Critics have recommended that thisis part of any movement in world where Wilde as well as others helped bring forwardidentity politics, the idea that individuals can view themselves in thelight with their deviations from the norms of contemporary society, often enjoying aspects ofthemselves that some might consider unusual or even immoral. As Audrey Jaffenotes, the contrast between beautiful and unappealing images of Dorian Grayreproduces the aesthetics of contemporary id politics, in which identitytakes shape as the difference between positive and negative culturalprojections. That is possibly the biggest distinction with GreatExpectations.

Whereas Pip's manhood is seen as complete when he has learned to simply accept his place in the globe, Dorian's masculinity is identified by his unwillingness to conform. It is his aesthetic make-up which makes him a man. The implied homosexuality is part of that, since it includes breaking the taboos of population. Matching to Jaffe, we may catch the first strains associated with an identity politics whose anthem will eventually become noisy enough to make itself read even on St Patrick's Day. In this respect, appearance are central to the novel's portrayal of masculinity, although characters like Adam Vane do represent a more traditional viewpoint, showing such qualities as confrontation, family commitment and defence of one's honour.

In summary, the representationof masculinity in Great Prospects does indeed nod to a discourse onevolution. Dickens uses the bildungsroman model, and there's a genuine senseof development, and with it, the surge of masculinity. In some respects, Darwinian theory is reinforced, as with Pip's dependence on others in thestruggle for lifestyle. However, his failure to sire offspring and hissomewhat humbled ending conflict with ideas of evolution. As well as this, you have the account that masculine characteristics tend to be given tocharacters that do not develop, such as Pass up Havisham, while the hen-pecked Joeachieves the ultimate evolutionary success in reproducing. This might seem to be tolead to the conclusion that Dickens was alert to evolution, also to some extentinfluenced by it, but did not use it as the sole basis for portrayingmasculinity.

By comparison, The Picture ofDorian Grey shows a primary connect to the principles of the aestheticmovement. Along with his looks and his sensual approach to life, Dorian embodies muchof the movement's ethos, and his masculinity is described in terms of his charmand visual appeal. The undercurrent of homosexuality in the e book reinforcesthis. By failing to conform to the ideals of Victorian society, Dorian isrepresentative of a kind of masculinity that relates to identity politics. Instead of taking the moralistic route to manhood, he celebrates the wonder ofhis deviance. In this esteem, his masculinity is totally visual, as it isdefined by his individual beauty, and the comparison between positive andnegative views of him. However, Outdoors will portray other, more traditional formsof masculinity, albeit marginally, in the type of James Vane.

Evolution and looks, therefore, do play a significant part in late Victorian masculinity. Thebildungsroman can be an evolutionary body, while aesthetic portrayals of men werebeginning to come quickly to the fore in this era. However, it's important toremember these ideas do not govern masculinity totally, mainly becausewriters are artists and not just theorists. Although Wilde does stick to aprincipal more tightly than Dickens, both creators show a determination to breakaway from theory when it is necessary for creative purposes.


Charles Dickens, Great Targets, Wordsworth, 2003, (Ch. 2, pg. 7)

Charles Dickens, Great Prospects, Wordsworth, 2003, (Ch. 34, pg. 223)

Charles Darwin, Source of Species, 1859, (Ch 3 - The Have difficulty for Existence)

Charles Dickens, Great Goals, Wordsworth, 2003, (original ending)

Wayne Huang, Problems of autobiography and fictional biography in Great Prospects, www. victorianweb. org/authors/dickens/ge/huangcd. html (1997)

Charles Dickens, Great Targets, Wordsworth, 2003, (Ch. 8, pg. 50)

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Grey, The Complete Illustrated Works of Oscar Wilde, Chancellor Press, 1991, (Preface, pg. 4)

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, THE ENTIRE Illustrated Works of Oscar Wilde, Chancellor Press, 1991, (Ch. 1, pg 5)

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Complete Illustrated Works of Oscar Wilde, Chancellor Press, 1991, (Ch. 19, pg. 147)

Audrey Jaffe, The Looks of Cultural Personal information: Embodying Culture, www. victorianweb. org/authors/wilde/jaffe2. html (No particular date)

Audrey Jaffe, Sympathy and the Embodiment of Culture in Wilde's Portrait of Dorian Grey, Cornell University Press, 2000 (pg. 167)

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