Date of Degree
N. John Hall
English Language and Literature
Studies of Victorian masculinities have been primarily concerned with how men defined and were defined within the public sphere. This limited focus has ignored their private and domestic lives, itself an exemplification of the separate sphere theory. This dissertation explores what I called the masculinity/ marriage dilemma, a situation in which men feel that they must choose between a public life and a private one. George Eliot's male characters are divided, feeling themselves pulled in what they perceived as two different routes towards manhood. Related to this predicament are issues of power, particularly between men and women, men and other men, and within men themselves.
One of the misconceptions that most of George Eliot's male characters share is that masculinity is fixed and secure. However, she continually challenges this view, demonstrating that ideas of masculinities are always changing and unstable. Her novels, beginning with Adam Bede (1859) and ending with Daniel Deronda (1876), present a new set of external and internal circumstances that force her male characters to reconsider the ways of being a man. While some stubbornly persists on old ways, others emerge as "new men." Regardless of whether these characters succeed or fail, George Eliot reveals that male lives are both intricate and multilayered.
Sexton, Danny, "Divided Men: The Masculinity/Marriage Dilemma in the Novels of George Eliot" (2009). CUNY Academic Works.