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Title: Men and 'presence' : constructions of masculinity in selected novels of Thomas Hardy
Author: Tanoori, Khatereh
ISNI:       0000 0004 2731 4333
Awarding Body: University of Newcastle Upon Tyne
Current Institution: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Date of Award: 2012
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The novels of Thomas Hardy have long been the subject of gender analysis, resulting in a voluminous body of fruitful criticism; comparatively few critics, however, have focussed on the issue of masculinity in these novels. This study aims to contribute to the work so far written on Hardy and masculinity by providing a new reading of six of Hardy’s novels, investigating their portrayal of masculinity in the light of social-constructionist theories of masculinity and Foucauldian theories. The novels which will be examined (in chronological order) are Far from the Madding Crowd (1874), Two on a Tower (1882), The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), The Woodlanders (1887), Tess of the d’Urbervilles (1891) and Jude the Obscure (1895). The male characters in these novels are shown to constitute themselves through the gender and class structures and discourses of their time. What is less clear, however, is the extent to which they are constrained by these forces and the extent to which they resist them. Hardy’s novels, as this study demonstrates, recognise the determining role of social structures in the construction of masculinity. To term themselves ‘men’ Hardy’s male characters have to operate within the domain of contemporary social structures and discourses, which have already delineated the ways in which they should formulate themselves. Governed by the prevailing discourses of masculinity, these characters appear mainly to define themselves in terms of power but the novels expose the limitations of such a construction of masculinity. These constraints are underscored more forcefully as Hardy moves towards the end of his writing career, which explains the growing tragic vision of the novels. Although they are restricted by social structures, however, Hardy’s male characters are not completely trapped in them. Rather, the relationship between these structures and characters is portrayed to be a dynamic one; the structures which constitute the characters are actually shaped by them through their gender practices. The possibility of a limited resistance to these social forces therefore exists, as this study reveals. This research situates the exploration of masculinity in Hardy’s novels in the context of his philosophy, attempting to highlight Hardy’s perception not only of the ways in which gender is formulated but also of the mechanisms of change. The prevailing structures of masculinity are thus shown to be open to gradual change.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available