Event Title

Masculinity, Femininity, and Gender Roles: Character Analysis in The House of the Seven Gables and The Wide, Wide World

Presenter Information

Megan ByrdFollow

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Ann Bebe

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Date of Publication

April 2021

Abstract

Societies are known to change over time, as do social roles and expectations. Literature is one art form that can indicate social change by mirroring values held by authors and readers. Furthermore, it can inspire discussion and conflict over notions of proper social behavior and conventional gender roles. In studying classic American Renaissance literature, one can compare historical and modern societal standards and explore social change, evaluating participant security and growth in their individual personal identities. This paper will explore masculinity, femininity, and gender roles, and analyze a selection of multi-dimensional characters in American Renaissance novels The House of the Seven Gables (1851) by Nathaniel Hawthorne and The Wide, Wide World (1850) by Susan Warner. While Hawthorne and Warner depict characters that appear to support modern-conservative views in encouraging masculinity in men and femininity in women, a closer inspection will reveal inconsistencies and even challenges to these ideas. These inconsistencies and challenges will prove that limitations posed by the pressures of social gender roles and expectations are detrimental to both character and human development. Not only do they hinder personal growth opportunities, they can produce feelings of insecurity and prevent people from reaching their full potential as well-rounded human beings. Social change may meet resistance, but progressive changes in how we consider masculinity, femininity, and gender roles can help alleviate social constraints and better the individual, which will in turn better society as a whole.

Keywords

Masculinity, Femininity, Gender Roles

Persistent Identifier

http://hdl.handle.net/10950/3111

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Apr 16th, 11:00 AM Apr 16th, 12:00 PM

Masculinity, Femininity, and Gender Roles: Character Analysis in The House of the Seven Gables and The Wide, Wide World

Societies are known to change over time, as do social roles and expectations. Literature is one art form that can indicate social change by mirroring values held by authors and readers. Furthermore, it can inspire discussion and conflict over notions of proper social behavior and conventional gender roles. In studying classic American Renaissance literature, one can compare historical and modern societal standards and explore social change, evaluating participant security and growth in their individual personal identities. This paper will explore masculinity, femininity, and gender roles, and analyze a selection of multi-dimensional characters in American Renaissance novels The House of the Seven Gables (1851) by Nathaniel Hawthorne and The Wide, Wide World (1850) by Susan Warner. While Hawthorne and Warner depict characters that appear to support modern-conservative views in encouraging masculinity in men and femininity in women, a closer inspection will reveal inconsistencies and even challenges to these ideas. These inconsistencies and challenges will prove that limitations posed by the pressures of social gender roles and expectations are detrimental to both character and human development. Not only do they hinder personal growth opportunities, they can produce feelings of insecurity and prevent people from reaching their full potential as well-rounded human beings. Social change may meet resistance, but progressive changes in how we consider masculinity, femininity, and gender roles can help alleviate social constraints and better the individual, which will in turn better society as a whole.