"Only the rames of a man": Investigating Masculinities in the Novels of Thomas Hardy.

Hayes, Tracy L. (2017). "Only the rames of a man": Investigating Masculinities in the Novels of Thomas Hardy. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000c339


The aim of this thesis is to illustrate the fluid and evolving nature of masculinities as experienced and articulated by Victorian men, and then to examine critically Hardy's representations of such across his novelistic oeuvre in order to identify how his representations differed from, challenged, or subverted those of his contemporaries. Representations of character are analysed in terms of gendering, and rather than basing my readings of Hardy's characters on hetero-normative constructions of nineteenth-century masculinity, I identify and argue for new discursive categories of Victorian masculinity while engaging with social, psycho-sexual and evolutionary/biological constructions of maleness throughout the century. The first chapter establishes a variety of necessary cultural, scientific and social contexts against which Hardy's projections of masculinity can be interpreted. The second chapter comprises a literature review of extant gender criticism addressed to the Hardy corpus, engaging with various approaches and interpretations while demonstrating the extent to which my own readings differ from the critics selected. Chapter three concentrates upon the figure of the Alpha-male as perceived within the social and evolutionary discourses of the nineteenth century, analysing the discursive categories of the lover, the soldier and the androgyne as they appear in both Hardy's fiction and that of his contemporaries. Chapter four identifies the discursive categories of the male as 'other', the 'unman', and the 'man-girl', and their narrative functions within the textual parameters they each occupy. The fifth chapter investigates representations of misogyny and the homosocial, chapter six explores male psychological instability, and the final chapter discusses the concepts of empathy and Stoicism as understood within Victorian society, and how they influence representations of the New Man in Hardy's novels. I conclude by identifying further possible avenues for investigation with regards to Hardy's oeuvre, including how his male characters are portrayed on film, or delineated within his poetry and short stories.

Viewing alternatives

Download history


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions

Item Actions