Essay on Masculinity, Masculinity And Femininity

Essay on Masculinity, Masculinity And Femininity

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Masculinity and femininity are vastly important topics of this day and age, but they were also important topics in the 20th century as well. Authors like James Joyce who wrote The Dead were battling this forefront topic in 1914. Masculinity is the characterization of male qualities that are associated with men, such as aggressiveness and emotion-less attributes (Farlex). Femininity is described as the characterization of female qualities associated with females, it is essentially the nature of the female sex (Merriam-Webster). Joyce wrote in favor of masculinity that is to say at least in The Dead he did. In The Dead, Joyce provides perfect examples of this battle between masculinity and femininity—and the lack thereof of the latter.
The main character Gabriel Conroy seems to approve of female characters only as if they are background noise and only there to feed his ego—or push him further in the social/cultural world. These female characters lack the voice they need to become a realistic/in-depth character, based on that aspect. Throughout the story, males get explicit speaking voices versus females who do not. One of them goes by the name of Freddy Malins¬ and he gets that explicit description and favorable speaking role(s). Freddy is described with descriptive wording such as, “A young man about forty, was of Gabriel’s size and build, with very round shoulders. His face was fleshy and pallid, touched with colour only at the thick hanging lobes of his ears and at the wide wings of his nose” (Joyce, 28).
When Aunt Julia and Kate first enter they are described by Joyce as, “Miss Kate and Miss Julia were there, gossiping and laughing and fussing, walking after each other to the head of the stairs, peering down over the banisters...


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...y a male in the choir. Aunt Kate explains how the pope turned the choir around and women were no longer allowed to be in it, “Women work hard, if not more than males, and they just get rid of them like that” (Joyce, 36). As a reader, you can state that Joyce is showing some compassion by showing the voice, it is not entirely silenced like it was supposed to be at the time. With that, there comes the point of the abrupt silence you see in the following pages with dialogue. He mentions the issue, but never develops it. Joyce never elaborates on that issue any more than a few sentences, which leads back to the silenced characters. What Joyce does is he starts to allow them to have struggles and issues, then takes it back and silences them again. When Norris stated how the female characters don’t succeed in making themselves unsilenced and this is a good example of that.

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