Beyond consummate masculinity : implications of differing masculinities in Patrick O'Brian's novels
Casey, Jamin Allen.
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There has been a lot written about gender studies in the nineteenth century and there have been comparisons between Patrick O'Brian's writing and Jane Austen's. I look at masculinity and how O'Brian may be demonstrating something interesting about the similarities and the differences between a nineteenth century masculinity a more modern concept of masculinity through the fictional characters in his Master and Commander Series. In order to evaluate his representation of the nineteenth century man I look at representations from the period by authors including Frederick Marryat and Jane Austen. The connection between Jane Austen and Patrick O'Brian is clearly outlined by many theorists as O'Brian was an ardent fan of Austen and, arguably, emulated her works.Marryat and Austen serve as a control group to give accurate representations of concepts of masculinity from the early nineteenth century against which to place O'Brian's characters and make some interesting comments about the comparison. More than simply comparing period authors to a modern author writing about the period, I focus on the difference between the two primary characters in O'Brian's novels. I argue that Jack Aubrey demonstrates a Consummate Masculinity of the early nineteenth century while Stephen Maturin, though not conforming to the type of masculinity demonstrated by Jack, is still masculine. From Stephen's difference we can see ways in which O'Brian reveals how masculinity has moved beyond the possibility of a Consummate Masculinity to a broader, more modern, concept of what it means to be a man.