Domesticated Bachelors and Femininity in Victorian Novels
Domestic issues, chastity, morality, marriage and love are concerns we typically associate with Victorian female characters. But what happens when men in Victorian novels begin to engage in this type of feminine discourse? While we are familiar with certain Victorian women seeking freedom by moving beyond the domestic sphere, there is an equally interesting movement by the domestic man into the private space through his performance of femininity.
This book defines the domesticated bachelor, examines the effects of the blurring of boundaries between the public and private spheres, and traces the evolution of the public discourse on masculinity in novels such as Brontë’s Shirley, Braddon’s Lady Audley’s Secret, Eliot’s Daniel Deronda, and Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. This bachelor, along with his female counterpart, the New Woman, opens up for discussion new definitions of Victorian masculinity and gender boundaries and blurs the rigid distinction between the gendered spaces thought to be in place during the Victorian period.