Craig W. Elkins - Honors in English and History
"We Shall Simply Have to Cast Them Off": Mansfield's and Hemingway's
Challenges to Early Twentieth Century Gender Roles of Feminism
The goal of this thesis is to analyze, both through literary and historical analytical methods, Katherine Mansfield's and Ernest Hemingway's challenges to social constructions of masculinity and femininity that were present in early twentieth century Western societies. I have chosen to examine Mansfield's "The Tiredness of Rosabel" and "Prelude" and Hemingway's "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber" and "The Snows of Kilimanjaro." I hope to show these authors not simply as writers of short fiction, but rather as social critics who were using their writings as criticisms of society's codes of masculinity and femininity during the years spanning from around 1900 to 1936. However, I am not only analyzing the literature of Mansfield and Hemingway; I am placing the fiction in its historical context as well. In my analysis of "The Tiredness of Rosabel," I am also looking at the suffragist movement in Great Britain from 1900 to 1914, the role of the average workingwoman in that movement, the social class hierarchy in Britain at the time, along with the use of the romance novel to keep women in their traditional, subservient roles. In my analysis of "Prelude," I provide historical information concerning the suffragist movement in New Zealand from the 1880s to 1893. A chapter that explains the guidelines established by Theodore Roosevelt to help men regain their masculine identities sets up the section of my thesis that is devoted to Hemingway's challenges to early twentieth century ideals of masculinity. I believe that Ernest Hemingway directly challenges society's and Roosevelt's expectations of men. The Hemingway chapter provides information concerning the safari culture of the 1920s and 30s, which served as a ground for men to prove their manhood. Roosevelt argued that a man needed to go to the African savannah and conquer the wild beast in order to reclaim his masculinity. Hemingway's "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber" and "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" serve as challenges to Roosevelt's philosophy. Therefore, I am using literary and historical analyses of Mansfield and Hemingway to show that they were indeed aware of the restrictive social codes of masculinity and femininity that surrounded their societies, and that these authors were trying to point out that these codes were just to hard for men and women to follow.