"A Grown Man Doesn't Cry": Reconsidering Masculinity and Emotionality in E.M. Forster's Maurice
MetadataShow full item record
This thesis explores the paradoxical concurrence of masculinity and emotionality in E.M. Forster's Maurice (1971). Scrutinising the construction of masculinity in early-twentieth-century England, it argues that the novel challenges contemporary norms of English manhood through Maurice’s and Clive’s recurrent and profuse shedding of tears. Generally interpreted as a weakness, emotionality has usually been repressed by men in order to sustain their masculine identity (Jansz 166). Maurice’s continual emotional unrest throughout the novel subverts the requirement for men to be emotionally discreet and demonstrates that repressing emotions clashes with human nature. Linking the novel’s thematisation of tears to Judith Butler’s gender performativity theory (Gender Trouble 1990; Bodies That Matter 1993) as well as previous research on the role of gender in emotional behaviour (Lutz 1999; Jansz 2000; Fivush and Buckner 2000; Ross-Smith and Kornberger 2004), this thesis argues that the recurrence of tears in Maurice undermines the conception of gender as a fixed category. As one of the first literary works to openly thematise homosexuality, Maurice ultimately asks for a reconsideration of the limits of masculinity as well as the exclusion of vulnerable emotion from English manhood.