Essay on High Pressure Days: Masculinity in American Literature

953 Words 4 Pages
There is a specific stereotype or image that is associated with what a proper man should be and strive for. It is the image of the in-control, manly, and always-dominant workingman that is constantly demanded by mainstream society. Reputation is an important factor that lays into how men carry themselves and act as people. Throughout history and literature, a very respectable reputation and a prominent status are two of the goals that men work toward. From the Puritan Era, the Victorian Age, and the 1920s, men constantly seek to maintain their “manliness” as most demonstrated through the efforts of John Proctor, Texas Ranger LaBouef, and Jay Gatsby. A method of forcing one’s masculinity is controlling women and others. John …show more content…
In order to regain his control of Mary, he resorts to the chief fear of the Puritan colonists: God. As Proctor soon realizes that his reputation will never be able to be restored, he exclaims, “I say – God is dead!” and “God damns our kind especially” (Miller 111). American psychologist and author, William J. McGill, refers to John Proctor’s trial to regain his reputation, in The Crucible of History: Arthur Miller’s John Proctor as a “passion” which he defended “at the cost of his life.” Proctor gave his life so that he would not have to face society. He chose and valued his reputation over his own life and those he kept close. LaBouef, a Texas Ranger in Charles Portis’s novel True Grit, is a man caught between the declines of the Victorian Age ideal for men. When Mattie Ross first sees LaBouef, she notices “[his] spurs” that “were the big Mexican kind with big rowels” (Portis 78). LaBouef wears very flashy and unnecessary clothing and accessories, like his spurs. He is overcompensating for not meeting certain expectations as a person. As a result of him trying too hard, he can come across as strange, when he threatens to give Mattie “five or six good licks with [his] belt” (Portis 83). He tried to be assertive and superior to Mattie, when it completely backfired and made him appear to be just bizarre. Stearns mentions that advice given in the Victorian years “urged males and females” to “prepare for distinct gender roles” (Stearns 37). LaBouef

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