Degeneration of masculinity in the fictions of Franz Kafka and Fyodor Dostoevsky
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v, 93 pages
DepartmentTowson University. Department of Humanities
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The portraiture of masculinity in Western literature has changed overtime. There has been a shift from traditional traits of masculinity, to atypical traits of maleness as seen in modern fictions. The typical attributes of masculinity such as achievement, virility and patriarchal hegemony with which male heroes in pre- Victorian and Victorian literatures were endowed, are notably absent in the major works of Franz Kafka and Fyodor Dostoevsky. This study is an analysis of the male characters' degenerated masculinity in Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment and The Idiot, and Kafka's A Hunger Artist and The Metamorphosis. Using Victorian masculinity as an example of traditional masculinity, I identify the male characters' atypical traits of masculinity and interpret them as degenerated. The male characters' degenerated masculinity are identified and analyzed in terms of their deviations from familial and socially constructed gender roles that were prevalent in the Victorian literary tradition.