Saturday, November 28, 2015
Coursera: Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World (Part 5)
The Manly Man in Herland and Princess of Mars
Although Herland is a feminist utopian novel and Princess of Mars is a swashbuckling space western, both of them feature protagonists that can be classified as "manly men". In Herland, this character is Terry, and in a Princess of Mars, the character is John Carter. However, the two books portray the two characters differently.
In Herland, Terry is a character who is a lady-chaser, active and always looking for something "to oppose, to struggle with, to conquer", things Jeff calls "masculine nonsense". In other words, Terry wants "Something Doing", or in other words, an adventure, which explains why "his great aim was exploration". However, in Herland, Terry is the character that cannot adapt, and after attacking his wife, is expelled from the clearly utopian Herland
On the other hand, John Carter in A Princess of Mars is the hero of the story. He has", in his own words, "always outclassed my adversary in agility and generally in strength as well", is made a chieftain although he is a prisoner, and gets the girl. He survives by being the best fighter in a planet that reveres fighting. Although Dejah Thoris can be a strong female character, her principle role is to let John Carter rescue her. This is unlike the women in Herland, who are wise rulers and can think (and stand up) for themselves.
It's clear that the two different types of environments result in the same type of character being seen in two different ways. In a world where peace and maternal wisdom rule, the manly man is unnecessary and the reader is led to see that his actions are destructive for the betterment of society. On the other hand, in a world where fighting is revered and women characters exist to support the male, the manly man is the hero of the story, revered and respected by all.
Thoughts: There seemed to be a few contradictory evaluations this week, but they're all food for thought. Now to finish reading Bradbury by tomorrow (I loved F451, but I haven't read much of this other works.