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What Makes a Man?: Hegemonic Masculinity in Arms and the Man by G.B. Shaw
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Education.
2011 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The focus of this essay is the interaction between the male characters in the play Arms and the Man by George Bernard Shaw and how those characters position themselves according to R.W. Connell’s theories on hegemonic masculinity. Connell’s theories can be productively applied to Shaw’s play, highlighting many similarities and exposing interesting patterns. The most striking example of this is the fact that Captain Bluntschli, the character that finally reaches the top of the hierarchical ladder of hegemonic masculinity, does that by repudiating conventional masculine ideals where patriotism, soldiering and violence are core ingredients. Bluntschli’s ascendance within the hierarchy is built upon consent from the other male characters in the play, which is in line with what Connell argues about complicity being one of the most important factors of hegemonic masculinity. The other male characters jointly give way to Bluntschli, thus accepting his general critique of what they used to consider self-evident masculine values and ideals that they have felt compelled to live up to. For Major Sergius Saranoff the new way to look upon masculinity implies great relief. He can finally give in to his true self and let down his guard against the people around him, and he also dares follow his heart and marry below his class.    My conclusion is that Shaw, apart from satirizing love, war and heroism, wanted Arms and the Man to convey a message that there are alternative ways for men to gain respect and be considered highly masculine than through violence, economic power and oppression. If Shaw had been presented with Connell’s theories on hegemonic masculinity he would probably have felt even more inspired in his mission to argue against destructive masculine ideals as expressed in patriotism and war.


Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. , 20 p.
Keyword [en]
G.B. Shaw, Arms and the Man, hegemonic masculinity, gender, Bluntschli, patriotism
National Category
Languages and Literature
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-9315Local ID: ENG C-37OAI: diva2:484345
Subject / course
Humanities, Theology
Available from: 2012-02-01 Created: 2012-01-24 Last updated: 2016-04-12Bibliographically approved

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