Emphatically Masculine Novel: the Role of the Feminine

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The majority of the readers of H. Rider Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines (1885) focus on the Imperialism and how white men overcome the difficulties and save Kukuanaland from the tyrant King Twala. I agree here that Haggard wants to present how men overcome difficulties in the land where they have never been. It is a masculine novel because men are represented as fighters for the truth who are not afraid to die as long as the justice is ruling the society. On the contrary, women are represented as weak or as evil human beings who have to be saved or destroyed. Nevertheless, they play a major role in the journey of these men. Foulata saves Captain Good. Gagaoola tries to kill them all. Other element of feminine in this novel is that the body of the woman is represented in the map which helps them to reach their destination where the land itself is placed between two breasts of Sheba.

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H. Rider Haggard’s adventure novel King Solomon’s Mines (1885) is read as the adventurous story of Allan Quatermain, Captain John Good, Sir Henry Curtis who are three white men and Umbopa, who is native habitat and a prince of Kukuanaland. They search for Sir Henry Curtis missing brother and on their way they want to find the mines of King Solomon where the diamonds are hidden. At the beginning of the novel Haggard dedicates his book “to all the big and little boys who read it”. It is an indication that this novel deals with situations where the masculinity and manliness has to be proven and fought for. Considering the fact that this book was read at schools and in public it points out topics like courage, bravery, men’s will to achieve their goals and pornographic description of men’s body in general . The solders of Kukuanaland seem to be determined to follow the rules. They are brave and do not show any weakness or fear. Well known fictional characters like James Bond and Allan Quatermain have to overcome difficulties, escape traps and show survival skills in order to prove that they are brilliant marksmen. It can be seen as an example of manliness. It should be taken into account that the war was won because all men fought together to establish justice and reclaim the Throne. This image of manliness is still accurate in some parts of the world. For example in Uzbekistan men are considered weak if they cry, complain, demonstrate emotions publicly and show any kind of weakness in any form. From early childhood boys are expected to be brave, strong, smart and fearless.

Foulata and Gagaoola are only two female characters which appear in this novel. Haggard mentions that his story might sound queer because it does not include any woman except Foulata because she is beautiful, caring and young. Gagaoola is not considered as a woman because she is not marriageable and too old. In the further events Foulata takes care of Captain Good because he was injured in the battle. She fought with Gagaoola to save others who were in the mines. Gagaoola is the one who tries to kill everyone in the mines of Solomon. According to Susan M. Cruea women were discriminated in the 19th century. No matter on their social status they had limited choices in their freedom. They were domestically dependent. Being a virgin, to get marry and to be a mother was considered to be normal and these were roles which women had to accept. The patriarchal society accepted and required women to take their responsibilities in fulfilling their duty in the matrimony. In Uzbekistan women have their rights but after certain age (18-20) they have to marry and form a family. There are some terms which are used for women who are unmarried and single. They are called “Eski qiz” which means Old Girl in English. They normally never have been in a relationship nor did they have sex. Still, they are seen as a shame or disgrace for the family because they were not capable to get married after reaching the age of 20. Men want to rule over women. These women are not free in their action, mind or speech.

“There, straight before us, were two enormous mountains, the like of which are not, I believe, to be seen in Africa, if, indeed, there are any other such in the world… Their bases swelled gently up from the plain, looking, at that distance, perfectly round and smooth; and on the top of each was a vast round hillock covered with snow, exactly corresponding to the nipple on the female breast”.

Throughout the novel the Sheba’s breasts represent the treasure. Allan and his friends had only one map and it was drawn in a shape of breasts. It means that these men were following a map which had women’s upper body shape or more precisely Sheba’s breasts. While Haggard mentions that there would not be a woman in this novel and makes an exception for Foulata his main characters own one map which has women’s body part in it.

This novel is indeed masculine novel. It underlines the masculinity when men are fighting together against the evil. They are stronger together when they face difficulties then facing it alone as an individual. The novel gives an imagination of how men should be and what is acceptable in terms of their actions. While men are strong and fearless women seem to be either weak but caring or strong and evil. Men have to protect everyone and re-establish the society by fighting for others rights. But throughout the novel woman’s breasts were described several times, and they found the treasure after crossing two mountains. Foulata helped Mr. Good to survive but paid with her life for it. These men might be strong but without the help of the map and Foulata they could not have survived the war or the mines.

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