“You Have Bewitched Me Body and Soul”: Masculinity and the Female Gaze in Jane Austen’s <i>Pride and Prejudice</i>


  • Meaghan Malone Memorial University of Newfoundland


Jane Austen, sexuality, body, the gaze, gender, performativity, visuality, masculinity, Pride and Prejudice, Novel of Sensibility, Man of Feeling, feminist theory, psychoanalytic theory, Mary Wollstonecraft, Edmund Burke


Though academic discussions of sexuality in Jane Austen’s novels have become increasingly popular in recent years, examinations of masculinity are markedly absent from Austen scholarship. Rarely considered as objects of female desire or as sexual subjects in and of themselves, Austen’s male characters are generally examined solely as facilitators of her heroines’ growth and development. Acknowledging her contemporaries’—such as Edmund Burke’s and Mary Wollstonecraft’s—discussions of masculinity, however, Austen fashioned her men as both subjects and objects of desire. Because her male characters are filtered through multiple female perspectives, masculinity is essentially created by women, with the female gaze acting as a catalyst in the development of masculinity in Austen’s novels. In discussing this point, this article focuses on Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, the infamous hero of Pride and Prejudice. The ideal of masculinity constructed in Pride and Prejudice via the female gaze facilitates equality between Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, and requires his response and adaptation to her expectations of what a man ought to be.

Author Biography

Meaghan Malone, Memorial University of Newfoundland

Meaghan Malone recently received a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) from Memorial University of Newfoundland with a major in English and a minor in History. She was awarded Memorial’s Pro Vice-Chancellor’s Prize in 2008, and was the recipient of The Captain George C. Whiteley English Prize at the university's spring 2010 convocation. Her research interests include sexuality in the nineteenth-century British novel, and she is particularly interested in examining masculinity and the gaze in the novels of Jane Austen. She is beginning her MA in English at Memorial in September 2010.