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Meanings of Manhood in Early Modern England$
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Alexandra Shepard

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199299348

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199299348.001.0001

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Models of Manhood

Models of Manhood

(p.70) 3 Models of Manhood
Meanings of Manhood in Early Modern England


Oxford University Press

A survey of the domestic conduct literature and advice on marriage, this chapter re-examines the ways in which manhood was defined along the axis of gender. Although stark male/female dichotomies were frequently invoked in order to uphold assertions of patriarchal superiority (particularly in discussions of the duties of wives), they were considerably qualified by discussions of husbands' duties that primarily emphasised mutuality and the limits of their authority. Normative models of manhood in domestic advice were also drawn from comparing two further sets of male stereotype – the unmarried and the married, and the good and the bad husband – with conduct writers often conceding that bad husbands were more prevalent than good. As with the other works discussed in Part I of the book, the chapter concludes that while maleness as a cultural category was automatically celebrated in terms of superiority, men as a group of people were far less confidently endorsed.

Keywords:   domestic advice, marriage, patriarchal authority, male stereotypes

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