Emasculation in Regeneration

417 Words2 Pages
How is the idea of masculinity presented in the novel? Masculinity is a very important theme throughout the novel, reappearing frequently and having a big impact on the character’s thoughts, emotions and the way they act. This idea of masculinity is presented by Barker in a number of ways. The first of these techniques is showing the fragile state the patients are all in, due to both their physical and mental state of being. An example of this is Anderson’s dreams about being trapped in a ladies’ corset. The line, “They fastened them up round my arms and tied the laces.” This is a very significant dream. The fact that it is a woman’s corset shows that he does not feel like a man as he is not able to fight in the war, and not even for a physical condition, which he sees as weak. The fact that it says “They fastened..” shows that he feels he can’t do anything about the situation, and is powerless against it. This emasculation is even mentioned by Anderson himself who thinks “being locked up in a loony bin [is] a fairly emasculating experience.” Physical injury is also used in this novel as a way of conveying emasculation. Burns has a scar on his upper thigh, inches away from his manhood. Sassoon says to this “An inch further up-“ to which Burns retorts “if it’s a joke about ladies’ choirs, forget it.” This reply seems very blunt for the normally friendly men, showing that the fact he was nearly neutered is a touchy subject, due to the jokes he receives about his masculinity. Sassoon does not reply to this, sensing that it would not be tactful as a man’s masculinity is important to him. Even more obvious is the cupping by Burns of his own genitals when lying with the animals. This can be taken to mean that he does this as they do not seem to fit the scene which he has created. We can see that he does not see himself as a man anymore due to his condition and
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