Dying by the sword: Manliness, honour, and duelling on and off the stage, 1695-1745

Máire MacNeill


How ought a gentleman in the early eighteenth century to behave?  This question confounded contemporary writers in search of an ideologically pure version of manliness, and it is this that I will use as a starting point for my presentation.  I will briefly discuss the stereotypical figure of manliness during the Restoration period—the rake, who drank, gambled, whored, and duelled—and how he exhibited traits that writers no longer wanted to encourage; however, the popular association with this figure and manliness remained.  I will go on to argue that a hero who avoided the traditional manly activities that the rake enjoyed ran the risk of falling into the effeminate stereotypes of the fop.  Ideal manly qualities had to be reconfigured in such a way that they did not become undesirable.


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