King Solomon's Mines

Male Moral Duty in King Solomon's Mines

King Solomon's Mines, in its first pages, poses the question, “What is a gentleman?” (10). Men and masculinity are at the novel's core. It is both for and about men, and consciously so: Haggard assures his readers that there is not a woman in the novel, or “at any rate... not a petticoat” (10). The feminine is either marginalized or simplified and employed only functionally to counterpoint the masculine. Critic Anne McClintock and I approach the novel differently: she uses the text historically and politically; I make no broad, external conclusions but focus directly on the preoccupations of Haggard's novel. Our essays are therefore fundamentally different, but not mutually exclusive. I have drawn out what is implicit in her writing to explain the novel holistically: a sense of male moral obligation pervades the novel and informs the way events and the actions of its characters are presented. King Solomon's Mines is an ode to male moral duty. It is the force that underlies the actions of those men the novel glorifies; a true “gentleman” is one who lives and dies by this moral code.

In King Solomon's Mines, protection and benevolent alteration of the feminine are critical parts of the Englishmen's notion...

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