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How does Graham Greene explore gender representation in Brighton Rock?

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Introduction

How does Greene explore gender representation in Brighton Rock? In Brighton Rock, Graham Greene demonstrates aspects of the archetypal masculine and feminine characters. Prominent matriarchal themes which he explores include leadership, criminality and mob mentality, typifying the image of the contextual audience; what was perceived of 'the 1938 man'. However, Green also depicts contrasting images of gender representation. We gain knowledge of this through the portrayal of the novels anti-hero Pinkie, his name alone contradicts any masculine traits and his physical appearance also contrasts his criminal lifestyle which entails violence. Similarly, Ida is a vehicle of feminine strength; shown through her endurance and determination in the hostility of a murder. Yet more stereotypical characteristics are presented in Ida's polar opposite: Rose displays more familiar actions associated with a pre-war female, the expectancy to provide and to serve a husband. Themes of masculinity and femininity are equally challenged throughout the novel; Green challenges many typical images of men and women, specifically those of a pre-war society. There is consistent evidence throughout Brighton Rock to suggest that Greene presents the males in the forefront of the plot to conform to the archetypal images of men. Under this umbrella of masculinity, includes the male violence and intimidation. ...read more.

Middle

Firstly, the name Pinkie is paradoxical of his illegitimate, pernicious ways. The colour Pink springs to mind which is associated with delicate, feminine and pure traits in a person; yet Pinkie himself appears to show male characteristics completely opposing his title. Perhaps Greene is commenting on the superficial toughness males conveyed in that era, whereby men feel that it is more important for other to believe you are masculine in order to strike fear in whom they come across. Additionally, his name could be seen as satirical; what appears to be a hardened outer shell of Pinkie, what lies within is a more sensitive and ultimately a more morally aligned person. Pinkies age, coupled with his appearance, is also Greene's comment on masculinity, particularly in gang culture. Seventeen, at the period of time the novel was written, was considered very much an age of immaturity, and teenagers still remained relatively innocent and child-like. The leader and protagonist, Pinkie's role is associated with age and what comes with it; Greene thrusts the character into a role requiring experience and wisdom and credentials, yet obviously presents him as a character seemingly unprepared for a more experienced male. This suggests that Pinkie clearly is still a young boy, attempting to fill significantly larger shoes; he desires to be more masculine through leadership of the gang but ultimately his twisted fate came down to his lack of rational thought, associated with more practical, aged men. ...read more.

Conclusion

Her strength in times of hostility is also highly commendable: "I want justice", Ida remains persistent throughout the novel, hunting down members of the mob, apparently fearless of any encounter. Although she embarks on a moral crusade, her quest can also be seen as an adrenaline rush; the boost of finding danger and lurching into it. However, her tenaciousness and toughness is respected, what is considered flamboyant of the time, she carries on trying to solve a murder. Presenting femininity in a different, perhaps stronger, light, indicates that Green believes that the typical female representations are inaccurate, and that women can certainly be a beacon of strength and not conform to what society expects. Graham Greene delves into gender representation throughout Brighton Rock and severely challenges the typical images of both sexes. Where Pinkie shows the qualities of innocence and immaturity, Greene comments on the masculine desire for power and leadership in society; feeling the necessity to provide and achieve control by whatever means possible. Similar contradictions are made in the feminine characters; whilst there exists more traditional stereotypes in the novel, Ida Arnold represents more uncharacteristic representations of what it is to be a woman; standing on her own two feet whilst remaining strong in the face of wild adversity. In both genders, Greene defies the norm; he analyses alternate representations of the genders to criticise pre-war society and highlight possibilities of masculine weakness and feminine strength. Nathan Wilgoss ...read more.

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