How Does Male Readership Impact Character Portrayals in Contemporary Young Adult Adventure Novels?
Keywords:English Literature, Adventure Novels, Gender, Young Adult
Adventure fiction has traditionally followed a male protagonist in their search for selfhood and saviorhood. In the case of contemporary adventure fiction, authors are likely to follow the conventions of the adventure story in order to fit the genre’s stereotypes, which in turn reinforce gender stereotypes. This research paper discusses how contemporary young adult adventure novels typically perform within society’s narrowly defined perception of male readership. While the novels attempt to perpetuate powerful female roles, the male characters fit the fantasy of traditional, male adventure stories. After analyzing traditional stories such as Paradise Lost and Beowulf and modern novels such as Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, I conclude that there are disparities between the portrayal of male and female characters: from the main hero to the minor characters to the antagonists, young adult adventure novels tend to follow traditional tropes in order to satisfy male readers. Even if the authors subvert the patriarchal tropes by adding female heroines or helpful minor characters, the overall work of literature creates a fantasy world that reinforces the traditional roles and desires expected of young boys. In time, these portrayals could encourage male readers to act patronizingly or dismissively toward girls and women.
References or Bibliography
Acker, Paul. “Horror and the Maternal in ‘Beowulf.’” PMLA, vol. 121, no. 3, 2006, pp. 702-16. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/25486349. Accessed 8 Dec. 2020.
“An Interview With Rick: Rick Riordan.” Rick Riordan | Welcome to the Online World of Rick Riordan, 17 Jan. 2021, rickriordan.com/about/an-interview-with-rick/.
“Bellatrix.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Bellatrix. Accessed 16 Apr. 2021.
Cherland, Meredith. “Harry's Girls: Harry Potter and the Discourse of Gender.” Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, vol. 52, no. 4, 2008, pp. 273–82. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/40058129. Accessed 21 Feb. 2020.
Clare, Cassandra. City of Bones. Walker Books, 2015.
---. City of Glass. Walker Books, 2015.
Collins, Suzanne. Mockingjay. Scholastic Press, 2010.
---. The Hunger Games. Scholastic Press, 2008.
Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. 2020, https://www.planetebook.com/free-ebooks/heart-of darkness.pdf.
Crossley-Holland, Kevin, translator. The Anglo-Saxon World: An Anthology. Oxford University Press, 2009.
Dutro, Elizabeth. “‘Us Boys like to Read Football and Boy Stuff’: Reading Masculinities, Performing Boyhood.” Journal of Literacy Research, vol. 34, no. 4, Dec. 2002, pp. 465–500, doi:10.1207/s15548430jlr3404_4.
Greenblatt, Stephen, and M. H. Abrams, editors. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 8th ed., vol. 1, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2006.
Hamilton, Mykol C. “Masculine Bias in the Attribution of Personhood: People = Male, Male = People.” Psychology of Women Quarterly, vol. 15, no. 3, Nov. 1991, pp. 393–402, doi:10.1111/j.1471-6402.1991.tb00415.x.
Kellner, Rivka Temima. “J. K. Rowling’s Ambivalence Towards Feminism: House Elves –Women in Disguise – in the ‘Harry Potter’ Books.” Midwest Quarterly: A Journal of Contemporary Thought, vol. 51, no. 4, 2010, pp. 367–85. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=mzh&AN=2018700675&site=ehost-live.
Reeds, Eleanor. “Transatlantic Elegies for Boyhood: First-Person Adventure Narratives after 1865.” Lion and the Unicorn: A Critical Journal of Children’s Literature, vol. 41, no. 1, Jan. 2017, pp. 61–78. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=mzh&AN=2017308136&site=ehost-live.
Riordan, Rick. Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labyrinth. Scholastic Inc., 2009.
---. Percy Jackson and the Last Olympia. Scholastic Inc., 2010.
---. Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief. Scholastic Inc., 2006.
---. Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters. Scholastic Inc., 2007.
---. Percy Jackson and the Titan’s Curse. Scholastic Inc., 2008.
“Robin Hood.” Edited by Adam Augustyn, Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2019, www.britannica.com/topic/Robin-Hood.
Rowell, Rainbow. Carry On. St. Martin’s Press, 2017.
---. Wayward Son. St. Martin’s Press, 2019.
Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Scholastic Inc., 1998.
---. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Scholastic Inc., 2000.
---. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Scholastic Inc., 2005.
---. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Scholastic Inc., 2003.
---. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Scholastic Inc., 1997.
Shusterman, Neal. Scythe. Simon & Schuster BFYR, 2017.
---. Thunderhead. Simon & Schuster BFYR, 2019.
Sullivan, Michael. “Why Johnny Won’t Read: Schools Often Dismiss What Boys Like. No Wonder They’re Not Wild About Reading.” School Library Journal, vol. 50, no. 8, Aug. 2004, 36.
The Bible. Authorized King James Version, Oxford UP, 1998.
“Why Boys Don’t Like to Read: Gender Differences in Reading Achievement.” Canadian Council on Learning, 2009, pp. 1–8.
“William Tell.” Edited by Kathleen Kuiper, Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2021, www.britannica.com/topic/William-Tell.
Yeo, Michelle. “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: Feminist Interpretations/Jungian Dreams.” Simile: Studies in Media & Information Literacy Education, vol. 4, no. 1, Feb. 2004. EBSCOhost, doi:10.3138/sim.4.1.002.
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2021 Isabella Goncea; Denise Greenwood
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
The copyright holder for this article has granted JSR a license to display the article in perpetuity.