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The 'Tame Bear'. Images of the Soldier in the Early English Novel.
NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIV AT RALEIGH
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This essay studies the representation of soldiers in eighteenth-century English novels. The emergence of the standing army formally begun in 1670 and the creation of a new military profession in British society challenged older concepts of masculine identity and power. The challenges that the professionalization of the soldier posed were the source of anxiety and concern in the novelists of the early to mid eighteenth century, and these anxieties were in turn manifested in the representation of the soldier and the army in general in the novel These challenges to traditional masculine identity and power take the form of a series of dialectics within which soldiers are placed--dialectics of class, politics, sexuality, and military spectacle. The essay includes analysis of six novels of the period Colonel Jack 1722 by Daniel Defoe Gullivers Travels 1726 by Jonathan Swift Joseph Andrews 1742 and Tom Jones 1749 by Henry Fielding Tristram Shandy 1760 by Laurence Sterne and Humphry Clinker 1771 by Tobias Smolleff. Each author varies somewhat in his handling of the soldier within these dialectics, but the dominant characteristic of the representation of the standing army in these novels is that of ambivalence, or double discourse like a bear at a bear-baiting, the professional soldier is a source of conflicting emotions admiration and fear, sympathy and scorn.
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