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.
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