Knightley and the Late-Millennial Men's Movements; or Modernity and its Discontents

Michael Kramp

"...masculinity, however defined, is, like capitalism, always in crisis. And the real question is how best to manage, to restructure, refurbish, and resurrect themselves for the next historical turn." [1]

"...the culture and ideology of hegemonic masculinity go hand in hand with the culture and ideology of hegemonic nationalism. Masculinity and nationalism articulate well with one another, and the modern form of Western masculinity emerged at about the same time and place as modern nationalism." [2]

[1] In Jane Austen's Emma (1816), the heroine confidently announces: "Mr. Knightley does nothing mysteriously." [3] Emma's assertion of the hero's predictability highlights his deliberate behavior; while he is not an overly confident or hyper-aggressive individual, he is a well-organized man who appears to avoid the crises that seem to repeatedly haunt contemporary men and masculinity. And as Abigail Solomon-Godeau reminds us, the very notion of a "crisis of masculinity" purports "some utopic or normative masculinity outside crisis," but masculinity, like capitalism, is always already presumed to be in a state of crisis because of the perpetual fear that it may lose its hegemonic dominance. [4] Modern masculinity has been most successful relying upon such a deliberate and controlled model of behavior rather than outright oppression or dominance to sustain its social identity and power; men who revert solely to physical or explicit force to maintain their cultural roles and relations of power inevitably lose their abilities to function efficiently within both the public and the domestic realm. This well-organized hegemonic model of maleness has proven especially successful in gaining the spontaneous consent of women and others to allow men to rationally manage the public state as well as the intimate concerns of private life. But despite the tremendous effectiveness of this gendered activity, we continue to hear of supposed crises of masculinity, for even the slightest weakness or instability generates strategic fear that prompts swift proposals to rebuild patriarchal structures; masculinity ultimately announces its own crises for the purpose of regenerating its own hegemony. This process is not necessarily cyclical, but it is consistent, repetitive, and ongoing, and to that extent, I want to consider what many critics believe to be the nascence of modern masculinity in the early years of the nineteenth century—a cultural moment in which Knightley's deliberate, patterned, yet malleable masculinity showcased both its value and its ability to avoid crisis.

[2] Austen's novels document the growth of this new masculinity, and in her later works she dramatizes numerous men who model the efficiency of a hegemonic gendered identity. As I suggested earlier, I am particularly interested in Mr. Knightley because of his role—and specifically the efficacy of his gendered behavior [5] —in the community of Highbury. My goal in this essay is to examine Austen's Knightley as a representative of the early-nineteenth-century hegemonic male for the purpose of placing this modern masculinity in dialogue with the late-millennial pronouncement of a crisis of masculinity, and two of the prominent Men's Movements that responded to/participated in this pronouncement: the Promise Keepers and Robert Bly's Iron John Movement, also known as Mythopoeticism. [6] I will discuss Knightley's masculinity, then, as a modern hegemonic sexual identity with specific gender attributes that we can isolate and analyze; I will likewise consider how—and perhaps more importantly, why—the late-millennial Men's Movements critiqued the gendered behavior modeled by Knightley as a means of amending men's sexual deficiencies.

[3] I have no interest in trying to establish a comparison between these two historical moments; in other words, I am not attempting to argue that these Men's Movements somehow responded directly to Austen's novels or the filmic adaptations of her work that were tremendously popular during the same mid-1990s period. I am proposing that these Movements countered the modern heteronormative masculinity, marked by its commitment to rationality (i.e. deliberation, a lack of mystery, and structure), order, and versatility, which emerged in Austen's late fiction, for the purpose of aggressively re-solidifying hegemony. While Austen's well-mannered fiction documents how the masculinity of Knightley helped to secure the hegemonic power of men during the turn to modernity in the years following the French Revolution, by the late twentieth century, influential Men's Movements saw the need for unequivocal and explicit versions of male sexual identity that would publicly re-announce stable cultural functions for men. Knightley was a hegemonic man in the early nineteenth century precisely because he was controlled rather than aggressive, rational rather than mysterious, but the complexities of the late-millennial moment, according to the Men's Movements, required a more powerful and explicit masculinity that Austen would have overtly mocked (c.f. Northanger Abbey's John Thorpe). While both Austen and the late-millennial Men's Movements envisioned masculinities that sought to regulate social order, Knightley's modern masculinity manages civic contentment, while the maleness advocated by Bly and the Promise Keepers was designed to reassert patriarchal dominance.

[4] Knightley's model of structured masculinity was vital to the social stability of England in the years following the French Revolution, and it is telling, as Joanne Nagel reminds us, that the modern form of Western nationalism and the modern form of masculinity emerged roughly at the same time, between 1780 and 1820. [7] The growth of the modern European nation with a citizenry and public administration required a new and versatile public man who could manage the more complex relationships between different classes, institutions, and the public and private spheres. R.W. Connnell, in her now canonical Masculinities, points out that by the late 1790s, this European model of heteronormative male sexual identity and its accompanying gender attributes had become firmly established; Connell argues that the subsequent nineteenth-century gentry masculinity, while it "still involved a much more brutal relationship with the agricultural workforce," specifically "involved domestic authority over women, though the women were actively involved in making and maintaining the network of alliances that tied the gentry together." [8] Connell references directly the novels of Jane Austen as texts that exemplify these gentry strategies in which social alliances are made and maintained to order a modernizing culture. Although we still discuss Austen's novelistic world as one of genteel and pastoral contentment, the work of Connell and others helps to explain how hegemonic masculinity and its integral management of the domestic realm were vital components of any such "contentment." Austen critics have likewise noted the development of such a new masculinity in the author's corpus. Indeed, as Joseph A. Kestner noted in his important treatment, "Jane Austen: Revolutionizing Masculinities," the novelist's later works "imprint on the British nation a new conception of masculinity and male subjectivity." [9] This "new conception of masculinity" became a dominant feature of the modern English nation that developed over the course of the nineteenth century, but Kestner and other scholars have not fully appreciated the importance of this modern man's hegemonic control over women and the domestic realm. This new model of masculinity supported a gender-based hegemony that promoted a rational social organization without aggressive shows of force, especially upon women within the domestic realm. In effect, this modern masculinity sought to ensure a civic order and promoted a domestic accord that was based upon reason, while preventing recurrent pronouncements of a "crisis of masculinity" throughout much of the nineteenth century.

[5] Knightley's well-ordered gender, and specifically his commitment to reason, serve as powerful reminders of the successful gender traits of modern masculinity, and it is interesting to speculate about the ramifications for a culture in which an adherence to rationality were allowed to reach its mature fruition. Theoretically, such a culture would exist without any irrational discriminations or prejudices; if this doctrine of reason penetrated love, marriage, and the intimate domestic sphere, even private/personal affairs would become "rationalized." But as the late-twentieth-century Men's Movements argued, the cumulative effects of modern phenomena and events such as women's liberation, gay activism, and the downfall of the industrial economy had created complexities that even the Modern Enlightenment project could not resolve—complexities that debilitated men and stripped them of stable, meaningful cultural identities. And thus Bly and the Promise Keepers in turn outlined plans for countering such complexities; they organized homosocial rites and rituals, encouraged the public expression of irrational emotions, and ultimately attempted to return men to traditional social/sexual identities. Rather than engaging, embracing, or addressing the complexities of the late-millennial world, these Men's Movements at once offered mystery and panaceas. Writing immediately after the height of the Men's Movements' successes, Gary R. Brooks and Glenn E. Good, in their Introduction to The New Handbook of Psychotherapy and Counseling with Men (2001), noted that

everywhere we look we see signs of deeply dissatisfied contemporary men who are fervent about change. Countless men have attended Promise Keepers rallies, the Million Man March, wilderness retreats, Fathers' Rights coalition meetings, men's therapy groups, profeminist men's activities, gay rights groups, and men's studies conventions. Although these activities are widely disparate in their underlying philosophies and politics, they reflect several common themes ... Modern men feel isolated and yearn for closer emotional connections. Many feel the need to call on men as a group to dedicate themselves to a higher standard of moral or spiritual responsibility, to counter domestic violence, substance abuse, absent fathering, and sexual exploitation ... For many, the past few decades have ushered in a period that has eroded traditional male values and damaged the image of masculinity itself. [10]

Brooks and Good point to the confusion and uncertainty that spurred the popularity of the Promise Keepers and Bly's Mythopoeticism—movements that promised to reassure men of their sexed identities and re-provide them with time-tested gender roles. Brooks and Good suggest the strong and ostensibly growing desire for men to look to other men for the emotional guidance and moral leadership that might rebuild the public function of maleness.

[6] And as Nagel's historical research suggested, it is vital for the stability of a modern hegemonic state that it promotes at least the image of this stable masculinity. The Men's Movements of the 1990s attempted to preserve the dominance and centrality of masculinity to prevent any national or cultural volatility that could threaten patriarchy. While it is often entertaining to view the strategies of these movements solely in response to the politics of the late-twentieth century, it is far more helpful to conceptualize their efforts within the larger frame of the perpetual crisis of modern masculinity. Indeed, I propose that we return to the incipience of this modern mode of maleness that, while remarkably successful, was nonetheless terribly flawed according to the late-millennial Men's Movements; this method will specifically allow us to trace the importance of the ostensibly rational management of women and the domestic realm to the continuous repair of hegemonic masculinity in the wake of any apparent crisis. And although Austen's corpus is clearly better known for its representation of feminine gender (im)propriety, it nonetheless offers a useful example of the modern masculinity in its portrait of Knightley.

Emma, Knightley, and the (Dis)Contentment of Modern Finitude

[7] Austen wrote her novels in the aftermath of the French Revolution and its associated turmoil, and her characters certainly bear the marks of this time of crisis. [11] Emma is a novel, however, that somehow seems to have resolved the social tension of the early nineteenth century, and Knightley's masculinity is critical to this resolution. Julia Prewitt Brown famously argued that Emma portrayed a notably content civilization replete with upwardly and downwardly mobile individuals devoid of resentment. [12] This content society is supported by ostensibly rational and transparent cultural practices that spur the village to operate without confusion or delays, and while the heroine may reign supreme as the most dominant figure in this environment, the hero of the text is integral to the ongoing serenity of the community. More specifically, Knightley's gender is integral to the continuing happiness of Highbury, as his masculinity quite literally embodies key transformations in the modernizing culture. Claudia Johnson intelligently took up the question of Knightley and his modernity in the Afterword to her influential Equivocal Beings: Politics, Gender, and Sentimentality in the 1790s: Wollstonecraft, Radcliffe, Burney, Austen (1995). Johnson argued that the novel documents a shift in England's conception of masculinity by "[diminishing] the authority of male sentimentality, and [reimmasculating] men and women alike with a high sense of national purpose." [13] While Mr. Woodhouse represents an atrophied mode of aristocratic masculinity, Knightley, according to Johnson, is the paragon of a reimmasculated man.

[8] Johnson indicates that Knightley performs a new "humane" British masculinity, but he also recalls a pre-Burkean tradition of "gentry liberty, which valued its manly independence from tyrannical rule." [14] Knightley is a distinctive man because he engages in modern activities and relations without neglecting England's customs or its historical notions of maleness. He is a man conscious of England's social transformation in the post-Revolutionary years, and he appears to be neither scared of nor resistant to such impending changes. He is both a virile man of industry and a dignified man of gentility—and he shows no difficulty in moving between or adopting either mode of behavior. Indeed, it is his versatility that enables him to maintain hegemonic power as a modern man. And importantly, he has no need to make shows of power in either the public or the domestic realm. He can perform traditional male civic responsibilities, and yet he does not cling to masculine privilege; he enjoys elevated status as the administrator of Donwell Abbey, and yet he concerns himself with the daily agricultural duties of the farm; he shows us how men can retain social dominance without explicit exercises of power à la Darcy, Sir Bertram, or General Tilney; likewise, he shows how men can be men without needing to consistently remind women that they are men à la Willoughby, Frank Churchill, or John Thorpe. He demonstrates great versatility but he always remains ordered and rational.

[9] Indeed, Knightley's versatile masculinity requires him to remain deliberate in his activity, rationalize potentially irrational experiences, and reconfigure marriage as the culmination of logical feelings. These requirements, of course, affect his gender. As a hegemonic man, Knightley maintains a well-ordered masculinity that is neither aggressive nor debilitated. His exceptional status as an aristocratic man who has adapted to post-Revolutionary modernity is not lost on the citizens of Highbury; even Miss Smith recognizes the hero's impressive qualities, and after she introduces Emma to Robert Martin, Harriet admits that her young admirer "is certainly not like Mr. Knightley." Emma quickly explains to her friend that "Mr. Knightley's air is so remarkably good, that it is not fair to compare Mr. Martin with him. You might not see one in a hundred, with gentleman so plainly written as in Mr. Knightley" (28). The heroine's comment emphasizes both the rarity and the grand social reputation enjoyed by the administrator of Donwell, who seems to reek gentility and nobility despite his commitment to rationality and industry. And yet, even Emma is not necessarily enamored of the hero's "downright, decided, commanding sort of manner;" she explains: "it suits him very well; his figure and look, and situation in life seem to allow it; but if any young man were to set about copying him he would not be sufferable" (30). Emma suggests that Knightley's social standing enables him to fuse chivalric and modern masculinity, but she recognizes that the consequences of the hero's mechanized identity are rather unappealing. Knightley is deliberate, structured, and imposing; he embodies the paradox of finite life that Foucault associates with the development of modern subjectivity in the early years of the nineteenth century.

[10] Foucault argues that in the decade following the French Revolution, the modern man appeared and was defined by his accordance with natural laws, scientific dictates, and cultural customs, for the purpose of becoming finite and naturalized. [15] Foucault concludes that "the experience taking form at the beginning of the nineteenth century situates the discovery of finitude not within the thought of the infinite, but ... as the concrete forms of finite existence." [16] The post-Enlightenment human subject, according to thinkers like Godwin and Paine, is endowed with the ability to improve and diversify her/his mode of being, but as Foucault theorizes, this potential is always already contained by the "natural" potential of man's physical body. [17] Knightley is a compelling example of this Foucauldian modern subject; he furnishes his finite sexual subjectivity with both ancestral and modern gender traits, but even after this impressive achievement, his capacity is essentially finite. I want to be clear about how I am treating Knightley within this Foucauldian frame. As I mentioned earlier, Knightley is an embodiment of modern masculinity whose defining feature is versatility, and yet I also I want to suggest that this versatility is finite. This paradox of modernity allows Knightley to maneuver within the confines of his fused masculinity, but it also prevents him from experiencing undisciplined emotions or mysterious sensations that might expose him to the infinite.

[11] And the source of this apparent paradox is Knightley's commitment to the Enlightenment project of reason; he believes in rationality, and while this adherence facilitates his versatility, it also ultimately limits his thought processes, imaginings, and desires. This paradox of finitude is nicely exemplified during the Coles' party. When Mr. Knightley arrives in a carriage, the heroine informs him: "This is coming as you should do ... like a gentleman. —I am quite glad to see you." Emma is impressed by the apparent charm of the hero's chivalric approach, but he is attending a party at the Coles' residence—a family of distinctly new money. In addition, he makes now show or pomp of his gentlemanly status; indeed, his status and identity have been rationalized, and he recognizes this. He informs the heroine: "How lucky that we should arrive at the same moment! For, if we had met first in the drawing-room, I doubt whether you would have discerned me to be more of a gentleman than usual.—You might not have distinguished how I came, by my look or manner" (191). Knightley knows that his person and body are no longer fundamentally different from the other men at the party; he is a gentleman because of the carriage in which he rode to the party, but he recognizes that in a crowd of Highbury's other men, he would not stick out. The distinctions that once categorized men have given way to the doctrines of transparency and rationality, and while Knightley still knows how to perform as a chivalric man, he realizes that England is modernizing, and must now seek a more versatile mode of masculinity in order to maintain hegemonic accord. Knightley thus models a masculinity that urges men to disallow the irrational and the mysterious; these are qualities of the human experience that endanger the modern venture of rational individuals and a well-ordered and inclusive society, but these are also essential tenets of the Men's Movements' projects. Indeed, Bly and the Promise Keepers will highlight the specific importance of mystery and the irrational to men's patriarchal social identity and purpose.

The Enlightenment Project, the Collapse of Hegemony, and the Men's Movements

[12] To maintain his hegemonic malleability and the social functionality of his sexual identity, Knightley must disregard the efficacy of irrational experiences such as mysterious or unexplainable happenings, dismiss presumably childish games or activities, and perhaps most importantly, redefine amorous emotions and sexual desire as socially-efficacious. The versatile masculinity modeled by Knightley accommodated the needs of culture in transition—a culture in which men like Mr. Woodhouse serve as a comic example of an atrophied maleness, and immature men like Frank Churchill demonstrate the immaturity of young men not yet ready to assume leadership roles in the community—but his pliability also leaves him vulnerable to the charges of sexual ambiguity raised by the leaders of the late-millennial Men's Movements. Specifically, while his well-organized and versatile maleness allows him to traverse the realm of the old order and the emergent modernity, it also forces him to remain rational and deliberate. Men who ascribe to Knightley's model of masculinity must both obey the dictates of the Enlightenment and discount irrational possibilities. Knightley cannot tolerate fanciful games or ploys that manipulate himself or others; in addition, he cannot deny the logic of rational claims, regardless of whether they promote freedom and independence or crass selfishness. This is why, early in the novel, he specifically informs Mr. Woodhouse and the heroine that he cannot regret Mrs. Weston's departure from Hartfield. He explains that "when it comes to the question of dependence or independence!—At any rate, it must be better to have only one to please, than two" (8). While Emma and her aged father bemoan their loss, Knightley repositions the marriage as a rational improvement for Mrs.Weston; she must now only "please" two, and that is undeniably better for her as an enlightened individual. Likewise, when the hero discovers Emma's plot to arrange a marriage for Mr. Elton, Knightley instructs the heroine that "men of sense, whatever you may chuse to say, do not want silly wives" (58). He adds that Elton specifically is "a very good sort of man ... not at all likely to make an imprudent match. He knows the value of a good income as well as anybody. Elton may talk sentimentally, but he will act rationally" (59). Knightley upholds the Enlightenment goal of rationality, even within the presumably irrational realm of love matters, and he refuses to countenance outward indicators of irrational emotion that are highly valued by the Promise Keepers and Mythopoeticism.

[13] Knightley is a phenomenal male figure who is able to synthesize within his body the world that is passing away and the world that is coming, but to do so, he must maintain a rational and well-organized masculinity rather than the explicit or aggressive masculinity advocated by the late-millennial Men's Movements. Nick Harrison, for example, a major spokesman for the Promise Keepers, declared that "Planet Earth is in desperate need of solid, confident men who aren't afraid to lead boldly. Aren't afraid to make a mistake. Men whose leadership inspires others to follow ... The need is there, but where are the men?" [18] Knightley is a leader of a wonderfully-content society that is coming to terms with its modernity, but his leadership is neither bold nor inspiring; rather, his leadership, and his gender traits, are balanced, conciliatory, and accommodating. He is committed to the method of the Enlightenment, and he recognizes the need to bring together various components of his community—the new and the old, the emerging and the receding, the anonymous and the named. Instead of risking mistakes with irrational or emotional leadership, he commits himself to the rational and transparent organization of his culture. Indeed, Knightley's model of masculinity may have provided England with precisely the kind of maleness it needed to avoid a large-scale cultural crisis in the wake of the French Revolution. His versatile masculinity could easily adapt to the changes of modernity and the turbulence of the Napoleonic Wars. According to the leaders of the Men's Movements of the 1990s, however, the time to avert late-millennial crisis had already passed.

[14] Bill McCartney, in his preface to What Makes a Man? (1992) sounds very much like a good football coach when he announces that "men all over our nation and around the world are suffering because they feel they are on a losing streak and they can't break the pattern. The Adversary has us where he wants us—feeling defeated. It need not be that way." [19]McCartney's notion of an adversary is certainly very much informed by Christian notions of sin and redemption, but it also belies a concern that late-millennial men were quite simply no longer men. This concern, of course, was shared by many of the spokesmen for both the Promise Keepers and the Iron John Movement. [20] Bly deployed this sexual confusion and ambiguity as the very basis for his Mythopoetic movement; he famously remarked that "we are living at an important and fruitful moment now, for it is clear to men that the images of adult manhood given by the popular culture are worn out; a man can no longer depend on them. By the time a man is thirty-five he knows that the images of the right man, the tough man, the true man which he received in high school do not work in life." Bly concluded that "Such a man is [now] open to new visions of what a man is or could be." [21] Like Harrison and McCartney, Bly bemoaned a demise of secure masculine identities and functional male gender roles to which late-millennial American men could cling.

[15] Bly and McCartney abandon the methodology of the Enlightenment Project, its rationality and efficiency, and the modern mode of maleness modeled by Knightley; their pronouncement of a crisis of masculinity involves a call for immediate action rather than a proposal for a logical process. While both Men's Movements were interested in rebuilding the same structures of patriarchy that modern masculinity built and promoted, they indicted its gender characteristics and behavior as ambiguous, weak, and ultimately unable to maintain hegemonic control in the late-millennial moment. At this time in the perpetual crisis of masculinity, Bly and the Promise Keepers urged men to be aggressive and irrational in order to repair their hegemonic functions. Knightley's adherence to his well-ordered hegemonic masculinity allowed him to maintain a definite sense of social purpose and prevented him from experiencing a crisis of identity; he had a definite role within the community of Highbury that ensured his private and public identity. Austen showcases his ability to dispel irrationality and uncontrollable scenarios throughout the narrative, but I want to focus on two specific sites/strategies that he employs to maintain the functionality of his masculinity: his reliance upon Donwell Abbey as a homosocial safe-zone and his indictment of Frank Churchill as an irrational man. These sites/strategies are important to the maintenance of his hegemonic gender, and they specifically promote the social contentment of Highbury by regulating the relations between the public and private realms, including marriage; in addition, these are characteristics of modern maleness that the late-millennial Men's Movement's will hold up for criticism. The Men's Movements specifically criticize these features of modern masculinity for their tendency to engender sexual ambiguity and social weakness, and they suggest that these failings lead to the very failure of men to uphold/sustain cultural hegemony.

The Abandonment of Donwell and the Renewal of the Homosocial Ritual

[16] Austen points to Knightley's affinity for Donwell throughout the novel, as he is continually concerned with the management of its lands. Knightley is not merely the owner of this estate; he remains an active participant in the daily duties of the land.  He is undoubtedly a genteel man, but he is also a man with "a great deal of health, activity, [and] independence" (191). The narrator also notes that Knightley, "as a farmer, as keeping in hand the home-farm at Donwell ... had to tell what every field was to bear next year" (90), and during a tour of the grounds with Harriet, he offered "information as to modes of agriculture, &c" (326). He still plays a major part in the business of the Abbey, following the model of the assiduous farmers of the late-eighteenth-century utopian novels. Knightley could leisurely enjoy his grand estate, but he adopts the behavior of Jacobin farmers, who commit themselves to working the soil with vigor. The site of the Abbey specifically serves as a homosocial retreat for the hero, replete with its male stewards who buttress Knightley's gender. Knightley turns to Donwell for respite and relief throughout the narrative, for it is at Donwell where he can recover from the modern dynamism of Highbury. [22]

[17] Nevertheless, the narrator does not over-emphasize the hero's reliance upon his home. He does not hide at the Abbey; instead, she illustrates his consistent willingness to be a part of his changing community—even when such participation discomforts him. He turns to the Abbey when he needs relief from the instability and confusion of this modernizing culture. For example, during the early planning stages of the Crown Inn Ball, Knightley announces his disinterest in dancing for entertainment, but he admits: "Oh! yes, I must be there; I could not refuse; and I will keep as much awake as I can; but I would rather be at home, looking over William Larkins's week's account; much rather, I confess" (231). Although William Larkins never physically appears in the narrative, he and Robert Martin alike provide Knightley with the homosocial camaraderie to suture any cracks in his masculinity. When the heroine leaves Knightley destabilized, or he is overly frustrated by her treatment of Harriet Smith or Robert Martin, the hero can always return to the security of Donwell. [23] Most notably, following an uncomfortable dinner party at Hartfield at which the hero detects irrational romantic exchanges between Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax, the narrator notes: "That he might not be irritated into an absolute fever, by the fire which Mr. Woodhouse's tender habits required almost every evening throughout the year, he soon afterwards took a hasty leave, and walked home to the coolness and solitude of Donwell Abbey" (317). Knightley must remove himself from the confusion and passion of Hartfield—non-transparent passions that he realizes will eventually adversely affect Emma, Harriet, and Jane—and Donwell serves as an isolating site that allows him to cool off.

[18] We note a prominent change in the status of the abbey, however, immediately after this scene. When the novel's primary characters visit the hero's home for the strawberry-picking expedition, Austen dramatizes an important shift in the cultural function of Donwell that corresponds with the development of modern hegemonic masculinity that Connell theorized. Mrs. Elton initially attempts to assume control of the arrangements for the affair and declares: "It is to be a morning scheme, you know Knightley; quite a simple thing ... There is to be no form or parade—a sort of gipsy party—We are to walk about your gardens, and gather the strawberries ourselves, and sit under trees;—and whatever else you may like to provide, it is to be all out of doors—Every thing as natural and simple as possible" (320-21). But Knightley promptly dubs Mrs. Elton's plans as both irrational and unnatural; he has no intention of allowing his friends to perform the antiquated behavior of a pre-modern culture or adopt the exoticized guise of a racial stereotype. He replies: "My idea of the simple and the natural will be to have the table spread in the dining-room. The nature and the simplicity of gentlemen and ladies, with their servants and furniture, I think is best observed by meals within doors" (321). Knightley presents Donwell Abbey as an updated, rational, and well-ordered realm, fit for dignified men and women; he denies the irrational al fresco fantasies of Mrs. Elton in favor of a disciplined and well-organized conception of the homosocial sphere. His comments redefine Donwell as a rational and modernized dwelling in which impractical activities have been banished; while the hero's home maintains its traditional topography and appearance, the narrator demonstrates how the Abbey has developed a new function in accordance with the emergent hegemonic masculinity.

[19] When Emma arrives at Donwell for the strawberry-picking expedition, she reflects: "It was just what it ought to be, and it looked what it was—and Emma felt an increasing respect for it, as the residence of a family of such true gentility, untainted in blood and understanding" (323). She adds: "It was a sweet view—sweet to the eye and the mind. English verdure, English culture, English comfort" (325). [24] The heroine upholds Donwell as a pastoral world reminiscent of a mythologized Medieval England; but while the hero's realm may appear nostalgic and romanticized, both he and his land now serve pragmatic modern ends. His strawberry-picking party provides him with the opportunity to deploy the power of Donwell to pursue his active concern in the marital plans of Highbury's young men and women, especially Harriet Smith. Austen illustrates Knightley's interest in the patriarchal organization of his community throughout the narrative, and in this scene, he specifically uses Donwell to facilitate a union between Harriet and Mr. Robert. [25] The heroine allows Knightley to tutor the parlor boarder in the ways of manorial agriculture, and they all seem to admire the panoramic vista of the Martin residence and both the agriculture and the culture it supports. In her observations, Emma discovers that the hero "was giving Harriet information as to the modes of agriculture, &c." Austen adds that the heroine "received a smile [from Knightley] which seemed to say, 'These are my own concerns. I have a right to talk on such subjects, without being suspected of introducing Robert Martin" (326). The "concerns" that the narrator suggests are at once the agricultural interests of his homosocial Abbey and the paternalistic interests of hegemony. While the Abbey had previously served as a homosocial locale of safety where he could retreat to repair his masculinity, by the end of the narrative, Donwell has become a tool of Knightley's modern heterosexual identity that allows him to deploy what Foucault theorizes as pastoral power. [26] He employs Donwell Abbey to solidify the structures of patriarchy, but in doing so, it loses its important homosocial status as he must extend the bounds of his retreat to include women. Indeed, by the end of the novel, Knightley, of course, abandons Donwell to live with the heroine at Hartfield, effectively relinquishing his ties with the homosocial site that once provided him with respite and relief. He instead opts to live with Emma in her domain, and his move to Hartfield facilitates his hegemonic management of the domestic realm.

[20] Both the Promise Keepers and Bly's Mythopoetic movements critiqued late-millennial society for stripping men of their homosocial experiences—experiences that they claimed provided ritualistic sites that reified maleness for men. These Movements argued that homosocial spaces offered men the opportunity to openly discuss and amend their confusions regarding sexual identity and gendered behavior. Michael A. Messner intelligently explains the important differences and overriding similarity between the two Movements on this issue:

the mythopoetic movement . . . is more apt to blame modernization for [the] feminization of men, whereas Promise Keepers is more apt to blame feminism, gay liberation, sexual liberation, and the 'breakdown of the family' for men's problems. Both groups see a need for men to retreat from women to create spiritually based homosocial rituals through which they can collectively recapture a lost or strayed 'true manhood'. [27]

While Bly recommended Iron John ceremonies and wilderness retreats, the Promise Keepers organized massive male prayer meetings, but all of these rituals isolated men with men—and away from women. These movements sought to remove men from their concerns with women in order to redirect their own identities and cultural functions as men. According to Abraham, the homosocial prayer gatherings of the Promise Keepers allowed men to consider the uncertainty and instability of their genders while simultaneously reaffirming clearly delineated social roles for men and women—"roles that encourage the man to stand up and lead his family rather than sit back and be pushed or pulled around by society's politically correct images of what the family should be." [28] Abraham adds that these meetings provided men with a safe public zone in which to verbalize their own anxieties and desires with other men; he explains that "many men long for vulnerable, accountable relationships with other men; relationships in which a guy can spill his guts and admit his frustrations, insecurities, and failures without fear of condemnation or public exposure." [29] The Promise Keepers used the homosocial prayer meeting to lure susceptible and sensitive men who were desperate for a restoration of stable male identities and cultural roles. At such gatherings, the dictates of reason could be discarded and emotion could be channeled for strategic ends. Although the ultimate goal of these rituals was certainly to rebuild the hegemony of men over women in both the public and the domestic realm, the Promise Keepers initially separated men from women to remind men of their supposed distinct identities and purposes.

[21] Bly's Iron John gatherings were specifically designed to remind men of their distinct sexed status. Gerald I. Fogel, in his Introduction to The Psychology of Men: New Psychoanalytic Perspectives (1986) notes that according to Bly, many men "have lost touch with an essential aspect of their deepest nature—a mythic 'wildman'—a hairy, archetypal . . . fierce, terrible, and awesome primal essence of maleness." [30] Bly's Iron John rituals were designed to reunite men with this primal male essence—an essence that he dubbed the "deep masculine." In Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette's King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine (1990), a text they dedicated to Bly, they deplored the demise of male ritual in late-millennial culture and implored: "in the present crisis in masculinity we do not need, as some feminists are saying, less masculine power. We need more. But we need more of the mature masculine. We need more Man psychology. We need to develop a sense of calmness about masculine power so we don't have to act out dominating, disempowering behavior toward others." [31] It is important to note that Bly's descendants do not want to "act;" rather, they want to establish secure hegemony akin to the rational structure managed by modern men like Knightley, but in order to do this, they first must re-establish the "mature" masculine identity that has become confused and challenged. Moore and Gillette present the homosocial ritual as the key first step to reacquiring the mature masculinity that would allow men not to act out against women and other challengers to their patriarchal roles. These rites may not be rational, but like modern masculinity with its adherence to Enlightenment reason, they too offer a salve to the reoccurring crisis of masculinity that threatens to destabilize the hegemonic function of men.

[22] In Bly's system, men were specifically encouraged to embrace primal masculine emotions to remind themselves of their supposed true manliness; but as Michael Schwalble points out, these rituals allowed men to "[legitimate] a version of assertive manhood free from the emotional repression that is part of traditional masculinity. The mythopoetic movement thus made it possible for the men to have it both ways; they could be feminine and still affirm their masculinity and manhood." [32] Like the Promise Keepers, Bly invites men to unleash their feelings and share their emotions with other males so that men relinquish their fears and anxieties about being aggressive and acting as domineering men. These homosocial sites and rituals provided late-millennial men with safe and explicit reminders of their ostensible dominance within culture—reminders that would encourage them to reclaim their hegemonic status within non-homosocial domains such as the civic and domestic spheres. Likewise, Austen suggests that Knightley initially uses Donwell and its male attendants to repair his social and sexual identity, but as Highbury becomes more and more modernized, he deploys his homosocial estate for the purpose of organizing the hegemonic structures of his dynamic community; and ultimately, he leaves Donwell in favor of Hartfield, the realm of the powerful heroine. Knightley models a new masculinity by relinquishing the homosocial site of Donwell in favor of the hegemonic site of the home; he may not be able to assert explicit dominance or safely express unreasonable emotions, but his well-ordered masculinity allows him to rationally maintain cultural contentment without crisis. He will never dominate Emma, and the heroine will undoubtedly remain vociferous and rambunctious, but Knightley realizes that the surest way to sustain modern contentment is to abandon his homosocial zone and focus his energies on managing the power and desires of the domestic zone of Hartfield.

Knightley's Indictment of the Irrational Frank Churchill

[23] The well-organized masculinity of Knightley promotes his social security, and his solidity distinguishes him from the other men in the novel, especially the atrophying Mr. Woodhouse and the immature Frank Churchill, whom the hero criticizes throughout the narrative as an irrational and intemperate individual. Knightley is bothered by Frank's neglect of his father, and the hero becomes upset when he learns that Frank has again postponed, because of the Churchills' claims on his time, a planned visit to his father and new bride at Randalls. Austen's hero claims that he "cannot believe that [Frank] has not the power of coming, if he made a point of it . . . . A man at his age—what is he?—three or four and twenty—cannot be without the means of doing as much as that. It is impossible" (131). [33] Knightley specifically indicts Frank for following the guidance of the Churchills. The hero notes that "as [Frank] became rational, he ought to have roused himself and shaken off all that was unworthy in [the Churchill's] authority" (133-34). The hero insists that the dismissal of irrational authority is a required gender characteristic of a mature man, and he consistently treats such immature behavior as an unreasonable deficiency that prevents Frank from becoming a leader in his community. After witnessing the young man's manipulation of a child's game, Knightley declares: "these letters were but the vehicle for gallantry and trick." The hero derides Frank as a "gallant young man, who seemed to love without feeling, and to recommend himself without complaisance" (314). Knightley, as an industrious man of labor who maintains an ordered gender and a well-planned agricultural estate, remains consistently perturbed by Frank's pursuit of useless sensations; he cannot allow Frank's laziness, charges him with being a "a very weak young man," and concludes that he is "leading a life of mere idle pleasure" (133-34). [34] Knightley indicts Frank as a wasteful young man who has not prepared himself for the challenges of modernity; he instead focuses on the pursuit of irrational sensations and childish pleasures. [35] Yet Knightley knows that the developing culture will need men to assume hegemonic identities in order to manage women and children—not play with them.

[24] Frank, however, is committed to playing and appears disinterested in organizing his masculinity for the transition to modernity, and when the topic of a ball is broached, he "argued like a young man very much bent on dancing" (177-78). He is likewise a devoted singer, who is later "accused of having a delightful voice"—a skill he is all too happy to exhibit. Knightley angrily charges: "That fellow . . . thinks of nothing but shewing off his own voice. This must not be" (207, 206). Frank, according to Knightley, is egotistical and does not understand how to operate efficiently within a content culture; Frank is too interested in drawing attention to himself and experiencing solitary sensations rather than managing his behavior and the conduct and desires of others. Indeed, the young man's selfishness nearly causes serious ramifications for his lover. [36] Knightley has no patience for such base selfishness, and the hero's response to Frank's late letter, in which he offers an apology and explanation to the heroine, accentuates his rationalized discipline in opposition to youth's careless behavior. Knightley observes: "Mystery; Finesse—how they pervert the understanding! My Emma, does not every thing serve to prove more and more the beauty of truth and sincerity in all our dealings with each other" (404). Knightley's comments remind us of his refusal to countenance the inexplicable; his ongoing critique of Frank serves to elaborate the hero's adherence to structure and order. He is not interested in playful behavior, irrational possibilities, or the joy of finesse. Knightley has devoted his gender to bridging and supervising the various gaps and fissures in his modernizing culture for the purpose of maintaining hegemony, and Austen suggests that if he sustains his commitment to rational order, he will never need to revert to aggression to keep his community content.

[25] The late-millennial Men's Movements directly charged this obeisance to reason with men's social and sexual degeneration. Michael A. Messner notes that Bly indicted contemporary industrial society for "[trapping] men into straitjackets of rationality, thus blunting the powerful emotional communion and collective spiritual transcendence that they believe men in tribal societies typically enjoyed." [37] Bly's Iron John rituals disregarded the Enlightenment project and urged men to embrace their deep masculinity as a corrective to the over-rationalization that could promote sexual equality or radical egalitarianism. The Promise Keepers, likewise, refused to reference reason in their doctrines. As Messner points out, the Promise Keepers upheld strict essentialist beliefs, but they relied upon "a higher authority than the scientific method." Messner explains that "Rather than expressing a biological essentialism, Promise Keepers holds to biblical essentialism. Based on faith, rather than on scientific argument, this essentialism allows Promise Keepers' discourse about women to be couched in terms of 'respect' for women (in their proper places as mothers, wives, and emotional caretakers of house and home)." [38] Messner concludes that the "Promise Keepers seem to be claiming that there is a divine basis for this Leave it to Beaver family norm." [39] While the model of masculinity promoted by Knightley maintains social order by promoting a hegemonic and rational structure, the late-twentieth-century Men's Movements abandoned reason in favor of primitive or divine plans for patriarchy. This method could provide immediate reaffirmation of men's dominant social identities and function while simultaneously repairing any cracks in the current mode of masculinity.

[26] Bly and the Promise Keepers did not discourage men from seeking domestic accord with women, but they refused to assent to Knightley's rationalized methods or his decision to abandon the homosocial sphere. For the Men's Movements, such rational masculinity had simply failed, and as Robert Boston explains, the Promise Keepers outlined alternative strategies for confused men to reacquire this domestic stability and the public identity it facilitated. Boston notes that "for these threatened men, Promise Keepers is surely a haven . . . . [it] provides the perfect excuse to assert authority at home—it's in the Bible. The thinking may be that women may not 'know their place' in the office anymore, but by God they'll know it at home." [40] According to the Promise Keepers, Knightley's careful guidance of young women like Harriet Smith, and even his selfless pastoral care of the content community are no longer enough to ensure the hegemonic control of female subjects and the domestic sphere; and the dictates of reason alone are certainly no longer enough to convince women to spontaneously accept managed positions of service/servitude. The Promise Keepers simply play the trump card of the Bible to reclaim the placidity of hegemony, and Bly's Mythopoeticism, as Kathleen Carlin points out, more forcefully repositioned men as the center of the social universe. Carlin explains that Mythopoeticism "moves within the aura of that guiding principle of patriarchy: that male nature characterizes full humanity, that men are central, the core around which all others revolve . . . . within this worldview, the problems and pains of women are infinitely less interesting, less compelling, less urgent, than those of men." [41] As Carlin notes, Bly's project is designed to relocate men, their power, and their problems as the epicenter of modern culture. Unlike Knightley, who strategically showed orphaned young women around the well-kept grounds of his estate, or willingly moved into his wife's ancestral home, the late-millennial Men's Movements sought to isolate men from women and place men as the heart of civilization. But despite the immense popularity of such Men's Movements, Knightley's model of masculinity has endured, largely because it has promoted contentment while it has simultaneously quelled crisis.

[27] A major reason why Knightley's gendered identity and behavior promote a crisis-free community is the efficiency of his marriage with heroine—a union that the Men's Movements would have undoubtedly frowned upon as enfeebling and perhaps perverse. Near the close of the novel, Knightley tells Emma: "[I] have been in love with you ever since you were thirteen at least" (418). [42] This comment is troubling for many reasons. First, if this claim is true, Knightley developed his affection for the heroine when she was likely still prepubescent, reminding us of the hero's refusal to deal with irrational experiences such as love and romantic passion. [43] His shocking declaration, moreover, demonstrates his perpetual inability to deal with and act upon emotions, as it has taken him eight years to vocalize his ostensibly strong feelings. The late-millennial Men's Movements created methods for prompting men to vocalize such strong feelings—publicly and amongst other men, to remind men of the importance of irrational emotions to being manly. Emma also reflects on their lengthy relationship and notes that Knightley "had loved her, and watched over her from a girl." She adds: "let him but continue the same Mr. Knightley to her and her father, the same Mr. Knightley to all the world; let Donwell and Hartfield lose none of their precious intercourse of friendship and confidence, and her peace would be fully secured" (376-77). Emma wants to preserve Knightley and his masculinity as stable and finite, and her comments suggest her understanding that his stability is indeed vital to the continued contentment of their society. Late in the story, Emma iterates her concern with Knightley's secured identity. Following the hero's requests that Emma "call [him] something else," the heroine insists: "Impossible!—I never can call you any thing but 'Mr. Knightley'" (420). Emma reifies Knightley as a stabilizing and stable force; he remains rational and ordered, and while he is married to a woman he ostensibly loves, and he even relocates to Hartfield, he remains the same ordered and disciplined man. The primary effect of his marriage, as Emma's comments suggest, is to secure the domestic parishes of the community.

[28] The cultural influence of Austen's notion of gender propriety and romantic relations is well-known; [44] I merely wish to point to Knightley as an influential example of the hegemonically-structured and heteronormative modern male whom the late-millennial men's movements claim had spent too much time listening to psychoanalytic therapy and reading marital advice manuals. Bly and the Promise Keepers actively attempted to remind men how to be men, how to be different from women, and how to function as men. Knightley's model of modern masculinity shows us how men can preserve their hegemonic social and sexual functions if they accept a fused masculinity that is unaffected by irrational volatile experiences. Knightley's model of masculinity has, no doubt, been successful—both in terms of the management of modern nations and the sustenance of male power. And yet, by the 1990s, the hackneyed crisis of masculinity resurfaced (again), and the Men's Movements looked to reaffirm the hegemony that Knightley could confidently maintain within his finite sexual identity. Devoney Looser, in her contribution to the 1996 special edition of Persuasions devoted to the men of Austen, intelligently hypothesized the novelist's "response" to the late-millennial Men's Movements. Looser indicated that "we should . . . not be surprised if the men's movement is impinging on our expectations of Austen's heroes," and questioned: "Are Austen's heroes appealing because they are in some sense 'new' to us; because they harken back to older versions of masculinity; or because they are—like her women—some sort of hybrid of the two." [45] Looser's answer to her own question was that "Austen's "'new' women and 'new' men are being rediscovered today, precisely because we find ourselves in a climate that is as confused about 'proper' gender roles as Austen's novels appear convincing about them." [46]

[29] The Men's Movements of the 1990s undoubtedly responded to this climate of gender confusion that Looser identifies, but unlike the masses who Looser suggests found comfort in Austen's men and women, I believe that the late-millennial Men's Movements were not soothed by the well-organized men of Austen's corpus like Mr. Knightley. Rather than speculate upon the anachronistic response of Austen's texts to the Men's Movements, I have tried to theorize how these movements responded to the modern version of masculinity that emerged in the years of crisis following the French Revolution and developed throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. While a complete definition of this mode of maleness is certainly beyond the scope of this article, I have attempted to focus on the rational organization of such masculinity, its reliance upon homosocial sites and rituals, and its regulation of mysterious and unreasonable experiences. This model of masculinity has been tremendously successful at gaining, exercising, and maintaining power within various cultural domains, but the dialogue between Knightley and the late-twentieth-century Men's Movements emphasizes the importance of maintaining control over the domestic realm in order for men to maintain their hegemonic social/sexual status. Whenever modern men lose such tacit dominion over the home, their public identity quickly suffers, and it is not long before yet another "crisis of masculinity" is announced as a means to spurring the reassertion of hegemonic male dominance.

[30] And such pronouncements may have undergone a slight permutation of late; a recent Newsweek cover asserts: "The Boy Crisis: At Every Level of Education, They're Falling Behind. What to Do?" [47] This persistent anxiety with the social status of men—and now boys—suggests an overwhelming concern with the social efficacy of masculinity; we continue to cling to the condition of maleness as a marker of our entire culture, and especially the future potential of our culture. But we are now becoming anxious a bit earlier. Perhaps we are no longer willing to wait for mature men to experience doubt before we remind them of their crucial role as hegemonic cultural organizers? Perhaps younger women are questioning more regularly the presumed patriarchal position of younger men and boys, leaving such males confused earlier? Perhaps the impact of the modern masculinity modeled by Mr. Knightley—the masculinity that helped to care for a content community and its inhabitants—is simply no longer compatible with the complexities of a twenty-first-century culture? The Men's Movements that flourished in the late-1990s were certainly not willing to relinquish the dominant social placement of men, and they responded to the modernization of masculinity by charging men to let loose their irrational emotions with other men. Bly and the Promise Keepers believed that such homosocial rituals would remind men of their communion with other men and with mysterious and metaphysical phenomena; these rituals would thus provide men a site removed from complex modern phenomena such as the multicultural state, the physical and mental independence of women, and the political dynamism of the nation.

[31] While Knightley may not have been ready for these modern developments, his masculinity and the hegemony it promoted were at least crafted to accommodate and absorb such complexities. In a time of globalization, digital technology, and ongoing war, as we await/observe our present/next crisis of masculinity, Knightley's model of well-ordered hegemonic masculinity may be due for a comeback. Knightley may not have been aggressive or emotional, but he was steady and efficient, and patriarchy is currently in need of steadying its ship. While the late-millennial men's movements were scared of men losing their dominance over women, the crisis may now have evolved or even deepened. Jackson Katz's The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women And How All Men Can Help (2006) may be indicative of this evolution. Katz's compelling projects, including his educational films and violence prevention programs, have successfully drawn attention to the epidemic of male violence against women. In The Macho Paradox, he explains that his "work is dedicated to getting more men to take on the issue of violence against women, and thus to build on what women have achieved." Katz adds that he tries to show men that violence against women "is personal [for men], too." He concludes: "we talk about men not only as perpetrators but as victims. We try to show them that violence by men against each other—from simple assaults to gay-bashing—is linked to the same structures of gender and power that produce so much men's violence against women." [48] Katz has been undoubtedly successful in convincing men to pay attention to violence against women; his work, likewise actively attempts to reposition the topic as a man's issue—as something that men should address and resolve personally. Like Knightley, who exercises pastoral power by caring for the anonymous Harriet Smith, Katz strongly urges men to take up this concern—a concern that he acknowledges has been long addressed by women—because it ultimately affects them. Katz offers a vision of contemporary masculinity that is derived from the Men's Movement's vision of men as central to society, but he also incorporates Knightley's model of modern hegemonic maleness. Katz recognizes that contemporary men must concern themselves with women and their sufferings because the same structures that are affecting women are affecting men, and if this is the case, he wants men to take on such issues as gender-based violence personally. At least this way, men might hegemonically organize how any such discussion of violence against women would take place; for if men were to allow women to continue to dominate such conversations, the crisis of masculinity may become all too apparent.


[1] Abigail Solomon-Godeau, "Male Trouble." Constructing Masculinity. Ed. Maurice Berger, Brian Wallis, and Solomon Watson. (London: Routledge, 1995), 70.

[2] Joane Nagel, "Nation." Handbook of Studies on Men & Masculinities. Ed. Michael S. Kimmel, Jeff Hearn, R.W. Connell. (Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2005), 401.

[3] Jane Austen, Emma. Ed. James Kinsley. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991), 203. All future references to this text will be noted parenthetically.

[4] Solomon-Godeau, "Male Trouble," 70.

[5] Michel Foucault points out that sexual identity "is not, as is too often assumed, a superimposition of, on the one hand, desires that derive from natural instincts, and, on the other hand, of permissive or restrictive laws that tell us what we should or shouldn't do." He concludes that "sexual behavior is more than that. It is the consciousness one has of what one is doing, what one makes of the experience, and the value one attaches to it." I will treat sexual identity, sexual desire, and love not as natural instincts that must be either satisfied or repressed, but as matters of social conduct and cultural consciousness that are crafted, maintained, and adjusted. Michael Foucault, "Sexual Choice, Social Act." Ethics, Subjectivity, and Truth: The Essential Works of Michel Foucault, Vol. I, 1954-1984. Ed. Paul Rabinow. New York: The New Press, 1994, 141-42.

[6] The Movements' proclamations of a crisis, as many critics later pointed out, was strategic, as it helped them to motivate their members and followers to restore a supposed normal or proper maleness. The Promise Keepers and Mythopoeticism were merely two such attempts to rebuild the hegemony of masculinity that was ostensibly weakened by the instabilities of the late-twentieth century. For an intelligent discussion of this critical argument, see Michael A. Messner, Politics of Masculinities: Men In Movements (Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 1997), 17-35.

[7] Nagel, "Nation." 401.

[8] R.W. Connell, Masculinities (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995), 190-91.

[9] Joseph A. Kestner, "Jane Austen: Revolutionizing Masculinities." Persuasions 16 (1994): 147.

[10] Gary R. Brooks and Glenn E. Good, "Introduction." The New Handbook of Psychotherapy and Counseling with Men: A Comprehensive Guide to Settings, Problems, and Treatment Approaches, Vol. I. Ed. Gary R. Brooks and Glenn E. Good. (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2001), 3-4.

[11] See, for example, Claudia Johnson, Jane Austen: Women, Politics, and the Novel (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988), Marilyn Butler, Jane Austen and the War of Ideas (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975, and Edward Neill, The Politics of Jane Austen (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999).

[12] Julia Prewitt Brown. Jane Austen's Novels: Social Change and Literary Form (Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1979).

[13] Claudia L. Johnson, Equivocal Beings: Politics, Gender, and Sentimentality in the 1790s: Wollstonecraft, Radcliffe, Burney, Austen (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995), 191.

[14] Johnson, Equivocal Beings 199, 201.

[15] Michel Foucault, The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences (New York: Vintage Books, 1970), 310. Foucault continues by pointing out that this modern individual is one "who lives, speaks, and works in accordance with the laws of an economics, a philology, and a biology . . . a being whose nature (that which determines it, contains it, and has traversed it from the beginning of time) is to know nature, and itself, in consequence, as a natural being" (Order 310).

[16] Foucault, The Order, 316.

[17] Foucault explains that "to man's experience a body has been given, a body which is his body—a fragment of ambiguous space, whose peculiar and irreducible spatiality is nevertheless articulated upon the space of things."

[18] Nick Harrison. Promises to Keep: Daily Devotions for Men Seeking Integrity (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1996), xii.

[19] Bill McCartney. "Introduction." What Makes A Man?: 12 Promises That Will Change Your Life (Nav Press: Colorado Springs, 1992), 11.

[20] As Ken Abraham and others have suggested, the Promise Keepers garner a significant following because men are confused about what it truly means to be a man in the contemporary world. Ken Abraham. Who Are The Promise Keepers?: Understanding the Christian Men's Movement (New York: Doubleday, 1997), 21.

[21] Robert Bly, Iron John: A Book About Men (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1990), ix.

[22] Austen even suggests that the Abbey retains a homosocial function for Mr. Knightley and his brother, Mr. John Knightley. When Mr. John Knightley first appears in the narrative, the novelist notes that the brothers enjoyed discussing the estate. She reports that

As a magistrate, [Mr. Knightley] had generally some point of law to consult John about, or at least, some curious anecdote to give; and as a farmer, as keeping in hand the home-farm at Donwell, he had ... to give all such local information as could not fail of being interesting to a brother whose home it had equally been the longest part of his life, and whose attachments were strong. The plan of a drain, the change of a fence, the felling of a tree, and the destination of every acre for wheat, turnips, or spring corn, was entered into with as much equality of interest by John, as his cooler manners rendered possible; and if his willing brother ever left him any thing to inquire about, his inquiries even approached a tone of eagerness (90-91).

In addition, Emma is strongly invested in the importance of Donwell to future generations of men. When Mrs. Weston shares her speculation that Mr. Knightley is romantically-drawn to Jane Fairfax, the heroine rejects the idea on principle: "Oh! no, no, Henry must have Donwell. I cannot at all consent to Mr. Knightley's marrying; and I am sure it is not at all likely. I am amazed that you should think of such a thing." (201).

[23] For example, following Knightley's initial exchange with Emma regarding Harriet Smith, he retreats to Donwell (60).

[24] The heroine's description of Donwell may have inspired Trilling's idyllic account of the world of Emma. He asserts that "there appears in Emma a tendency to conceive of a specifically English ideal of life" (53). He adds that "we cannot help feeling that 'English verdure, English culture, English comfort, seen under a sun bright without being oppressive make an England perceived—if but for a moment—as an idyll" (57).

[25] The novelist directs our attention to Knightley's unheard conversation with the orphaned girl as they overlook the domain of the Martins. Emma observes them talking, and while she acknowledges that earlier she "would have been sorry to see Harriet in a spot so favourable for the Abbey-Mill Farm ... now she feared it not. It might be safely viewed with all its appendages of prosperity and beauty, its rich pastures, spreading flocks, orchard in blossom, and light column of smoke ascending" (Austen 1816, 326).

[26] Foucault distinguishes pastoral power from both punitive and disciplinary power because it requires an individual "to assume responsibility for the destiny of the whole flock and of each and every sheep." Michel Foucault, "'Omnes et Singulatum'": Toward a Critique of Political Reason." Essential Works of Michel Foucault 1954-`984, Vol. 3: Power, ed. James D. Faubion. (New York: The New Press, 1994), 308.

[27] Messner, Politics of Masculinities, 17.

[28] Abraham, Who Are The Promise Keepers?, 21.

[29] Abraham, Who Are The Promise Keepers?, 23.

[30] Gerald I. Fogel, "Introduction," The Psychology of Men: New Psychoanalytic Perspectives. Eds. Gerald I. Fogel, Frederick M. Lane, and Robert S. Liebert (New York: Basic Books, 1986), 4-5.

[31] Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette, King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1990), xviii.

[32] Michael Schwalbe, Unlocking the Iron Cage: The Men's Movement, Gender Politics, and American Culture (New York: Oxford UP, 1996), 25.

[33] Knightley then instructs Emma that "there is one thing ... which a man can always do, if he chuses, and that is, his duty; not by maneuvering and finessing, but by vigour and resolution;" he adds that "a sensible man would find no difficulty" in dutifully visiting his father and Mrs. Weston (132).

[34] Knightley believes that the men who will guide England through the transition of modernity must be noble and active, chivalric and industrious, and he informs Emma that Frank "can be amiable only in French not in English. He may be very 'amiable,' have very good manners, and be very agreeable; but he can have no English delicacy towards the feelings of other people" (134-35). Knightley's scorching rebuke marks Frank as a French effete who has followed only Burke's call for a hyper-sensitive man of lore; Frank clings to the antediluvian masculinity modeled by Mr. Woodhouse, but, as Knightley continually indicates, the young man has received inappropriate training as a misplaced sentimental English male.

[35] Austen certainly provides numerous examples of Frank's fondness for idle pursuits. For example, upon his initial tour of Highbury, Frank "begged to be shewn the house which his father had lived in so long, and which had been the home of his father's father; and on recollecting that an old woman who had nursed him was still living, walked in quest of her cottage from one end of the street to the other" (176). Frank's intemperate fondness for nostalgia leads him on a ridiculous quest for a mysterious woman of whom he has little knowledge. He upholds an extravagant and irrational fondness of the past, recalling Mr. Woodhouse's futile desire to preserve the continuity of his "family circle," and Willoughby's earnest wish to recollect his experiences at Barton Cottage as fixed (11).

[36] Knightley is especially bothered by Frank's gift of the pianoforte to Jane and argues: "that was the act of a very, very young man, one too young to consider whether the inconvenience of it might not very much exceed the pleasure" (405).

[37] Messner, Politics of Masculinities, 20.

[38] Messner, Politics of Masculinities, 30.

[39] Messner, Politics of Masculinities, 31.

[40] Robert Boston, Close Encounters with the Religious Right: Journeys Into the Twilight Zone of Religion and Politics (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2000), 138.

[41] Kathleen Carlin, "The Men's Movement of Choice." Women Respond to the Men's Movement: A Feminist Collection. Ed. Kay Leigh Hagan. (San Francisco: Pandora, 1992), 121.

[42] Knightley has made earlier mention of his knowledge of and intimacy with Emma from an early age. He tells Mrs. Weston that "Emma is spoiled by being the cleverest of her family. At ten years old, she had the misfortune of being able to answer questions which puzzled her sister at seventeen" (32).

[43] For an important discussion of nineteenth-century notions of pre-pubescence, see Mary Ann O'Farrell's Telling Complexions: The Nineteenth-Century English Novel and the Blush (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1997).

[44] According to Philip Mason, Austen's novels document "the way her people thought about marriage, property, social differences, and the kind of behavior which was proper for ladies and gentlemen. It is hard to find a single word for this behavior; it included 'elegance,' 'gentility,' an air and a manner, but also good taste, sound principles, fidelity, consideration for others, much of what Chaucer would have called 'gentillesse.'" Philip Mason, The English Gentleman: The Rise and Fall of an Ideal (New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1982), 70-71.

[45] Devoney Looser, "Jane Austen 'Responds' to the Men's Movement." Persuasions 18 (December 1996): 159.

[46] Looser, 168. Looser's allusion to Austen's "new" men and "new" women refers to the slew of movie adaptations based upon Austen narratives that enjoyed vast popular appeal throughout the 1990s.

[47] Cover, Newsweek. June 30, 2006.

[48] Jackson Katz, The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women And How All Men Can Help (New York: Sourcebooks, 2006), 9.