chapter  1
17 Pages

Unmanning

WithAnne Greenfield

This chapter discusses the three pillars of this collection—castration, impotence, and emasculation—within the eighteenth-century literary and cultural imagination. While all three of these states of being have in common the threats they posed to the patriarchy, the relationship they bore to one another proves highly complex. A look at attitudes over the course of the century reveals not only a huge variety of sentiment (negative and positive) about them but also, at times, remarkable differences in how each was understood in relation to the other two. By examining the remarkable prevalence and flexibility of depictions and discussions of compromised masculinity during the Restoration and eighteenth century, we gain valuable insight into the ways in which castration, male infertility, impotence, and masculinity were understood, valued, and defined during this era.