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King Solomon's Mines by Sir Henry Rider Haggard

            Henry Rider Haggard was a British writer and traveller who dedicated one of his first novels, "King Solomon's Mines," to "all the big and little boys who read it" (n.p.). Full of masculine characters experiencing epic adventures and big game hunting, the novel soon reached the intended target audience. In England alone King Solomon's Mines sold 31,000 copies during the first year and established Haggard as a writer of the adventure fiction genre (Butts 7). The aim of this thesis is to prove that despite the fact that the stories of the adventure fiction genre usually focus on the male characters and their power1, the female characters in Haggard's novels turn out to be the very opposite of passive. They are a threat to the masculinity of the male characters by showing their power, beauty, or cruelty. I argue that the stories do not follow the pattern of male penetrating and gaining dominance over a passive female, which was a common pattern typical of Haggard's era. .
             At that time, many adventure writers stereotyped women characters as docile and passive (Hoppenstand 303). One such female character is for instance Gretchen, the relative of Professor Lidenbrock in Jules Verne's A Journey to the Centre of the Earth. The narrator claims Lidenbrock is rich, but argues that Gretchen is the best part of his possessions (49). By using the word possession he suggests that the woman does not exist on her own. What is more, Gretchen rarely expresses her opinion and often remains silent. Haggard, on the contrary, shows in the novels an active female who becomes a threat that is difficult to overcome for the male characters. This analysis is going to demonstrate that the threat of the female takes two different forms: the threat of the heroine and the threat of the female body. To illustrate this point, two novels, King Solomon's Mines (1885) and She (1887), will be examined. The reasons for choosing these novels is not only that they are considered Haggard's most successful and popular works and have never been out of print since the 1880s (Brantlinger, 495), but also their similarity as far as the plot, setting and characters are concerned.

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