Institute for the Classical Tradition
International Journal of the Classical Tradition
Clemence Schultze, “Manliness and the myth of Hercules in Charlotte M. Yonge’s My Young Alcides,” IJCT 5 (1998-1999), pp. 383-414.

Charlotte Yonge’s novel My Young Alcides (1875) transposes the myth of Hercules into a setting of English country town life, c. 1858. The story of the spiritual development of a very masculine hero is recounted through characters and incidents which closely parallel those of the myth. Two-level reading both identifies the mythical referent, and interprets it in terms of the Christian struggle. Though Yonge did not regard the book as an allegory, it incorporates allegorising elements into the realistic novel. There are many similarities with The Heir of Redclyffe (1853): in both works, use of a literary or mythical paradigm highlights crucial episodes while maintaining the Tractarian attitude of reserve towards religious experience; heroic and chivalrous Christian virtue is manifested in every-day life; and a dominant contemporary conception of manliness is renegotiated by showing male heroes displaying virtues usually perceived as feminine and identifying these as universally and appropriately Christian.

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