This article explores the rhetorical and personal strategies deployed by male beggars in eighteenth-century Britain, and the response of elite and middling sort men to the same beggars. It suggests that for poor male beggars there were few choices. They could present themselves as “tricksters”, or wounded heroes, as patriarchs broken by the obligations of family, or as religious mendicants. Each role helped support a masculine self-identity that allowed poor men to both beg and retain some self respect. For middling sort and elite men, the distance between themselves and a beggarly “other” was important to the creation of their own masculinity. The authority of the almsgiver was an important component of a secure elite masculine identity. By charting the different roles of begging and almsgiving in the construction of eighteenth-century masculinities this article attempts to re-insert class into our understanding of eighteenth-century gender.
|Journal||Revue HES: Histoire, Economie et Société|
|Publication status||Published - 2005|