Gender In Detective Fiction: Gender Roles In Detective Fiction

Decent Essays
I. Gender Roles

The comic Stumptown by Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth and the audio podcast Nick Carter: Master Detective starring Lon Clack portray the different roles of gender in detective fiction. Nick Carter was on the radio from 1943 to 1955, and represents more traditional roles of gender. Although the character Nick Carter was chronicled in books and a movie, the most well- known installment of his story was the radio show. Over the many episodes, the radio show followed detective Nick Carter and his female assistant, Patsy on different crime scene investigations. Carter was also able to solve impossible crimes by looking at unique angles. Stumptown was published in 2011. It represents a more modern view on gender roles in detecting.
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Patsy ends up getting in danger with the real culprit and Nick figures out the mystery just in time to save Patsy. Patsy’s situations are very typical of the damsel in distress archetype. She usually has no way of getting out of the situation by herself. Nick Carter is the hero that solves the mystery and saves the girl. (Episode 1, Time 23:11-23:23) This audio clip from episode one, “The Echo of Death”, is from a scene where Patsy is trapped by the murderer and Nick busts in to save her and shoots the killer before Patsy is harmed. This clip confirms the archetypes of the hero for Carter and the damsel in distress for Patsy. The language of the clips goes even further to develop the roles. You can hear the distress in Patsy’s voice before Carter bursts in. This is representative of the stereotypical damsel in distress. It is high pitched and sounds panicked. Then, once Carter comes in, she is relieved, which can be heard in her voice as well. Carter, as the hero, sounds sure and comes at exactly the right moment. Occasionally, Carter and Patsy get caught in a sticky situation together. Due to Carter’s quick thinking, he is able to save the two of them and is able to stop the culprit(s), as in this scene from episode 125, “The Case of the Phantom Shoplifter”. (Episode 125, Time 22:04-22:19) Patsy …show more content…
In the mid-1900s, gender roles were very distinct, men were masculine and did all the hard work. Women were feminine and stayed at home and did not engage in any difficult tasks or put themselves in danger. In current times, the gender roles are not as concrete and there was more freedom for people to express themselves and behave in ways that did not conform with traditional views. Detective fiction reflected the same ideals. In Nick Carter, Carter was the hero and the lead. He solved all the crimes and saved his assistant, Patsy, and himself when needed. Patsy was the damsel in distress, getting into sticky situations and following Carter around. The idea of the strong female lead, as with Dex in Stumptown, evolved after the time of Nick Carter. Dex is tough and gets the job done as well as any male could and does so alone. Dex deviates from the traditional female role in detective fiction in many ways. In Nick Carter’s time, this representation of females would not have been accepted, but in this day and age, Dex is viewed normally. There are a few instances where women in detective fiction from the mid-1900s did not fit into the traditionally stated role, but this does not represent women in detective fiction in the time as whole. The same is true for the present day, were Dex does not always play the very progressive role and is

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