Thesis and Arguments


There is contention between words and actions in Mary Kingsley’s Travels in West Africa based around gender expectations. Kingsley’s words and writing style reflects a desire to follow the proper expectations of a Victorian woman, but this assertion is contested by her actions in travel and exploration that reflect a more masculine ideal.


Kingsley’s femininity can be seen in her view that she is merely a woman without authority, the importance of keeping up proper womanly behavior, her interest in fashion, and her use of aesthetics in her writing.


Travels in West Africa is filled with the stories of Kingsley exploring deep forests, scaling mountains, interacting with dangerous animals, and making scientific inquiry all the way, all of which was considered masculine in Victorian England.

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