The Case of Male Authors and Male Heroes

Gender bias prevalent in the literary world

By Rashi Saxena | A&E Editor

The Great Gatsby, The Catcher in the Rye, Invisible Man, Lord of the Flies. What do these books all have in common? Aside from being forced to read these books during our high school career, they are all critically acclaimed books, written by men, with male main characters. Even though The Great Gatsby tops my list of favorite books, it is definitely centered around male characters. We rarely get to see the female perspective on the many topics discussed in class. Other than a few books such as To Kill a Mockingbird and The House on Mango Street, the books we read generally deal with the hero’s journey from the male perspective.

J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books was unsure of her series prior to publication because she was a female author. She added the “Kathleen” or the “K” to conceal her gender through her name before the books were released. This instance highlights the obvious gender disparity in the literary world. Girls and women tend to read books by both male and female authors and about male and female characters. Yet, boys and men are usually not as comfortable reading a book by a female author about a female character. While many argue that the true decision of reading a book depends not on who the main character is or who the author is but on the plot of the story, the gender disparity, especially our school literature in books, remains.

As someone who thoroughly enjoys reading all types of books, it is strange to see so many worthy books not given the same recognition as books which have a male hero. For example, Agatha Christie, arguably one of the best-selling novelists, wrote over 50 novels with the main character Hercule Poirot while only over 10 with the character Miss Marple. Even though novels with female leads are on par with novels with male leads, we still see most novels written from the male perspective. Literature is a means for us to discover ourselves and help us learn from the experiences that the main characters face. While many read books for entertainment, many others read books to understand their own lives. Reading a large amount of books with introspection from male characters can be helpful. However, understanding our lives through the female experiences is also a necessary experience but the chance to do that equally is difficult in the literary world.