The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch is a twisted story full of drama and scandals with each character more complex than the next. It is often simple to pick apart and make assumptions about a novel’s protagonist. In the case of The Black Prince it is clear to see that the main character and first person narrator is in fact a repressed homosexual. Throughout the novel he faces many challenges to his gender and sexuality and although the stories, “clown” Francis Marloe suggests this many times during the book it is overlooked. Bradley’s sexuality affects many aspects of the novel for many reasons.
The readers first experience with Bradley’s homosexual tendencies is when he sees Julian Baffin from afar and thinks she is a boy. The reader does not know that the two will get together at this point in the novel but this evidence helps to piece together the clues to Brad’s attraction to males or androgyny. It is important to note Julian’s androgynous appearance in the very beginning of the novel because it reoccurs throughout the book although the reader may not pick up on it until one finds out that there is an actual love interest between Bradley and Julian. One can also argue that the name “Julian” is androgynous along with the name “Christian”, who is Bradley’s ex-wife. It is clear that the author chose the character’s names carefully, giving Bradley’s successful love interests a name that is suitable for a male or female. When faced with a woman named Rachel, Bradley is unable to get aroused, and remains passionless perhaps because there is nothing masculine about her or her name.
While on the topic of Julian Baffin it is important to touch upon the fact that although Bradley swears that he in madly in love with Julian he is unable to perform sexually when with her. He often says things like, “I’m no good” or “I’m too old” (310) but one would think that a love so strong could perhaps pull Bradley out of trouble and help him to engage in a sexual...
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