A Men's Issues at Robert Bly's Iron John – Book Report/Review Example

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The paper "A Men's Issues at Robert Bly's Iron John" is an inspiring example of a book review on sociology. Iron John is a book by Robert Bly written in 1990. In this book, Bly focuses on issues of men and how the industrial revolution has pulled them away from their families. He explains that men have been more absent from their homes and they have therefore failed to initiate their young boys into adulthood. In his book, Bly follows the life of a young prince since his early life with the mother, how he enters into adulthood and then into the life of his fathers.

Through exploring literature, Bly cites the difficult issues that exist in men’ s personal life and in their works. He looks at the nature of contemporary issues surrounding masculinity and how they are shaping their work and practices. What the book talks about Robert Bly’ s book is all about manhood and masculinity. It is a reconnection of being a man in nature, and also under the civilization in the modern world. Bly uses the story of Iron John to explain different stages in the development of masculinity.

He explains a process in which men discovers that masculinity and their mature nature at the same time maintaining touch with the historical origin of masculinity. The name Iron John is an indication of a dark and threatening figure, armoured, strong and stable. This figure is used to indicate how men transform away from the stereotypes that are rational, destructive, and rigid but seems inappropriate to iron John. Using the shadow of Iron John, Bly brings out various themes that include fatherhood, irritation, politics and war among others.

In his theme of fatherhood, Bly explains that the mother takes care of boys up to the time they reach puberty. At this stage, the father withdraws the boy from the mother and forms some attachment with him. At this time, he becomes the main parent of the boy (Bly, 1991). Bly basis his book among the American men but he also relates this with examples from other cultures. He does not recognize the existence of a type of parenting where both the mother and the father bring up the child together since birth up to adulthood.

Iron John advocates for the type of parenting that is characterised by too much attachment with the mother than the father though Bly recognises that it is associated with so many problems. The figure of Iron John is a reflection of the form of parenting where the mother and the father had segregated roles. The fathers could, therefore, avoid the responsibility of parenting and take the position of an authority that is detached from the family. In the book, Bly also recognises the crippled life of American men.

After his investigation, he concluded that according to most cultures, it is the role of the elder men in the society to initiate the boys into manhood. However, the father cannot be the right initiator since both of them are in love with the mother. He states that traditionally, the role of the father was to protect and provide education, limited roles which that the modern fathers are still failing in.  


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Bly, R. (1991). Iron John: A Book about Men. New York: Element.

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Johnson, R., Dow, J. & Victoria Council of Adult Education. (2000).Discussion notes on Robert Bly's Iron John. Victoria: Council of Adult Education.

Clatterbaugh, K., (2007). Contemporary perspectives on masculinity: men, women, and politics in modern society. Boston: Westview Press.

Edward, J., (2006). Cultures of masculinity. New York: Routledge.

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