The three short stories present in The Suicide Club, although can be read as standalone pieces are woven to create a larger plot. The larger plot revolves around the work of Prince Florizel of Bohemia and Colonel Geraldine, his assistant and their quest to finally toppling the unnamed president of the Suicide Club. The main reason why they wish to destroy the mentioned organization is that it gives men with ways to escape their disastrous, dysfunctional and unhappy loves without the threat of over self-destruction. One of the underlying themes in Robert Louis Steven’s novel is the theme of loss of masculinity. As the novel progresses, it is implied that the members of the club are all bachelors whose sexualities are actually questionable and as result are doomed for extinction.
A strong argument that defends the claim of loss of masculinity is that the novel is a strong embodiment of an ambiguous sex and gender roles. Because during the Victorian Era, it is expected for men to marry women for the sole purpose of pro-creation, however, because of them joining the club they loss an important part of their masculine identity. The male members of the club also reinforce their inevitable extinction due to the fact they are also playing a murder game that causes their number to decrease. . “I am ashamed of my emotion (85)” is spoken by a broken man, the kind of broken man that the young man asked if Florizel was in the first story (10). “I feel it a weakness unworthy of my station (85)” These males have taken refuge inside an all-male club because found in the outside world are females such as Madame Zephyrine whom asserted their primacy in society.
In addition, to this because of the nature of the club, the members’ sexual titillation also became limited. The closet they can get to sexual pleasure is through the act of voyeurism by peeking in holes which were created from males who were stripped from their masculine powers. In order to restore the balance in society, Prince Florizel and the colonel plotted to kill the man behind the club. It was revealed in the story that the man who was running the club was a 50 year old man who wears large side-whiskers which is intended to be sign of masculinity. To add to his powerful image, his name was allowed to be disclosed which reinforced his mysterious image. It is also observed that most members of the club are young males in comparison to the half-century age of the president.
Despite the efforts of both the Prince and the Colonel, the escape from the club is believed to be not enough to restore the Victorian males’ loss of masculinity. It can also be argued that even the male main characters are also losing their sense of masculinity. Their names, for example, can be traced back in history and literature as feminine. The colonel, whose name is Geraldine has a feminine touch in his name and at the same time, Prince Florizel’s name can be linked to the word flower.
In conclusion, The Suicide Club by Robert Louis Stevenson depicts how imbalance in society can eventually lead to the extinction of the entire human race. When the males sought refuge in an all-male club (the suicide club) it is as if they signed towards their own doom. Their lack of interaction with females will head towards the extinction of their humanity because they cannot create another life form. When they loss their masculinity it is similar to them losing their humanity, however, this is not only a threat to males but to humanity in general.
Stevenson, Robert Louis. “The Suicide Club.” New Arabian Nights. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1895. Print.