Bleak Houses: Marital Violence in Victorian Fiction by Lisa Surridge

By Lisa Surridge

“Professor Surridge shows a transparent and persuasive historic feel in addition to sensitivity to the novels and tales. i think this examine may have lasting price as a result of its cautious historic study and corresponding interpretation of the texts,” says Naomi wooden, Kansas nation collage The Offenses opposed to the individual Act of 1828 used to be a section of laws that opened magistrates' courts to abused working-class better halves. Newspapers in flip pronounced on those court cases and during this approach the Victorian scrutiny of family behavior started. yet how did well known fiction deal with the phenomenon of “private” family members violence? Bleak homes: Marital Violence in Victorian Fiction strains novelists' engagement with the wife-assault debates within the public press among 1828 and the flip of the century. Lisa Surridge examines the early works of Charles Dickens, Dombey and Son and The Tenant of Wildfell corridor, within the context of the serious debates on spouse attack and manliness within the past due 1840s and early 1850s. George Eliot's Janet's Repentance is learn in mild of the parliamentary debates at the 1857 Divorce Act. Marital cruelty trials give you the constitution for either John Sutherland's the girl in White and Anthony Trollope's He Knew He used to be correct. finding the recent girl fiction of Mona Caird and the reassuring detective investigations of Sherlock Holmes within the context of late-Victorian feminism and the good marriage debate within the day-by-day Telegraph, Surridge illustrates how fin-de-siècle fiction introduced male sexual violence and the viability of marriage itself lower than public scrutiny. Bleak homes hence demonstrates how Victorian fiction was once actively engaged with the wife-assault debates of the 19th century, debates which either developed and invaded the privateness of the middle-class domestic. in regards to the AUTHOR---Lisa Surridge is affiliate professor of English on the collage of Victoria, Canada. She is co-editor of Mary Elizabeth Braddon's Aurora Floyd and has released on Victorian fiction in lots of journals together with Victorian Literature and tradition, Women's Writing, Dickens experiences Annual, Victorian publication, and Victorians Institute magazine.   

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Additional resources for Bleak Houses: Marital Violence in Victorian Fiction

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You know, Betsey, I never said I would kill you,” observed the pris­ oner in an imploring manner. “I am not come here to say anything against you, John,” said she, in a very kind tone. Surridge CH1 8/13/05 8:39 PM Page 27 The Early Writings of Charles Dickens |  In reply to questions from the magistrate, she said, however, that he had repeatedly threatened her life, and that he would sooner kill her than see her become another’s. (Times,  October , a) This passage depicts Evans as divided between conflicting loyalties (loyalty to Goldsmith vs.

The drama of Dickens’s sketch peaks as the party enters the ward. The woman’s body provides a ghastly spectacle: “She was a fine young woman of about two or three and twenty. Her long black hair, which had been hastily cut from near the wounds on her head, streamed over the pillow in Surridge CH1 8/13/05 8:39 PM Page 33 The Early Writings of Charles Dickens |  jagged and matted locks. Her face bore deep marks of the ill usage she had received; her hand was pressed upon her side, as if her chief pain were there; her breathing was short and heavy; and it was plain to see that she was dying fast” (SB, ).

The  act thus functioned very largely as a means by which lower-class private conduct was regulated, and can be seen as one of a number of pieces of legislation (including the new Vagrant Act of  and the Poor Law Amendment Act of ) that defined and regulated the emergent working class, still in the process of both external definition and self-definition in the early decades of the nineteenth cen­ tury. So what was at stake post- was not so much the regulation of marital assault in general as the regulation of such assaults in the lower classes by middle-class institutions such as the court and the newspaper.

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