Bleak Houses: Marital Violence in Victorian Fiction

Front Cover
Ohio University Press, Nov 15, 2005 - Literary Criticism - 272 pages
0 Reviews
Reviews aren't verified, but Google checks for and removes fake content when it's identified

The Offenses Against the Person Act of 1828 opened magistrates' courts to abused working-class wives. Newspapers in turn reported on these proceedings, and in this way the Victorian scrutiny of domestic conduct began. But how did popular fiction treat “private” family violence? Bleak Houses: Marital Violence in Victorian Fiction traces novelists' engagement with the wife-assault debates in the public press between 1828 and the turn of the century.

Lisa Surridge examines the early works of Charles Dickens and reads Dombey and Son and Anne Brontė's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall in the context of the intense debates on wife assault and manliness in the late 1840s and early 1850s. Surridge explores George Eliot's Janet's Repentance in light of the parliamentary debates on the 1857 Divorce Act. Marital cruelty trials provide the structure for both Wilkie Collins's The Woman in White and Anthony Trollope's He Knew He Was Right.

Locating the New Woman fiction of Mona Caird and the reassuring detective investigations of Sherlock Holmes in the context of late-Victorian feminism and the great marriage debate in the Daily Telegraph, Surridge illustrates how fin-de-sičcle fiction brought male sexual violence and the viability of marriage itself under public scrutiny. Bleak Houses thus demonstrates how Victorian fiction was concerned about the wife-assault debates of the nineteenth century, debates which both constructed and invaded the privacy of the middle-class home.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Contents

Introduction
1
Private Violence in the Public Eye The Early Writings of Charles Dickens
15
Domestic Violence and MiddleClass Manliness Dombey and Son
44
From Regency Violence to Victorian Feminism The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
72
The Abused Woman and the Community Janets Repentance
103
Strange Revelations The Divorce Court the Newspaper and The Woman in White
132
The Private Eye and the Public Gaze He Knew He Was Right
165
Marital Violence and the New Woman The Wing of Azrael
187
Are Women Protected? Sherlock Holmes and the Violent Home
216
Notes
247
Bibliography
255
Index
263
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2005)

Lisa Surridge is Professor of English and Associate Dean Academic of the Faculty of Humanities, University of Victoria. She is author of Bleak Houses: Marital Violence in Victorian Fiction. With Mary Elizabeth Leighton, she coedited the Broadview Anthology of Victorian Prose, 1832–1901 and was coeditor of the Victorian Review. Her articles and book chapters appear in Victorian Studies, Victorian Periodicals Review, Dickens Studies Annual, Victorian Literature and Culture, the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Literature, and elsewhere.

Bibliographic information