Mistress of the House: Women of Property in the Victorian Novel
This exploration of gender and property ownership in eight important novels argues that property is a decisive undercurrent in narrative structures and modes, as well as an important gender signature in society and culture. Tim Dolin suggests that the formal development of nineteenth-century domestic fiction can only be understood in the context of changes in the theory and laws of property: indeed femininity and its representation cannot be considered separately from property relations and their reform. He presents original readings of novels in which a woman owns, acquires or loses property, focusing on exchanges between patriarchal cultural authority, the 'woman question' and narrative form, and on the place of domestic fiction in a culture in which property relations and gender relations are subject to radical review. Each chapter revolves around a representative text, but refers substantially to other material, both other novels and contemporary social, legal, political and feminist commentary.
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argues Barbara Bodichon becomes Betteredge Bretton Brontė Caroline Celt chapter character Charlotte Brontė Chartism Collins comedy comic conflict conventional coverture Cranford Cranfordians critical Crossways culture Diana discourse divorce domestic Elizabeth Gaskell England English female feminine feminist figure Gaskell Gaskell's gender George Meredith Gillian Beer Hardy Hardy's Helstone heroine heroine's Hintock household husband ideology imagination imperial independent Irish Jane Eyre Jude Jude the Obscure Jude's ladies landscape language London Lucy Lucy's marriage married women's property Mary Meredith middle-class mistress Moonstone moral narrative narrator nature Oxford passion plot political possession property reform provincial question Rachel readers realism Redworth relations relationship representation represents resistance rhetoric romance Routledge sensation novel sensationalism sexual Shirley Shirley's social social realism society space story suggests things University Press Verinder Victorian fiction Victorian novel Villette voice wife wives woman of property women Woodlanders writing