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Zangen, Britta

Our Daughters Must Be Wives

Marriageable Young Women in the Novels of Dickens, Eliot, and Hardy

Series: Feministische Forschungen - Volume 2

Year of Publication: 2004

Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2004. 391 pp.
ISBN 978-3-631-52976-8 pb.  (Softcover)

Weight: 0.530 kg, 1.168 lbs

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Book synopsis

Victorian society was permeated by the struggle for or against female emancipation, in which marriage – and hence marriageability – were key issues. In this heated public debate on the Woman Question novels were most influential. They presented an ideology to young women readers so that, by aspiring to imitate the role models offered, they would conform to the worldview of those in power – or be encouraged to rebel against it.
The study draws an extensive picture of the shifting debate as it was conducted in non-fictional texts and then compares the young fictional heroines in the novels of Dickens, Eliot, and Hardy to the ideals of femininity both with regard to the characteristics which constitute their marriageability, and with regard to the conditions under which the young women lived.


Contents: The 1840s to the 1870s: Socio-Historical Context – Fiction: Dickens and Eliot – The 1870s to the 1890s: Socio-Historical Context – Fiction: Hardy.

About the author(s)/editor(s)

The Author: Britta Zangen worked as a teacher of English, and as chief librarian before returning to education as a mature student. She received her Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Düsseldorf where she then worked as a lecturer for years. She ist now an independent scholar. She has published widely on feminist issues.


Feministische Forschungen. Bd. 2
Herausgegeben von Marion Heinz und Friederike Kuster