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Thread: victorian narratives of bankruptcy or financial ruin or rape/sexual-marital abuse

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    Talking victorian narratives of bankruptcy or financial ruin or rape/sexual-marital abuse

    Looking for texts featuring financially ruined families or womeb who manage to forge their own independent identities (as professionals, for instance) out of their fathers or husbands' financial ruin or even out of marital ruin. I came across Martineau's Autobiography but I son'know if it s worth it. Then Anne Bronte's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is an example of financial and marital ruin given Helen's initial predicament, Dixon's Story of a Modern Woman- presenting a kind of professional collapse given the protagonist's ultimate compliance- Caird's Daughters of Danaus -again a female musician whose talent is thwarted and seemingly ruined because of societal and patriarchal demands. I don't know if you would consider East Lynne by Wood or Hester by Oliphant.

    Also seeking suggestions on texts feat rape and are rather unexplored.

    Thank you all.

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Daniel Deronda by George Eliot has a financially ruined family and an abused wife. She never has to earn a living, although she thinks she can be a professional singer at one point.

    The Odd Women by George Gissing includes a family of girls who are financially ruined when their father dies before getting around to insuring his life. One of his daughters becomes an abused wife. The other two have to make their own way doing rubbish jobs. The book also features a ladies college for teaching secretarial skills, which was a radical new opening for women back then.
    Last edited by kev67; 01-27-2017 at 02:50 PM.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    Registered User Jackson Richardson's Avatar
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    In Margaret Oiiphant's Hester, a family bank is saved from ruin early in the novel by the action of a woman. The bulk of the novel is exploring how she then uses her dominant power in her society (which doesn't always go well - Hester is the poor relation who stands up to her)

    Miss Matty in Cranford loses her small fortune and has to run a shop, which is a success with her friend's help.

    Neither of those works would fit with a standard feminist view of women as invariably victims.
    Previously JonathanB

    The more I read, the more I shall covet to read. Robert Burton The Anatomy of Melancholy Partion3, Section 1, Member 1, Subsection 1

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    Registered User Jackson Richardson's Avatar
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    The bankruptcy of Amelia Sedley's family is a major factor in the plot of Thackeray's Vanity Fair.

    Although "fallen" women crop up repeatedly - and always as tragic figures - in Victorian novels, I can't think of any actual rapes.
    Previously JonathanB

    The more I read, the more I shall covet to read. Robert Burton The Anatomy of Melancholy Partion3, Section 1, Member 1, Subsection 1

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jackson Richardson View Post
    The bankruptcy of Amelia Sedley's family is a major factor in the plot of Thackeray's Vanity Fair.

    Although "fallen" women crop up repeatedly - and always as tragic figures - in Victorian novels, I can't think of any actual rapes.
    Tess in Tess of the d'Urbervilles, at least in the 1891 edition.
    It sounded like Gwendolin Harleth from Daniel Deronda was repeatedly raped, although by her husband, so probably not recognised as such at the time.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Bankruptcies in Dickens:
    Dombey & Son, the second part of Little Dorrit (Merdle scandal) and, if I remember well, Bleak House. Nicholas Nickleby´s father loses all his money bevor he dies, but I don´t know if that amounts to bankruptcy.
    "You can always find something better than death."
    Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, The Bremen Town Musicians

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    Registered User Jackson Richardson's Avatar
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    Just noticed you were not just talking about Victorian novels. The most famous rape is Eng Lit is Lovelace's of Clarissa in Richardson's novel. It still divides readers. There is a rape at the beginning of The Wife of Bath's Tale, which is taken seriously enough to condemn the man to death, but he manages to escape death and end up married to a stunner by learning to submit to women.

    Although in Bleak House lots of people are ruined by their association with Jarndyce v Jarndyce, there are no families ruined and for reasons that are never explained, John Jarndyce himself seems to have an endless supply of money for worthy causes.
    Previously JonathanB

    The more I read, the more I shall covet to read. Robert Burton The Anatomy of Melancholy Partion3, Section 1, Member 1, Subsection 1

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    Ecurb Ecurb's Avatar
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    There are bankruptcies and financial ruin in several Anthony Trollope novels, including, The Way We Live Now, Framley Parsonage, The Last Chronicle of Barset and others.

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    Thank you all guys. Will have a look and (possibly) get back to you. I also thought of Clarissa (thoug i have read excerpts in articles). Thanks a million once again.

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    Registered User Jackson Richardson's Avatar
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    It would be nice to hear from you. Good luck.
    Previously JonathanB

    The more I read, the more I shall covet to read. Robert Burton The Anatomy of Melancholy Partion3, Section 1, Member 1, Subsection 1

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    Missed me? Guess you wouldn't expect a reply so soon. Hahha
    Actually, I m back with another question. I was wondering if you know of any victorian novels featuring literal ruins of homes along with images of fallen women. Things os that I want to submit a proposal to a confeence the main topic of which is the concept of ruins. So, apart fro mthr financial ruins which partly encompasses ruin in a metaphoric sense, I was wonderibg whether I could combine this financial collapse and gender/professional disruption with ruins of houses (symbolic of a domestic collapse resulting from the gradual professional emergence and success or failure respectively). Hope you get my points and that I'm not baffling you too much
    . Thanks a lot for all the help.

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    Registered User Jackson Richardson's Avatar
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    I've been racking my brain and I can't think of any physically ruined houses, but there is a strong connection in Bleak House between the possible exposure of Lady Dedlock's guilty secret and the end of political and social life at her husband's ancestral home, Chesney Wold (the subject of some of Dickens' most evocative descriptions). Since Sir Leicester Dedlock seems to have no heirs, it looks like Chesney Wold is going to be stripped and possibly demolished after his death.

    Let me know if you'd like me to elucidate further.
    Previously JonathanB

    The more I read, the more I shall covet to read. Robert Burton The Anatomy of Melancholy Partion3, Section 1, Member 1, Subsection 1

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    Registered User mona amon's Avatar
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    Not sure if this fits the bill, but towards the end of Jane Eyre Rochester's beautiful mansion Thornfield Hall is a burnt out ruin, his mad wife Bertha dies in the fire, and he is a shell of his former self, while Jane Eyre, formerly a poor employee of his, is now an rich heiress with plans to build a new house for herself.
    Exit, pursued by a bear.

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