Between Women: Friendship, Desire, and Marriage in Victorian England
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Between Women: Friendship, Desire, and Marriage in Victorian England

by Sharon Marcus
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0691128359

ISBN-13: 9780691128351

Pub. Date: 01/02/2007

Publisher: Princeton University Press

Women in Victorian England wore jewelry made from each other's hair and wrote poems celebrating decades of friendship. They pored over magazines that described the dangerous pleasures of corporal punishment. A few had sexual relationships with each other, exchanged rings and vows, willed each other property, and lived together in long-term partnerships described as

Overview

Women in Victorian England wore jewelry made from each other's hair and wrote poems celebrating decades of friendship. They pored over magazines that described the dangerous pleasures of corporal punishment. A few had sexual relationships with each other, exchanged rings and vows, willed each other property, and lived together in long-term partnerships described as marriages. But, as Sharon Marcus shows, these women were not seen as gender outlaws. Their desires were fanned by consumer culture, and their friendships and unions were accepted and even encouraged by family, society, and church. Far from being sexless angels defined only by male desires, Victorian women openly enjoyed looking at and even dominating other women. Their friendships helped realize the ideal of companionate love between men and women celebrated by novels, and their unions influenced politicians and social thinkers to reform marriage law.

Through a close examination of literature, memoirs, letters, domestic magazines, and political debates, Marcus reveals how relationships between women were a crucial component of femininity. Deeply researched, powerfully argued, and filled with original readings of familiar and surprising sources, Between Women overturns everything we thought we knew about Victorian women and the history of marriage and family life. It offers a new paradigm for theorizing gender and sexuality—not just in the Victorian period, but in our own.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691128351
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
01/02/2007
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
878,067
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.90(d)

Table of Contents

Illustrations vii
Acknowledgments ix

INTRODUCTION: The Female Relations of Victorian England 1
Overview 2
Historical and Disciplinary Borders 5
How This Book Engages Scholarly Debates 9
How I Came to Write This Book 14
Conclusion 21

PART ONE: Elastic Ideals: Female Friendship 23

CHAPTER ONE: Friendship and the Play of the System 25
Female Friendship in Feminist Studies 29
Victorian Women's Lifewriting and Relationships between Women 32
Female Friendship as Gender Norm 38
Friends and "Friends" 43
The Repertory of Friendship 54
"Purified and Made One in Jesus" 62
Friendship, Kinship, Marriage 66

CHAPTER TWO: Just Reading: Female Friendship and the Marriage Plot 73
The Form of the Plot 82
Female Amity and the Companionate Marriage Plot 85
Female Amity and the Feminist Marriage Plot 91
The Double Marriage Plot: Friendship as Cause and Effect 96
Unamiable Villette: Lucy Snowe's Passion 102

PART TWO: Mobile Objects: Female Desire 109

CHAPTER THREE: Dressing Up and Dressing Down the Feminine Plaything 111
Fashion and Fantasies of Women 116
Discipline and Punishment in the Fashion Magazine 135
Live Dolls 149

CHAPTER FOUR: The Female Accessory in Great Expectations 167
The Female Dyad and the Origins of Desire 173
Gender Mobility I: Masculinity as Castoff 177
Gender Mobility II: Pip as Doll and Fashion Plate 180
The Sentimental Education of the Female Dyad 184

PART THREE: Plastic Institutions: Female Marriage 191

CHAPTER FIVE: The Genealogy of Marriage 193
Female Marriage in the Nineteenth Century 196
Female Marriage and Victorian Marriage Reform 204
The Debate over Contractual Marriage 212
Victorian Anthropology and the History of Marriage 217
Same-Sex Unions and the History of Civilization 222

CHAPTER SIX: Contracting Female Marriage in Can You Forgive Her? 227
Trollope, Feminism, and Female Marriage 228
Female Marriage and Contractual Marriage in Can You Forgive Her? 232
Marriage as Forgiveness: Primitive Contract and Modern Punishment 239
The Persistence of Female Relations 251

CONCLUSION: Woolf, Wilde, and Girl Dates 257

Notes 263
Bibliography 317
Illustration Credits 347
Index 349

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