1st Edition

The Maternal Voice in Victorian Fiction Rewriting the Patriarchal Family

By Barbara Z. Thaden Copyright 1997

    This is the first full-length study to focus specifically on representations of motherhood in fiction by such Victorian writers as Elizabeth Gaskell, Margaret Oliphant, Caroline Norton, and Ellen Price Wood. These authors presented an idealized view of motherhood as part of a campaign to gain social and legal status for mothering in a society in which married women were not legal entities and children born in wedlock were the inalienable property of their fathers. These writers used dead mother plots which reversed New Testament parables so that the mother plays the leading role, and maternal circle plots, which portray adult daughters and their mothers raising children outside marriage. This fiction, which showed how children benefit from good mothering, was instrumental in married mothers eventually obtaining equal parental rights.

    Introduction; Chapter 1 The Dead Mother; Chapter 2 God the Mother; Chapter 3 The Maternal Circle; Chapter 4 Der Familienroman der Mutter; Conclusion;


    Barbara Z. Thaden

    "The research is thorough so graduate students and researchers in literature or women's studies may take it off the shelf." -- Choice