Peril and Protection in British Courtship Novels: A Study in Continuity and Change 9780367508999, 9781003051732

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Peril and Protection in British Courtship Novels: A Study in Continuity and Change
 9780367508999, 9781003051732

Table of contents :
Half Title
Series Page
Title Page
Copyright Page
Table of Contents
1 Introduction: Danger, Protection, and Gender Ideology in Courtship Novels
2 Establishing the Traditional Courtship Novel in the Eighteenth Century: Haywood, Richardson, and Burney
3 Intensifying Tradition: Gothic Courtship Novels of Walpole and Radcliffe
4 Enriching and Mocking Tradition: Ironic Variations in Austen’s Courtship Novels
5 Flawed Heroes and Rescuing Heroines: Victorian Challenges and Adherence to Tradition
6 Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures: Modernist Deconstructions of Courtship Novel Danger in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries
7 Reflections on Continuity, Change, and Contemporary Trends in Courtship Fiction

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Peril and Protection in British Courtship Novels

Peril and Protection in British Courtship Novels: A Study in Continuity and Change explores the use and context of danger/safety language in British courtship novels published between 1719 and 1920. The term “courtship novel” encompasses works focusing on both female and male protagonists’ journeys toward marriage, as well as those reflecting the intertwined nature of comic courtship and tragic seduction scenarios. Through careful tracking of peril and protection terms and imagery within the works of widely read, influential authors, Professor Chavis provides a fresh view of the complex ways that the British novel has both maintained the status quo and embodied cultural change. Lucid discussions of each novel, arranged in chronological order, shed new light on major characters’ preoccupations, values, internal struggles, and interactional styles and demonstrate the ways in which gender ideology and social norms governing male-female relationships were not only perpetuated but also challenged and satirized during the course of the British novel’s development. Blending close textual analysis with historical/cultural and feminist criticism, this multi-faceted study invites readers to look with both a microscopic lens at the nuances of figurative and literal language and a telescopic lens at the ways in which modifications to views of masculinity and femininity and interactions within the courtship arena inform the novel genre’s evolution. Geri Giebel Chavis received an M.A. and Ph.D. from Syracuse University with specialties in British Romanticism, the Victorian period, and American literature from 1840 to 1920. Her dissertation focuses on dreams as motif in John Keats’ poems and letters. Dr. Chavis is currently a Professor Emerita at St. Catherine University in St. Paul. She has received numerous teaching and achievement awards and has published many articles, book chapters, and three books, the most recent entitled Poetry and Story Therapy: The Healing Power of Poetic Expression. Dr. Chavis is also a certified poetry therapist and licensed psychologist with a masters in counseling psychology.

Among the Victorians and Modernists Edited by Dennis Denisoff

This series publishes monographs and essay collections on literature, art, and culture in the context of the diverse aesthetic, political, social, technological, and scientific innovations that arose among the Victorians and Modernists. Viable topics include, but are not limited to, artistic and cultural debates and movements; influential figures and communities; and agitations and developments regarding subjects such as animals, commodification, decadence, degeneracy, democracy, desire, ecology, gender, nationalism, the paranormal, performance, public art, sex, socialism, spiritualities, transnationalism, and the urban. Studies that address continuities between the Victorians and Modernists are welcome. Work on recent responses to the periods such as Neo-Victorian novels, graphic novels, and film will also be considered. Poetry and Uselessness From Coleridge to Ashbery Robert Archambeau The Ethical Vision of George Eliot Thomas Albrecht Contemporary Rewritings of Liminal Women Echoes of the Past Miriam Borham-Puyal Catherine Crowe: Gender, Genre, and Radical Politics Ruth Heholt Peril and Protection in British Courtship Novels A Study in Continuity and Change Geri Giebel Chavis For more information about this series, please visit: https://www. ASHSER4035

Peril and Protection in British Courtship Novels A Study in Continuity and Change Geri Giebel Chavis

Illustration for Thomas Hardy’s A Pair of Blue Eyes, James Abbott Pasquier, Tinsley Magazine, 1873 (scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham)

First published 2021 by Routledge 52 Vanderbilt Avenue, New York, NY 10017 and by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon, OX14 4RN Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2021 Taylor & Francis The right of Geri Giebel Chavis to be identified as author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data A catalog record for this title has been requested ISBN: 978-0-367-50899-9 (hbk) ISBN: 978-1-003-05173-2 (ebk) Typeset in Sabon by codeMantra

This book is dedicated to Ken Chavis and Jackie Alexander





Introduction: Danger, Protection, and Gender Ideology in Courtship Novels 1


Establishing the Traditional Courtship Novel in the Eighteenth Century: Haywood, Richardson, and Burney 16


Intensifying Tradition: Gothic Courtship Novels of Walpole and Radcliffe 50


Enriching and Mocking Tradition: Ironic Variations in Austen’s Courtship Novels 64


Flawed Heroes and Rescuing Heroines: Victorian Challenges and Adherence to Tradition 111


Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures: Modernist Deconstructions of Courtship Novel Danger in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries 157


Reflections on Continuity, Change, and Contemporary Trends in Courtship Fiction 212 Index



I wish to thank administrators and faculty at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota for helping to make this study possible, by providing me with a three-year endowed humanities professorship, research course releases, and opportunities to participate in the Summer Scholars’ Retreat Program. I also wish to express my particular gratitude to Professor Cecilia Konchar Farr for her wisdom and support and to Routledge/ Taylor & Francis Senior Editor, Michelle Salyga, for her encouraging and timely responses at the book proposal stage of this project.


Introduction Danger, Protection, and Gender Ideology in Courtship Novels

Aim and Scope of This Book The word “danger” tends to conjure up images of violent crime, natural disaster, loss of life and limb, rather than thoughts of courtship, than dance of love, than marker of civilization and social order. However, the mention of “danger,” in its various forms, its synonyms and its figures of speech; and the presence of danger—social, emotional, psychological, spiritual, and physical—permeates the British courtship novel. Repeatedly, peril, hazard, risk, alarm, treachery, or threats of harm color the experiences of heroine and hero, complicate their interactions, and profoundly affect their progress toward the altar. In courtship texts, danger imagery abounds as well: boats tossing in turbulent seas; people tottering on the brink of chasms or cliffs, or rushing headlong down slippery slopes; or land vehicles traveling at breakneck speeds. Equally apparent in the courtship story are words denoting defenses against danger, such as protection, rescue, guard, guide, or sentinel; and words suggesting the opposite of danger such as safety, haven, shelter, sanctuary, or salvation. My reflections on this danger/safety lexicon began years ago when I was delving into the world of Jane Austen’s novels and teaching courses focused on courtship and seduction novels spanning the Age of Reason, Romantic, Victorian, and Modern literary periods. Surprised by the abundance of danger vocabulary I found in these fictional works, I began to immerse myself in conduct books and didactic treatises that embodied cultural messages, mores, and ideologies regarding female and male behaviors. My discovery of striking links between the courtship and the peril/protection motif within the pages of all these sources set me firmly on the path that has culminated in the far-ranging study that I am presenting here. While I provide salient features of conduct book material as background in this introductory chapter, this book is primarily devoted to exploring the ways that authors use danger/safety language in British courtship novels published over a two-hundred-year period between 1719 and 1920. Through careful tracking of peril and protection terms

2 Introduction and imagery, I provide original readings of a wide range of fictional works and a fresh view of the complex ways that the novel genre as a whole has maintained the status quo as well as embodied cultural change. In particular, my study of novelists’ danger/safety language sheds new light on major courting characters’ preoccupations, values, and struggles. This study also illuminates the ways in which gender ideology and social norms governing male-female relationships were not only perpetuated but also challenged during the course of the British novel’s development. Blending close textual analysis with historical, cultural, and feminist criticism, this multi-faceted exploration invites readers to look with both a microscopic lens at the nuances of figurative and literal language and a telescopic lens at the ways in which persistent and changing views of masculinity and femininity and interactions within the courtship arena inform the novel genre’s evolution.1 Underlying my decision to explore individual works within chronologically arranged literary periods is the belief that novels embody cultural phenomena along with conventions of literary public discourse that are prevalent during their time, and that authors’ language choices both reflect social conditioning and create new meanings. Also informing this book is my awareness of how writers echo, “re-write,” and dialogue with one another’s works as they move literary history forward. When literary works spanning a significant time period are juxtaposed, as they are in this book, we can access new perspectives and draw creative, thought-provoking links. As I explore examples of danger/safety language within the various novels, I attend to the emotional valences and denotations of relevant words, along with the metaphors and symbols that may, more indirectly, convey messages of peril or protection and send readers to realms of daydreams and subconscious or preconscious apprehensions. In order to offer the most responsible interpretations, I take into account whether danger/safety wording emerges from the voice of heroes, heroines, or villains in dialogue; or from characters’ reflections, sensations, or memories; or from a third-person narrator who may be heightening suspense, offering commentary, or raising awareness of ethical issues. The novels included in this study all feature a prominent courtship narrative, contain particularly striking danger/protection language, and have been widely read and influential either in their own time or in later years. In making these selections representing the mainstream of the British courtship novel’s development, I have grappled with the unfortunate fact that racial, ethnic, and sexual orientation diversity is lacking here, given the power structure and inherent biases of British cultural stakeholders of the period covered in this study. My choice of time span for this study derives from the following two factors. I begin with Eliza Haywood’s enormously popular Love in

Introduction  3 Excess because of my awareness that “amatory” fiction played a key role in the origins of the British novel. I conclude my study of novels in the early Modern period because by that time, “radical experiments in literary technique,” involving style, plot, and characterization, coupled with profound socio-cultural changes, signaled the virtual unraveling of basic courtship narrative design (Barton & Hudson 109). The courtship narrative constitutes an essential feature of the British novel genre; therefore, the exploration of courtship novels becomes essentially a study of the novel genre as a whole. The comic courtship plot, in particular, with its ‘happily-ever-after’ ending gained such widespread popularity that it basically defined the novel’s traditional structure until the early twentieth century. In Aspects of the Novel, published in 1927, E. M. Forster tells his readers, “If you think of a novel in the vague you think of a love interest—of a man and woman who want to be united and perhaps succeed” (54). He also points out that “novelists . . . usually end their books with marriage” (55). Robert Palfrey Utter and Gwendolyn Bridges Needham in Pamela’s Daughters proclaim the courtship scenario’s intrinsic place in the British novel’s history, when they note that “The typical plot of the English novel has love for the starting-post and marriage for the finish-line” (19). In like fashion, Joseph A. Boone in his book, Tradition Counter Tradition: Love and the Form of Fiction, asserts that “The novelist tradition of love and marriage emerging in mid-eighteenth century England and overtaking the mainstream of ‘respectable’ nineteenth-century fiction has come to be seen as axiomatic of the genre” (65). Boone also points out that the novel’s “most familiar pattern is the courtship plot whose comedic ending follows upon the systematic removals of those obstacles previously impeding union” (9–10). Viewing the courtship plot as a straight jacket for novelists, Forster disparages it in these terms: “You all know how enormously love bulks in novels, and will probably agree with me that it has done them harm and made them monotonous” (54). Forster suggests the literary directions of his time when he emphasizes the novelist’s “access to self- communings” and deep “subconscious” levels of characters (84) and when he questions if plot is even “necessary . . . in a novel” (86). He also asks why a “novel” has “to be planned” and suggests rather than needing to “close,” it can “open out” (96). He flies the modernist flag when he poses the following rhetorical question and answers it as well: “Cannot fiction devise a framework that is not so logical yet more suitable to its genius? Modern writers say that it can” (97). Aligned with Forster’s view, Virginia Woolf labels “the form of fiction most in vogue” as “ill-fitting vestments” and captures the modern writer’s struggle in these terms: “The writer seems constrained, not by his own free will but by some powerful and unscrupulous tyrant who has him in thrall, to provide a plot, to provide comedy, tragedy, love interest,

4 Introduction and an air of probability” (106). Her call to arms against this “tryant” is evident in these words: if a writer were a free man and not a slave, if he could write what he chose, not what he must, if he could base his work upon his own feeling and not upon convention, there would be no plot, no comedy, no tragedy, no love interest or catastrophe in the accepted style, and perhaps not a single button sewn on as the Bond Street tailors would have it. (“Modern Fiction,” 106) Boone suggests the same urge to break through the strangling restraints of stale plot formulas, when he notes the following: Because the wedlock ideal was so embedded in the very organization of the traditional novel, the truly successful insurrection against the tyranny of conventional marital ideology demanded a profound revision and rethinking of traditionally signifying modes of form and closure as well as content. (19)

The Courtship Novel as Defined in This Study As the above assertions indicate, the British courtship novel involves a hero and heroine’s journey toward matrimonial union and the roadblocks they encounter along the way. Broadening the parameters of Katherine Sobba Green’s book, The Courtship Novel 1740–1820: A Feminized Genre, my use of the term “courtship novel” encompasses works that focus on both female and male protagonists’ internal and external experiences within the courtship arena. Unlike Sobba Green, I do not draw a sharp distinction between “masculine plots of pursuit, seduction and betrayal” and “feminine” plots of “courtship and marriage” (13). The tragic seduction plot, or what Boone calls “a dark inversion of the courtship format” (10), exists alongside its more light-hearted counterpart from the beginning. Thus, several of the courtship novels studied within the pages of this book suggest the deeply intertwined nature of comic courtship and tragic seduction scenarios.

Integral Links between Courtship Novels and Conduct Book Danger The substantial connection between the novel genre and conduct literature helps to explain why courtship and seduction elements are so often interwoven and why danger/protection language is so prominent throughout the novels explored in this book. We can even view early courtship novels as elaborations of those cautionary tales that conduct book writers created, in order to provide an entertaining way to reinforce their advice and warnings.

Introduction  5 A social phenomenon related to marriage partner choice in the eighteenth century seems closely tied to the enormous popularity of danger-infused conduct books and the novels that emerged from them. The evolution, taking place over centuries, from parental-directed marriages of convenience to companionate marriages based on friendship and love seems to speed up during the eighteenth century. Green refers to the rise of “affective individualism” during this time period, defining this term as “the right of choosing a partner within heterosexual marriage” (158). In her historical analysis of courtship and marriage, Talia Schaffer also acknowledges this shift away from parental oversight, yet emphasizes the continuing tension between what she calls “familiar” marriage based on “comradely affection” and the more perilous marriage based on “passionate idealization and erotic attraction” (43). Alarm over diminishing parental control combined with awareness of the risks inherent in life-altering decision-making creates a growing need for non-fictional and fictional texts designed to guide young people in their mating phase. The fundamental connection between conduct literature and novels is highlighted by the fact that prominent early novelists such as Eliza Haywood, Daniel Defoe, and Samuel Richardson were also conduct book authors. Christopher Fink points out that by the year 1749, Haywood “had completed eight works that might reasonably be termed conduct books” (208), one of which was her Female Spectator periodical. In 1750, Defoe published a book on Religious Courtship, and five years later, Richardson brought out his Collection of the Moral and Instructive Sentiments, Maxims, Cautions, and Reflexions Contained in Pamela, Clarissa and Sir Charles Grandison. Richardson’s wildly popular novel, Pamela, resulted from the author’s intention to create an engaging behavior guide warning young virgins against seducers. In effect, his heroine becomes her own conduct book writer, when, anticipating the future, she imagines reading her journal in order to “look back upon her dangers; and either approve or repent of her conduct in them” (130). In his exceptionally popular Sermons to Young Women, first published in 1766 and reprinted in fourteen editions by 1813, Fordyce discusses the new novel form and singles out “the beautiful productions” of Richardson’s “incomparable pen,” asserting that his novels are among the “very few” that his female audience can “read with safety” and “with advantage” (Sermon IV, 148). Fordyce tells his readers that they are “under singular obligations for his [Richardson’s] uncommon attention to their best interests” because of “the most exalted standard of female excellence” he upholds in his works (IV, 149). Two other popular commentators, Samuel Johnson and Anna Letitia Barbauld, recognize the moral didacticism of the emerging novel form. According to Johnson in one of his Rambler essays, the realistic “works of fiction” that are “delight[ing]” the mid-eighteenth century

6 Introduction generation (19) “are written chiefly to the young, the ignorant, and the idle, to whom they serve as lectures of conduct, and introductions into life” (21). In her essay, “On the Origin and Progress of Novel-Writing,” Anna Letitia Barbauld also suggests the conduct-book quality of novels when she differentiates between harmful and moral works and asserts that through novels, readers can gain “some knowledge of the world . . . attended with less danger, than by mixing in real life” (48). Widely read seventeenth- and eighteenth-century conduct books that go hand in hand with the emergence of the British courtship novel are laden with warnings of danger directed to young people, females in particular. For example, in his long-lived The Lady’s New-Years Gift: or, Advice to a Daughter, published in 1688, Lord Halifax is “struck at the prospect of Danger, to which a young Woman must be expos’d” (2) and indicates, “it is as safe to play with Fire, as to dally with Gallantry” (110). In The Whole Duty of a Woman, published repeatedly in the eighteenth century, William Kenrick (who refers to his book as “Written by a Lady”) describes his (or her) words as “cautions to steer a safe course in a dangerous sea” (33). Hannah More, in her Essays on Various Subjects, Principally Designed for Young Ladies (1786), emphasizes a woman’s susceptibility to the flattery of “a dangerous and designing man” and advises her female audience to be on their “guard” in order to avoid “ruin” (34). She links flattery not only to seduction but also to the “vulgar catastrophe of marriage” for women hoodwinked by the adulations of fortune-hunting suitors (35–36). In a similar vein, Dr. John Gregory in A Father’s Legacy to His Daughters (1774) emphasizes that his “admonition and advice” are written in light of a “father’s quick apprehension of the dangers that too often arise” (111), and almost all the dangers he mentions relate to the courtship arena. Like Gregory, Defoe, in Religious Courtship (1750), claims that his guidance regarding the right sort of mate is chiefly addressed to women because “really the Hazard is chiefly on their Side” (“Preface”). Another conduct guru, Thomas Gisbourne, in An Enquiry into the Duties of the Female Sex (1799), refers to the time when a young woman enters society as dangerous because she is liable to “plunge at once into a flood of vanity and dissipation” (66–67). Recognizing that marriage involves a strong power differential in favor of husbands, Gisbourne warns that “especial caution would be requisite in the party destined to subordination, antecedently to such an engagement!” (166). Fordyce beseeches the “daughters of Britain” to “relinquish” their “dangerous pleasures” (Sermon I, 39) and repeatedly exhorts his young readers to be on their “guard” (I, 44). Conveying a related message, Gregory refers to “modest reserve” as “One of the chief beauties in a female character” and as a woman’s “natural protection from the familiarities of men” (122). Repeatedly introducing danger words in the context of battle and hunter-prey scenarios, Fordyce emphasizes the hazards of vanity,

Introduction  7 immodest behavior, flattery, false suitors, and vile libertines. He also mentions that men cannot feel “safe” in a relationship with a woman of unrestrained wit (Sermon V, 192). In his Addresses to Young Men, Fordyce demonstrates that young men need courtship advice as well, when he warns against the dangers of seductive women and compares marriage to a flirt with a plunge down a “dreadful precipice” (254).

Courtly Tradition, Gender Ideology, and the Protection Role Despite the conduct book focus on women’s need to guard against malicious and licentious men, the notion of man as protector of a dependent woman was a prominent feature of gender ideology from the mid-eighteenth century to latter part of the nineteenth century. By the eighteenth century, highly prized feminine behavior involved gentleness, submissiveness, and chastity, while ideal masculine behavior included bravery, honesty, integrity, and assertiveness. Women were considered more physically and mentally fragile than men, and men were expected to command resources in order to function as providers and shields against harm. Although the sins of Eve and Delilah continued to tarnish women’s image, females were assumed to be more pure, more selfsacrificing, and less sexual than males. This superior degree of goodness, especially in the first half of the nineteenth century, became a powerful ethos involving women’s role as men’s spiritual saviors. Sarah Stickney Ellis’ bestselling book, The Women of England, characterizes woman as man’s “second conscience” and “humble monitress” (1611). As the one “guarding the fireside comforts” and “clothed in moral beauty,” she helps shield man from “the snares of the world” and “temptations from within and without” (1611). Given this set of gender stereotypes, it is not surprising to find in traditional courtship novels the depiction of female and male exemplars who engage in mutually protective behavior. In those conventional works, where hero and heroine are not quite perfect while courting, they usually achieve paragon status by the story’s end, proving how deserving they are of one another. Man’s role as protector in courtship scenarios of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries reflects the heritage of courtly romance and chivalric codes of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. The knight, who rescues his fair lady from danger and performs daring feats, becomes a cultural icon, affecting standards of behavior for the later British courtship novel hero. Andre le Chapelain’s widely read book, The Art of Courtly Love, which prescribes ideal male lover’s behavior for hundreds of years following its publication in the twelfth century, specifies that the courtly lover is “courageous in battle and hardy against his enemies” and should, for “the sake of” the “one” lady he loves, “be a devoted servant of all

8 Introduction [ladies]” (152). In the late sixteenth century, Edmund Spenser, couching his conduct material in the renowned allegorical romance, The Faerie Queene, introduces his Red Cross Knight who performs heroic deeds for Una, the lady he loves. He slays a foul-smelling half-serpent/half-woman creature and later fights a formidable dragon for two days in order to rescue Una’s imprisoned parents. In her literary history entitled The Progress of Romance through Times, Countries and Manners and published in 1785, Clara Reve shows the lasting allure of the masculine chivalric ideal. In the course of clarifying distinctions and parallels between the romance and the novel and judging their relative merits, she claims that “Romance,” in spite of its “absurdities,” inspired an “enthusiasm” of “virtue and honour” and “taught the young men to look upon themselves as the champions and protectors of the weaker sex” (67–68). By the mid-eighteenth century, the courtly lover’s rhetoric of service and protection is even codified into minted phrases used by would-be suitors. The Amorous Gallant’s Tongue Tipp’d with Golden Expressions, for example, contains wooing words such as the following that echo from the realm of medieval knights: “What Services shall I perform, what Worlds subdue, to be Possessor of that Bliss which lies in your Power to make me happy” (12). Conduct book writers preserve the chivalric image of the hero as protector, while also reinforcing the woman’s need for such shielding. Lord Halifax clearly assigns the guarding role to the man when he addresses his female audience with the words, “Your sex wanteth our Reason for your conduct, and our Strength for your Protection” (27). In like fashion, Fordyce, in his Sermons, that according to Mary Wollstonecraft had “long made a part of a young woman’s library” (Vindication, 19), extols the glorious “Old Romance” in which “women were patterns of chastity, dignity and affection” to be “won by real heroes” whose “title was founded in protecting, not in betraying, the sex” (Sermon IV, 150). Even after noting that “the practice of Piety” (Sermon IX, 55) helps to ensure a woman of “divine protection against the machinations of the ungodly” (55), Fordyce boldly reasserts, for his female audience, man’s rightful protective role and, in doing so, further solidifies the gender norms evolving during his time: Nothing can be more certain than that your sex is, on every account, entitled to the shelter of ours. Your softness, weakness, timidity, and tender reliance on man; your helpless condition in yourselves, and his superior strength for labour, ability for defence, and fortitude in trial; your tacit acknowledgement of these, and frequent application for his aid in so many winning ways, concur to form a plea, which nothing can disallow or withstand but brutality. (Sermon IX, 74–75)

Introduction  9 Fordyce’s vehement declaration of women’s weakness corresponds to messages in Gregory’s conduct guide. In his Father’s Legacy, Gregory advises females to conceal their physical vigor, suggesting that evidence of a robust constitution in a woman will be deeply displeasing to a man. While he acknowledges that “good health” is “one of the greatest blessings of life,” he tells readers not to “boast of it, but enjoy it in grateful silence” (131). In explaining his reason for this advice, he does so in terms designed to ensure conformity to established gender norms: We so naturally associate the idea of female softness and delicacy with a corresponding delicacy of constitution, that when a woman speaks of her great strength, her extraordinary appetite, her ability to bear excessive fatigue, we recoil at the description in a way she is little aware of. (131) Like Gregory and Fordyce, Jean Jacque Rousseau, famous French Enlightenment philosopher whose works were influential in England, also emphasizes female delicacy and dependence on males. In Emile, his very well-known hybrid treatise and fictional work, Rousseau asserts, “The man should be strong and active; the woman should be weak and passive” (322) and instead of “being ashamed of her weakness, she is proud of it” (323). For Rousseau, it is “the law of nature” that “The man’s virtue is his strength,” and “he pleases because he is strong” (322). When Mary Wollstonecraft in her Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) challenges the ways influential writers such as Fordyce and Rousseau condescendingly prescribe female behavior, she highlights society’s stake in maintaining woman’s image as a weak creature who expects a man to defend her. Bemoaning middle- and upper-class women’s exaggerated need for male protection, Wollstonecraft captures the state of affairs in these terms: “Proud of their weakness, . . . they must always be protected, guarded from care, and all the rough toils that dignify the mind” (269). Given what Wollstonecraft calls their “amiable weakness,” these women become “entirely dependent . . . on man, not only for protection, but advice” (155). With indignation at the shortcomings of the gender norms infusing her society, Wollstonecraft elaborates upon this learned helplessness in women: Fragile in every sense of the word, they are obliged to look up to man for every comfort. In the most trifling danger they cling to their support, with parasitical tenacity, piteously demanding succour; and their natural protector extends his arm, or lifts up his voice, to guard the lovely trembler—from what? Perhaps the frown of an old cow, or the jump of a mouse . . . (155)

10 Introduction In her call for gender equality, Wollstonecraft also condemns the whole chivalric heritage as a charade, when she notes that these dependent women are “Exalted by their inferiority” and “constantly demand homage as women, though experience should teach them that the men who pride themselves upon paying this arbitrary insolent respect to the sex . . . are most inclined to tyrannize over, and despise, the very weakness they cherish . . .” (306). Despite Wollstonecraft’s vigorous protest and eloquent plea for education to foster women’s use of reason and independence, many influential essayists and public figures in the mid to late nineteenth century continue to reinforce the gender rhetoric that views women as requiring the offices of their masculine natural-born protectors. In 1848, Reverend George Burnap, an American clergyman whose lectures were widely disseminated in both the U.S.A. and Great Britain, asserts, as a truism, the separate spheres of men and women, and, in doing so, emphasizes the “robust constitution” of men who must experience “the labors and dangers of the chase, the toils of the field, the perils of the ocean,” in contrast to the “sensibility, tenderness and patience” of women whose place is in the home (46). According to Burnap, a woman “feels herself weak and timid,” “needs a protector,” and considers “strength and courage” in men as “indispensable requisites” (47). Reflecting Halifax’ seventeenth-century statement quoted earlier, Burnap also suggests women’s need for mental guidance from men, when he notes that a woman “asks for wisdom, constancy, firmness, perseverance, and she is willing to repay it all by the surrender of the full treasure of her affections” (47). Burnap’s attempt to ensure conformity to his stated gender norms is evident both when he asserts that women, “effeminate and weak” as they are, do not “want” to see these features in men, and when he declares that “any approach” to masculine traits in a woman is both “odious and disgusting” (47). Following a very similar track in 1871, John Ruskin, a widely respected spokesperson for Victorian culture, reinforces gender norm differentiations and separation of spheres, while also affirming the old chivalric values. Besides stating that man is “the defender” (135) and the reverent one toiling in the “untiring service” (134) of his beloved lady, Ruskin enthusiastically distinguishes women and men’s roles in these terms: By her office and place, she is protected from all danger and temptation. The man, in his rough work in the open world, must encounter all peril and trial, — to him therefore must be the failure, the offence, the inevitable error; often he must be wounded or subdued; often misled; and always hardened. But he guards the woman from all this; within his house as ruled by her, unless she herself has sought it, need enter no danger, no temptation, no cause of error or offence. (136)

Introduction  11 For Ruskin, the realm where the woman resides is “the place of peace; the shelter, not only from all injury, but from all terror, doubt, and division” (136). Ruskin’s gender differentiations assign the physical and economic protector role to the male and the spiritual protector role to the female, a role earlier promulgated by Fordyce when he references women’s power of “reclaiming” the men who are their potential “offenders” (Sermon 1, 20). Ruskin elaborates on this area of female prowess when he tells his readers that a wife “must be enduringly, incorruptibly good” (137), for she reigns as queen in “a vestal temple” (136) of the sacrosanct and ideal Victorian home. Ruskin’s sentiments suggest that the female exemplar provides an ethical shield for both husband and children. However, despite the female’s crucial function and Ruskin’s statement that woman is “the helpmate of man” (120), the model he defines chiefly perpetuates the image of woman’s fragility and man’s protective vigor. Rather than affirming the separation of spheres, Ruskin’s contemporary John Stuart Mill, in his 1869 landmark essay, “The Subjection of Women,” fiercely argues against “the present system, which entirely subordinates the weaker sex to the stronger” (4–5) and leaves women especially vulnerable in their marriages. In cogent terms, Mill sets forth the rigid gender stereotyping which characterizes women as weaklings dependent upon men’s largess and relegates them to the confines of home: What is now called the nature of women is an eminently artificial thing—the result of forced repression in some directions, unnatural stimulation in others. . . in the case of women, a hot-house and stove cultivation has always been carried on of some of the capabilities of their nature, for the benefit and pleasure of their masters. (21) Despite his eloquent assault on cherished norms, Mill celebrates the male chivalric ideal, and, in doing so, validates the notion of women’s role as spiritual savior. Even though Mill openly debunks the popular myth of women’s superior moral nature, calling it “silly panegyrics” (77), he does, in looking back on history, assert that both men’s desire to be admired by women and women’s desire for the “eminent qualities” they expected from “protectors” resulted in masculine chivalric behaviors. He tells his readers that from the “moral influence” that was “exercised by women,” there “arose the spirit of chivalry,” which involved not only “the highest standard of the warlike qualities” but also “the cultivation of a totally different class of virtues—those of gentleness, generosity, and self-abnegation, toward the non-military and defenseless classes generally” (85). In his indignation against the perils women face due to their subordinate status, Mill believes this “chivalrous standard . . . is the only one at all capable of mitigating the demoralizing influences of that position” (86).

12 Introduction As a widely read conservative essayist in the 1880s, Eliza Lynn Linton conveys opinions resembling Ruskin’s elaboration upon the separation of spheres and affirmation of women’s inherent moral superiority. Like Mill and Ruskin, Linton also nostalgically advocates for the reinstatement of old chivalric values. She deplores the independent, outspoken women of her day, referring to them as “insurgent wild women” who are “unnatural” (“Wild Women” 372), and praises the female of old whom she describes as “generous, capable, modest,” possessing “innate purity” and “neither bold in bearing nor masculine in mind” (“Girl of the Period” 2). She also adds to the chorus of voices promoting the much needed restoration of the male’s natural function as woman’s protector: “When women become again what they were once they will gather round them the love and homage and chivalrous devotion which were then an Englishwoman’s natural inheritance” (“Girl of the Period” 8).

Heroines, Heroes, and Courtship Novel Danger Given recurring non-fiction conduct advice involving treacherous and protective men, it is not surprising to find that the hazards saturating courtship novels particularly plague young heroines, who are almost always orphaned or inadequately parented.2 In their unshielded situations, these heroines are left to face the treacherous overtures and deceptive ploys of the men who pursue them, and thus encounter far greater threats to their virgin status and reputation than their male counterparts. Typically, these vulnerable beauties struggle to discern which men will protect and which will ravish, which will be generous, kindly providers, and which will prove to be brutish, tyrannical spouses in a society where women lack basic legal and economic rights. While they may dream of a blissfully safe haven with a companionable mate, they recognize that a perpetually hellish prison with the wrong partner could seal their tragic fate. The presence of men’s dichotomous roles as shield and source of harm creates much of the tension in courtship narratives. A more subtle yet compelling tension arises, interlaced with powerful ironic touches, when the so-called weak and demure young heroines function as protectors in the heroes’ lives, and when even well-meaning, brave gentlemen fail to secure the safety of their fair maidens. While eighteenth- and nineteenth-century novelists, like their conduct-book author peers, drive home the concept of man as protector of the imperiled female, there is an underlying contradictory message suggesting that endangered women need to rely on their fortitude, powers of discrimination, and modesty, as well as on the power of Providence, in order to stay safe. In the latter half of the nineteenth century when the Victorian period is waning, the hero’s effectiveness as the heroine’s protector deteriorates significantly in courtship novels, while the heroine’s role as spiritual and even physical protector increases in depth and dimension. By the early twentieth-century Modern era, these changes become even more

Introduction  13 pronounced in ways that reflect serious challenges to traditional gender ideals and habitual courtship practices. In some of these modern texts, the boundary between a couple’s risk-taking behaviors and the promise of loving sanctuary becomes blurred, posing challenges to time-honored distinctions between safety and danger itself.

Notes 1 Since a danger/safety lexicon is central to this book, it is important to note the etymology of pertinent words. For example, the Late Latin, Middle English, and Old French origins of the word “danger” align it with “dominion” and the “power” of a “dominus,” i.e., “lord or master” to “dispose of, or to hurt or harm” (>search>q=danger). In conjunction with this meaning, which has been obsolete since the sixteenth century, the word “danger” also involved “a state of subjection, bondage, or captivity” (>search>q=danger). Despite their designation as “archaic,” these meanings are consistent with the patriarchal threat experienced by so many female characters within the eighteenth-, nineteenth-, and early twentieth-century courtship novels that form the basis of this study. In addition, the word “dangerous,” which carried meanings of “difficult to deal with, arrogant, severe” or “overbearing” before the 1600s (www.> search>q=danger), can be viewed as relevant when young courtship novel females in subsequent centuries are facing marriage decisions that will determine their fate for a lifetime. From my research into the etymology of words such as danger, peril, protection, safe, and shelter within the Oxford English Dictionary, the Online Etymology Dictionary, and Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language, it is evident that these terms have remained quite stable in their dictionary definitions throughout the period covered in my study and into our current times. The only striking exception is a “now rare” and “euphemistic” usage of the word “protection” which, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is found in sources dating from the late 1600s and appearing as late as the early 1900s. In these examples, “protection” refers to “The action of maintaining and providing for a mistress” (www-oed-com. and This inherently paradoxical definition is also pertinent to my discussion of undesirable suitors who promise the shelter of an illicit or non-legally binding relationship. 2 Elvira Casal notes that the flawed or absent mother is characteristic of almost all young-womancoming of age narratives from fairy-tales to realistic fiction and beyond. At the very simplest level, how can a heroine with a mother who properly protects, nurtures and guides her child even be a heroine? To be a heroine one must have challenges, frustration, risk. (“Many Mothered” 33)

Works Cited The Amorous Gallant’s Tongue Tipp’d with Golden Expressions: Or, the Art of Courtship Refined. J. Clarke, 1741. Barbauld, Anna Letitia. “On the Origins and Progress of Novel-Writing.” British Novelists; with an Essay, and Prefaces Biographical and Critical, vol. I. F.C. and J. Rivington, 1810, pp. 8–62.

14 Introduction Barton, Edwin J., and Glenda A. Hudson, editors. A Contemporary Guide to Literary Terms. Houghton Mifflin, 1997. Boone, Joseph A. Tradition Counter Tradition: Love and the Form of Fiction. University of Chicago Press, 1987. Burnap, George. “Lecture II. On the Sphere and Duties of Woman.” The Sphere and Duties of Woman: A Course of Lectures. 2nd ed., John Murphy, 1848, pp. 41–68. Capellanus, Andreas (Andre le Chapelain). The Art of Courtly Love. Frederick Ungar, 1959. Casal, Elvira. “The Many Mothered, Motherless Fanny Price.” Persuasion, vol. 28, 2006, pp. 31–40. Defoe, Daniel. Religious Courtship: Being Historical Discourses on the Necessity of Marrying Religious Husbands and Wives Only, 7th ed. J. Hodges, 1750. Ellis, Sarah Stickney. “From The Women of England.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature: Volume E The Victorian Age, edited by Catherine Robson and Carol T. Christ, 9th ed., W.W. Norton, 2012, pp. 1610–1612. Etymonline,>search>q=danger. Fink, Christopher. Family Fictions: Narrative and Domestic Relations in Britain, 1688–1798. Stanford University Press, 1998. Fordyce, James. Addresses to Young Men, vol. I. T. Cadell, 1777. ———, Sermons to Young Women. (1766). 2 vols., introduced by Susan Allen Ford, Chawton House Press, 2012. Forster, E.M. Aspects of the Novel. Harcourt, Brace & World, 1927. Gisbourne, Thomas. An Enquiry into the Duties of the Female Sex. Cadell, 1799. Green, Katherine Sobba. The Courtship Novel 1740–1820 A Feminized Genre. University Press of Kentucky, 1991. Gregory, John. A Father’s Legacy to His Daughters (1774). The Lady’s Pocket Library. 4th American ed., Matthew Carey, 1809, pp. 113–160. Halifax, George S. The Lady’s New-years Gift: Or, Advice to a Daughter. Randal Taylor, 1688. Haywood, Eliza. Female Spectator in Selections from the Female Spectator, edited by Patricia Meyer Spacks, Oxford University Press, 1999. ———. Love in Excess or, the Fatal Inquiry: A Novel (1719), edited by David Oakleaf, 2nd ed., Broadview Press, Ltd., 2000. Johnson, Samuel. Dictionary of the English Language. W. Strahan, 1755. ———. The Rambler, no. 4 (1750–1752). The Yale Edition of the Works of Samuel Johnson, vol. 3., edited by W. J. Bate & Albrecht B. Strauss, Yale University Press, 1969, pp. 19–25. Kenrick, William. The Whole Duty of a Woman, or a Guide to the Female Sex from the Age of Sixteen to Sixty with the Whole Art of Love Written by a Lady. Dean and Munday, 17. Microfilm, Research Publications, 1975. Linton, Eliza Lynn. Extract from “The Wild Women: As Social Insurgents” (October 1891). The Odd Women by George Gissing, edited by Arlene Young. Broadview Press, 1998, pp. 371–373. ———. “The Girl of the Period.” The Girl of the Period and Other Social Essays, vol. 1. Richard Bentley & Son, 1883, pp. 1–9, ebooks/41735.

Introduction  15 Mill, John Stuart, The Subjection of Women (1869), edited by Sue Mansfield, AHM Publishing Corporation, 1980. More, Hannah. Essays on Various Subjects, Principally Designed for Young Ladies. Young, Stewart & M’Culloch, 1786. Oxford English Dictionary, Reeve, Clara. The Progress of Romance through Times, Countries and Manners (1785). Garland Publishing, 1970. Richardson, Samuel. A Collection of the Moral and Instructive Sentiments, Maxims, Cautions, and Reflexions Contained in Pamela, Clarissa and Sir Charles Grandison. S. Richardson, 1755. ———. Pamela; Or Virtue Rewarded (1740), edited by Peter Sabor, Penguin Books, 1980. Rousseau, Jean Jacques. Emile (1762), introduced by P.D. Jimack, J.M. Dent & Sons, 1974. Ruskin, John. “Lecture II. Lilies, Of Queens’ Gardens.” Sesame and Lilies: Three Lectures (1871). Henry Altemus, 1895, pp. 115–167. Schaffer, Talia. Romance’s Rival: Familiar Marriage in Victorian Fiction. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016. Spenser, Edmund. The Faerie Queene (1590). Cambridge University Press, 1909. Utter, Robert Palfrey, and Gwendolyn Bridges Needham. Pamela’s Daughters. MacMillan, 1936. Wollstonecraft, Mary. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), edited by Miriam Brody, Penguin Classics, 1992. Woolf, Virginia. “Modern Fiction.” The Common Reader, edited by Virginia Woolf. Hogarth Press, 1925, pp. 184–195.


Establishing the Traditional Courtship Novel in the Eighteenth Century Haywood, Richardson, and Burney

Courtship Novel Traditions British courtship novels written during the eighteenth century helped to solidify literary conventions pertaining to plot and character. Interlaced with these normative conventions are consistently prominent danger and protection themes and language. The basic traditional plot involves a three-part structure in which heroine and hero meet, obstacles, often of a hazardous nature, ensue, and the couple ultimately unites in a happily-ever-after haven of safety. The primary traditional characters are perfect or nearly perfect female and male protagonists set in contrast to villainous pseudo-suitors. Once established, these conventions continue to exist as a baseline for nineteenth- and early twentieth-century courtship novels, with various authors maintaining the status quo or charting new ground in subtle or obvious ways. The traditional courtship hero functions as a model of masculine virtue and courtly behavior, performing his duty to serve and protect his female loved one. He typically proves his physical prowess by engaging in daring rescues. While fully respectful and adoring toward his beloved, he assumes she is physically vulnerable and thus requires the kind of shelter he can best provide. In referring to medieval courtly love narratives that laid down “archetypes” for the “later novelistic tradition” (38), Joseph Boone pinpoints the dichotomy between male activity and female passivity that sets the stage for subsequent love narratives. He notes that the “valorous deeds” of the knight “dictate the structure of the romance-quest plot,” while the lady’s “immobility” fits “her role as exemplar of virtue” (42). Since so many of courtship novel dangers involve threats to the heroine’s good name and virgin state from would-be seducer/rapists, the hero frequently functions as an effective counterforce to these hazards. The courting hero’s dramatic acts of rescue serve to foreshadow the ultimate shelter he offers as the loyal, honorable husband, and this hero’s marriage proposal often reflects his view of himself as the heroine’s lifelong shield against social, physical, and emotional harm.1 The villainous male rival to the noble suitor typically masks his dishonorable intentions with protective statements and gestures. Misusing the chivalric ideal, this false pursuer loudly offers help and flatters

Establishing Traditional Courtship Novel  17 effusively, in order to ensnare his female victim. Ironically, his gallantries often describe the danger he is in. The following examples from a men’s eighteenth-century guidebook featuring “Golden Expressions” for the “Amorous Gallant’s Tongue” epitomize the tenor of such blandishments. The wooing man bemoans the “Wounds” (10) inflicted by the woman’s “all conquering Beauty” (9) and implores the lady to save him from the “Grave” (10). He declares that the lady’s “frowns” have the power to “Shipwreck” him upon “fatal Rocks of black Despair” (10). With exaggerations of this sort, coupled with various deceptive acts, the pseudo-suitor in traditional literature is a flat character without a single redeeming feature. As a schemer, he intends to either seduce an innocent young beauty, or force her into a marriage so that he may commandeer her fortune through his economic and legal rights as a husband. In elaborate courtship novels, there are often several unsavory characters of this type. Some of these may be simply foolish or inept and viewed as a nuisance, while others, the ones who particularly capture reader attention, pose a far more dire threat to the heroine’s well-being. Usually, the female protagonist in the traditional courtship novel is the focal character and the one most frequently in harm’s way. An indispensable convention of these texts involves innocent, virtuous females who find themselves in unsafe places, whether it be masked balls filled with London pleasure-seekers, a libertine’s coach, labyrinthine pathways of public gardens, or mansions where lusty lords reign supreme. Most heroines are orphaned, and even when they are not, they lack protective, wise parental figures or chaperones during most of their courting experiences. At times, their guardians even offer dangerously perverse advice. Any trustworthy guides they do have are either powerless or remain absent during the most intense crises. Besides intensifying the conflicts necessary to sustain the plot’s momentum and heightening reader suspense, the heroine’s vulnerable position signals, either directly or indirectly, the flaws of a social system informed by male power and privilege. The conventional female protagonist within the prevalent twosuitor or multi-suitor plot pattern is frequently deceived, threatened, and saved from disaster. Therefore, even though she remains an active decision-maker in the courting process, she appears primarily passive in contrast to the hero’s bold, shielding actions. As worthy mate of the hero, the typical courtship heroine of early British novels, however, does offer a relatively non-active form of protection. Tremulously waiting at home, she may pray for the hero-suitor’s safety, as she worries about his encounters either on a battlefield or in a potential duel with a treacherous rival. She also may attempt to guard the social status of the hero, by temporarily refusing to marry him because of her unknown lineage or inferior class. Her forms of passive protectiveness signal to the reader that she and the genuine hero constitute a proper match. In pairing these two iconic figures, authors promulgate an ideal of mutual caretaking as a model for the successful companionate marriage. 2

18  Establishing Traditional Courtship Novel

Haywood, Richardson, and Burney Establishing the Conventions Three particularly influential authors, Eliza Haywood, Samuel Richardson, and Fanny Burney, employ a great deal of danger/safety language as they shape and popularize normative features of the courtship novel genre. Haywood’s The Fortunate Foundlings (1751), Richardson’s History of Sir Charles Grandison (1753–1754), and Burney’s Evelina (1778) provide unambiguous models of traditional conventions. Richardson’s Pamela (1740) and Haywood’s The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless (1751), the most popular novels of their respective authors, present a more complicated picture. However, these two novels ultimately deliver messages consistent with developing eighteenth-century literary norms. To help account for Richardson’s portrayal of a hybrid villain-hero in Pamela and to show how the courtship novel genre both builds upon and reacts against the scintillating, danger-filled amatory fiction of the early eighteenth century, I have included a discussion of Eliza Haywood’s Love in Excess (1719), published two decades before Pamela.3 It is fitting to begin this study with Eliza Haywood. Mary Anne Schofield emphasizes the longevity of her fertile career and suggests her claim to a prominent place in literary history when she points out that Haywood was “the most popular female novelist of the first part of the eighteenth century” and her “novels, novelles, romances, and secret histories flourished during the 1720s and ‘30s, and then again in the 1740s and ‘50s” (ix). In a similar vein, Dale Spender observes that, although Haywood is virtually never quoted as a pioneer in the history of the novel . . . , if it were desirable to choose but one author to represent the growth and development of the English novel, sex bias aside, the lot would undoubtedly fall to Eliza Haywood, whose writing encompasses all the significant innovations and enduring and exemplary achievements of the early novel. (107)

Love in Excess; or the Fatal Inquiry (1719) Before Haywood published her fully developed didactic courtship novels in the 1740s and 1750s, she had already achieved fame for her tales of seduction and betrayal, which are primarily meant to “warn the innocent and inexperienced . . . of the perils of passion” (Richetti, xi). Love in Excess is described by David Oakleaf as the “spectacularly successful first novel of a spectacularly successful novelist” (7). Going even further, William McBurney notes that Love in Excess shares with Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe and Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, “the distinction of being the most popular English fiction of the eighteenth century before Pamela,”

Establishing Traditional Courtship Novel  19 when measured according to “book sales” (250). According to Patricia Meyer Spacks, Love in Excess “appeared quickly in four editions” and “attracted huge audiences” (x). Love in Excess provides an apt starting point for exploring the ways in which danger/safety vocabulary informs salient features that helped lay the groundwork for the ensuing eighteenth-century courtship novel. However, its portrayal of a sexually aroused female protagonist and an alluring hybrid villain-hero spurred counter-reactions in authors who introduced “cleaned up” versions with sharply differentiated models of virtue and vice. Interweaving barely distinguishable courtship and seduction episodes, Love in Excess develops a male protagonist who blends libertine with honorable characteristics before reforming his ways as a rake. This work also depicts two beautiful, impressionable young women who suffer intense conflict between their erotic desires and their duty to be chaste along with their fear of ruin. Replete with the ecstasies, agonies, and temptations experienced by lovers, Love in Excess ultimately differentiates between deceptive or superficial expressions of ardor and deeply genuine feelings of love. Amidst the titillating details is the voice of a narrator conveying cautionary messages directed toward both women and men. The dashing hero, Count D’elmont, “inspires hopeless passion” (12) in a variety of women, and one of his primary seduction targets is Amena. The plight of this innocent young lady without a fortune is captured in language reflecting both the man’s intention to imperil and the woman’s self-endangering sexuality. During one of this couple’s rendez-vous, Haywood writes: “Thus was Amena (by her too generous and open temper) brought to the very brink of ruin, and D’elmont was possibly contriving means to compleat it” (47). In a “Farewel” letter that Amena subsequently addresses to the Count, she reveals the hazard she faces because of her own powerful attraction to this troubling pursuer: “Press me then no more I conjure you to such dangerous interviews, in which I dare neither trust my self, nor you” (55). Encouraged rather than deterred by this appeal, the Count persuades Amena to join him in a clandestine garden meeting. Although during this misadventure, fortuitous interruptions save Amena from defilement, her reputation as a fallen woman leads to exile in a monastery. Inklings of the Count’s progress toward virtue emerge when readers are told that “the sweetness of his disposition made him regret his being the author of Amena’s misfortunes” (67). However, the narrator immediately qualifies this “regret” with two solemn warnings. The first involves the “miserable” fate of a woman who, by her “mismanagement,” is “reduced to so poor a comfort as the pity of her lover,” and the second conveys the notion that a man is “generally too gay, to continue long uneasie” and is not likely to “be capable of lamenting ills” that spring from a “passion” he cannot “comprehend” (67).

20  Establishing Traditional Courtship Novel The narrator’s commentary, cynical as it is, nevertheless, foreshadows the deeper learning that the Count will experience with Melliora, the young daughter of his friend, Monsieur Frankville. Ironically, the lustful hero finds himself in the guardian role when he accepts the dying Frankville’s request to “undertake” the “protection” of Melliora and promises to ensure that she “not suffer her artless and unexperienced youth to fall into those snares which are daily laid for innocence” (85). Having married a woman just for her fortune, the Count, struck by the “power” of Melliora’s “beauty,” finally begins to know what love truly is (86). Melliora is also smitten but experiences peril at the same time. Viewing the Count as “not an object to be safely gazed at” (86), she feels very alone because this new guide is one “whom she found it dangerous to make use of” (88). Count D’elmont’s transformation to full hero status involves a struggle between his responsibility as protector and his extremely passionate response to his ward. Melliora’s dilemma follows a similar melodramatic course as “Restrained by honour, and enflamed by love, her very soul [is] torn” (137). Their parallel conflicts also reveal mutually protective behavior. While the Count genuinely wishes to offer all the “care, the tenderness, the faith, the fond affection” (89) that his guardian role entails, Melliora, disturbed by the illicit nature of their relationship (88), begs the Count not to “hazard [his] peace for ever” by grasping at a “moment’s joy” (117). As forerunner of the traditional courtship novel, Love in Excess ultimately affirms the fortunate denouement for a deserving, mutually protective couple. After the Count’s wife conveniently dies and the twosome go through a period of deep remorse, with the Count fully realizing “the too fatal influence of his dangerous attractions” (234), Haywood’s hero and heroine can rightfully attain a marriage that provides a “great and lovely” model of “conjugal affection” and is “blest” with “numerous and hopeful issues” (266). Even though this novel attests to the power of sexual responsiveness as a natural phenomenon, its author emphasizes the dangers of excessive passion and, in the end, provides a relationship in which both erotic desire and spiritual love co-exist. One striking example of how Hayward conveys the perilous lure of erotic attraction appears in the following words: “Honour and virtue may distance bodies, but there is no power in either of those names, to stop the spring that with a rapid whirl transports us from our selves, and darts our souls into the bosom of the darling object” (122). Yet, Haywood counterbalances this statement with the vision of a “love” that is “immortal and unchangeable” and engages our “souls” (224). Melliora and Count D’elmont’s union combines an “earthy part” that “partake[s]” of “bliss” with “sense” that “elevates itself to reason” (224). By privileging “reason” in this way, Haywood affirms a value system frequently present within later eighteenth-century traditional courtship novels.

Establishing Traditional Courtship Novel  21

Pamela (1740) When Samuel Richardson, posing as editor rather than author, releases his run-away best seller, Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded, he implies, in his “Preface,” that he not only is expecting a “favourable reception” (31), but is ushering in a new breed of natural, ethical, and non-offensive fiction. It is a fiction designed to be morally edifying and distinguished from what Dieter Shultz calls the “sensationalism and erotic sensualism” (90) of the “romanticized novel or novella produced by such writers as Aphra Behn, Mary Manley, and Eliza Haywood” (78). On the title page, Richardson claims that this book is “Published in order to Cultivate the Principles of Virtue and Religion in the Minds of the YOUTH of BOTH SEXES.” Upon the 1741 publication of the novel’s second edition, Richardson adds that while Pamela “agreeably entertains, by a Variety of curious and affecting INCIDENTS,” it “is intirely [sp] divested of all those Images, which, in too many Pieces calculated for Amusement only, tend to inflame the Minds they should instruct” (“Title Page”). Reinforcing Richardson’s role as innovator, Clara Reeve, eighteenthcentury literary historian, refers to the “tremendous” popularity of Pamela and proclaims that Richardson is “truly an Original writer” (The Progress of Romance, 133,136). However, while Pamela is original in its fully elaborated plot conveyed through a virtuous young working-class woman’s personal writings, it can be viewed as heavily influenced by works such as Love in Excess, a fact noted by several critics.4 Rather than being polar opposites, Richardson’s and Haywood’s novels both contain titillating content that may very well “inflame” readers’ imaginations. Moreover, the didactic messages regarding the perils of passion and rewards of virtue, present within Love in Excess, form a prelude to Richardson’s more robust moral agenda. Like conduct book tales, Pamela is drenched with danger/safety vocabulary, and this language use illuminates Richardson’s blend of old and new in the evolving British courtship novel tradition. In Pamela, he fully develops a naïve, exceptionally attractive fifteen-year-old female protagonist who is enormously attracted to her lusty “master,” yet is a far less eroticized version of heroines such as Haywood’s Amena or Mellioria. He provides rigorous tests for his female paragon, who, in needing to earn her way as a servant, resides far from the care of her parental home and demonstrates how his heroine’s steadfast virtue can even transform a conniving seducer into a genuine, devoted suitor. While Mr. B., Richardson’s hybrid villain-hero figure, ultimately reappears in works such as Jane Eyre and today’s romance novels, it did not become a standard feature of eighteenth-century courtship novel tradition with its perfect or nearly perfect chivalric male protagonists. As servant, Pamela is subject to a cruel eighteenth-century norm condoning upper-class male’s sexual misconduct with working-class

22  Establishing Traditional Courtship Novel females. This norm is loudly articulated by two very different individuals. The first is Sir Simon, a neighbor of Mr. B. and a man not “famous for virtue,” while the second is Mr. Peters, a minister in Mr. B.’s parish who “bears an irreproachable character” (172). Sir Simon can envision “no great injury” occurring if Mr. B.’s has “a mind to his mother’s waiting-maid” and “takes care she wants for nothing” (172). Reverend Peters, loathe to get involved in Pamela’s rescue from the clutches of Mr. B., regards the young lady’s “case” as “too common,” adding that “she might have fallen into worse hands; for he is not an ungenerous man, or profligately wicked, except in this case: and it is what all young gentlemen will do” (173). This socially acceptable form of dishonorable behavior paradoxically co-exists with a code of honor that holds the lord of the manor responsible for his servants’ welfare. As the lady’s maid of Mr. B.’s benevolent mother up until the time of her death, Pamela assumes she is entitled to humane sheltering in this household. Mrs. Jervis, the motherly housekeeper at Mr. B.’s Bedfordshire estate, also expects ethical behavior from her privileged master. After Mr. B. frightens Pamela by hiding in her closet, Mrs. Jervis reprimands him for seeking to “destroy a virtue he ought to protect” (97). Mr. B. functions as a pseudo-protector early in the novel. He pretends that he has secured a lady’s maid position for her at the home of his sister, Lady Davers, yet decides that since his mother “committed” Pamela “to his care,” she ought to “continue” living with him (53). Despite Mr. B.’s pretense of benevolence, his “true colours” (54) soon become evident to Pamela, who sadly reports to her anxious parents that “this gracious benefactor . . . who was to take care of [her]” (53) has begun his unseemly attack on her virtue. Mr. B.’s feigned guardianship continues to accompany his bold libertine moves. He writes to Pamela’s father, lying about her “love affair with a young clergyman” and indicating his kindly intention to send Pamela “out of the parson’s way” for a while (124). In actuality, he is scheming to sequester Pamela at his isolated Lincolnshire estate where he can more freely exert power over her. When he is, however, unsuccessful in his physical assaults, Mr. B. “proposes” that Pamela become his mistress, an offer involving great riches and security for both her and her family. But, to a woman so closely guarding her virtue, this master’s offer is fraught with peril and constitutes an apt example of the ironic (and now archaic) definition of the word “protection” as the financial support of a mistress. The Reverend Williams, the subject of Mr. B.’s lies, is the one man in this novel who attempts to function as the heroine’s genuine protector, yet ironically he is a colorless minor character who never attracts Pamela’s notice as a romantic partner. In fact, like Haywood’s impassioned females, Pamela is captivated solely by the man bent on seducing her.

Establishing Traditional Courtship Novel  23 As  Richardson’s moral paragon, however, Pamela continually devises strategies to “escape the alarming danger” (171) to her virtue and does call upon the trustworthy clergyman for his help. While he tries, single-handedly, to lead Pamela “to some place of present safety” (174), he falls back on the only rescue plan he can imagine. Stating that he knows “but one effectual and honourable way for [her] to extricate [herself] from the dangerous situation [she is] in” (182), he proposes marriage. Williams’ marriage alternative as automatic shield for vulnerable womanhood becomes a prevalent notion within eighteenth-century courtship novels—in spite of the stark imbalance of power between husbands and wives that compromises a woman’s safety in the wedded state. In the midst of trying to thwart Mr. B.’s schemes, Pamela frequently reveals several instances of passive protecting behavior toward her pursuer. Although her shielding instincts mystify her, they do signal the true state of her heart. For example, when Pamela hears that her master has narrowly escaped drowning in a stream while hunting, she questions why when she “heard his danger,” she could not “forbear rejoicing for his safety” (218), even “though his death would have set [her] free” (218) from her Lincolnshire prison. Another example of Pamela’s role as passive protector appears in her response to Mr. B’s unwelcome mistress proposition letter. Besides concern for her own safety, she focuses on the salvation of Mr. B.’s soul. She utters a prayer that “God Almighty” will “touch [his] heart in [her] favour” and “save” him from “sin” and her from “ruin” (231). Pamela also takes into account Mr. B.’s status and reputation, even at her own expense. When it is clear that Mr. B. desires to marry her in spite of the social class chasm separating them, she beseeches him to let her return to her parents and advises him to “regard the world’s opinion, and avoid doing any thing disgraceful to [his] birth and fortune” (252). Deeply stirred by Pamela’s “generous manner” (252), Mr. B. feels more ready than ever to bestow upon her his name and fortune. With the marriage of hero and hero, Richardson can deliver the positive denouement that constitutes a key ingredient of the standard eighteenthcentury courtship novel. As his choice of subtitle suggests, the heroine’s enduring “virtue” can now be “rewarded” once the villainous seducer morphs into the well-intentioned, protective hero. However, contradictions within Richardson’s portrayal of his hero’s transformation raise questions regarding Pamela’s ultimate good fortune. Mr. B’s movement from vice to virtue initially emerges in his dismay when Pamela becomes delirious and ultimately faints as Mr. B. is about to rape her. His genuine alarm at her state, in effect, saves her from ruin. In focusing on the conversion of the hero, Roy Roussel notes that his “refusal” to “take” the “completely defenseless” heroine “at this moment appears as a concern for Pamela which authenticates the sincerity of his love for her” (80).

24  Establishing Traditional Courtship Novel Following Pamela’s illness from this assault, Mr. B. seems to grow more caring and honest. However, even though he acknowledges his lack of self-restraint, he shifts the moral responsibility onto Pamela, declaring that she “must pray for the continuance of this temper” and expressing the hope that her “prayers will get the better of [his] temptations” (256).5 Pamela inadvertently provides the requested salvation when Mr. B. reads her anguished journal letters. He is so moved by her suffering and steadfast ethical code that he can now “endeavour to defy the world, and the world’s censures” (276) and make “amends for all the hardship” he has caused, thus implying that he is closer than ever to marrying Pamela (277). As a part of Mr. B.’s transformation process, he must pass one more major test. While Pamela experiences joy at the prospect of marrying the man she adores, she nevertheless recalls the warning she has received of a “sham-marriage” plot (277) and once again asks to be sent home. Although Mr. B. is enraged, he must undergo the humiliating experience of being mistrusted as a dangerous deceiver rather than receiving gratification as a protector of the woman he loves. Resentful as he is, he proves, for the first time in this novel, his real worth as a future husband, by agreeing to Pamela’s request, even if it means losing her forever. When Pamela later voluntarily returns, she proves her trust in Mr. B. and demonstrates the depth of her concern for his welfare since he is now very ill. Matching Pamela’s generosity of spirit, he advises his servant housekeeper to “take care of” Pamela’s “health” (291) after her fatiguing journey, even though he greatly desires to see her immediately. In the collection of maxims drawn from his three novels, Richardson labels the notion that “a reformed Rake makes the best husband” as a “dangerous” and “pernicious one” (2). This opinion may explain why at this point in the novel, he includes so many assurances of protection to convince his readers that his transformed hero constitutes an exception to the rule. For example, in response to his imperious sister’s formidable objections to his marriage, Mr. B. reassures Pamela by claiming: “I know the duty of a husband, and will protect your gentleness as much as if you were a princess by descent” (360). Sensing Pamela’s anxiety over their upcoming marriage, Mr. B. once again reassures with these words: “You have a generous friend, my dear girl in me; a protector now, not a violater of your innocence” (365). Proclaiming himself Pamela’s “lover, husband, protector, all in one” (380) following the wedding ceremony, Mr. B. reinforces this assertion by releasing his new wife to the “liberty” (380) of her own chamber and choosing not to intrude upon her during the night. Having successfully shown how they can function as genuine caretakers to one another, heroine and hero can now be viewed by readers as a fortunate, compatible pair, and in showing their mutual appreciation during the period of their betrothal and wedding, Richardson

Establishing Traditional Courtship Novel  25 promulgates sharply differentiated gender ideals. While Mr. B. celebrates Pamela’s moral and spiritual superiority, Pamela demonstrates her modesty, claims her inferiority, and pledges obedience as his wife. Mr. B. acknowledges how much he needs the “sweet example” of Pamela’s virtue for his future life to “become nearly as blameless” as hers (379). In her turn, Pamela repeatedly affirms Mr. B. as “kind protector” and “guide” of her “future steps” (368), while voicing fear that her exalted marriage will create hazards deriving from “conceitedness, vanity and pride” (363). With humble demeanor, she asks her new husband to “forgive all [her] imperfections” (379) and tells him that if she “wilfully” ever causes him “to be displeased with her,” he should render her “an outcast from [his] house and favour” (302). Even though Mr. B. insists on the couple’s “equality” (379), the way in which he glowingly refers to Pamela’s “grateful heart” (379) suggests that her dutiful nature is what makes her so perfect in his eyes. In Richardson’s elaborately developed seduction-turned-courtship narrative, heroine and hero seem to attain their safe haven, in which Pamela’s “prison” becomes her “palace” (378). As the master of this palace, Mr. B. proves his worth as source of economic shelter by providing Pamela with a generous allotment of pin money, a widow’s jointure, and a farm where her parents can prosper for the remainder of their lives. However, the novel’s post-wedding sequel undercuts the beneficent portrait Richardson has spent so many words developing. The reformed Mr. B. reveals that he is still as imperious and volatile as ever. He fiercely insists that Pamela stay away from him during his angry moods, and Pamela is “excessively frighted” (456) by such behavior. Admitting that men are changeable like “weathercocks” (455), Mr. B. confesses that he “should hardly have made a tolerable [husband] to any woman but [his] Pamela” (460). When he tells Pamela he expects her to “bend like the slender reed to the hurricane” and notes that “a contrary conduct would uproot [her] . . . from [his] soul” (462), he basically admits that he can function as a protective mate only with a supremely compliant wife. Despite Pamela’s glowing label of Mr. B. as the “best of husbands” (494), he has made it clear that he can play this role only “As long as [his] good girl deserves it” (493). Mr. B.’s ominous words provide a chilling reminder of the paradoxical nature of a husband’s traditional role as protector-provider in a society where married women are in such a powerless position. In the heyday of Pamela’s popularity, Eliza Haywood moved beyond her amatory fiction career and directly helped to establish the conventional patterns of the British courtship novel in such works as The Fortunate Foundlings, published in 1744, and her more renowned The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless, published in 1751. Critic Kathryn King places Hayward as an equal rather than a “filial tagalong” or “purveyor of flimsy seconds” to the acknowledged “fathers” of the English

26  Establishing Traditional Courtship Novel novel (210). While King’s claim is largely based on the novels Haywood published in the 1740s and 1750s, she also points out that Betsy “bears everywhere the marks of its ‘scandalous’ generic past” and that “if the vogue for short racy tales of passion passed, their appeal lived on” (204).

The Fortunate Foundlings (1744) Eliza Haywood’s The Fortunate Foundlings focuses on twins, a sister and brother who are each, in their own ways, moral exemplars. By creating separate narratives of a female and male protagonist, Haywood underscores the contrasting nature of hazards that reflect significant gender differences within her time. Louisa, the heroine, is forced to abandon the safety of her home when her guardian, Dorilaus, becomes her pursuer. As she ventures out in the dangerous world, her unprotected state and vulnerability to sexual threat are repeatedly highlighted. In contrast, Louisa’s twin brother, Horatio, embraces peril as a soldier of fortune valiantly striving to raise his status and win the woman of his dreams. Like Horatio, Monsieur du Plessis, who is Louisa’s suitable mate and the other hero of this novel, functions unambiguously as the heroine’s knightly protector upon several alarming occasions. In The Fortunate Foundlings, du Plessis could be the poster child for the pure-hearted hero/suitor. In relation to Louisa, he repeatedly proves his worth—his sincere devotion, love, and honorable, generous intentions. Shortly after he meets Louisa, he warns her of Count de Bellfleur’s dishonorable “design” (169). When Louisa is later being attacked by this “perfidious man” (198) in her room at an inn, du Plessis quite serendipitously appears on the scene to whisk Louisa to safety. At this juncture, du Plessis proposes marriage, and his proposal, like that of Parson Williams in Pamela, reflects his recognition that legal marriage to a trustworthy, loving male is the ultimate shield for the helpless female. When Louisa refuses because of her unknown parentage and ambiguous social stature, he mentions the “snares” she faces as a “young and beautiful woman” (205), refers to “the danger she had just now so narrowly escaped,” and warns her that she cannot avoid “finding other Bellfleurs” (205). Taking to heart his dire predictions of “the dangers” that “she would continually be exposed to” (216), she agrees to be conducted to a monastery in Italy while he returns to the army. Before he faces his “hour of danger” on the battlefield, he extends himself even further, despite Louisa’s refusal of his marriage offer. He decides to leave her a “fortune” to “protect” her in the future (216), thus establishing himself as the quintessential man of honor bound to defend distressed innocence. Through this act, du Plessis assumes the role of Louisa’s self-appointed guardian, replacing Dorilaus, the man who raised the orphaned Louisa and became a threat when he fell in love with his beautiful ward. Dorilaus is, in fact, the first danger Louisa encounters. Despite his characterization

Establishing Traditional Courtship Novel  27 as a refined, generous gentleman, he becomes “enslaved” by a “violent” yet “tender passion” (11) that we are told is “dangerous” to him (11) because it has overturned his reason. His feelings for Louisa also seem uncomfortably incestuous to him, even though he has not yet discovered that he is, in fact, the biological father to the twin foundlings found at his doorstep. While Dorilaus fears for his honor and diminished sense of self, Louisa faces a more palpable danger. With “only a filial affection” for him, she views his “passion” as “terribly alarming” (20). After she refuses Dorilaus’ first marriage proposal, he comes to her one night, “enflamed with wine” (24), vigorously embracing her and addressing her with flourishes of courtly rhetoric, calling her “my angel” (24) and telling her how much he has “suffered.” Given that Dorilaus’ actions “threaten” Louisa “with all a virgin [has] to fear” (26), she feels certain that if she remains in his home, she “run[s] the [risk] of forteiting her honour” (27). Compelled now to become the companion-servant of Melanthe, a pleasure-loving widow, Louisa discovers that her virtue is particularly threatened in “lodgings” described as a “perfect theatre of gallantry,” a phrase redolent with images of rampant, deceptive flirtation. On her own in the wide world, as a beautiful young woman of the servant class, she becomes the prey of rakish men who flatter and offer gifts, attempt to buy her love, and treat her as if she is a woman without honor. Among these is the novel’s principal villain, Bellfleur, a licentious and brazen suitor who vows to “get her into his power” (169) when she refuses his addresses. Louisa’s perilous experiences in this novel culminate in the traditional happy ending. She manages to retain her chastity, discovers that she is her prosperous guardian’s rightful heir, and marries the good man she loves. Dorilaus, having learned that he is Louisa’s biological father, blesses his daughter’s fortunate “abhorrence of [his] offers” that kept them both from being “eternally undone” (317). The striking nature of the sexual double standard is evident in this reunion of father and daughter. While Dorilaus simply acknowledges that he and a very young woman developed “a mutual inclination” (322) that resulted in the birth of Louisa and Horatio so many years before, he experiences no end of joy in being reassured that Louisa has maintained her virgin status. As Dorilaus’ rightful offspring, an unsullied Louisa can now marry du Plessis without reservations. In her initial refusal of his proposal when she lacks knowledge of her lineage, she is virtually protecting his family name and status, and in this sense, she proves her worthiness as his partner. As a traditional model heroine, Louisa also passively protects the hero in the early days of their relationship when she asks him not to “court dangers” in his “too eager a pursuit of glory” as a soldier (216). Horatio’s story, running parallel to that of his twin sister, reads like a fairy tale or mythic narrative, in which a worthy suitor must win the

28  Establishing Traditional Courtship Novel fair noble lady who has captured his heart. His beloved is Charlotta de Palfoy, a paragon of womanliness and the daughter of a Baron. Through feats of bravery, including valiant fighting for the King of Sweden and his rescue of the Baron himself, Horatio partially proves his worth, and when his respectable birthright is ultimately established, he is as free as his sister to marry the mate he desires. In true romantic comedy fashion, this traditional courtship novel culminates with “long deferred nuptials” (352) of the two fortunate foundlings.

The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless (1751) In The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless, generally considered the author’s best and most widely acclaimed work, Haywood moves beyond the rigid stereotypes of male and female perfection that we see in The Fortunate Foundlings. Nevertheless, she helps to promulgate the basic features of the traditional courtship novel, providing what Christopher Fink describes as “a technical synthesis that mediates the conduct book and prose fiction” (248). In this novel, Haywood portrays a virtuous hero and heroine who eventually come together in wedded bliss, along with a whole host of dishonorable individuals who grievously obstruct their path to matrimony. She also widens the frame of the courtship tale by actually having her hero and heroine enter marriages with others and become widowed before they can unite. While the hero, aptly named Charles Trueworth, performs the role of chivalrous gentleman very well, he is not portrayed as completely flawless, and Betsy Thoughtless is an even more complex and misguided character, who moves ever closer to perfection as she matures through her experiences with life’s dangers. However, even in the beginning of the novel, when Betsy revels in her skill as a flirt and lacks feminine delicacy, she is credited with possessing “the highest notions of honour and virtue” and “sentiments as noble and generous as ever heart was possessed of” (96). Also, while she is never portrayed as the fainting, fragile young lady, reacting instead with courageous indignation to various assaults on her chastity, she ultimately welcomes the safe haven of a good man’s protection. Like typical heroines of courtship novels, Betsy must navigate through various forms of treachery in a basically unprotected state. By the age of fourteen, Betsy has lost both parents and spends years at a boarding school where her major companion is an older student named Miss Forward, who models coquettish behavior and unwise courting practices. For the remainder of her teen years, Betsy lives most of her life in London with one of her co-trustees, Mr. Goodman, whose wife and daughter are morally impoverished women. Mr. Goodman’s wife, Lady Mellasin, turns out to be a thieving adulteress, while her daughter Flora indulges in shameless liaisons with men and repeatedly attempts

Establishing Traditional Courtship Novel  29 to damage Betsy’s reputation. Betsy’s other guardians, Sir Ralph and Lady Trusty, the two individuals who are capable of wise parenting, live in the country and are usually unavailable. When Mr. Goodman dies, Mr. Thoughtless, Betsy’s eldest brother, officially becomes the heroine’s “guardian in form” (261), but even though he takes on some responsibility for Betsy, he does not offer the shelter of his home and is hardly an effective guide, being a pleasure-loving gambler and man about town who keeps a mistress. Thus, Betsy not only lacks appropriate shields against the perils of the London social scene, but also faces a variety of corrupting influences. Most of Haywood’s danger/safety vocabulary comes into play when the heroine’s reputation or chastity is at risk, or in the context of societal assumptions regarding her vulnerability as a woman lacking the shelter of marriage. Besides Betsy’s unprotected state, her naïveté, lighthearted flirting, vanity, and craving for freedom expose her to an abundance of situations in which danger language is used. This language highlights the heroine’s terror but also her indomitable fighting spirit when her “virtue” is threatened. It also helps to reveal both Betsy’s stubborn wrongheadedness and her ultimate ability to learn from her hazardous behavior. The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless can be read as a cautionary tale, resembling conduct book writers’ advice on the pitfalls of vanity and an overly free demeanor.6 However, Haywood’s use of peril/ protection wording also conveys social protest against the harmful consequences of society’s sexual double standard and the risk of keeping young women in a state of innocence. An early blatant example of Betsy’s recklessness occurs when she visits Oxford University with the promiscuous Flora Mellasin and behaves in her usual lively manner. During this episode, she is almost sexually assaulted by a gentleman-commoner who resides there as a student. When Lady Trusty learns about this incident and also becomes aware of how Betsy is playing one suitor against another, dangling several of them, but not committing to any, she sends a letter of warning, filled with danger wording and imagery. She expresses her hope that Betsy has “so well reflected on the danger” she encountered at Oxford, warns her that “repeated inadvertencies may make heaven weary of continuing its protection,” and expresses her fear that “the world,” and London in particular, “affords but too many wretches, of both sexes, who make it their business to entrap unwary innocence” and cover up “the most foul designs” (173). Upon reading this letter, Betsy experiences her first major realization regarding the risky courtship games she has been playing: “her soul confessed, that to encourage the addresses of a fop, was both dangerous and silly; and to flatter with vain hopes the sincere passion of a man of honour, was equally ungenerous and cruel” (178). Despite advice from Lady Trusty and other sincere well-wishers to accept Trueworth’s hand

30  Establishing Traditional Courtship Novel in marriage, and despite Betsy’s own admission that Trueworth is the “partner” who is most “qualified to make [her] happy,” Betsy maintains her “aversion” to the “wedded” state (178). Betsy once again totters on a social precipice when loyalty and kindness motivate her to resume her friendship with Miss Forward, whom the reader readily recognizes has become “a woman of the town” (204). When Betsy is seen at Miss Forward’s home, she is taken for a whore (193) by Trueworth’s friend, Sir Ralph Brazil, who describes her as “a delicious girl” representing “the best of the market to-night” (193). Luckily for Betsy, Sir Basil is a “libertine” (204) who possesses “honour” and “good sense”, so that even though he “attack[s]” Betsy “dangerously” (204) when they are riding alone in a carriage, he desists when she vigorously “rebuff[s]” him (204). Betsy’s response to Sir Basil’s “insults” reveals a blend of strength and extreme vulnerability. Although she is described as being in a “fright” (204), she is “aided by disdain and rage” that “inspire[s] her with an unusual strength” to break away from him and call him “monster” (204). However, when she recognizes fully the peril she faces, she is “more terrified than ever,” cries out in distress that “she [is] in the power of a man, whose aim [is] her eternal ruin,” and nearly “fall[s] into a swoon” (205). In the scene with Sir Basil, the reader’s focus may be on Betsy’s distress and on what she is learning about her own playful conversational style. However, we cannot ignore the fact that Sir Basil’s freedom to enjoy sexual encounters in the London night while being considered an honorable man contrasts sharply with painful constraints on Betsy’s liberty as an honorable woman. While Betsy is “so overcome with the dread,—the shame,—the horror” of being deflowered (205), Sir Basil simply learns that he misjudged Betsy’s character, utters an apology, and with pride draws the following distinction between two female stereotypes: “I love my pleasures, and think it no crime to indulge the appetites of nature.—I am charmed with the kind free woman, but I honour and revere the truly virtuous, and it is a maxim with me never to attempt the violation of innocence.—” (205). When Sir Frederick Fineer, Betsy’s most treacherous suitor thus far, arrives on the scene with his hyperbolic courtly rhetoric, Betsy finds him amusing and considers him a “fool” (338). However, she does not discourage his addresses, even though he continuously lobbies for a secret courtship and clandestine wedding, two offers that send clear danger signals to the reader, but unfortunately not to Betsy. After pretending that he is on his deathbed and cannot save his soul unless Betsy visits him, this good-natured young lady falls into his trap and is very close to being raped. Both Fineer’s trick of choice and Betsy’s acquiescence to this seemingly last request demonstrate that the notion of women as men’s spiritual saviors is already an established feature of eighteenth-century gender ideology. Betsy’s misadventures render her vulnerable to the influence of her two brothers. Ironically, in their efforts to ensure their sister’s safety, these

Establishing Traditional Courtship Novel  31 two men bring about her greatest danger. The Thoughtless brothers, concerned chiefly with “the honour of the family” which they believe “depend[s] greatly on the female part of it” (293), coerce their sister into wedding Mr. Munden. This persistent, ostensibly sincere suitor is actually a shrewd scoundrel. While he patiently plays the courtship game, allowing Betsy to tyrannize over him, readers are told that he awaits the time when it will “one day be his turn to impose laws” (255). In hastily orchestrating the nuptials of the Munden couple, the Thoughtless brothers view marriage as “the only sure guard for the reputation of a young woman of their sister’s temper” (380). Her eldest brother, in particular, emphasizes “the perpetual dangers to which, through the baseness of the world, and her [Betsy’s] inadvertency, she was liable every day to be exposed” (392). Betsy ultimately succumbs to her brothers’ entreaties, not only because she considers “any disagreement with them” as “dreadful” but also because she assumes that they “know their sex, and the dangers” resulting from “the artifices of base designing men” (297). In spite of Betsy’s assertion of her right to slow down the process and make “a trial of the constancy of the man who would be a husband” (406), her mortifying recollections of past narrow escapes from “real danger” (389) render her more malleable than ever before. In the days before Betsy becomes Mr. Munden’s wife, Haywood’s text explores the dangers of marrying versus not marrying. Sir Ralph and Lady Trusty weigh in on the question when they come to town. As a proper woman of her time, Lady Trusty views Betsy’s “vanity” as “dangerous” to both her “virtue” and “reputation” and thereby concludes “that marriage [is] the only defence for both” (425). Her husband, however, presents another side, at least momentarily focusing on the danger of “Wedlock without love” and even the notion of marriage without the “mind’s consent” as a form of “rape” or “ravishment” (426). In spite of differing opinions here, Betsy’s younger brother convinces them to see the wisdom of a marriage at this time, and Betsy is rendered submissive by the presence of the guides whom she has disappointed through her foolhardy behaviors. Yet in spite of her acquiescence, Betsy remains quite skeptical regarding the institution of marriage for women, recognizing that after the vows are spoken, the “slave” in the chivalric courting process “becomes a master, and, perhaps, uses his authority in a manner disagreeable enough” (431). Going to bed “in this humour,” shortly before her wedding, Betsy experiences nightmares that capture the potential peril she fears: —sometimes she imagined herself standing on the brink of muddy, troubled waters; —at others, that she was wandering through deserts, overgrown with thorns and briars; or seeking to find a passage through some ruin’d building, whose tottering roof seemed ready to fall upon her head, and crush her to pieces. (431)

32  Establishing Traditional Courtship Novel These awful images aptly foreshadow the marriage she is about to enter, even as they anticipate the haunting atmosphere experienced by Gothic courtship heroines of the late eighteenth century. Marriage to Mr. Munden transforms Betsy’s universe into a living hell and speaks volumes regarding the risks women face in the mate selection process. In virtually every way, Mr. Munden represents the antithesis of a good husband. Not only is he stingy and incapable of sincere love, but he is also lascivious, unfaithful, disrespectful, and even cruel at times. In fact, he possesses just about every trait women readers of conduct literature in Haywood’s day were urged to avoid. In the course of this complicated novel, Betsy must marry the wrong man before she can live happily ever after with the eminently suitable Mr. Trueworth. While Betsy’s foibles and treacherous environment often get her into trouble and even temporarily tarnish her reputation, her goodness eventually wins the day when she is united with the most noble male in the novel. Because of her cavalier attitude toward courtship, Betsy seems oblivious to her love for Trueworth until he is widowed toward the end of the novel. However, well before her marriage to Munden, readers are provided with ample signs of that emotional danger so typically faced by traditional heroines when they sense the approach of heartbreak. Betsy’s feelings and messages to herself are fraught with contradictions. For example, after Trueworth reluctantly withdraws his suit, Betsy experiences a spasm of “alarm upon her heart” as she recognizes “how inconsiderate” she has been toward Trueworth and entertains the possibility that she has been foolish in “not knowing how to place a just value” on this man’s courtship, “’till it [is] lost” (250). Despite this regret, she tells herself that “it is not in my nature to love” (393). Continuing to practice lightheartedness while hoping that Trueworth will resume his suit, she fools herself into thinking that “The arrows of affliction” have “but slightly glanced upon her heart, not pierced it . . .” (403). These arrows, however, certainly hit home when Betsy learns of Trueworth’s marriage and “almost faint[s] away” (417); yet, even at this point, she questions why she is “alarmed” and dismisses the possibility that she “love[s] him” (419). Summoning up “her spirit” to conceal her pain as she views his wedding procession, she cries violently once she returns home. At this point, the narrator underscores the extreme degree of Betsy’s self-deception in these terms: “amidst all these testimonies of a violent affection for Mr. Trueworth, she would not allow herself to imagine, that she was possessed of any for him” (421). By exaggerating these contradictions within Betsy, Hayward seems to mock the love reserve ideal so consistently upheld by traditional courtship heroines and conduct books. Yet, at the same time, Haywood may also be suggesting her heroine’s resourceful manner of protecting her pride, reputation, and heart as a woman spurned.

Establishing Traditional Courtship Novel  33 The image of Mr. Trueworth as traditional courtship novel hero is solidified through numerous references to his protectiveness. Even before he officially begins wooing Betsy, he informs her younger brother, Frank, of his love for Betsy and claims, quite prematurely, the role of her defender. After learning that she has been attacked by an Oxford student, he expresses these bold sentiments: had I been here, there would have been no need for the brother of Miss Betsy to have exposed his life to the sword of an injurious antagonist, . . . I would have taken upon myself to have revenged the quarrel of that amiable lady, and either have severely chastised the insolence of the aggressor, or lost the best part of my blood in the attempt. (66) Described by Betsy’s wise friend Mabel as “a man of sense and honour” (251), Trueworth is clearly the desirable suitor who, despite his persistence and genuine love, is understandably discouraged by Betsy’s erratic behaviors and even begins to doubt her virtue. After receiving a slanderous note from Flora and investigating the substance of this damaging misinformation, he is convinced that Betsy has borne a child out of wedlock. However, in spite of his disillusionment, Trueworth resembles Monsieur du Plessis in his role as the heroine’s self-appointed shield against the hazards she encounters. He watches Betsy closely with grave concern, often foreseeing the trouble she creates for herself. In order to prevent damage to Betsy’s reputation, he warns her against keeping company with Miss Forward, whom he views as a “common prostitute” (194). And even more significantly, just at the moment when Betsy, after a powerful struggle, is about to become “a victim” to Fineer’s “most wicked stratagem” (375), Trueworth “burst[s] open the door of the chamber” and “with his sword drawn” fights off her assailant. Described by the narrator as Betsy’s “deliverer,” he speedily bests his enemy with vigor and skill, “wrench[ing] the sword” out of Fineer’s hand and “snap[ping] it in pieces” (375). In true gentlemanly fashion, Trueworth chooses not to inquire how Betsy “came into this villain’s company” and simply offers to “see [her] home safely” (376). As he does so, his role as an eighteenth-century model of masculinity is reinforced, as he “support[s]” a very shaken Betsy “at every step” with “the greatest politeness and most tender care” (376). Despite his distinctly heroic stature, Trueworth is not a monochromatic portrait of eternal devotion to the woman he loves, nor is he portrayed as unnaturally perfect. After he withdraws from wooing Betsy, he diligently courts and marries a young lady whose “modest sweetness,” “unaffected wit,” and “prudence” (313) render her an ideal of femininity. Readers, however, also learn that before he meets this suitable mate, he has been a man of “an amorous complection” (401), who enjoys

34  Establishing Traditional Courtship Novel the company of women of “easy” virtue along with his male acquaintances. He engages in at least one torrid affair with Flora Mellansin, who brazenly throws herself at him while concealing her true identity. Even though Trueworth experiences some annoyance and a brief interlude of bitter regret over this episode of “transient pleasure” (347), his actions never jeopardize his reputation, or diminish his sense of self, or spoil his chances for a respectable, happy marriage. Condemning Flora’s shameless behavior and “Curs[ing]” her “love” as “poisonous” (402), he waxes eloquently on the subject of how important “chastity” is in women, but never mentions men in this context (410–411). The hero’s immunity from public censure and his lack of shame regarding this episode suggest once again Haywood’s protest against her society’s blatant double standards for men and women’s sexual behavior. Despite his foibles, Trueworth is unequivocally presented as the ultimate “reward” for a heroine whose flippancy and impulsiveness have been scourged out of her by adversity. By the end of the novel, Betsy finally realizes the full depth of her love for a man she has viewed, for a long time, as eminently deserving. While, unlike her courtship heroine counterparts, Betsy does not show protective behavior toward Trueworth, there is one instance early in the novel that suggests her deep concern for this man’s welfare. When she receives a false report that he has died of wounds inflicted during a duel with one of her suitors, she is nearly overcome with grief and horror. By including Betsy’s powerful response at this point, Haywood nods to the established norm of the heroine’s concern for the hero’s well-being. Betsy’s worthiness as Trueworth’s wife is also implied when her “abhorrence for vice” and “refined notions of virtue” (424) are highlighted, particularly after she experiences the full range of Mr. Munden’s perverse behaviors. As a wife, she remains unsullied, not leaving her husband until he openly flaunts his relationship with a mistress, and viewing the widowed Trueworth’s amorous attentions as “dangerous” (546) because she is still officially a married woman. When Mr. Munden dies, she also observes the proper year of mourning before she can attain what Christopher Fink describes as a “safe world” provided by “the correct mate, who will protect the distressed heroine from a world of male brutality” (245).

The History of Sir Charles Grandison (1753) In his widely read third novel, The History of Sir Charles Grandison, Richardson provides a portrait of the quintessential male hero for his reading public.7 He stays true to the promise in his “Preface” to present “A Man of Religion and Virtue; of Liveliness and Spirit; accomplished and agreeable; happy in himself, and a Blessing to others” (4). In her “Critical Evaluation” of this novel, Margaret Duggan sums up Sir Charles’ virtually superhuman persona when she describes him as

Establishing Traditional Courtship Novel  35 a “champion of right social order,” a “compassionate benefactor of the unfortunate,” a “doer of his duty toward his creator,” a “defender of anyone—even a complete stranger—against injustice” and “especially a protector of women in need of protection” (6049). As this voluminous work painstakingly recounts Sir Charles’ abundant good deeds, it also reinforces traditional features of the courtship novel. Besides presenting the hero’s ethical dilemma involving two beloved and inestimable women, this novel focuses on the story of its heroine, Harriet Byron, and her encounters within an often perilous realm of suitors. Underlying an extensive narrative is a basic plot trajectory involving the initial encounter, obstacles, and eventual happy union of a supremely worthy male and female protagonist. Sir Charles’ constellation of positive traits and expressed views on female and male behavior, coupled with Harriet’s portrayal as female paragon, provides the reader with a rich source of information on gender ideology in Richardson’s day. Closely aligned with conduct book literature, this novel reveals no gray areas, no ironic nuances, to obscure the dichotomy of good and evil, danger and safety. As Jason Solinger puts it, “Grandison’s resemblance to instructional writing is so scrupulous that there is never a question of deciding which man is the true gentleman from among the field of pretenders” (85). The depiction of Sir Charles provides a viable template against which to measure subsequent courtship novel heroes in the context of danger and protectiveness. According to Robin Gilmour, Sir Charles was “The eighteenth century’s most famous fictional gentleman” (30–31) and represented an ideal of masculinity not only in Richardson’s time but in the nineteenth century as well (11). In a similar vein, Margaret Duggan indicates that several critics view this Richardson novel “as the predecessor not only of the novels of Fanny Burney, Maria Edgeworth and Jane Austen, but also of the fiction of George Eliot and Henry James” (6050). As model of masculinity, Sir Charles spreads a wide net as the protector par excellence. He physically defends strangers under attack, solves relational and financial problems of relatives and friends nearly every day, and succeeds in reforming others’ evil inclinations. He meets his first love, Clementina, and the della Poretta family because he saves the life of Clementina’s brother, Signor Jeronymo, and thereafter acts as the young man’s unofficial mentor and as Clementina’s teacher. Through his role as “deliverer” (Vol. IV, 432) even of the novel’s greatest villain, Sir Hargrave Pollexfen, Sir Charles brings about the rogue’s reform and earns his undying gratitude. Within his own family, he generously attends to the welfare of two sisters, who have been banished by their profligate, tyrannical father from the safety of their parental home when the two women refuse to be bullied into marrying for wealth and status. After his father dies, Sir Charles helps to guide his sisters toward happy marriages and provides them with a generous sum of money as well.

36  Establishing Traditional Courtship Novel It is not surprising that Charlotte, Sir Charles’ younger sister, refers to her male sibling as “A father and a brother in one” (Vol. I, 138). Sir Charles’ role as chivalric guardian of women is very much in the forefront of this novel. In his letter to his young friend, Jeronymo, who is living the life of a libertine, he advocates the path of masculine virtue in these terms: Men, in the pride of their hearts, are apt to suppose, that nature has designed them to be superior to women. The highest proof that can be given, of such superiority, is, in the protection afforded by the stronger to the weaker. What can that man say for himself, or for his proud pretension, who employs all his arts to seduce, betray, and ruin the creature who he should guide and protect—Sedulous to save her, perhaps, from every foe, but the devil and himself! (Vol. III, 140) His expressed view in Volume IV on the plight of fallen women further encapsulates the credo that guides his actions. We hear echoes of James Fordyce when Sir Charles bemoans the fact that seduced women are “betrayed by the perfidy of men” and then proclaims the following rhetorical question: “. . . what a wretch is he, who seeing a poor creature exposed on the summit of a dangerous precipice, and unable, without an assisting hand, to find her way down, would rather push her into the gulph below, than convey her down in safety?” (Vol. IV, 356). In a subsequent conversation, Sir Charles adds the educator role to the proper man’s repertoire. Referring to the topic of love at first sight, he declares that “In a man, it is an indelicate paroxysm”; however, “in a woman, who expects protection and instruction from a man, much more so” (Vol. IV, 357). Sir Charles continues to affirm established gender ideology by claiming that females are “designed to be dependent as well as gentle creatures” (Vol. IV, 280). He is even more explicit regarding women’s fragility when he introduces this generalization while conversing with Harriet and his sisters: “Women are the most delicate part of creation. Conscious of the weakness of their sex, and that they stand in need of protection (for apprehensiveness, the child of prudence, is as characteristic in them, as courage in a man), they naturally love brave men—” (Vol. II, 415). Sir Charles’ conviction regarding the protector role as duty and necessity is fully demonstrated in his treatment of his first love, the Italian Catholic Clementina. When Clementina suffers a mental breakdown because of her struggle between her fervent religious/national affiliations and her deep love for Sir Charles, he repeatedly attempts to aid and advise her as well as her family. As Clementina’s mental condition deteriorates, Sir Charles even returns to Italy to bring an eminent physician to treat her. He also is still ready to marry Clementina, assuring her

Establishing Traditional Courtship Novel  37 in these words that her soul, as his wife, will be safe with him: “Your eternal welfare cannot be endangered. My conscience will oblige me to strengthen yours, when I see it is yours” (Vol. V, 590). Even after Sir Charles marries Harriet, he still functions as Clementina’s knightly rescuer with his wife’s blessing and cooperation. When Clementina sails to England to avoid marrying the man recommended by her family, Sir Charles shields the runaway, calling himself her “Fourth Brother” (Vol. VII, 342), asking her to “Acknowledge” his “protection” (342), and proclaiming to her in true chivalric fashion, “Your honour, your happiness, is dear to me as my life” (343). Sir Charles’ dramatic rescue of the heroine, Harriet Byron, and his subsequent sheltering role with her occupy a prominent place within Richardson’s text and reinforce the standard courtship novel paradigm. When Sir Hargrave Pollexfen, an aggressive libertine suitor, abducts Harriet in an attempt to force her into a mock marriage and ravish her, Sir Charles miraculously appears on the scene, halting the carriage containing perpetrator and victim and deftly conveying the traumatized heroine to safety. His fortuitous presence and physical prowess in rescuing the damsel in distress strongly resemble scenarios in both Haywood’s The Fortunate Foundlings and The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless. Despite these resemblances, Richardson underscores Sir Charles’ rescuing behaviors in a way that Haywood does not. Repeatedly employing protection words, Richardson assembles a chorus of voices to celebrate Sir Charles, thereby preserving his hero’s humility. For example, Charlotte Grandison informs Harriet’s cousin and temporary guardian, Mr. Reeves, that “Miss Byron is in safe and honorable hands” and explains that her “Brother” is the one “to whom you owe the preservation and safety of the loveliest woman in England” (Vol. I, 129). In response, Mr. Reeves calls Charles’ rescue “the glorious act” and, after visiting Harriet, refers to the man as Harriet’s “protector” (Vol. I, 131). When the heroine’s grandmother, Mrs. Shirley, writes to Harriet, she refers to Sir Charles as the man who “so powerfully protected you from the lawless attempt of a fierce and cruel pretender; a man who proved to be the best of brothers, friends, landlords, masters, and the bravest and best of men” (Vol. II, 303). Despite all these effusive expressions of gratitude, Charles minimizes the grandeur of his behavior when he asks, “What must the man have been that had declined his aid in a distress so alarming?” (148). Counterbalancing the hero’s lack of self-aggrandizement, Harriet claims that Sir Charles “thinks the protection” he has “offered but a common protection” because “He is accustomed to do great and generous things” (Vol. I, 209). Charles’ role as bold masculine protector is subtly contrasted to his sister’s gentle feminine caretaker role when Mr. Reeves, desiring “vengeance” (Vol. 1, 134), urgently seeks information from Harriet regarding the “violence” perpetrated by Sir Hargrave. In response, Charlotte reassures Harriet that she “shall not answer . . . a question

38  Establishing Traditional Courtship Novel that will induce [her] to look backward” and poses the rhetorical question, “And are you not in my care, and in Sir Charles’ Grandison’s protection?” (Vol. 134). Moreover, Mr. Reeve’s clumsy effort to assert his guardianship role by preserving his family’s honor highlights his society’s emphasis on a woman’s fragile reputation and virgin status. Besides echoing his sister’s gender distinction, Charles, in his own way, reinforces Mr. Reeves’ preoccupation with a woman’s good name and chastity. After thanking Charlotte for “her care” of Harriet (Vol. I, 138), he recounts how when Harriet cried out for help from within Sir Hargrave’s coach, he invited the helpless woman to “put [her]self into [his] protection” (Vol. I, 140). Later, separating himself more overtly from the realm of feminine caretaking, he proclaims that “Male nurses are unnatural creatures!” (Vol. III, 58) and celebrates the angelic lady’s presence in the home in these terms: “There is such a tenderness, such an helpfulness, such a sympathy in suffering, in a good woman . . . Women’s sphere is the house, and their shining-place the sick chamber, in which they can exert all their amiable, and shall I say, lenient qualities?” (Vol. III, 58). As counterpoint to a saintly woman’s domestic ministering, Charles includes, in his narrative on Harriet’s rescue, his role as shield for a woman’s unsullied reputation. After carrying Harriet to his vehicle, he immediately tries to allay her fears of releasing herself into the hands of a male stranger, by assuring her that she is in “honourable hands” and will be conveyed directly to his “sister, who is a young lady of honour and virtue” (Vol. I, 141). He also proceeds to guard her from negative gossip by advising her not to take “notice of the affair” of her kidnapping since she has been abducted from a “Masquerade,” and “Scandal will have something to say from that circumstance” (Vol. I, 141). Once Harriet is rescued, Sir Charles not only promises to remain her “protector from violence and insult . . . in defiance of an hundred such men as Sir Hargrave” (Vol. II, 241–242), but also consistently attempts to avoid endangering her heart and dignity. By claiming Harriet as his third “sister” (Vol. II, 241) or referring to her as “friend to my Soul” (Vol. IV, 372), Sir Charles indirectly communicates that a romantic alliance with him is not possible while he is still embroiled with Clementina and her family. Even though he cannot refrain from admitting that Harriet “is more to [him] than the dearest sister” (Vol. IV, 301), he can only request that she not deny him a “friendship” that is “consistent with her other attachments” (301). And just before returning to Italy to see if he can help Clementina, Sir Charles chivalrously offers to Harriet his “power of serving any one favoured by [her]” (Vol. IV, 372). When the mother of Lord D., one of Harriet’s desirable suitors, visits Sir Charles to inquire about his intentions toward Harriet, Sir Charles clarifies that his code of honor prevents him from tying up Harriet’s affections. Claiming that while he is “fettered,” “Miss Byron is free” (Vol. IV, 384), he not only wishes Harriet great joy in marriage but also indicates that it is “so

Establishing Traditional Courtship Novel  39 proper . . . for her to engage a generous protector in the married state” (Vol. IV, 372). Sir Charles’ words here reiterate an assumption already evident in earlier courtship novels—that a happy marriage constitutes a woman’s genuinely safe haven. When Sir Charles finally is free to court Harriet, he continues demonstrating how carefully he guards her feelings. He repeatedly refers to her “Female delicacy” (Vol. VI, 98), even vowing to be its “guardian” (Vol. VI, 16–17), and enthusiastically expresses his gratefulness. He also never assumes that Harriet has loved him all along and works hard to reassure her that she ought not to consider herself his second choice. The portrayal of Sir Charles as the perfect man is intensified by his sense of fearlessness and invulnerability. In spite of the many situations where his life is in jeopardy, readers never detect an inkling of fear on his part. Hazards, outer or inner, seem not to touch him, and he seems to scorn personal danger. Even though he tells his mentor, Dr. Bartlett, that he has “a heart too susceptible for [his] own peace” (Vol. IV, 461) and admits that “passion” is his “most dangerous enemy,” he always relies on reason, virtue, and courage to guide his actions. His unassailability is particularly apparent in the effusive praise of Mr. Lowther, the eminent British surgeon accompanying Sir Charles on one of his many rescue missions: “He is studious to avoid danger, but is unappalled in it. For humanity, benevolence, providence for others, to her very servants, I never met with his equal” (Vol. IV, 448). Sir Charles’ aura of invulnerability results, at least in part, from the fact that he rarely narrates, whereas Harriet Byron is one of the novel’s primary letter writers whose courtship perils occupy center stage, and her presence helps to solidify, and even exaggerate, already established conventions pertaining to courtship novel heroines. While readers are privy to much more of Harriet’s inner conflicts than Sir Charles’ struggles, she is just as much a model of perfection as the hero. Besides being beautiful, she is compassionate, self-reflective, well-educated, discerning, gently witty, and, above all, deeply virtuous. She understands the dangers that beset her and, at times, even sounds like a conduct book author, commenting on a woman’s precarious situation and sharing precepts of appropriate feminine behavior. For example, upon her departure for London, she notes that “flattery is the vice of men” (Vol. I, 18) and seems confident that she can “guard” against the pitfalls of “vanity,” for she “both despise[s] and fear[s] a very high complimenter” (Vol. I, 14–15). And keenly aware of her unprotected state in the big city, she actually repeats words from Fordyce’s Sermons to Young Women: “. . . men, many men, are to be look’d upon as savages, as wild beasts of the desart; and a single and independent woman they hunt after as prey” (Vol. I, 64). Like other traditional heroines, Harriet is orphaned at a young age and, at the start of the novel, is about to launch her courtship days in a

40  Establishing Traditional Courtship Novel complex social milieu after a tranquil country residence under the care of her Aunt and Uncle Selby and her grandmother, Mrs. Shirley. Despite her inherent ability to wisely discriminate among numerous suitors and her use of reason and virtue as internal guides, her fragility, in the face of danger, is conveyed in a variety of ways by different voices. Harriet’s well-being is obviously jeopardized by the egotistical and aggressive Sir Hargrave, who does not tolerate failure in his amorous endeavors. Even though Harriet recognizes him as a “very dangerous” man (Vol. I, 63), her denial of his courtship activates his scheme to force her into a fake marriage. As the victim of Sir Hargrave’s machinations, she is described by Sir Charles as “this injured beauty” (Vol. 1, 132), words suggesting her identity as some tattered flower petal. While Harriet valiantly defends herself during the days of her abduction, her helpless, exhausted state is highlighted when she responds to Sir Charles’ offer of help with these words: “O yes, yes, yes, with all my heart—Dear good Sir, protect me! . . . O save me! Save me!” (Vol. I, 140–141). Further reinforcing her fragility, Charlotte, as Harriet’s devoted caregiver, repeatedly shields her patient from agitation and explains to Mr. Reeves that “Her head [has] been greatly in danger” for she has been talking in such a “wild and incoherent” way (Vol. I, 135). Not only does Harriet suffer a serious fainting fit during her abduction, but she must also undergo a lengthy recovery from what seems to be brain fever. Moreover, as she becomes increasingly attached to Sir Charles and views their union as impossible, her “inward malady” and the way her “fine complexion fades” (Vol. V, 516) are noted by several individuals, and it isn’t until the couple’s engagement that her bloom returns. As her lovesickness symptoms suggest, Harriet’s most profound danger involves overpowering feelings for Sir Charles, and Richardson supplies a variety of female voices, including Harriet’s, warning against the hazards of love, particularly when it is unrequited. Before Harriet even meets the hero, her major confidante, Lucy Selby, expresses a wish that her friend return from London “with a safe and sound heart” (Vol. I, 8), and upon her arrival in the big city, Harriet informs Lucy that she has “been on [her] guard” against falling in love (Vol. I, 67). Harriet is especially vulnerable to heartbreak because Sir Charles’ gallant rescue and ensuing protection engender reverence and deep gratitude, and as a proper female, Harriet has been socialized to fear the “risque” of being “ungrateful” (Vol. I, 76). Yet, ironically, it is her “gratitude” that she fears will “endanger” her “heart” and “make [her] a hopeless fool” (Vol. I, 185–186). When Harriet ultimately admits to Lucy that her “heart” is no longer in its “own keeping” (Vol. IV, 286), she states that “lov[ing] with an ardor” is “dangerous to one’s peace” (Vol. IV, 290) and “the Love called Platonic” is “in general, a dangerous allowance,” especially for women (Vol. IV, 331). The older generation also weighs in with their

Establishing Traditional Courtship Novel  41 commentary on love’s dangers. Sensing the depth of Harriet’s sentiments from her letters, Aunt Selby beseeches her niece to “throw cold water” on the “smothering” fire (Vol. IV, 213) before it “blazes” and “becomes too powerful to be extinguished by any help” (Vol. I, 212). In similar fashion, Grandmother Shirley warns Harriet to “doubly guard” herself against a “passion, which is not likely to be returned” (Vol. II, 304). As Harriet pines for Charles’ love, she exhibits several instances of passive protecting behavior toward the hero, which reinforce her worthiness as his mate. For example, when she learns that Sir Hargrave is threatening to harm Sir Charles, she feels a “weight on [her] heart, that will not be removed till the danger is overblown” (Vol. I, 193) and actually considers marrying the detested Sir Hargrave if Charlotte Grandison requests it “for the sake of the safety of her innocent brother” (Vol. 1, 198). When Harriet later finds out about the details of a duel between Sir Charles and Mr. Greville, another of her unsavory suitors, she expresses her worry to Charlotte, and even when she later witnesses Greville’s “extraordinary civilities” toward Sir Charles, Harriet still prays for the hero’s safety “from all secret as well as open attacks!” (Vol. VI, 147). Besides anxiety over the reprisals of her impetuous suitors, Harriet worries about Charles’ physical safety when he journeys to alleviate Clementina’s situation in Italy. Addressing Charlotte, Harriet justifies the depth of her concern with this feeling-laden rhetorical question: “Is he not crossing dangerous seas, and ascending, through almost perpetual snows, those dreadful Alps, which I have heard described with such terror, for the generous end of relieving distress?” (Vol. IV, 423). Like other eighteenth-century traditional courtship novels, Richardson’s hero and heroine’s well-matched virtuous nature and mutual protectiveness suggest the aptness of their union. When this novel’s couple attain their safe haven of matrimony, Mrs. Shirley’s earlier prayer for her granddaughter can finally be realized, for her “sweet orphan girl” can now be “happy in a worthy man’s protection” (Vol. II, 307). In response to her grandmother, Harriet captures the essence of her role as compliant and grateful wife when she exclaims: “O my God! Do thou make me thankful for such a Friend, Protector, Director, Husband!” (Vol. VII, 457).

Evelina or the History of a Young Lady’s Entrance into the World (1778) Evelina provides an apt illustration of how its very popular author, Fanny Burney, reinforces features established within the works of her courtship novel predecessors. Both Jason Solinger and Dale Spender suggest Burney’s continuity with her past. While Solinger views The History of Sir Charles Grandison as “an obvious forebear of Evelina” (85), Spender observes that Burney cited The History of Betsy Thoughtless as an inspirational

42  Establishing Traditional Courtship Novel source for Evelina (106). Christopher Fink goes even further than Spender in pointing out that “Haywood’s mature work . . . looks forward, perhaps even more effectively than the fiction of either Fielding or Richardson, to the accomplishments of Burney and Austen . . .” (248). As its subtitle intimates, Evelina focuses on a naïve young lady’s courting adventures in an unfamiliar setting, and this heroine’s typically unprotected state is amplified as she reacts to various hazards. Solinger designates Evelina as “paradigmatic” for it “figures” the heroine’s “entrance as being the problem facing every marriageable ‘young lady’ who must enter the world, if only briefly, to find a husband with whom she can make a home” (8). According to Solinger, Evelina’s misadventures send a message to Burney’s “female readers” “that a little knowledge is necessary to reach a safe harbor that only marriage affords” (78). Like so many of her fictional forebears, Evelina Anville is orphaned and lacks effective guidance when she most needs it. As she navigates the social whirl of London and Bristol, she resides far from the elderly Mr. Villars, who is defined as the “Guardian, Friend, Protector of [her] youth” (350), and his letters, laced with danger language, reveal his extreme anxiety and sense of helplessness. In her frustration over several social faux pas, Evelina expresses her opinion that “there ought to be a book, of the laws and customs a-la-mode, presented to all young people, upon their first introduction into public company” (83), and this didactic epistolary novel becomes, in a sense, just the sort of book the heroine requires. Raised in a tranquil country village, Evelina enters a precarious situation not only because she is beautiful and inexperienced but also because she lacks a credible family name or fortune. With a mother who died in childbirth and a father who destroyed the couple’s marriage certificate, Evelina is hampered by a lineage shrouded in mystery. To further complicate matters, her grandmother, Madame Duval, described by the reliable Mr. Villars as “uneducated and unprincipled” and “by no means a proper companion or guardian for a young woman” (13), constitutes a hindrance rather than a help. In addition to facing unfavorable circumstances, Evelina is vulnerable in other ways that link her to traditional courtship novel heroines. Even though she asserts herself when her virtue is assailed and is described as possessing a “cultivated understanding” (“Preface,” 7), she is a model of feminine delicacy, usually quite timid and prone to fainting fits and illness when distressed. Her “health declines” (265) after she receives a letter designed to mislead her regarding the hero, Lord Orville’s character, and she “[sinks], almost lifeless” (352) at two of the novel’s most climactic moments—when Lord Orville declares his love and when she meets her father for the first time. During the course of Evelina’s eventful courtship journey, the author sets up the clear dichotomy between danger-making and protective

Establishing Traditional Courtship Novel  43 suitors that we see in The Fortunate Foundlings, The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless, and Sir Charles Grandison. The distinction between Sir Clement Willoughby as the tenacious source of peril and Lord Orville as the sincere and solicitous hero is blatant. Solinger highlights Sir Clement Willoughby’s potential for great harm when he describes him as the embodiment of the “omnipresent sexual menace” facing eighteenthcentury novel heroines, a type “that threatens the eighteenth- century ingénue with social annihilation” (83). In contrast, Solinger views Lord Orville as the embodiment of a “new masculine ideal” (8), a man with a “noble mind” who not only claims “profitable commerce with the world” but also possesses “a singular ability to appreciate Evelina’s qualities of mind and heart” (8). This blend of knowledge and compassion is evident in the guardianship role he so readily assumes with the heroine. Sir Clement is particularly treacherous because he wears the mask of the conscientious, honorable suitor. Like other clever rogues, Sir Clement frequently feigns protectiveness and orchestrates private meetings, during which he declares his passion in the exaggeratedly courtly rhetoric of the beau monde, without mentioning marriage. Although Evelina is never swept away by his whirlwind of flattery and wisely mistrusts his forwardness, she is tricked into entering his carriage one evening and is forced to ward off his unwelcome advances. As in the narratives of Haywood’s Betsy and Richardson’s Harriet, a closed vehicle once again becomes emblematic of male treachery. As Sir Clement prolongs their journey in darkened streets, Evelina is “frightened dreadfully,” and his hypocritical assurances are delivered in the parlance of the chivalric male: “Whence this alarm, my dearest angel?—What can you fear?— my life is at your devotion, and can you, then, doubt my protection?” (98–99). When Mr. Villars subsequently reacts, by letter, to this perilous episode, he is concerned with Evelina’s purity and well-being, yet emphasizes reputation, by beseeching his ward not to “risk the censure of the world” and by adding his cherished belief that a woman’s reputation is “the most beautiful and most brittle of all human things” (164). Sir Clement’s role as danger-maker in the guise of protector is once again evident when he comes upon Evelina in Vauxhall Gardens, one of the hazardous haunts of London libertines. When Evelina inadvertently ends up unchaperoned and is seized by the young men roaming there (195), she sees Sir Clement and asks him to “assist” her (196). Leading Evelina away from “his impertinent companions” (197), Sir Clement does not miss the opportunity to resume his passionate pursuit in one of the garden’s “dark alleys” (197). The beleaguered Evelina’s indignant response suggests her expectations as a virtuous, vulnerable female: “Is this the protection you give me, Sir Clement? . . . from you, who know me, I had a claim for protection, —not to such treatment as this” (197). Lord Orville, the novel’s masculine paragon, acts as positive counterforce to Sir Clement’s mischief. As true suitor, Orville takes on a

44  Establishing Traditional Courtship Novel brotherly role with Evelina early in their relationship, not unlike that assumed by Richardson’s Sir Charles with Harriet. A particularly striking example occurs when Evelina calls out for Orville’s help as Sir Clement retains her hand by “force” (345). In this scene, the hero engages in a serious conversation with Sir Clement, claiming that he has “an unaffected interest in Miss Anville’s welfare” (345) and asking Sir Clement to be honest about his “intentions” (345). As the two men interact, Orville explains that Evelina “does not . . . see the dangers to which she is exposed” and adds that even though she is “in some measure, unprotected,” she does have “friends” and is not “a proper object to trifle with” (346). During the time Lord Orville demonstrates his worth, Evelina, like her counterparts in previous traditional courtship texts, confronts not only external hazards but also internal risk to her heart-wholeness. Communications between Evelina and a very worried Mr. Villars set in relief the risks involved in losing one’s heart, particularly to the wrong man. While it is clear to the reader and to her surrogate father that Evelina’s admiration and affection for Lord Orville have reached the point of love, Evelina remains unaware of the full extent of her feelings, until they are tested. When she receives a forged letter meant to discredit Lord Orville, she is profoundly disillusioned. Recognizing her disappointment, she expresses relief that she has averted the “danger” (258) of a broken heart, even though she is demonstrating all the signs of one. As she grows physically ill upon returning home, Mr. Villars, filled with “inquietude” for the “danger” she faces (307), gives advice that closely echoes conduct book messages. Believing that Evelina’s “error” in assuming Lord Orville was a man of “merit” has now caused her to “sacrifice” her “heart” (309), he beseeches her to “awake to the sense of [her] danger” and names the “evils” that “are most to be dreaded, secret repining, and concealed, yet consuming regret!” In response to Villar’s words, Evelina acknowledges how mistaken she was in assuming that her “good opinion and esteem of Lord Orville” could be “felt without danger” (322). Taking Villars’ injunctions very seriously, Evelina also summons her reason as a sentinel to help her avoid Lord Orville’s presence. Evelina’s emotional peril fades at the novel’s happy ending when Lord Orville, now freed from the taint of suspicion regarding his character, declares his love on bended knee and succeeds in drawing forth “the most sacred secret” of the heroine’s “heart” (352). In his proposal, Orville celebrates Evelina as his soul’s “better half” and as “the most perfect of women” (352). Given his protective stance all along as Evelina’s suitor, it is not surprising that he also includes the following vow as future husband: “it shall be the sole study of my life to endeavor to soften your past, —and guard you from future misfortunes” (368). As in other traditional courtship novels, this fortunate union of Burney’s hero and heroine involves a clear sense of mutual protecting. Just

Establishing Traditional Courtship Novel  45 as Orville actively demonstrates his sheltering role, so too does Evelina show her more passive caretaking behavior. One key example occurs when Lord Orville steps in to defend Evelina against Sir Clement’s unwelcome advances, and she is “frightened to death lest Sir Clement’s mortified pride should provoke him to affront Lord Orville” (345). In this instance, she runs “hastily” (345) to her Bristol hostess, to request that she walk toward the area where the two men are confronting one another. Until Evelina can be assured that the hero is not in jeopardy, she is “wretched” and “in agonies” (345). Later, like other courtship novel heroines, Evelina shows concern for Lord Orville’s social wellbeing when she tells him to “seek elsewhere” for a wife because, still lacking her biological father’s acknowledgment and her right to an inheritance at this time, she “feel[s] the inequality” of their match “too painfully” (368). As the works discussed in this chapter demonstrate, the legacy provided by eighteenth-century British courtship novel developers involves the comic mode in which a well-matched young woman and man achieve the sanctuary of a loving companionate marriage in spite of numerous perils experienced along the way. With characters sharply distinguished as positive and negative role models, novels of this emerging tradition were designed to be morally edifying as well as entertaining for young, primarily female, readers. Widely read works such as Pamela and The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless, which highlight flawed protagonists capable of reform, not only help to solidify courtship fiction tradition but also introduce the sort of ambiguity that would influence future novelists.

Notes 1 In Becoming the Gentleman, Jason Solinger elaborates upon the eighteenthcentury portrayal of “the gentleman” as a “new masculine ideal” (8), which represents a blend between the past chivalric individual bound to courtly tradition and the highly educated man of the world, at home in the spheres of both social and commercial transactions. Solinger also astutely recognizes that promoting this new ideal involved the “masculinization of the public domain” (74) and solidified the separation of spheres, with the world beyond the home being portrayed as an unnatural and “dangerous” place for the female (75). 2 The courtship heroine’s passive form of shielding is reinforced by what popular conduct writer, Sarah Ellis, asserts in The Daughters of England (1842). In this work, she refers to a woman’s “whole life” as being “one of feeling, rather than of action; whose highest duty is so often to suffer and be still” (343), while the man is “deeply occupied” by “that fierce conflict of worldly interest” (341). 3 Precursors of the hybrid villain-hero figure in both Love in Excess and Pamela can be found in the charmingly roguish male protagonists of popular Restoration Period comedies, such as Dorimant in Sir George Etherege’s The Man of Mode or Mr. Horner in William Wycherley’s The Country Wife.

46  Establishing Traditional Courtship Novel

Establishing Traditional Courtship Novel  47 In The Lady’s New-Years Gift (1688), Lord Halifax warns against showing “such a kind of Civility as may be mistaken for Invitation” (99) and advocates “Looks that forbid without Rudeness, and oblige without Invitation” (103). Similarly, Dr. John Gregory in A Father’s Legacy to his Daughters (1744) refers to “modest reserve” or “retiring delicacy” as a woman’s “natural protection from the familiarities of men” (26). In his Sermons to Young Women (1766), James Fordyce almost seems to be describing Betsy Thoughtless when he points out that if a young woman “will be always breaking loose through each domestic enclosure and ranging, at large the wide common world,” the “worst men,” referred to “those destroyers” or “predators,” will not be “struck by the sovereignty of female worth” but instead will “consider her as lawful game, to be hunted down without hesitation” (68). 7 The History of Sir Charles Grandison was widely read in its time, at least in part due to its author’s already established reputation as a literary giant who had authored Pamela and Clarissa. Within four months of its initial publication, it had already gone into its third edition (Richard Altick. The English Common Reader 49).

Works Cited Altick, Richard D. The English Common Reader: A Social History of the Mass Reading Public, 1800–1900. University of Chicago, 1957. The Amorous Gallant’s Tongue Tipp’d with Golden Expressions: Or, the Art of Courtship Refined. J. Clarke, 1741. Batchelor, Jennie. “The ‘Latent Seeds of Coquetry’: Amatory Fiction and the 1750s Novel.” Masters of the Marketplace: British Women Novelists of the 1750s, edited by Susan Carlile, Lehigh University Press, 2011, pp. 145–164. Boone, Joseph A. Tradition Counter Tradition: Love and the Form of Fiction. University of Chicago Press, 1987. Burney, Fanny. Evelina or the History of a Young Lady’s Entrance into the World, edited by Edward E. Bloom and Lillian D. Bloom, Oxford University Press, 1989. Duggan, Margaret. “Sir Charles Grandison: Critical Evaluation.” Magill’s Masterplots, vol. 10, edited by Frank N. Magill, Salem Press, 1964, pp. 6049–6050. Ellis, Sarah. “Extract from The Daughters of England. Their Position in Society, Character, and Responsibilities (1842).” Appendix B. The Odd Women by George Gissing, edited by Arlene Young, Broadview Press, 1988, pp. 341–345. Fink, Christopher. Family Fictions: Narrative and Domestic Relations in Britain, 1688–1798. Stanford University Press, 1998. Fordyce, James. Sermons to Young Women (1766), introduced by Susan Allen Ford, Chawton House Press, 2012. Gilmour, Robin. The Idea of the Gentleman in the Victorian Novel. George Allen & Unwin, 1981. Gregory, John. A Father’s Legacy to His Daughters (1774). The Lady’s Pocket Library, 4th American ed., Matthew Carey, 1809, pp. 113–160. Halifax, George S. (Marquis). The Lady’s New-years Gift: Or, Advice to a Daughter. Randal Taylor, 1688.

48  Establishing Traditional Courtship Novel Haywood, Eliza Fowler. The Fortunate Foundlings (1744), 2nd ed., T. Gardner, 1744. ———. The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless (1751), edited by Beth Fowkes Tobin, Oxford University Press, 1997. ———. Love in Excess; or, the Fatal Enquiry: A Novel (1719), edited by David Oakleaf, 2nd ed., Broadview Press, 2000. Kenrick, William. The Whole Duty of a Woman, or A Guide to the Female Sex from the Age of Sixteen to Sixty with the Whole Art of Love Written by a Lady. Dean and Munday, 17—. Microfilm, Research Publications, 1975. King, Kathryn R. “The Afterlife and Strange Surprising Adventures of Haywood’s Amatories (with Thoughts on Betsy Thoughtless).” Masters of the Marketplace: British Women Novelists of the 1750s, edited by Susan Carlile. Lehigh University Press, 2011, pp. 203–218. McBurney, William H. “Mrs. Penelope Aubin and the Early Eighteenth- Century Novel.” Huntington Library Quarterly, vol. 20, 1957, p. 250. McDermott, Hubert. Novel and Romance: The Odyssey to Tom Jones. Barnes & Noble Books, 1989. Oakleaf, David. “Introduction.” Love in Excess; or, the Fatal Inquiry: A Novel by Eliza Haywood, edited by David Oakleaf, 2nd ed., Broadview Press, 2000, pp. 7–24. Reeve, Clara. The Progress of Romance through Times, Countries, and Manners (1785). Garland Publishing, 1970. Richardson, Samuel. Clarissa, or the History of a Young Lady (1748), edited by Angus Ross, Penguin Books, 1985. ———. A Collection of the Moral and Instructive Sentiments, Maxims, Cautions, and Reflexions, Contained in the Histories of Pamela, Clarissa, and Sir Charles Grandison. S. Richardson, 1755. ———. The History of Sir Charles Grandison (1753), Volumes I–VII, edited by Jocelyn Harris. Oxford University Press, 1972. ———. Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded (1740/1810), edited by Peter Sabor, 14th ed., Penguin Books, 1980. ———. “Preface.” Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded (1740/1810), edited by Peter Sabor, 14th ed., Penguin Books, 1980. ———. “Title Page to Second Edition of Pamela” (1741). The Gutenberg ebook of Samuel Richardson’s Introduction to Pamela, edited by Sheridan W. Baker, Jr. Richetti, John. “Introduction.” The History of Jemmy and Jenny Jessamy, edited by Eliza Haywood, The University Press of Kentucky, 2005, pp. vii–xxxv. Roussel, Roy. The Conversation of the Sexes: Seduction and Equality in Selected Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Texts. Oxford University Press, 1986. Schofield, Mary Anne. Quiet Rebellion: The Fictional Heroines of Eliza Fowler Haywood. University Press of America, 1982. Shultz, Dieter. “’Novel,’ ‘Romance,’ and Popular Fiction in the First Half of the Eighteenth Century.” Studies in Philology, vol. 70, 1973, pp. 77–91, www. Solinger, Jason. Becoming the Gentleman: British Literature and the Invention of Modern Masculinity, 1660–1815. Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.

Establishing Traditional Courtship Novel  49 Spacks, Patricia Meyer. “Introduction.” Selections from the Female Spectator by Eliza Haywood, edited by Patricia Meyer Spacks, Oxford University Press, 1999, pp. ix–xxi. Spender, Dale. Mothers of the Novel: 100 Good Women Writers before Jane Austen. Pandora, 1986. Tobin, Beth Fowkes. “Introduction.” The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless, edited by Eliza Haywood, Oxford University Press, 1997, pp. ix–xxxviii. Warner, William B. Licensing Entertainment: The Elevation of Novel Reading in Britain, 1684–1750. University of California Press, 1998.


Intensifying Tradition Gothic Courtship Novels of Walpole and Radcliffe

Introduction to Eighteenth-Century Gothic Hyberbole Many eighteenth-century Gothic novels continue the courtship novel tradition in an exaggerated form. In the hands of Gothic novelists, such as Horace Walpole and Ann Radcliffe, courtship dangers are magnified by an abundance of supernatural terrors, nature’s tumultuous forces, and the ever-present labyrinthine passages of Castles, Abbeys, and mountainous terrain. Eugenia Delamotte notes the presence, within “Gothic romance,” of “danger” that “exceeds any that human agency alone can bring about” (16) and indicates that characters in “Gothic romance” face “a fear not only of supernatural powers but also of social forces so vast and impersonal that they seem to have supernatural strength” (17). Delamotte also captures the larger than life “situations” in “Gothic” novels by stating that these involve the “experience of being at the same time cut off, hemmed in, and in danger of being broken in on by some outside force” (18). In their “Introduction” to The Female Gothic: New Directions, Diana Wallace and Andrew Smith suggest Gothic fiction’s continuity with previous courtship novels when they indicate out that “The Female Gothic plot, exemplified by Radcliffe, centralized the imprisoned and pursued heroine threatened by a tyrannical male figure, . . . and ended in the closure of marriage” (3). From a different angle, Joseph Boone suggests this continuity by noting that “In England, the Richardsonian seduction theme was quickly assimilated into the evolving antirealist gothic tradition as one of its staple sources of nightmare” (112). Diana Wallace recognizes the prevalence in Female Gothic fiction of a “powerful metaphor in feminist theory, the idea of the woman as ‘dead’ or ‘buried (alive)’ within male power structures” (“The Haunting Idea” 26). Female protagonists and their women relatives are frequently enclosed in cell-like spaces, a phenomenon suggesting the medieval origins of the word “danger,” that link it to both “dungeon” and “dominus” or master of the house who had authority to harm and control others (Online Etymology Dictionary). Alongside a prevailing sense of terror, the hyperbolic sentimentality and strong didactic flavor permeating Gothic novels help to perpetuate

Intensifying Tradition  51 the norms of earlier eighteenth-century courtship fiction. Devendra Varma suggests the strong emotional coloration of these novels in his statement that “The delicious shudder evoked by Gothic mystery began in tears of sensibility” (35). In citing influences on The Castle of Otranto, Varma also identifies three “elements” of “prose fiction” from Walpole’s contemporaries: “excessive sensibility, exemplary piety, and an explicit moral” (50). With their blend of seduction and courtship scenarios, violent adventure-packed plots, and exaggeratedly good and evil characters, many of the most popular Gothic fiction works uphold, in a stark manner, existing gender stereotypes. Incorporating the already established two-suitor pattern, Gothic authors portray quintessentially chivalric heroes along with diabolical villains who elicit fear and heighten the impression of a pure heroine’s vulnerability and victimization. While the heroes engage in genuine protective behavior whenever they can, they are often off-stage and thus ineffectual as dependable sheltering forces. Delamotte suggests the presence of established female gender ideology within “sentimental Gothic fiction,” when she notes that “conscious worth protects the heroine until something or someone intervenes, and just in the nick of time” (33). Delamotte also observes that “sentimental Gothicists” send a “curious double message” to their readers: “Rejoice, young ladies—you are tremendously powerful, but watch out—you are defenseless” (34). Gothic novelists capturing their endangered female protagonist’s internal landscape convey the ways in which emotions and imagination amplify the terror-factor as well as the external realities women face in brutal patriarchal systems.1

The Castle of Otranto (1764) Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto is referred to by Andrew Wright as “the principal forerunner” of the Gothic tale which had “its greatest vogue in the latter part of the eighteenth century” (vii). In like fashion, Varma observes that “Otranto opened the flood-gate of ‘Gothic’ tales” (13). Like Devendra, Martin Kallich names this novel as the one “that spawned the school of terror fiction” (101), and Robert Kiely claims that this work “began the cult of the Gothic novel in English” (27). While Walpole’s work can be viewed as ushering in a new phase of the British novel, it also mirrors the didactic purpose of mainstream novelists writing before and during his time. In his “Preface to the First Edition,” Walpole expects “the English reader” to be “pleased with a sight of this performance” because of its “piety that reigns throughout, the lessons of virtue that are inculcated, and the rigid purity of the sentiments” (7). In his “Preface to the Second Edition” of Otranto, Walpole addresses his intention to “reconcile” those ancient romances in which “all was imagination and improbability” with the more realistic novels of his day (9).

52  Intensifying Tradition In The Castle of Otranto, the patriarchal tyrant Manfred is the principal danger-maker, while Theodore is the knightly hero or “courteous stranger” (29) as he is dubbed at the beginning of this tale. There are also two heroines: Matilda, the one whose story ends tragically, and Isabella, the one who survives to become Theodore’s wife. Like the two female paragons in Richardson’s Sir Charles Grandison, they both love the hero, yet never stoop to nasty rivalry, for they are both “amiable maidens” who possess “natural sincerity and candour” (89). In a sense, Walpole doubles the effect of assailed virtue in portraying the plight of two exceedingly positive young women characters suffering at the hands of the novel’s powerful villain. Like their courtship novel forebears, both Isabella and Matilda are in distinctly vulnerable positions as the novel unfolds. The motherless daughter of a Marquis, Isabella has been promised as the bride of Manfred’s son, the infirm Conrad, and as the novel begins, she has “already been delivered by her guardians into the hands of Manfred” (17), words suggesting her powerlessness. She is far from home without any knowledge of her father’s whereabouts and is thus left to be the prey of a very untrustworthy patriarch. She finds herself in dire straits after Conrad’s death when the already married Manfred compels her to become his bride and bear the progeny he so desperately needs. She views herself as “on the brink of destruction” and “in danger . . . of being made miserable for ever” if she cannot escape from Manfred’s clutches (54). Manfred’s daughter, Matilda, “a most beautiful virgin” (17) resides in a precarious household with an overbearing father who has “never showed any symptoms of affection” (17) and a submissive mother, who, in spite of her gentle, loving nature as a parent, fully supports her husband’s every move. Thus, like Isabella, Maltida too suffers from a sense of isolation without much to shield her. As Manfred’s submissive wife, Hippolita supports the threats of patriarchy, rather than protecting both maidens in her charge. Her role is apparent after she becomes aware of Manfred’s desire to “marry” Isabella and after Isabella’s father, Lord Frederic arrives at Otranto and wishes to wed Matilda. Upholding both these matches, Hippolita uses language that underscores how fully she has assimilated the dominant ideology not only of the novel’s medieval culture but of Radcliffe’s eighteenth-century world as well. Upon learning that her husband plans to ensure himself of an heir by marrying Isabella, she responds in this dutiful manner: “It is not ours to make election for ourselves; heaven, our fathers, and our husbands, must decide for us” (91). Likewise, when Matilda begs her mother not to “leave [her] a prey to Frederic,” Hippolita utters this chilling pronouncement: “Thy fate depends on thy father” (92–93). While Manfred is this novel’s main source of peril, both he and Frederick fit the category of “Gothic villain” that Varma describes as “Interfering fathers, brutal in threats” who “oppress the hero or

Intensifying Tradition  53 heroine into a loathed marriage. . .” (19). Even though Walpole describes Manfred’s “temper” as “naturally humane” and potentially virtuous when his “reason” is not “obscure[d]” (33), it is apparent, during the course of the novel, that he is driven by overweening passions that virtually obliterate reason, steering him toward “exquisite villainy” (38). Although Frederick’s rational side is never questioned, he is motivated by lust and greed. He is not only “struck” by the youthful Matilda’s “charms” (96), but also seeks to obtain the principality of Otranto. His shortcoming as Isabella’s father is particularly apparent in his readiness to barter with Manfred and give his daughter to this man. Even though Frederic’s prophetic dream has led him to Otranto in order to “deliver” (79) Isabella, his selfish desires override his parental concern. Manfred’s fierce pursuit of Isabella, which constitutes the most imminent danger in this novel’s courtship plot, is characterized by the crude and ominous tone of his wooing and Isabella’s terrified reaction. Totally devoid of grief over his son’s death and commanding Isabella to “forget” his wife (25), Manfred declares that, unlike his “sickly boy,” he “will know how to value [her] beauties” and “may expect a numerous offspring” (25). In response, Isabella is “half- dead with fright and horror” (25), “dread[s] nothing so much as Manfred’s pursuit of his declaration” (25), and describes Manfred’s “intentions” as “impious” (26). Isabella’s revulsion toward this menacing father-suitor highlights the incestuous overtones so common in Gothic fiction but also present in earlier courtship novels. In a sense, Manfred can be viewed as a grotesque version of Dorilaus, the father figure who morphs into the virginal heroine’s unwelcome suitor in The Fortunate Foundlings. Manfred can also be viewed as an exaggerated manifestation of the scheming, forceful suitors who plague heroines and utter ingenuous pronouncements of protection in traditional courtship novels. After Isabella takes “sanctuary in saint Nicholas’s church” (47) and Friar Jerome honors his promise to keep her safe, Manfred asserts his role as her surrogate parent, claiming that he is “answerable for her person to her guardians” and demanding that she be in his “hands” (48). To further claim paternal rights and keep his own unsavory intentions a secret, Manfred even casts doubts on Isabella’s reputation by suggesting to the friar that she is romantically involved with “that young villain” (48) who was “the accomplice of her flight, if not the cause of it” (49). It is clear at this juncture that Manfred is ready to endanger not only Isabella’s virginity and future well-being but also her reputation. Not deceived by Manfred’s innuendoes, Jerome insists that Isabella remain “at peace in that holy place” (49), adding that “She is where orphans and virgins are safest from the snares and wiles of this world; and nothing but a parent’s authority shall take her thence” (49). Undeterred by this rebuttal, Manfred insists, “I am her parent” (49), suggesting once again the incestuous taint of his behavior. Shortly thereafter, the wily Manfred assumes the

54  Intensifying Tradition role of protective patriarch on an even more grandiose scale when he proclaims to Friar Jerome that “Reasons of state” and “the safety of [his] people, demand that [he] should have a son” (49). While the Friar stays strong in the face of Manfred’s power, the main agent countering Manfred’s malign effect is Theodore, the masculine paragon who, as the ancestor destined to regain rightful possession of Otranto, constitutes the villain’s greatest threat.2 As a stark contrast to Manfred, Theodore is ever ready to lay down his life in order to shield both heroines. Akin to the ideal figures earlier encountered in traditional courtship novels, Theodore is handsome, noble, courageous, and self-sacrificing, yet he is an overblown version of earlier prototypes, as he earnestly utters phrases redolent of medieval knights, proclaiming their chivalric credo. Theodore’s response to Matilda’s brave act of rescue not only depicts Matilda’s virtues but also highlights the protective nature of the hero and his upholding of gender distinctions. When Matilda hears that Theodore is condemned to death, she takes “measures to save him” (71) while her father is busy chasing Isabella. Stealing up to the “black tower” and “unbolting the door” (72) of the hero’s prison, Matilda recognizes that both “filial duty and womanly modesty condemn” her bold behavior, but asserts that “holy charity . . . justifies this act” (72). She tells the hero to “begone in safety” as she blesses him with the words, “may the angels of heaven direct thy course!” (72). Immediately “enraptured,” Theodore calls her “blessed saint” and “my divine protectress” (72), yet fears she is “neglect[ing]” her “own safety” and invites her to “fly together” with him (72). Although Matilda assures Theodore that as Manfred’s daughter, “no dangers await” her (72), she admits that “should my father return, thou and I both should indeed have cause to tremble” (72), words showing that she knows quite well the hazard of her father’s wrath. From deep gratefulness, Theodore moves into high gear as the ultimate protector. Besides declaring that the life she has “bestowest shall be dedicated to thy defence” (72), he adamantly refuses to jeopardize her life in order to save his own, speaking in these hyperbolic terms: “How? . . . thinkest thou, charming maid, that I will accept of life at the hazard of aught calamitous to thee? Better I endured a thousand deaths” (72). Theodore also upholds the primacy of the male rescuer role when he refuses Matilda’s offer to “conduct” him (73) to the same church where Isabella has found refuge. “Scorn[ing]” this option as “an ignominious flight,” he asserts that “sanctuaries are for helpless damsels, or for criminals” (73). Reading well the tenor of Theodore’s objection, Matilda guides him to “her father’s armoury” (74), where equipped with a suit of armor, he may escape in a manner fit for a man. While Matilda is Theodore’s first love, the hero functions as Isabella’s staunch defender during a large portion of Walpole’s novel, and the delicate, modest nature of this heroine, who ultimately becomes the hero’s

Intensifying Tradition  55 bride, is emphasized in terms that reflect eighteenth-century female gender norms. Theodore’s protective role begins when he accompanies the mysteriously cloaked Isabella through cavernous passages to the safety of St. Nicholas Church. His words to the terrified woman epitomize the phrasing of courtly warriors: “what can I do to assist you? I will die in your defence” (29). In this scene, when Isabella voices concern over Theodore’s safety, his response continues in the same vein: “I value not my life . . . and it will be some comfort to lose it, in trying to deliver you from his [Manfred’s] tyranny” (29–30). Even when Theodore faces imminent execution for aiding Isabella, he demonstrates self-sacrificing heroism by defying his sentence in these words: “I fear no man’s displeasure . . . when a woman in distress puts herself under my protection” (54). When Friar Jerome discovers that Theodore is his long-lost son and begs for his preservation, Manfred agrees to save Theodore in exchange for Isabella’s return. But true to form, the hero adamantly rejects such an ignoble deal and stands ready to “let all” of Manfred’s “wrath fall on [him]” (58). Decked in armor supplied by Matilda, Theodore rescues Isabella once again as he sets forth toward the caves outside Otranto. Initially overcome with “terror” at his war-like appearance, Isabella falls “breathless before him” (75), and in response Theodore uses “every gentle word to dispel her alarms,” while “assu[ring] her that, far from injuring, he would defend her at the peril of his life” (75). Recovering at the sound of these soothing words, Isabella “gaze[s] on her protector,” and recognizing him as the man who has already aided her, she calls him her “guardian angel” (76). Theodore, with his entrenched credo of Christian gallantry, responds in kind: “If heaven has selected me for thy deliverer, it will accomplish its work, and strengthen my arm in thy cause” (76). Despite Isabella’s deeply spiritual sense of gratitude and Theodore’s assertion that “at the hazard of [his] life” (76), he will deliver her “beyond the reach of danger” (76), this heroine, as the paragon of eighteenthcentury womanhood, remains vigilant regarding her chastity and reputation. Even in the face of extreme peril, Isabella hesitates to comply with Theodore’s suggestion that they together “seek” the “inmost recesses” of the cave for her safety (76). She is reluctant to “accompany” Theodore “alone into these perplexed retreats” and expresses her concern for what “a censorious world” would “think of [her] conduct” (76). In order to dispel her maidenly fears, Theodore declares his honorable intentions; tells her that, in spite of her “form” which is “beauteous and all perfect,” his “soul is dedicated to another” (76); and proclaims that “he would rather die than suffer her return under Manfred’s power” (77). More than ever, Theodore’s words and actions here set in relief his contrast to the Gothic danger-maker. In the ensuing scene after Theodore mistakenly wounds Isabella’s father, he risks his life to ensure that Frederick receives necessary medical

56  Intensifying Tradition care and thus reinforces the self-sacrificing nature of his protective role. Believing his death is imminent, the now repentant Frederick calls upon Theodore as “This brave Knight” to “protect” the “innocence” of his daughter (79). When Matilda dies from an accidental stabbing by her father toward the end of the novel, Isabella is the sole surviving heroine and the one who gets her man. Even though Varma observes that “the magic spell of romance is broken when Isabella becomes the bride of Theodore” (63), rather than Matilda, Walpole does not widely diverge from traditional courtship novel norms. Despite her love for the hero, Matilda has primarily envisioned a life in the convent, and, even at one point, indicates that it would be a “danger” to her if her father offered her “a handsome young prince for a bridegroom” (40). Moreover, providing a paragon of feminine purity, Matilda seems primarily present in this novel to highlight the tragic fall of her cursed, Creon-like father. However, even though Walpole endeavors to create a tragedy reminiscent of Sophocles’ Antigone, he simultaneously upholds the already established comic formula of courtship novels, leaving readers with a hero and heroine who gain their safe haven as an eminently suitable pair. In his choice to conclude his tale with Theodore’s and Isabella’s union, Walpole can also be seen as following Richardson’s lead in Sir Charles Grandison, whose hero also weds his second love. While Isabella, unlike Matilda, does not assume the active protector role, as the surviving heroine, she is established as a positive, nurturing force. When Theodore initially helps Isabella find the passage to the sanctuary of the Church, she shows anxiety for his welfare as she says, “I fear, I shall have involved you in my misfortunes” (29). In the later tear-wrenching scene depicting Matilda’s death, Isabella willingly takes on the role of Hippolita’s surrogate daughter. Also, in the “frequent discourses” (115) that constitute her courtship days with Theodore, Isabella alone can help him “indulge” (115) his grief over the loss of Matilda and thus provide him with the only measure of “happiness” (115) he can know. Despite the narrator’s somber tone at the novel’s conclusion, readers can view Isabella as the deserving heroine of a courageous, honorable hero who finally assumes his place as the descendent of Alonso, rightful Prince of Otranto. The somewhat cryptic words, inscribed on the giant sabre found by Frederic, encapsulate the hero’s function not only as Isabella’s preordained savior but also as the provider of ultimate safety, even in a dangerous world where ghosts of vengeance roam: Where e’er a casque that suits this sword is found, With perils is thy daughter compass’d round, Alonso’s blood alone can save the maid, And quiet a long restless Prince’s shade. (82)

Intensifying Tradition  57

A Sicilian Romance (1790) Most critics agree that Ann Radcliffe raised the caliber of the Gothic novel that she inherited from Horace Walpole, and her fame as an author was far-reaching. Robert Kiely notes that while “the popularity of The Castle of Otranto was widespread,” the “Gothic novel reach[ed] its true depths” in the work of Ann Radcliffe, “whom De Quincey called ‘the enchantress of that generation’” (65). In like fashion, Eugenia Delamotte asserts that “Radcliffe must be regarded as the center of the Gothic tradition” (10), and Steven Bruhm points out that “Radcliffe is, of course, the ‘mother’ of the English Gothic novel (so named by Keats), and arguably its most famous practitioner” (30). Varma Devendra claims that “In Mrs. Radcliffe’s work there is the finest flowering of the novels of Terror” (128) and also asserts that Mrs. Radcliffe’s “ingenuity fostered a new style of romantic fiction” in which “the wondrous and the credible are both woven into her fabric: the gossamer dreams of bygone times across the grim realities of her own days” (101). While A Sicilian Romance is not considered Radcliffe’s finest or most renowned work, it is cited by Diana Wallace and Andrew Smith as one of the three “mature works of Female Gothic” written by an enormously popular author (“Introduction” 47). In this chapter, A Sicilian Romance occupies a primary place because its conciseness highlights its central courtship/seduction plot as well as the commonplace Gothic trappings that exaggerate the existing features of traditional courtship novels. Since The Mysteries of Udolpho is an icon of the Gothic romantic novel, this chapter also includes some discussion of this work as well. In A Sicilian Romance, Julia, the motherless daughter of the tyrannical Marquis of Mazzini, is the victimized heroine, and her story echoes, in melodramatic fashion, the plight and vulnerability of her female antecedents in the courtship fiction tradition that Radcliffe helps to strengthen. As in many previous courtship scenarios, the most palpable danger the heroine faces involves pressure to marry a cruel, mercenary man. Moreover, as expected, Julia’s exceptional physical beauty matches her inner perfection, and like the eighteenth-century conduct book paragons, Radcliffe’s female protagonist exhibits reserve and delicacy to a high degree. In Radcliffe’s text, the sinister suitor is Duke de Luovo. Set in contrast to the Duke and Marquis as forces of patriarchal evil are both the traditionally chivalric hero, Hippolitus, and Julia’s courageous brother, Ferdinand. Julia’s peril-fraught situation is evident throughout A Sicilian Romance, and her numerous fainting fits and exclamations of horror underscore her need for protection. Her father is so menacing that Julia “scarcely [thinks] herself safe in his presence” (60), and he is ready to condemn her to a life of misery for his own political, social, and monetary gain. Her mother, whom she believes is deceased, has actually been hidden

58  Intensifying Tradition away for fifteen years within the recesses of the Mazzini mansion. The woman she knows as her stepmother, Maria de Vellorno, is as passionate and Machiavellian as the Marquis, and “her heart” is “corroded” by “jealous fury” (18) when witnessing Hippolitus’ attentions to Julia. The suitor that Julia is being coerced to wed is a merciless individual who “delight[s] in simple undisguised tyranny” and has been already “twice married” to “unfortunate women,” who have “fallen victims to the slow but corroding hand of sorrow” (57). In fact, we are told that father and unsavory suitor are kindred spirits, alike in their “ruling passion” for “power” (56–57) and the “harshness” of their “authority” (57). For Julia, marriage to the Duke constitutes a “calamity, so dreadful” (56) and a fate “worse than death” (55), and her endeavors to prevent this union drive both malevolent father and suitor to further extremities. To add to Julia’s sense of all-encompassing peril, her flight from jeopardy leads her to the equally cruel and overbearing religious leader of the Abbey where she seeks asylum. Even though Julia assumes that the Abate will “protect her from parental tyranny” (126), she becomes a pawn in a power struggle between Church and State. She faces a choice between being returned to her father’s domain or being compelled to “adopt the veil” and remain “immured for life” within monastic walls (142). Besides abundant external danger, Julia, like other traditional heroines, also experiences alarm in her inner world, particularly in relation to the man she loves. The prospect of a marriage to the Duke is even more odious because of her feelings for Hippolitus, and until she is certain that he reciprocates her love, she is absorbed by how “dangerous” his “image” is to her “peace” of “mind” (42). Julia also experiences “a state of stupor,” which is just as “alarming” (62) to Hippolitus as a fainting fit, when he urges her to escape with him “from the authority of a father who abuses his power” (61). Even though her brother Ferdinand warmly supports this elopement plan offering his “testimony” of Hippolitus’ sense of honor (61), Radcliffe’s heroine, like Walpole’s Isabella, is paralyzed by her dilemma between “escape” from “the dreadful destiny awaiting her” and an extreme reluctance to “sully the purity of that reputation, which [is] dearer to her than existence” (62). Julia’s reaction at this point demonstrates how fully she has imbibed eighteenth-century conduct book writers’ warnings against women’s loss of “virtue” in reality, or even in appearance. What is less clear at this point is whether Radcliffe affirms Julia’s highly developed sense of honor or suggests its liability when her future fate is at stake. As the perfect hero of sentimental Gothic fiction, Hippolitus, the Count de Vereza, resembles Walpole’s Theodore and his earlier counterparts in eighteenth-century courtship fiction, yet demonstrates more intensity of feeling than these predecessors. Early in the novel, he instinctively dons his protector mantle when he is “terrified” (56) upon noticing Julia’s “trembling limbs” and “pale distress” (56) in response to her hectoring father’s presence. When the Marquis impetuously shortens the time before his

Intensifying Tradition  59 daughter’s wedding date, Hippolitus, along with the heroine’s brother, executes a risky plan to help Julia escape from her father’s domain, and Hippolitus tactfully proposes elopement as the only “means of saving” Julia “from destruction” (61). Once Julia gets past her hesitation and the threesome clear the castle walls, the hero enforces his shielding suitor role by exclaiming to Julia, “you are safe, and I am happy” (68). However, his plan to “solemnize” their marriage “without danger of interruption” (64) is speedily overturned when he is nearly killed by Julia’s father. After being “confined” a long while “by dangerous wounds” (144), Hippolitus, in true heroic fashion, goes in quest of his beloved, hoping against all odds that she is not yet married to de Luovo. When he does find her, she is in a typically gothic-style danger situation, captured by banditti and about to be ravished by one of her abductors. Before Hippolitus even realizes her identity, he risks his life. Without a weapon, he is determined to save this unfortunate lady, and in doing so, he “almost [forgets] his own danger” (164). Following her rescue, Julia, once again bowing to propriety, refuses to travel alone with the hero and requests that he bring her to a “place of refuge” (170). Viewing her “delicacy” as “dangerous,” and “trembl[ing] at the dangers which [environ] her” (170), Hippolitus again offers her the most effective option at his command—the safety of marriage to a courageous, loving husband. He beseeches her to “become his immediately,” urging that they locate a priest to “confirm the bonds which had so long united their hearts” (170). Despite her abiding love for the hero, “the gratitude” that Hippolitus “claim[s] as her deliverer,” and her recognition that his “proposal” represents “the certain means of rescuing her from the fate she dread[s]” (170), Julia delays their union. As foolhardy as this delay may seem, ironically, her decision amplifies her worth as the hero’s proper mate. She cannot accept the haven he offers until she knows her brother’s fate. This loyalty, generosity of spirit, and protectiveness toward her beloved sibling render her even more valuable to Hippolitus. Besides sustaining reader suspense, Julia’s delay in accepting Hippolitus’ hand provides yet one more opportunity for the hero to rescue the heroine at the novel’s end. In his final act of heroism, he triumphantly leads Julia and her long imprisoned mother to the shelter of a lighthouse. Here, all the virtuous characters, whose “unsullied virtue” deserves “the surest claim to the projection of heaven” (199), triumphantly reunite, and the happily-ever-after ending for the deserving couple takes place in a universe where rewards and punishments are justly distributed.

The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794) Even though The Mysteries of Udolpho contains fuller character development and a more intricate plot than A Sicilian Romance, the latter, more celebrated novel, maintains, in like fashion, the already established features of the courtship novel. Emily St. Aubert, the assailed Gothic

60  Intensifying Tradition heroine, is a more accomplished version of Julia Mazzini, but, like Julia, often faints from terror or surprise and is tortured by the prospect of a forced marriage to an evil man. Valanourt carries on the tradition of the valiant hero who repeatedly, during the novel’s first part, plays a protective role, while Montoni functions as the rapacious, villainous father figure. First presented to the reader as a “figure” of “manly grace” and “agility” (31), Valancourt immediately becomes the reliable guide when Monsieur St. Aubert and his daughter Emily are traveling through the sublimely terrifying Pyrenees, and it is in these scenes that the hero and heroine fall in love. After Valancourt reluctantly departs, father and daughter wander through even more frightening territory, and suspecting that “banditti” are about (38), Monsieur St. Aubert accidently shoots and wounds Valancourt. While Emily faints and St. Aubert is beside himself with “terror” (38), Valancourt remains the one protecting them. In spite of the fact that he is “bleeding profusely” and “in great pain” (38), he reassures St. Aubert that he is “not materially hurt” (38). Moreover, when he hears St. Aubert’s distress over Emily’s fainting, he “hasten[s] to her relief” while “almost forgetting his own condition” (39). Later when the wayfaring threesome come across “gipsies” who are known to live “partly by plundering the traveler” (40), the indisposed Valancourt is ready to use his pistol in defense if necessary. Once he recovers from his wound, he maintains his helper role with the increasingly debilitated Monsieur St. Aubert. This range of rescuing efforts by Valancourt shores up his role as preeminent chivalric hero and contradicts the generalization of scholars that heroes within the “female Gothic plot” are “impeccable but ineffectual suitor[s]” (Miles, “Ann Radcliffe and Matthew Lewis” 96). Valancourt’s gallant efforts are matched by the heroine’s more passive protecting behavior. When Valancourt is accidently wounded by Monsieur D’Aubert, Emily’s fainting, besides suggesting her fragility, signals how much she cares for this young man’s welfare. Later, she is again “alarmed” for Valancourt’s “safety” (146) when he wishes to confront Montoni for the abrupt termination of their engagement. In this instance, she urges her beloved not to “redress his wrongs by violence” (146), and reasonably setting forth the “impolicy of forcing an interview,” (146) with her uncle, succeeds in averting the harm that Valancourt is likely to suffer. The termination of the hero and heroine’s engagement in this intricately plotted novel is only one of many formidable obstacles that the couple faces. In her situation as hapless orphan in the power of a cruel aunt and uncle, Emily is imprisoned in Montoni’s Gothic castle, appalled by real and imagined horrors at nearly every turn, and threatened by the abduction schemes of a villainous suitor. As she endures these harrowing experiences, she remains ignorant of Valancourt’s whereabouts for a long period of time.3

Intensifying Tradition  61 Radcliffe further complicates the hero and heroine’s journey toward marriage, when Valancourt’s reputation is seriously undermined as a result of unsavory company he has been keeping during his stay in Paris. This complication not only helps to highlight female superiority in the moral realm, but also drives home the aptness of a match between mutually protective, self-sacrificing mates. When the couple reunite after their lengthy separation, Emily senses that Valancourt harbors a “secret” source of guilt and is puzzled by his claim that he is “unworthy” of her (503). When she hears dire accounts of his “ill conduct” and “taste for every vicious pleasure” (507) from her reliable host, Count de Villefort, she faints and ironically awakens in the arms of Valancourt, who retains his rescuer role despite the slanderous accusations that have grossly distorted his misconduct. When de Villefort demands that the maligned hero “withdraw.” (508), Valancourt insists on his masculine prerogative as proper lover, by refusing “to resign” the heroine “for a moment to the care of any person” (508). During this time, Emily finds it difficult to believe rumors of Valancourt’s villainy, yet experiences much “anguish” from the “conviction of his unworthiness, which must terminate in misery to himself” (510). She also fears the “danger” (513) of succumbing to her compassion and love for Valancourt. Although the hero repeatedly seeks to regain Emily’s devotion, he ultimately declares that he loves Emily “better than [his] own life” and thus will cease torturing her with the “pleadings of a selfish passion” (520). He also affirms Emily’s moral influence by reflecting on how the “remembrance” of her “sorrow” will ensure his “protection” against future “temptation” (520). Matching Valancourt’s selfless resignation, Emily responds with these words: “. . . if my happiness is dear to you, you will always remember, that nothing can contribute to it more than to believe that you have recovered your own esteem” (520). Besides proving her worth as a spiritual guardian, Emily is forced one more time to experience spasms of doubt regarding her loved one’s physical safety. When she believes that Valancourt has suffered a gunshot wound, her sense of “his danger” brings with it a return of “All the tenderness she [has] ever felt” for him (589). As a fragile woman of sensibility, despite her moral power, she is so overcome that she “[sinks] under the pressure of her anxiety,” succumbing to a “slow fever” (589). The joyous denouement can occur when Valancourt fully recovers his reputation as a man of virtue and Emily’s fever does not prove fatal. True to the already established formula, this well-matched couple can now put behind them “all the dangers and misfortunes they [have] each encountered” (671) and attain “the securest felicity of this life” (672).

62  Intensifying Tradition Through their depictions of virtuous heroes and heroines who endure harrowing adventures in mysterious settings, Walpole and Radcliffe further solidify the traditional elements of the courtship novel that constitute the legacy for authors in the following century. Kiely suggests this continuity when he notes that Radcliffe “produced works which have come to be counted, with Walpole’s novel, among the ancestors of English romantic fiction” (65).

Notes 1 Diana Wallace and Andrew Smith note that the “Female Gothic” has been read by many critics as “a politically subversive genre articulating women’s dissatisfactions with patriarchal structures and offering a coded expression of their fears of entrapment within the domestic and the female body.” However, they also point out that there is a debate among critics as to whether the “Female Gothic” is “a conservative or a radical genre” (“Introduction: Defining the Female Gothic” 2). 2 Walpole’s novel here fits the “male Gothic” category that, according to Robert Miles, “has largely been defined in oedipal terms, as the son’s conflict with authority” (“Ann Radcliffe and Matthew Lewis” 96). 3 Steven Bruhm (Gothic Bodies) emphasizes that “the danger” faced by heroines such as Emily in Mysteries of Udolpho is “greatly exaggerated by the excesses of the imagination,” yet ultimately “poses no real personal threat” (31). According to Bruhm, Radcliffe also “attacks the sensibility that imagines immediate pain but in so doing makes the imaginer more vulnerable to the violent aggression which might cause that pain” (44).

Works Cited Boone, Joseph A. Tradition Counter Tradition: Love and the Form of Fiction. University of Chicago Press, 1987. Bruhm, Steven. Gothic Bodies: The Politics of Pain in Romantic Fiction. University of Pennsylvania Press, 1994. Delamotte, Eugenia C. Perils of the Night: A Feminist Study of NineteenthCentury Gothic. Oxford University Press, 1990. Kallich, Martin. Horace Walpole (Twayne English Authors Series). Twayne Publishers, 1971. Kiely, Robert. The Romantic Novel in England. Harvard University Press, 1972. Miles, Robert. “Ann Radcliffe and Matthew Lewis.” A New Companion to the Gothic, edited by David Punter, Blackwell Publishing/John Wiley and Sons, 2012, pp. 93–109. ———. Ann Radcliffe: The Great Enchantress. Manchester University Press, 1995. Online Etymology Dictionary,>search>q=danger. Radcliffe, Ann. The Mysteries of Udolpho, edited by Bonamy Dobree, Oxford University Press, 1998. ———. A Sicilian Romance, edited by Alison Milbank. Oxford University Press, 1998.

Intensifying Tradition  63 Varma, Devendra P. The Gothic Flame. Russell & Russell, 1966. Wallace, Diana. “‘The Haunting Idea’: Female Gothic Metaphors and Feminist Theory.” The Female Gothic: New Directions, edited by Diana Wallace and Andrew Smith, Palgrave Macmillan, 2009, pp. 26–41. Wallace, Diana and Andrew Smith. “Introduction: Defining the Female Gothic.” The Female Gothic: New Directions, edited by Diana Wallace and Andrew Smith, Palgrave Macmillan, 2009, pp. 1–12. Walpole, Horace. The Castle of Otranto (1764), edited by W. S. Lewis, Oxford University Press, 1998. ———. “Preface to the First Edition.” The Castle of Otranto, edited by W. S. Lewis, Oxford University Press, 1998, pp. 5–8. ———. “Preface to the Second Edition.” The Castle of Otranto, edited by W. S. Lewis, Oxford University Press, 1998, pp. 9–14. Wright, Andrew. “Introduction.” The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole, The Mysteries of Udolpho (abridged) by Ann Radcliffe, Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, edited by Andrew Wright, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1963, pp. vii–xxi.


Enriching and Mocking Tradition Ironic Variations in Austen’s Courtship Novels

Austen as Bridge and Innovator Jane Austen, the major author whose works set the stage for the realistic Victorian courtship novel as well as the popular romance novel of the our own time, subverts, in masterly nuanced fashion, the eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century traditions of the very genre she helped to perpetuate. In her novels, Austen maintains the standard comic courtship plot trajectory that she inherited, and despite her fortunate endings and ostensibly serene drawing room world, Austen, like her predecessors, provides ample instances of danger/safety language. However, Austen’s use of this language reflects ironic divergences from the stereotypic features of courting couples and helps to convey an elaborate and original treatment of both social and emotional hazards. Austen’s uniqueness as an author in relation to her predecessors is captured by Isobel Grundy’s claim that Austen “assumes the sufficiency of her own taste as guide to literary value” (190). Grundy also cites the individualized way that Austen employs her knowledge of Richardson and Fielding, the two acknowledged fathers of the novel in her time: “Fiction moved between the poles represented by these two, and Austen, alert to their unlikenesses, learns from and disputes with each” (193). Minimizing the role of Samuel Richardson and Henry Fielding as primary agents in the novel genre’s development, F. R. Leavis observes that the “historical importance” of these authors derives from their presence “in the background of Jane Austen,” whom he describes as “one of the truly great writers” (13). Elaine Bander captures Austen’s literary knowledge and individuality in this way: Ever since Jane Austen began burlesquing silly but beloved literary models as a young girl, she had been writing against the grain of readerly expectation, in defiance of popular conventions, always testing those conventions against her private yardstick of probability and complexity . . . ” (22) Austen’s preference for Richardson over Fielding and her familiarity with Richardson’s novels are common knowledge. She was especially

Enriching and Mocking Tradition  65 conversant with the details of the History of Sir Charles Grandison, according to both Henry Austen in his “Biographical Notice” and J. E. Austen-Leigh in his “Memoir,” 1 and even created a very concise play, entitled “Grandison,” which both reflects and burlesques Richardson’s voluminous work. Although indebted to Richardson’s fiction, Austen recognizes his flaws and develops her own distinctive creations. According to Margaret Kirkham, Austen “understood quite clearly that Grandison was a crucial novel in the evolution of changing ideas about the right basis of relationships between the sexes,” yet “the evidence of Austen’s own writings suggests a highly critical attitude to Grandison” (30). Voicing a somewhat more temperate opinion, Jocelyn Harris asserts that although Austen “quarried Richardson directly and substantially” (48), she “rapidly surveys the possibilities he offers, adopting, adapting, fusing together, and diverging from the material she finds” (49). In a similar vein, Henrietta Ten Harmsel notes that Austen “reshapes and preserves the exaggerated Richardsonian conventions of the late eighteenth- century fiction” (36). In an article on seducers in spa towns, Celia A. Easton offers a specific way in which Austen reshapes her predecessor’s work, when she claims that Austen “rejects the sentimental exaggeration of risk found in plots like Richardson’s Clarissa by emphasizing mental response over physical threat” (105). Steeped as she was in the twists, turns, and love involvements depicted within Sir Charles Grandison, Austen would have been acutely aware of the ways that this very traditional courtship novel, in particular, highlights dangers and rescues while inculcating male and female gender ideals. Austen’s playful satiric fiction often indirectly targets Sir Charles’ role as supreme savior of so many individuals in his world. In referring to the already well-established “romance paradigm” of “the rescue plot,” Charles Hinnant notes, “Austen plays amusing variations in several novels on a plot-pattern that may have taken as its point of departure Sir Charles Grandison’s rescue of Harrriet Byron from the libertine kidnapper, Sir Hargrave Pollexfen, in Samuel Richardson’s last novel” (296). Along with Richardson’s novels, Austen, as Frederick Karl notes, “had been nurtured on the Gothic romance and the novel of sensibility” (11) and eagerly challenges their traditions in her distinctive mocking fashion. Austen’s readiness to ridicule the striking polarity between benevolent and malevolent characters within these fictional genres is suggested by her comment to niece, Fanny Knight, that “pictures of perfection .  . . make me sick and wicked” (Letters 335). Her disdain for character extremes is more elaborately displayed in the farcical, “Plan of a Novel, according to hints from various quarters.” In this playfully devised generic outline, Austen depicts “All the Good” characters as “unexceptionable in every respect” and devoid of “foibles or weaknesses,” and describes “the Wicked” ones as “completely depraved & infamous, hardly a resemblance of Humanity left in them” (429–430). Regarding

66  Enriching and Mocking Tradition plot, the “Plan of a Novel” clearly emphasizes the standard courtship narrative along with its abundance of perilous episodes. After indicating that “Early in her career, in the progress of her first removals, Heroine must meet with the Hero—all perfection of course” (430), Austen includes a summary of episodes for a constantly endangered heroine: Often carried away by the anti-hero, but rescued either by her Father or the Hero—“ and “having at least 20 narrow escapes of falling into the hands of the Anti-hero—& at last in the very nick of time, turning a corner to avoid him, runs into the arms of the Hero himself. (430) Not surprisingly, the Plan’s denouement is gushingly positive: “The Tenderest & completest Eclaircissement takes place, & they are happily united” (430). Despite the tongue-in-cheek tone of the “Plan,” Austen replicates, in her own novels, the standard ingredients she mocks—a virtuous heroine and hero juxtaposed to an “anti-hero” who functions as unworthy pseudo-suitor. 2 The “Plan” also manifests both Austen’s awareness of danger as a prime ingredient in traditional courtship narratives and her mischievous impulse to ridicule the standard fare. This combination results in a special brand of fiction that melds mundane detail with abundant alarm/safety terminology, and, in doing so, conveys the troubling nature of realistic courtship situations. Charles Hinnant suggests the quality of Austen original vision when he asserts that no “one writes more subtly about courtship than Jane Austen—coolly, discretely, but without ever diminishing its dangers” (304).

Northanger Abbey (1818) In her satire directed at Gothic novels in Northanger Abbey, Austen explicitly addresses existing conventions pertinent to social and emotional peril. One striking example of her satire occurs when seventeen-year-old heroine, Catherine Morland, is about to embark on the first real adventure of her life at the popular watering place of Bath. As she departs, her mother’s down-to-earth attitude highlights the overblown hazards of a Gothic sentimental universe: the maternal anxiety of Mrs. Morland will be naturally supposed to be most severe. A thousand presentiments of evil to her beloved Catherine from this terrific separation must oppress her heart with sadness, and drown her in tears . . . Cautions against the violence of such noblemen and baronets as delight in forcing young ladies away to some remote farm-house, must, at such a moment, relieve the fullness of her heart” (18). Contrary to expectation, the heroine’s

Enriching and Mocking Tradition  67 mother, described as “wholly unsuspicious of danger to her daughter” simply “cautions” Catherine to keep warm and manage a modest allowance during her stay. (18) In Northanger Abbey, Austen also parodies the idealized portraits of Gothic romance heroines and subtly undermines the exaggeratedly chivalric presence of the male paragon, while at the same time clearly distinguishing between worthy and unworthy suitors. She also pokes fun at the excessive terror aroused in readers by the brutish parental figures of Gothic fiction. Despite her mockery, she proves that an ordinary, goodenough couple can attain their romantic happily-ever-after and that perils need not be extreme in order to be genuinely or potentially damaging. Austen’s gift for irony in Northanger Abbey is particularly apparent in the way she foreshadows the villainy of General Tilney, the tyrannical patriarch, as source of fear for the heroine and as major obstacle to the hero-heroine union. Early in her stay at Northanger Abbey, Catherine experiences “alarm not wholly unfounded” (165) at the possibility of incurring General Tilney’s wrath if she and Eleanor arrive a moment late to the dinner table. By presenting this alarm in tandem with the fantasized terrors that Catherine conjures up regarding the furniture in her room and Mrs. Tilney’s dire fate, Austen keeps the sense of mystery and adventure alive in her courtship story while separating her work from the hyperbole characterizing the literary traditions she inherited. Mrs. Allen, Catherine’s inept yet harmless chaperon in Bath, is set in contrast to the expected malevolent guardians of Gothic and sentimental fiction who cause suffering by “intercepting” a heroine’s “letters, ruining her character, or turning her out of doors” (20). Ironically, however, by the end of Austen’s novel, readers experience Catherine’s startling banishment from Northanger Abbey by a very angry General Tilney. His action poses probably the most realistic danger in the entire text, for inexperienced Catherine is forced to journey in several vehicles over an eleven-hour period completely on her own. The very real peril Catherine faces in what Miriam Rheingold calls “her longest gothic trial of all” (99) is suggested by the language of Eleanor Tilney’s repeated sorrowful apologies. First, she shares her consternation by exclaiming, “After courting you from the protection of real friends to this—almost double distance from your home, to have you driven out of the house, without the considerations even of decent civility!” (225). She then voices a desperate plea, which demonstrates her anxiety regarding Catherine’s safety: “You must write to me, Catherine, . . . you must let me hear from you as soon as possible. Till I know you to be safe at home, I shall not have an hour’s comfort” (228). Eleanor’s continued use of danger vocabulary, when referring to the letter correspondence she is requesting, highlights General Tilney’s

68  Enriching and Mocking Tradition real rather than fantasized role as autocratic danger-maker in his household and within the heroine’s life. While the General’s fearful daughter declares that she is willing to defy “all risks, all hazards” to receive just this “one letter,” she makes it very clear that she is not free to continue the correspondence (228). Even Mrs. Morland, with her cheerful common sense, suggests the potential hazards of this unplanned, solitary trip after Catherine returns to Fullerton. Despite the fact that “Catherine is safe at home,” she is “glad” not to have known about this “journey at the time” and comforts herself with the words, “but now it is all over perhaps there is no great harm done” (234). Through the use of danger language in the context of Catherine’s responses during this challenging episode, Austen highlights the primacy of emotional peril over the anticipated physical harm permeating the typical Gothic tale, while also providing hints of the heroine’s development. When Eleanor Tilney reluctantly approaches Catherine’s door late at night to deliver her unwelcome message, Catherine, ironically, “tremble[s] a little at the idea of any one’s approaching so cautiously” yet “resolve[s] not to be again overcome by trivial imagination” (223). Having learned to avoid terrifying fantasies, Catherine is now ironically about to receive the most terrible news of the novel. Yet, upon learning of her banishment and the long solitary journey ahead, the only “alarm” (226) Catherine feels involves the possibility of being separated forever from her beloved Henry Tilney. While she seems convinced that her love is reciprocated, she “dread[s]” Henry’s “calm acquiescence” (231) to his father’s harsh edicts. Instead of experiencing “terror” over “strange and sudden” wind gusts (227) during this sleepless night, Catherine is tormented by what has actually happened to her, and the “alarm” she feels comes from her desperate search for the reasons behind the General’s mysterious behavior (226). Despite the socially established truism that traveling long distances alone is fraught with peril for young women, Catherine, on her trip home, is “too wretched to be fearful” (230). However, while the “journey in itself” holds “no terrors for her,” danger metaphors highlight her distress. On the night prior to her departure, “torrents” of tears “burst forth” (226), and while headed home, Catherine dissolves in “a violent burst of tears” over this dreadful turn of events that seems to signal the end of a future life with Henry (230). When Austen offers up the standard happy conclusion, she reassures readers that “the General’s unjust interference” actually “add[s] to the strength” of the fortunate young couple’s “attachment.” Yet, the mocking subversive tone she uses in the novel’s last sentence manifests resistance to stock didactic messages regarding the behavior of courting couples: “I leave it to be settled by whomsoever it may concern, whether the tendency of this work be altogether to recommend parental tyranny, or reward filial disobedience” (252).

Enriching and Mocking Tradition  69

Austen’s Five Mature Novels: Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814), Emma (1816), and Persuasion (1818) Courting characters’ experiences with danger in Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma and Persuasion are more nuanced than those in Northanger Abbey. As Austen develops her courtship episodes within these five major novels, she focuses on the viewpoint of female protagonists encountering a complex interplay of internal and external perils. All of these heroines, with the exception of Marianne, employ self-protective strategies to cope with threats to their well-being. Austen also presents worthy heroes in terms of how they measure up or fall short in their role as protective, loving mates. In contrast to the man who ultimately wins the hand of the heroine, Austen introduces, in each of these novels, the unwelcome and/or untrustworthy suitor whose flaws create a range of subtle or overt hazards. The fortunate companionate unions that cap off Austen’s narratives signify the same sense of an inherently just universe that we see in the traditional courtship novels of her predecessors. Yet, more often than not, Austen’s conclusions are somewhat ambiguous, leaving room for conjecture.

The Heroine’s Unprotected State: Inadequate Guardians in Austen’s Novels Austen’s work can be seen as traditional in its presentation of women’s vulnerable position within the courtship arena. With the exception of Emma Woodhouse and Anne Elliot, Austen’s heroines are subject to a particular form of peril as females entering the marriage marketplace without an impressive degree of wealth or social status. In addition, all of Austen’s heroines lack capable parental guides; however, Austen’s innovation emerges in the ways she develops the unprotected family situations of her heroines. Her complex, ironic vision is apparent in her richly varied portrayals of parent figures who fail as shields against danger. Unlike their counterparts in stereotypic courtship novels, Austen’s heroines grow up in their family home with at least one surviving biological parent. The exception is Fanny Price in Mansfield Park who leaves her impoverished parents and siblings behind when she is “adopted” at age ten into the household of wealthy relatives. Like other more traditional courtship novel authors, Austen does typically send forth her heroines from the family home where they encounter hazards within unfamiliar settings. Northanger Abbey’s Catherine Morland enters the social whirlwind of Bath, while in Sense and Sensibility Marianne and Elinor Dashwood are forced to abandon their beloved Norland estate with their mother after their father dies. Most of Elizabeth’s courtship story with Darcy in Pride and Prejudice takes place in locations away

70  Enriching and Mocking Tradition from Longbourne, the Bennet family residence. In like fashion, Anne Elliot finds herself experiencing the perils of the mating game in several settings away from her family’s Kellynch estate, which needs to be rented due to her father’s and older sister’s inept financial management. Elinor and Marianne Dashwood suffer from selfish or unwise guardian figures. John Dashwood is the surviving patriarch in the position to protect the women in his family. However, although he assures his dying father that he will help provide for his half-sisters and stepmother, he is easily dissuaded from honoring any generous impulse he may harbor. Austen’s scathing satire is apparent in the stark contrast between John’s indifference as a protector of Mrs. Dashwood and her daughters and his misguided concern for the novel’s two most reprehensible women, his wife Mrs. Fanny Dashwood and her mother Mrs. Ferrars. The two heroines’ other guardian-like figures, Mrs. Jennings and Sir John Middleton, are generous and warm-hearted, but they also prove faulty. Mrs. Jennings, the inveterate gossip, jeopardizes Marianne’s reputation as a victim of unrequited love, and her vigorous efforts to ascertain the name of Elinor’s “particular favourite” (61) augments rather than allays anxiety. Sir John also shows himself to be quite foolish when he provides woefully little information on Willoughby’s qualifications as a proper suitor for Marianne. When asked “what sort of young man” he is, Sir John concludes he is “As good a kind of fellow as ever lived” and “very well worth catching” because he shoots well, rides boldly, possesses topnotch hunting dogs, and is in line to inherit “a pretty little estate of his own” (43–44). Not only are Sir John’s details irrelevant to Willoughby’s character, but by emphasizing his passion for hunting, Sir John’s report unwittingly suggests a predatory nature. To the convention of unshielded heroines, Austen adds a degree of complexity with her portrait of Mrs. Dashwood, who both fails and succeeds as her daughters’ protector. Lacking foresight and primarily guided by sentiment, she is described as needing the “counsellor” services of eldest daughter, Elinor, whose “strength of understanding” far exceeds her own (6). However, although she too readily accepts Sir John’s meager assessment regarding Willoughby, she, as a loving parent, experiences genuine “concern and alarm” (77) for Marianne’s welfare when Willoughby mysteriously retreats, and she does have good reason to believe that there has been no “inconsistency on his side to create alarm” (81). Yet, as an extreme optimist with unreliable judgment, Mrs. Dashwood concludes that Willoughby’s fears of offending his wealthy aunt have necessitated a secret engagement with Marianne, and that “even secrecy, as far as it can be observed, may now be very advisable” (82). Critic Sarah Emsley points out that Mrs. Dashwood’s “desire to be generous and amiable to Marianne exceeds her wish to protect her” (62). In choosing not to ascertain whether or not her daughter is engaged, Mrs. Dashwood endorses just the sort of clandestine arrangements

Enriching and Mocking Tradition  71 frowned upon by conduct advisers of Austen’s time. At the end of the novel, this repentant mother acknowledges that “her own mistaken judgment in encouraging the unfortunate attachment to Willoughby” has “contributed” to the “danger” from which her daughter has been “restored” (335). Despite her shortcomings, Mrs. Dashwood guards her daughters’ dignity. At the beginning of the novel, she bridles at Fanny Dashwood’s warning “of the danger” that Elinor faces if she attempts to lure Fanny’s brother, Edward, into a relationship, since the family has “great expectations” that he ”should marry well” (23). Later, Mrs. Dashwood also staunchly objects to Sir John’s description of Willoughby as “well worth catching” (44). Defending her daughters from the social stigma of the husband-hunting femme fatale, she tells Sir John that “It is not an employment to which they have been brought up,” and “Men are very safe with us, let them be ever so rich” (29). This proud assertion becomes, of course, quite ironic given the lack of security the Dashwood sisters themselves are about to face. Both of Elizabeth’s parents in Pride and Prejudice are also deficient guides. Causing embarrassment for her two sensible eldest daughters, Mrs. Bennet ironically jeopardizes their chances for a good marriage by the vulgarity of her zeal in promoting their matches. Mrs. Bennet’s encouragement of Lydia’s flirtatious behavior with military men also adversely affects Elizabeth’s and Jane’s viability in the marriage market. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Mr. Bennet’s cynicism and apathy render him virtually useless as a protector for the daughters whose future financial well-being is jeopardized by his estate’s entailment. At the same time, however, Austen complicates Mr. Bennet’s portrait in a moving scene toward the end of the novel, after Fitzwilliam Darcy’s proposal to Elizabeth. In an unusually serious conversation with his daughter, Mr. Bennet voices his heartfelt concern that she will marry a man whom she cannot esteem: “Your lively talents would place you in the greatest danger in an unequal marriage. You could scarcely escape discredit and misery. My child, let me not have the grief of seeing you unable to respect your partner in life” (376). Mr. Bennet’s warning both reflects the perils of his own “unequal marriage” and epitomizes the message that predominates within traditional courtship novels: that only a deeply satisfying marriage for both spouses can offer the ultimate haven of safety. Unlike the tyrannical social climbing paternal figures crowding the pages of courtship literature, Mr. Bennet wants to shield Elizabeth from emotional harm. His reference to her superior personality also takes on ironic overtones, given Darcy and Lady Catherine DeBourgh’s earlier judgments of the heroine as alarmingly inferior. Fanny Price in Mansfield Park leaves her incompetent parents far behind to enter the foreign world of her uncle’s sumptuous estate. There she encounters various forms of danger from two of the adults who are

72  Enriching and Mocking Tradition supposed to be providing her care, her uncle Sir Thomas Bertram and Aunt Norris. While Mrs. Norris is depicted as a cruelly judgmental guardian, the threat posed by the formidable Sir Thomas in relation to the heroine’s courtship narrative is presented more ambiguously. While Fanny’s surest guide seems to be Edmund Bertram, in this text the hero’s capacity to protect becomes seriously compromised. Even though, unlike Austen’s previous heroines, Emma Woodhouse enjoys a privileged financial and social standing, she too suffers the consequences of inadequate parenting. Her unique situation once again pinpoints Austen’s skill as an ironist. Both Mr. Woodhouse, the overly protective doting father, and Miss Taylor, the mild-mannered governess and mother-surrogate, inflate Emma’s ego and create a suffocating form of safety. In this hothouse environment, Emma grows up with an exaggerated sense of her own acumen and is compelled to manufacture risky adventures out of sheer boredom, especially after Miss Taylor marries and leaves the Woodhouse residence. In the novel’s opening pages, Austen foreshadows the “danger” that Emma will experience due to the “real evils” of her upbringing (5). As Emma weaves her own creative web of hazards, Mr. George Knightley, her sister’s brother-in-law, is the only guide who offers wise advice. Like Emma, Anne Elliot in Persuasion is a motherless daughter with a foolish father. Sir Walter Elliot resembles the stereotypic father figures of traditional novels when he helps to block the heroine’s happy marriage with a man deemed to be a social inferior. Yet, ironically, it is Lady Russell, the loyal friend of Anne’s deceased mother and Anne’s most nurturing guardian, who poses a palpable threat to the heroine. While Lady Russell champions Anne’s rights in a family of self-absorbed individuals, she provides flawed advice regarding both Anne’s pseudo and true suitors. By depicting the Kellynch estate baronet as a distinctly ineffectual patriarch and centering the heroine’s anxious thoughts upon the woman who has been her major source of support, Austen disrupts the expected constellation of characters encountered within her predecessors’ more conventional novels.

Austen’s Heroines: Viewed through the Lens of Danger, Safety, and Protection In their unprotected state, the female protagonists in Austen’s five major novels endure a range of perils. What predominates, however, are the inner tensions that constitute alarm within the psyche of these women, as they navigate their courtship experiences. Austen brings to the novel genre fully developed explorations of love feelings and the reserve issue pertaining to the state of women’s affections. Although she often presents her heroines with the traditional choice between a sincere and a pseudo-suitor, the false men rarely pose the danger of rape, abduction,

Enriching and Mocking Tradition  73 or fatal heartbreak. In the same way, tyrannical parent figures at times cause distress but usually do not constitute a genuine threat, since their power is minimized in deftly ironic and humorous ways. Of all the heroines in Austen’s major novels, Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility faces the gravest physical, emotional, and social danger. By demonstrating how Marianne’s emotional wounding seriously jeopardizes her physical health, Austen seems to echo conduct book writers’ warnings against the hazards of a broken heart. 3 Marianne’s story reads like a cautionary tale, as she suffers consequences stemming from overindulgence of feelings, lack of reserve, and impulsive actions with the dashing young man who seems to be actively courting her. Readers learn about the pitfalls of judging from appearances, when the ostensibly chivalric figure becomes a nearly lethal agent in Marianne’s destruction. Marianne is literally swept off her feet when the seemingly perfect John Willoughby enters the novel by carrying the injured young lady to the safety of her family’s cottage. Believing she has found her ideal mate, Marianne allows her passions full reign and is thus shattered when Willoughby deserts her for the rich woman he feels compelled to marry. Marianne’s lack of “command over herself” (82) not only makes her vulnerable to being pitied by her community as a victim of unrequited love or possibly even seduction, but also leads to illness that generates a great deal of “alarm” within her loved ones. Through use of danger words in this context, Austen energetically ridicules extreme romantic sensibility. Marianne is described as “court[ing] the misery which a contrast between the past and present was certain of giving” and being “left” in “no danger of incurring” the “disgrace” resulting from “composure” (83). Austen’s sarcastic use of the words “danger” and “disgrace” here discredits Marianne’s opinion that reserve is a phony social construct, meaningless in the face of genuine feeling. In spite of noting that Austen “may not let a heroine fall from virtue,” LeRoy Smith captures, in the following terms, the particular peril Marianne faces in her whirlwind courtship experience: “In her reckless flirtation with the sexually aggressive Willoughby, an immoderate and imprudent Marianne skirts sexual ‘ruin’ and social disgrace” (76). Awaiting Willoughby’s visit in London, Marianne stays home in order not to “run the risk of his calling” (170), while she is out. Use of the word “risk” here highlights the depth of Marianne’s dependency on Willoughby, for his absence chiefly endangers her, and in her “excessive affliction” (180), she is “unfit for anything” (169). The essence of the ballroom scene in which Marianne finally confronts Willoughby is so well captured in Rachel Brownstein’s observation that “the social and psychological dangers of showing feeling are excruciatingly dramatized” (44). In the course of Marianne’s suffering, a great many of the danger/ safety words used by Austen are filtered through Elinor’s consciousness. By using this vantage point, Austen emphasizes both Elinor’s traditional

74  Enriching and Mocking Tradition upholding of womanly reserve and her role as her sister’s protector. For example, when Marianne and Elinor are invited to London, Elinor decides she must accompany her sister, “as she did not think it proper that Marianne should be left to the sole guidance of her own judgment” (156–157), if she were to encounter Willoughby. When this encounter takes place, Elinor’s efforts to save her sister’s dignity and reputation escalate. Sensing her sister’s extreme emotion, Elinor utters the words, “Pray, pray, be composed . . . and do not “betray” what you feel to every body present” (176). As Marianne nearly faints, Elinor “trie[s] to screen her from the observation of others, while reviving her with lavendar water” (177). Upon learning that Marianne and Willoughby are not secretly engaged and reading Marianne’s passionate letters to her lover, Elinor “silently grie[ves] over the imprudence which had hazarded such unsolicited proofs of tenderness, not warranted by anything preceding” (188). Acutely aware of her society’s rules, Elinor is appalled that Marianne so recklessly displays her unrequited love. Earnestly attempting damage control, Elinor tries to discourage Mrs. Jennings from gossiping about her sister’s heartbreak, suggesting that “it can only do harm” (196). As guardian, Elinor not only encourages self-exertion on Marianne’s part but also acts as a buffer between her despairing sister and the threat posed by Willoughby’s presence. She “guard[s] her sister from ever hearing Willoughby’s name mentioned” (214) and only after “there [can] be no danger” (217) of Marianne’s seeing either Willoughby or his bride, does Elinor persuade her sister to go out again. Later when Marianne becomes gravely ill, Elinor remains a dedicated nurse, rarely leaving her sister’s side. During Marianne’s recovery period, Elinor continues her protector role by hesitating to broach the subject of Willoughby’s visit. The narrator’s solemn tone, at this juncture, highlights the gravity of Elinor’s concern. Viewing the time of her dreaded narrative as “the evil hour,” Elinor “resolve[s] to wait till her sister’s health [is] more secure, before she appoint[s] it” (343–344). When Elinor finally finds the right moment for “hazarding her narration” (347), she “prepare[s] her anxious listener with caution,” supplying details only “where minuteness could be safely indulged” (348). To preserve Marianne’s present peace of mind, Elinor withholds the newly married Willoughby’s ill-timed passionate declarations of love for her sister. When Marianne later learns that this fleshly embodiment of her dreams has seduced and abandoned Colonel Brandon’s young ward, she recognizes the social precipice upon which she has been tottering. She perceives how her “most shamefully unguarded affection” could have “expose[d]” her to ruin and her unrestrained indulgence of “feelings” and lack of “fortitude” might have resulted in lasting “misery” for her mother and sister. Once she recovers her physical health, she also acknowledges that her sensible, considerate sister is the model she ought

Enriching and Mocking Tradition  75 to have followed all along. Summing up her misguided behavior and its dire consequences, she says, “I did not know my danger till the danger was removed” (345–346). As a paragon of feminine reserve, Elinor endures experiences in the world of love that lack the overt drama of Marianne’s and the attention-getting power of the dual-suitor pattern. However, Austen gives full play to Elinor’s internal recognition of peril. Repeatedly, words like “danger,” “alarm,” and “risk” appear in the context of Elinor’s struggle to conceal her love for Edward Ferrars and manage the intense pain of his clandestine engagement to Lucy Stone. In cultivating a habit of quiet dignity that masks her inner life, Elinor resembles fictional counterparts such as Richardson’s Pamela and Harriet Byron and Burney’s Evelina, but the ways in which Austen’s heroine navigates her emotional danger set her apart. Internal danger emerges for Elinor once she leaves Norland and is separated from Edward Ferrars. She is greatly distressed when Mrs. Jennings attempts to tease out information regarding her love interest and little sister, Margaret, reveals there is a man whose name begins with “F.” In this embarrassing social situation, Elinor is “thrown” into a state of “alarm” from which she does “not so easily . . . recover” (62). When Lucy Steele discloses details of her secret four-year engagement to Edward, Elinor’s apprehension of heart-wholeness loss intensifies. The numerous references to alarm and contrasting words such as safety and security in conversations between Elinor and Lucy not only reveal Austen’s talent for capturing the irony inherent in everyday situations, but even more significantly highlight Elinor’s refreshingly human quality and ability to manage skirmishes on the courtship battlefield. Beneath a veneer of cordial exchange seethes genuine dislike and rivalry on both sides. The part Elinor plays in these scenes shows both her self-protective strategy for fighting emotional danger and her non-nurturing behavior toward someone she accurately perceives as hypocritical. Motivated to deflate her rival’s hopes, Lucy pretends to seek Elinor’s guidance when she reveals her engagement to Edward. Although Elinor genuinely assures Lucy that her “secret is safe,” she comes close to taunting Lucy by expressing surprise that she would jeopardize the “safety” (132) of such a significant secret by disclosing it to a relative stranger. Nonplussed, Lucy explains that she needs a trustworthy confidante since her own sister keeps her “in “constant fear” of being “betray[ed]” (133). Ironically, the person most betrayed in this scenario is Elinor rather than Lucy, and Elinor is the one called upon to protect a woman she neither likes nor respects. Although devastated by the news she receives, Elinor never loses self-control in Lucy’s presence. While her “security” sinks, “her self-command” does not (131), and “though her complexion varie[s],” unlike Marianne, she feels “in no danger of an hysterical fit” (129).

76  Enriching and Mocking Tradition Upon seeing Edward’s letter to Lucy, Elinor is “almost overcome” and can “hardly stand,” yet considers “exertion” absolutely “necessary” to keep her inner turmoil from Lucy’s searching gaze (134). As the facts substantiating Lucy and Edward’s engagement become “indisputable and alarming” (139), the perilous interchanges between the two women continue. Intuiting Lucy’s underlying insecurity with Edward, Elinor, ever the sincere caretaker among her loved ones, does not hesitate to trouble, rather than soothe, her rival, as they talk. When Lucy animatedly attests to Edward’s loyalty, indicating that a long clandestine engagement with “almost every other man . . . would be an alarming prospect” (147), Elinor’s response seems calculated to promote the “alarming prospect” that Lucy’s façade conceals: “If the strength of your reciprocal attachment had failed, as between many people and under many circumstances it naturally would during a four years’ engagement, your situation would have been pitiable indeed” (147). The somewhat sinister nature of Elinor’s comment is suggested by how “careful” she is “in guarding her countenance from every expression that could give her words a suspicious tendency” (147). Elinor’s lack of saintliness with Lucy is highlighted by Marvin Mudrick when he refers to Elinor’s “claws” (74) and by Margaret Doody when she notes that Elinor’s “discretion has its demonic side” (“Introduction,” xviii). Even though Elinor temporarily diverges from her characterization as a gentle, caring woman in these scenes with Lucy, her reserve is rewarded. When Lucy’s engagement to Edward becomes public, Elinor avoids the tarnished reputation of a woman victimized by unrequited love. Yet, she still needs to fight internal peril because her love and hopes for a union with Edward persist. John Dashwood’s tactless assurances that Mrs. Ferrars now would prefer Elinor to the lower-class Lucy as a mate for Edward serve only to “agitate” Elinor’s “nerves” (297), so that when their conversation is cut short, she is relieved “from the danger of hearing any thing more from her brother” (298). Before the public revelation of Edward and Lucy’s engagement, Elinor chiefly copes by suffering alone with her “heavy blow” (141). She actually prefers withholding “the communication of what would give such affliction” to her mother and sister (141). In telling us that Elinor needs to “guard every suspicion of the truth from her mother and sisters,” Austen emphasizes not only Elinor’s mindfulness of others’ pain but also her awareness that her family members’ charged responses would jeopardize her peace of mind. Elinor also deals with emotional danger by minimizing her own pain in contrast to the distress she imagines Edward must feel in being bound to a selfish, shallow woman that he likely no longer loves. Pride and Prejudice’s Elizabeth Bennet combines the spunkiness of Marianne with Elinor’s solid sense of integrity. However, when viewed from the vantage point of danger/safety language, Elizabeth seems to be

Enriching and Mocking Tradition  77 an even more complex character than either of the Dashwood sisters, in the ways she grows, as she negotiates the hazards of her world. Like Elinor, Elizabeth views marriage without affection, companionship, and shared values as a perilous enterprise. Her sentiments are particularly evident in her reaction to her best friend Charlotte Lucas’ decision to marry the foolish, pompous Mr. Collins for practical reasons. Declaring, in a conversation with her sister, that Charlotte’s choice defies the very “meaning of principle and integrity” (135–136), Elizabeth refuses to accept the notion that “selfishness is prudence, and insensibility of danger” is “security for happiness” (136). While Elizabeth holds out for the true love match and readers are likely to applaud her value system, she is ultimately open-minded enough to acknowledge that Charlotte has crafted a secure life for herself as Mrs. Collins. Like so many of her eighteenth-century counterparts, Austen’s heroine must distinguish between the right and wrong suitor. Despite her cleverness, Elizabeth is initially quite charmed by the wrong suitor but repulsed by the right one and needs to gradually absorb all the complexities of the truth. In her growth process, she stands out as a woman who makes full use of her discernment and reasoning powers while also effectively keeping emotional danger from entering her consciousness. Elizabeth’s reflections on the charming, attentive Wickham are peppered with indirect and qualified references to heart danger. Having “dressed” for the Netherfield ball “with more than usual care” (89) and expecting to achieve “the conquest of all that remained unsubdued of [Wickham’s] heart” (89), a disappointed Elizabeth recognizes that her “certainty of meeting him had not been checked by any of those recollections that might reasonably have alarmed her” (89). As she links Darcy’s presence to her favorite’s absence, she experiences a “dreadful suspicion” of Wickham’s being “purposely omitted for Mr. Darcy’s pleasure” (89). The words “alarmed” and “dreadful” suggest that Elizabeth stands on the verge of damage to her peace of mind and that anxiety from this dawning emotional danger may be fueling her resentment toward Darcy. Elizabeth’s witty observation that she has the power to conquer Wickham’s heart seems to be one of the ways she defends her heart and denies her vulnerability. When Mrs. Gardiner hears Elizabeth’s “warm commendation” (142) of Wickham and witnesses their preference for each other’s company, she warns her niece against encouraging this attachment, given the “want of fortune” (144) on both sides. In advising Lizzy to be on her “guard” (144), she emphasizes Mr. Bennet’s expectations, saying “your father” depends on your “good conduct” and “You must not disappoint your father” (144), thus signaling the social nature of Elizabeth’s choices. In her light-hearted and equivocal response, Elizabeth reassures her aunt that she “need not be under any alarm” (144), yet never promises not to marry Wickham and can only agree “not [to] be in a hurry to believe

78  Enriching and Mocking Tradition [herself] his first object” (145). Lizzy’s message here reflects either her strong attraction to Wickham or her half-formed desire to break free from societal constraints on women’s choice of the best mate. When, in this conversation, the heroine also asserts that “At present, I am not in love with Mr. Wickham; no, I certainly am not” (144), one wonders why she needs to be so emphatic. She also reveals the pitch of her emotions when she proclaims Darcy as “abominable” (181) for leaving Wickham without the financial means he would need to support a wife. In spite of signs that Elizabeth has fallen for Wickham, when she notices that he is “render[ing] himself agreeable” (149) to someone else, we are told she “could see it and write of it without material pain” (149), for her “heart” has been “but slightly touched” (149). When she learns that Wickham is courting an heiress with ten thousand pounds, she considers this turn of events quite “natural,” “very sincerely wish[es] him happy” (150), and shows no resentment toward her female rival. Monitoring her own reaction, she communicates to her aunt, in a sprightly satirical manner, that clearly distinguishes her from the pining lovesick maidens of other courtship novels: “My watchfulness has been effectual; and though I should certainly be a more interesting object to all my acquaintance, were I distractedly in love with him, I cannot say I regret my comparative insignificance. Importance may sometimes be purchased too dearly” (150). From these words, it is clear that Elizabeth’s comic perspective on the courtship process constitutes her most crucial weapon against the hazards that threaten a heroine’s heart. Her reference to her own effective “watchfulness” also reflects her confidence that she can function as her own guardian. Despite Elizabeth’s positive and protective stance toward Wickham in the early stages of their relationship, when she learns of his duplicity in his dealings with the Darcy family, she recognizes the full extent of his treachery. However, she keeps her comments light when speaking with Lydia regarding the abrupt ending of Wickham’s short-lived pursuit of the wealthy Miss King. In response to Lydia’s comment that “There  s no danger of Wickham’s marrying Miss King” and that “Wickham is safe,” Elizabeth wittily turns the tables by declaring, “And Mary King is safe! . . . safe from a connection imprudent as to fortune” (220). In her seemingly flippant manner, Elizabeth implies that choosing the wrong marriage partner is a serious business, especially for women. In contrast to Lydia’s superficial linking of danger language to Miss King’s lack of beauty, the meaning imbedded in Elizabeth’s words involves the grave danger of being tied to a duplicitous fortune-hunter. This exchange between sisters becomes strikingly ironic when we later learn of Lydia’s scandalous flight with Wickham. While Elizabeth expresses relief regarding the safety of a woman she hardly knows, she does not share vital information on Wickham’s past knavery that might have prevented serious harm to her sister and family.

Enriching and Mocking Tradition  79 As Elizabeth’s relationship with Darcy develops, we see her as the same undaunted heroine she was with Wickham. In fact, in relation to Darcy, there is a distinct absence of direct references to danger within Elizabeth’s consciousness for a large part of the novel. When Darcy asks Elizabeth to dance at the Netherfield ball, Charlotte encourages her, saying, “I dare say you will find him very agreeable” (90), but Elizabeth boldly contradicts her friend, highlighting the fact that loss of the pride she has in her judgments poses a far greater threat than any love danger: “Heaven forbid!—That would be the greatest misfortune of all! To find a man agreeable whom one is determined to hate!—Do not wish me such an evil” (90). Ironically, this is exactly the “evil” Elizabeth must eventually face, and it is an evil that becomes the source of great good fortune for both heroine and hero. Elizabeth is also oblivious to any danger for herself when she interacts with Darcy during her stay at Hunsford. Here, she focuses quite a bit on her sister Jane’s distress over the loss of her suitor, Charles Bingley, and when Colonel Fitzwilliam reveals that his cousin, Darcy, “saved” Bingley from “a most imprudent marriage” (185), Elizabeth angrily ruminates over “all” that Jane has “suffered” (186). Based on the Colonel’s revelation, she views Darcy as the one who has not only “ruined for a while” her beloved sister’s “every hope of happiness” but also has possibly “inflicted” an “evil” that is “lasting” (186). Indicators of Elizabeth’s personal alarm in relation to more positive feelings for Darcy begin emerging for readers, but not yet for Elizabeth, following his initial marriage proposal. Although she is angered by Darcy’s “abominable” (193) pride during this proposal, after he leaves, “the tumult of her mind” is “painfully great” (193) and she “crie[s] for half an hour” (193). Yet, despite her intense emotional reaction, she shows no awareness of why she is so upset. Later when Elizabeth learns she will be touring the Pemberley estate with her aunt and uncle, the word “alarm” appears at least three times to convey her anxiety over accidentally meeting Darcy there. Having learned to view him in a more positive light and acutely aware of having so rudely accused him of dishonorable behavior in the past, she anticipates feeling “dreadful” (240) mortification at being discovered admiring his home. However, despite her intense concern regarding Darcy’s view of her, she does not seem to recognize any romantic inclinations. Elizabeth becomes aware for the first time of her romantic attachment to Darcy when word of Lydia and Wickham’s “dishonourable elopement” (283) arrives while she is still visiting in his neighborhood. Yet, in these intense moments, Elizabeth’s internal state in relation to her feelings for Darcy is conveyed through words suggesting deep mortification and “regret” (279) rather than danger. Stricken with sorrow and virtually incapacitated, Elizabeth impulsively and uncharacteristically shares what she calls the “dreadful news” (277) with a very concerned

80  Enriching and Mocking Tradition and shaken Mr. Darcy. When he departs with a look of gloom, she assumes that she had lost his regard forever because of “Lydia’s infamy” (279) and her family’s “deepest disgrace” (278). At the instant when she believes their relationship is at an end, she finally “understands her own wishes,” and the narrator frames Elizabeth’s understanding in these words: “never had she so honestly felt that she could have loved him, as now, when all love must be vain” (278). What is interesting to note here is just as she comes closest to love danger, her consciousness immediately shifts from “self” to the social peril of her entire family—the “humiliation” and “misery” (278) they all are experiencing as a unit. Elizabeth’s resistance to personal love danger links her to a long line of female protagonists and conduct book advisers.4 Yet, she seems to be more fully capable of detaching from her amorous feelings than most of her fictional counterparts, aided as she is by her sprightly sense of selfassurance, pride, and family loyalty. Like her earlier prominent concern over Jane’s heartbreak, Elizabeth now becomes preoccupied with the dire consequences of Lydia’s elopement situation, functioning as a moderating presence in her suffering family. Witnessing turmoil at home, Elizabeth is not only dismayed to learn that Lydia has seen “no harm” in going off with Wickham (291) but also reacts with “amazement” at her sister Mary’s dispassionate conduct-book reference to Lydia’s “endless ruin” (289). Elizabeth’s reaction to Mary suggests her own as well as Austen’s distaste not only for individuals who lack compassion but also for the voices of authority that self-righteously proclaim the fallen woman’s tragic fate.5 Despite her intense focus on family problems, Elizabeth does register some internal apprehension of danger that is tied to her love for Darcy. Conscious of her despondency, she is now fully aware that she would have been better able to bear her extreme anxiety regarding Lydia’s fate, if she were not having regrets related to Darcy. When Darcy and Bingley return to Elizabeth’s neighborhood close to the novel’s end, she experiences an even higher degree of dismay, yet still demonstrates valiant efforts to protect herself against emotional danger. She buffets between hope that Darcy will repeat his proposal and her scornful dismissal of this hope. Not feeling “secure” that Darcy’s “affection and wishes” remain “unshaken” (334), Elizabeth becomes “enraged against herself at being so silly!” (341) in desiring more of his attention. She also draws upon her comic perspective as a shield, when she obliquely alludes to her own situation in a conversation with Jane. After warning her sister to “take care” (339) when Bingley visits and hearing Jane respond with the words, “you cannot think me so weak, as to be in danger now,” Elizabeth counters with “I think you are in a very great danger of making him as much in love with you as ever” (339). Through playfully fashioning her sister as the danger-maker rather than the victim, Elizabeth seems to express her own wish regarding Darcy.

Enriching and Mocking Tradition  81 By including Elizabeth’s tone of bravado here, Austen draws attention away from the intensity of Elizabeth’s investment in her own love story and keeps intact the distinctly attractive strength of what was to become her most memorable female protagonist. Like Elinor Dashwood and Jane Bennet, Fanny Price, in Mansfield Park, suffers the perils of love in private. Unlike Elizabeth Bennet, Fanny is acutely aware of her own heart danger throughout most of Mansfield Park. As the poor relative receiving charity, Fanny feels compelled to guard closely the secret of her romantic attachment to her cousin, Edmund Bertram. Although she faces Sir Thomas Bertram’s judgments and Aunt Norris’ cruel jabs, she experiences the most emotionally intense danger when she fears her love for Edmund will be revealed and when she perceives changes in Edmund once he succumbs to Mary Crawford’s charms. While Mary’s presence as rival poses a threat to Fanny, Mary’s corrupting influence within Edmund’s life seems even more disturbing to the heroine. Ironically, the anti-hero suitor, Henry Crawford, never constitutes a viable threat of harm to Fanny. However, because she rejects Henry’s persistent wooing, she not only faces the danger of losing of Edmund’s regard but also encounters the disapproval of every parent figure in the Mansfield household. Fanny spends years worshipping Edmund as her most staunch ally and unfailing moral guide, and his infatuation with Mary Crawford and unqualified admiration for her brother, Henry, threaten not only to undermine the heroine’s harmonious relationship with Edmund but also to damage his sacrosanct image. This sense of threat is apparent when Fanny feels in “some danger of dissimilarity” (64) between her opinion and Edward’s. Fanny’s reluctance to disagree with Edmund is also evident when she “only hazard[s] a hint” of her “censure” regarding Henry Crawford’s trifling with the Bertram sisters (115) and when she decides it is “safer to say nothing” (199) in response to Edmund’s assumption that his father will admire Mary for all her positive qualities. Fanny’s interior universe fills with turbulence during the planned amateur theatrical performance of Lovers’ Vows at the Bertram estate. While Fanny experiences “danger” (159) of being judged as selfish for refusing to participate, she feels far more deeply imperiled when she learns that Edmund has reluctantly decided to play a part in order to protect Mary Crawford’s reputation. In this context, we are told that the “doubts and alarms” (156) she feels regarding her own choice pale in comparison to the “deeper anxiety” (157) caused by the possibility that Edmund is “wrong,” “deceiving himself,” and “inconsistent” (156). As the plans move forward, Fanny finds it impossible to “acquit” Edmund of “his unsteadiness” yet also experiences a mixture of “jealousy and agitation” (159). Despite a secure sense of her own moral compass, she faces the double risk of losing her cherished view of Edmund along with her prized place in his affections.

82  Enriching and Mocking Tradition “Dreading” (167) a passionate scene that Mary and Edmund are about to enact in Lover’s Vows, Fanny is alarmed when Edmund and Mary coincidentally meet in her attic apartment to rehearse their lines. Ironically, within her most secure haven at Mansfield Park, Fanny cannot in “safety” offer this couple “particulars” regarding their performance (170) and must conceal her heartbreak at witnessing Edmund’s further descent from his pedestal. The hazardous nature of this love triangle for Fanny continues to be evident when she anticipates the advantages of getting far away from Mansfield Park for a while. Desiring to escape her painful role as Edmund’s confidante, she imagines being “safe from the perpetual irritation of knowing his heart, and striving to avoid his confidence” (370). When Henry Crawford, the suitor with the unsavory character, begins wooing Fanny, she faces a new set of hazards. Having witnessed his unprincipled behavior with the Bertram sisters, Fanny is mostly surprised and repulsed, but manifests no fear of this anti-hero himself. Despite the potency of Henry’s charms that may have made it difficult for Fanny to “escape heart-whole from the courtship of such a man,” her “heart” is “guarded in a way unsuspected” (231). Ironically, Fanny’s unrequited love for Edmund that has been causing so much pain provides an effective shield against Henry’s arduous pursuit. The most palpable danger Fanny faces from Henry’s pursuit derives mainly from her fear of incurring the displeasure of Sir Bertram, Edmund, and Mary, who all fervently desire that this match take place. While Fanny experiences “habitual dread” (176) in Lord Bertram’s presence, she also recognizes his concern for her welfare. Her gratefulness coupled with a sense of awe combines to cause agony when he begins to pressure her to accept Henry’s marriage proposal. Lord Bertram expresses dismay at Fanny’s intention to “refuse” (315) Mr. Crawford and questions if her affections are already engaged. This inquiry precipitates an intense struggle within Fanny who “would rather die than own the truth” (317). In his questioning, Sir Thomas mentions his two sons, and it is clear that he has some momentary “alarm” (317) that Fanny’s affections may be tied to one of them. As he continues advocating Crawford’s suit, his presence as a threat to Fanny increases. He accuses Fanny of selfishness, ingratitude, and violation of duty in her refusal of Henry, recognizing that these indictments constitute a powerful weapon against his gentle, humble niece. In like measure, Fanny endures the pain of Edmund’s interference on Henry’s behalf and his emphasis on how “very angry” and “hurt” Mary is (352) regarding Fanny’s rejection of her brother. At this time, Fanny views Mary’s visits as a “formidable threat” and considers her “in every way” to be “an object of painful alarm” (356). Besides being in continual terror” (356) of encountering Mary’s aggressive arguments in favor of her brother, Fanny dreads Mary’s “happiness”

Enriching and Mocking Tradition  83 in feeling “secure” of Edmund’s love (356). Through showing the potent sense of threat experienced by Fanny regarding this unsuitable mate for the man she loves, Austen captures the intricate melding of her heroine’s staunch value system and very human jealousy. The most extreme danger wording within Fanny’s psyche emerges when she learns of the public disgrace that has descended upon the Bertram family. Discovering from a newspaper account that Maria has “quitted her husband’s roof in company” with Henry Crawford (440), Fanny “pass[es] only from feelings of sickness to shudderings of horror” (441) and describes what has occurred as “too gross a complication of evil” (441). As she imagines the sensitive and upright Edmund’s suffering from this scandal, she believes that it is “dangerous, perhaps, to tread such ground” (441). When she immediately returns to thoughts of Edmund as well as his whole family, she even believes that “instant annihilation” would be their “greatest blessing” (442). Fanny’s reactions seem so exaggerated at this point that we may wonder if we are expected to be appalled by the specter of sexual misconduct, or to laugh at the excessiveness of the virtuous heroine’s response. Fanny senses peril of a far different nature upon receiving a letter from Edmund telling her that he is coming to bring her home to Mansfield Park. Feeling that she is now “in the greatest danger of being exquisitely happy, while so many were miserable” (443), Fanny shows how her view of self is momentarily jeopardized. Preserving her own integrity is as essential as retaining her ideal image of Edmund, and as a proper nineteenth-century woman, she is expected to be a paragon of selfless devotion. Emma Woodhouse, in the novel that bears her name, experiences social danger in a way that is unique among Austen’s other female protagonists, although she does, like Elizabeth Bennet, journey to fuller self-knowledge. Austen characterizes Emma as a privileged heiress who experiences sensations of alarm in relation to social class issues, particularly when scheming to obtain what she believes will be a proper match for her protégé, Harriet Smith. Causing mischief to herself and others, Emma allows her imagination to lead her astray as she embellishes upon romantic rescue scenes involving women other than herself. Emma’s distortions become another way in which Austen ironically comments on formulaic dangers within traditional courtship novels. In much the same way as Elizabeth does with Wickham, Emma skims the surface of potential hazard with pseudo-suitor, Frank Churchill. Engaging in a flirtation with Frank, she play-acts the role of the courted lady while never expecting a serious outcome. Thus, when his clandestine engagement to Jane Fairfax is revealed, her heart remains unscathed. Yet, people who care about Emma’s welfare such as Mrs. Weston and Mr. Knightley feel alarm at the heartbreak they assume she is experiencing.

84  Enriching and Mocking Tradition Emma’s other pseudo-suitor, Mr. Elton, carries on his courtship without Emma realizing that she is the object of his attentions. So focused on pairing Harriet with this man and viewing him as beneath her own class level, Emma fails to recognize the risky game she is playing, until the evening when Mr. Elton “seize[s] her “hand” and “actually make[s] violent love to her” (129), exclaiming in a cliché phrase that he is “ready to die if she refuse[s] him” (129). Employing a common trope in the courtship and seduction fiction of her predecessors, Austen stages Mr. Elton’s most unwelcome proposal in a coach occupied by only these two passengers. However, instead of supplying an attempted rape or abduction scenario, Austen highlights Emma’s dismay at the grievous miscalculations she has been making. Moreover, Emma does not faint nor lose self-control and delivers her refusals in a calm, assertive manner, never revealing any alarm at Mr. Elton’s importuning physical presence. In fact, Austen provides a humorous counterpoint to Emma’s dignified demeanor by capturing the helpless sense of terror that Mr.  Woodhouse experiences regarding the inclement weather that evening. When Emma returns home, Austen describes “the utmost delight” (132) of Mr. Woodhouse, “who [has] been trembling for the dangers of a solitary drive from the Vicarage lane—turning a corner which he could never bear to think of—” (133). Obsessed with the perils of a snowy roadway, Mr.  Woodhouse has no clue of the more significant source of distress his daughter has encountered. Although Emma is shocked by Mr. Elton’s love declarations, she has already sensed that something is very much amiss. During the dinner party preceding the ride home, Emma considers Mr. Elton’s overly solicitous comments directed toward her as “Absurd and insufferable” (118), and is disturbed that he appears “more anxious that she should escape the infection” than he is worried about Harriet’s illness. Taking liberties, he, “with great earnestness” (124–125), beseeches Emma “to promise him not to venture into such hazard” by refraining from visiting Harriet, until it is safe to do so (125). Judging Mr. Elton’s protective gestures as presumptuous, Emma draws two unsavory conclusions—that this man’s actions look “exactly like the pretence of being in love with her” (125) and that he is “assuming to himself the right of first interest in her” (125). Austen’s language choice here not only lampoons Mr. Elton’s insincere usage of stereotypical courtship rhetoric but also satirizes the way that the traditional male prerogative of protection can so easily morph into unwelcome possessiveness. Like Elizabeth Bennet, Emma, in relation to the novel’s ultimately successful suitor, keeps the truth of personal love feelings at bay for quite a while. Only toward the end of the novel does she realize her desire to be Mr. Knightley’s wife. However, Austen’s use of danger language provides hints of Emma’s romantic attachment well before the novel’s conclusion. For example, when Mrs. Weston speculates that

Enriching and Mocking Tradition  85 Mr. Knightley may be considering Jane Fairfax as a mate, Emma vehemently objects, convincing herself that her “alarm” (230) derives from the prospect of her nephew’s loss of inheritance if his uncle marries. Also, when Mr. Knightley chastises Emma for insulting Miss Bates, her distress is palpable. However, her sense of danger reaches its highest pitch when she hears Harriet Smith claim that marriage to Mr. K nightley is a distinct possibility. At this moment, Emma awaits “in great terror” (405) for her friend’s revelations, and, with the sudden pain of “an arrow” that is “dart[ing] through her” (408), recognizes at last that her own love for Mr. Knightley is the reason why she is so upset. Striving to remain outwardly composed, Emma experiences “a burst of threatening evil” (409). Recalling instances of Mr. Knightley’s admiration for Harriet, Emma feels as if everything that constitutes safety in her world is disintegrating. While the barrage of danger words capturing Emma’s state of mind initially reflects her classist fears, her alarm grows more personal. At first, she focuses on how an unequal match with Harriet will jeopardize Knightley’s future dignity and happiness. With further soul-searching, however, Emma not only becomes fully conscious of her love for Knightley but also faces the angst of her past errors. She recognizes that if she had not prevented Harriet “from marrying the unexceptionable young man who would have made her happy and respectable in the line of life to which she ought to belong—all would have been safe; none of this dreadful sequel would have been” (413–414). As her feelings intensify, Emma views herself as “threatened” with the loss of a “happiness” that “depend[s] on being first with Mr. Knightley” (415). She also recognizes that if she were “secure” in the knowledge that Mr. Knightley would remain single forever, she “could be perfectly satisfied” (416). Thinking that marriage is not a viable option anyway because it would hurt her father, Emma believes that “her peace would be fully secured” (416) if she knew that the “precious intercourse of friendship and confidence” she has enjoyed with Mr. Knightley would continue. Anxiously awaiting Mr. Knightley’s return from London and contemplating her “ruined happiness” (422), Emma views the “prospect before her now” as “threatening to a degree that could not be entirely dispelled” (422). The understated quality of these last words suggests Emma’s attempt to stay controlled even in the face of deep anguish, and this capacity for a self-control that eschews the excesses of sensibility carries rewards for several of Austen’s female protagonists. When Emma and Knightley finally do converse, words such as “dread” (425) capture the heroine’s fear that the man she loves will broach the subject of his desire to marry Harriet. Within this context, “dread” seems tied to Emma’s fear that she will dissolve into a flood of tears in Knightley’s company. Ironically during their talk, Knightley experiences “anxiety” as well, but over a completely different matter. Because he

86  Enriching and Mocking Tradition believes that Emma is heartbroken over Frank Churchill’s engagement,” he “endeavor[s] . . . to soothe or to counsel her” (432), but Emma has no need for this sort of comforting since, as she tells Knightley, she has not been “injured” and is, in fact, “somehow or other safe” from any harm that Frank might inflict (427). With the issue of Frank out of the way, Knightley, at last, declares his love for Emma, but before he does so, her caretaking instincts as his true friend become evident. Unable to “bear” giving “him pain” (429), she steels herself to listen closely to whatever “dreaded” news he may deliver regarding Harriet. When viewed through the lens of danger/safety language, we can see that one of the most striking aspects of this climactic “proposal” scene is the hero and heroine’s mutually protective behavior. In Persuasion, Austen employs danger language not only to reveal key elements of Anne Elliot’s value system and sense of protectiveness toward Captain Wentworth, but most frequently to convey her dread of exposing her intense feelings for this man, especially in the company of Lady Russell. By focusing on Anne’s particular vulnerability to Lady Russell’s critical eye, Austen virtually transforms this fundamentally caring woman into the stereotypic tyrant figure. At the beginning of the novel, readers learn that, eight years earlier, Anne broke her engagement to Captain Wentworth, and while Sir Walter voiced opposition to the marriage, Lady Russell’s persuasive powers resulted in Anne’s reluctant withdrawal of her promise to marry the dashing young hero. When Wentworth re-enters Anne’s life after his sister and brother-in-law rent the Elliots’ Kellynch estate, Anne dreads Lady Russell’s continuing negative view of him. Even more alarming for Anne is the possibility that Lady Russell’s penetrating gaze will detect signs of Anne’s agitation and continuing attachment to her former fiancé. She fears that if Lady Russell were to see her with Wentworth, “she might think that he had too much self-possession, and she too little” (93). While Anne wants to avoid meeting Wentworth in the very places they courted in the past, she is “yet more anxious for the possibility of Lady Russell and Captain Wentworth never meeting anywhere” (93). When “all danger to Anne of . . . seeing” Wentworth “in company with her friend” ceases (128) for a while, the narrator tells us that “Every thing [is] safe enough” (128). Yet, Anne’s security in Lady Russell’s company is jeopardized shortly thereafter during a conversation at the home of Anne’s sister, Mary, and her husband Charles Musgrove. Anticipating that Lady Russell will condemn Wentworth’s role in Louisa Musgrove’s accident during the Lyme episode, Anne “hazard[s] no enquires” regarding him, but bemoans the fact that she cannot prevent “voluntary communication sufficient” from Mary or Charles (133). Danger resurfaces in Bath when Anne again dwells on a possible meeting between Lady Russell and Wentworth. Walking with her friend

Enriching and Mocking Tradition  87 down a busy street, Anne becomes extremely tense upon noticing Captain Wentworth from a distance and “anxiously” awaits Lady Russell’s reaction. Contrary to Anne’s expectations, Lady Russell’s attention is focused on finding the “window curtains” she has heard are “the best hung of any in Bath” (179). The reader’s merriment at this odd juxtaposition mingles with Anne’s embarrassment at “this waste of foresight and caution” (179). The pattern of alarm and safety language pertaining to the AnneWentworth-Lady Russell triangle invites readers to reflect more deeply on the heroine’s complex inner world. On the one hand, Anne’s desire to preserve an appearance of heart-wholeness harks back to the reserve rule that compels proper ladies to keep their love feelings in check, a rule observed so fully by Elinor Dashwood and Fanny Price. On the other hand, Anne’s high level of anxiety aroused by Lady Russell may be linked to re-visiting a past, regretted decision and to experiencing an underlying hope that she could have a second chance with a man that her honored friend still may not regard as suitable husband material. The paradoxical use of danger words related to Anne’s contrasting view of her two suitors, Wentworth and Mr. William Elliot, also involves Lady Russell and highlights the fact that the younger woman’s judgment is superior to that of the person who has been functioned as her primary wisdom figure. Even though Anne exerts an enormous amount of energy to prevent a public display of her charged emotional state, she never views Wentworth as a danger to herself, contrary to Lady Russell’s impression of the man. In fact, his spontaneity and engaging frank manner are far more trustworthy and alluring to Anne than Mr. Eliot’s “calm, decided temper, not at all open to dangerous impressions” (196). Yet Mr. Eliot’s polished demeanor and conversation figure largely in Lady Russell’s endorsement of him as a suitor. As with most of her earlier novels, the pseudo-suitor in Persuasion does not pose a serious threat to the heroine’s virtue or physical wellbeing even though he functions as an impediment within the narrative. Despite his charm and persistence, Mr. Elliot can never win Anne’s heart, yet his intrusive presence does become an “evil” (191) at times when Anne desires to connect with Wentworth. Anne’s use of danger/ safety terminology in relation to her two suitors clarifies the values that drive her decision-making process. In response to Wentworth’s confession of his fear that Anne might have been drawn into a marriage with the eligible Mr. Elliot, Anne sets forth the following credo: If I was wrong, in yielding to Persuasion once, remember that it was to Persuasion exerted on the side of Safety, not of Risk. When I yielded, I thought it was to Duty.—But no Duty could be called in aid here.—In marrying a Man indifferent to me, all Risk would have been incurred, & all Duty violated. (267)

88  Enriching and Mocking Tradition This crucial statement shows the reader that Anne’s moral compass and trustworthy instincts function as her most effective guides in the courtship arena. The heroine’s unequivocal message that marrying without love or admiration constitutes a hazardous venture differs from views expressed by her two most trusted friends. In promoting Mr. Eliot’s suit, Lady Russell considers social connections and financial security as primary features of a happy union. When Mrs. Smith learns that Anne is not engaged to Mr. Elliot and explains her delay in uncovering his dishonorable character, she conveys her belief that Anne’s “peace” would “not be shipwrecked” and she would be “safe in all worldly matters, and safe in his character” because he would “understand the value of such a woman” (196). Mrs. Smith’s logic here suggests that for her, a good marriage simply involves the establishment of a secure life. Anne’s view of what constitutes peril and safety matches her reaction to Mrs. Penelope Clay, whom she recognizes as a social climbing, fortune-hunting widow out to ensnare her father as a marriage partner. Viewing Mrs. Clay as a “hypocrite” driven by “selfishness” (215), Anne judges this woman’s “attractions” as “dangerous” and is in fact “so impressed by the degree of their danger that she [can] not excuse herself” from warning her elder sister Elizabeth (34), who regards Mrs. Clay as her most intimate companion.

Austen’s Depiction of Heroes and Pseudo-Suitors Through the use of danger/safety language, Austen both satirizes and complicates her depictions of the genuinely benevolent hero as well as the pseudo-suitor, or what K. L. Savage calls the “libertine anti-hero” (46). In some of these portrayals, she holds up for the reader’s appraisal the questionable notion of the reformed rake and at times presents surprising reversals that keep her readers from drawing facile conclusions. In her characterizations of courting males, she also mocks the received wisdom that true heroes need to engage in Grandison-style rescuing. In Sense and Sensibility, Austen’s ironic vision emerges in her handling not only of the traditional two-suitor pattern involving Colonel Brandon and John Willoughby but also in the ostensibly lackluster quality of the two heroes, Brandon and Edward Ferrars, who eventually succeed with this novel’s two heroines. While Colonel Brandon emerges as the more heroic of the two virtuous gentlemen, many critics denigrate both men as distinctly unimpressive.6 In this novel, Austen juxtaposes the duplicitous, immoral suitor with the male model of true virtue in the romantic life of Marianne Dashwood. As she does so, Austen distinguishes what Julie McMaster calls the unspectacular yet “genuine” or “moral” kinds of rescue from the “spurious” rescues “that are the staple of the usual romance” (74). Austen

Enriching and Mocking Tradition  89 satirizes the hero-as-chivalric knight stereotype when she introduces the roguish John Willoughby as the handsome, seemingly ideal gentleman, who miraculously appears on the scene of Marianne’s accident. While Willoughby can effortlessly scoop up the injured heroine in his manly arms during this first meeting, readers learn, as the novel progresses, that he is subject to alarm chiefly on his own account, whereas Colonel Brandon’s anxious thoughts frequently center on Marianne’s welfare. Austen’s references to peril in connection to Willoughby highlight the extreme self-absorption that ultimately makes him such a treacherous force in Marianne’s life. The evening before he leaves Barton forever, he rhapsodizes on the Dashwoods’ cottage, exclaiming that nothing should be changed in this place “which affection [has] established as perfect with him” (72). Amused at Willoughby’s overstated enthusiasm for an ordinary cottage filled with inconveniences, Elinor counters with playful hyperbolic “danger” language to match his tone: “Do not be alarmed . . . nothing of the kind will be done; for my mother will never have money enough to attempt it” (72). In her response, Elinor inadvertently signifies the selfishness of a man who focuses on the sanctity of his own romanticized memories rather than the everyday comfort of others. Also, Elinor’s lighthearted allusion to her family’s lack of funds proves quite ironic, since monetary insufficiency represents the chief reason Willoughby abandons Marianne. Later in the novel when Willoughby learns that Marianne’s death is imminent and hastens through the night to see her, danger words once again highlight his focus on self. While relieved that Marianne is now “certainly out of danger” (327), he seems much more motivated to vindicate himself and recount his own sufferings than to dwell on the heroine’s situation. Moreover, the only “dread” he expresses relates to “one event”—the possible marriage of Marianne to Colonel Brandon, the man he has “most injured” and thus “can least forgive” (332). Contrary to Willoughby’s showy but shallow persona is Colonel Brandon’s solidarity and staid demeanor, which masks powerful emotions. The Colonel’s fitness as a spouse is repeatedly suggested in his desire to shield Marianne from danger. Even when he and Elinor discuss whether or not Marianne would ever relinquish her “romantic” belief in the impossibility of a “second attachment,” he denies desiring such an outcome, for he fears that when “the romantic refinements of a young mind are obliged to give way” due to “a series of unfortunate circumstances,” what often follows are “opinions” that are “too dangerous!” (56–57). From his own bitter experiences, Colonel Brandon knows that disappointments in love can lead to tragic consequences, and his words not only are prophetic but show the depth of his instincts as the proper guardian of Marianne’s emotional well-being. With Willoughby’s nuptials imminent and Marianne in the throes of heartbreak, Colonel Brandon arrives at Mrs. Jennings’ London home to

90  Enriching and Mocking Tradition recount a story that may help Marianne’s recovery, but vexed at his intrusion, Marianne ironically tells Elinor, “We are never safe from him” (203). Unlike Marianne, Elinor sees Brandon’s “solicitude in his disturbed and melancholy look,” and cannot “forgive her sister for esteeming him so lightly” (204). Viewing the Colonel as the exemplary hero of this text, Penelope Fritzer observes that he “behaves admirably with restraint,” not “expos[ing]” Willoughby until he feels it is absolutely necessary, even though his “own happiness could depend upon that exposure” (60). Even though the Colonel indicates how “dangerous” it is for him “to handle” a painful subject, “untouched for fourteen years” (208), he relates the sentimental, melodramatic tale of his beloved Eliza, whose daughter has been seduced by Willoughby. He also informs Elinor that he fought a duel with Willoughby to “punish his conduct,” but neither party was wounded (211). This detail suggests a parallel between Colonel Brandon and the Charles Grandison that Austen knew so well, as both characters duel only when honor-bound but always avoid severely injuring their opponents. Colonel Brandon’s most active protecting behavior occurs during Marianne’s illness. When she shows initial signs of “a heavy cold,” the Colonel’s “looks of anxious solicitude” capture Elinor’s attention, but she passes them off as the “quick feelings, and needless alarm of a lover” (305). As Marianne’s condition worsens, Colonel Brandon is “astonished” at Elinor’s “composure” and lack of “real alarm” (307). When Elinor’s apprehension of danger catches up with the Colonel’s and she sends for her mother, Colonel Brandon, acting “with all the firmness of a collected mind,” (312) hurries off to fetch Mrs. Dashwood, leaving Elinor grateful that her mother will have “a companion whose judgment would guide, whose attendance must relieve, and whose friendship might soothe her!” (312). As the epitome of steadfast shelter, a gentleman who combines resourcefulness with compassion and good sense, Colonel Brandon is the deserving hero who wins Marianne in the end, in spite of the fact that he is over thirty-five and requires the very mundane “constitutional safeguard of a flannel waistcoat” (378). Austen’s reference to Brandon’s protective apparel at this point serves to remind readers of Marianne’s contrasting self-destructive behavior earlier in the novel. By wandering, grief-stricken through the “wettest” grass on her lengthy evening excursions and “sitting in her wet shoes and stockings” (306), Marianne acts with an “imprudence” that the narrator directly links to “a cold so violent” (306), it nearly kills her. Edward Ferrars, the other hero of Elinor’s courtship story, is much further from the traditional chivalric ideal than Colonel Brandon. After Edward pays particular attention to Elinor, readers discover that he has been secretly engaged for a number of years, a fact that explains why

Enriching and Mocking Tradition  91 his manner as a suitor to Elinor has been so pallid. Given the fact that Edward is foundering in the perilous seas of a grossly unsuitable match with Lucy Steele, he is hardly in a position to rescue Elinor from pain and fortunately, this heroine possesses her “own good sense” to support her “so well” (141). Like Edward Ferrars, Fitzwilliam Darcy in Pride and Prejudice is another hero with feet of clay at least initially in Austen’s text. Before he endures humiliation from Elizabeth’s rejection of his first proposal and undergoes a chastening of his overly proud spirit, Darcy’s positive traits lie hidden beneath a haughty demeanor and firmly established sense of social superiority. Yet this renowned Austen hero ultimately wins the prize for the most significant rescue within the canon of Austen’s works.7 At his friend Bingley’s Netherfield home where he is compelled to interact frequently with Elizabeth in the early stage of their relationship, Darcy refers to danger, but his focus on his lofty social position blinds him to his own vulnerability. Becoming attracted to Elizabeth’s “mixture of sweetness and archness” (52), and admitting to himself that he has never been so “bewitched by any woman as he [is] by her,” he “really believe[s], that were it not for the inferiority of her connections, he should be in some danger” (52). Austen’s use of the word “bewitched” to reflect Darcy’s reaction to Elizabeth introduces delicious contradictions, since it signals the hazards of enthrallment and an invaded heart, which Darcy denies. After a witty exchange with Elizabeth on the subject of human faults, the hero “[begins] to feel the danger of paying Elizabeth too much attention” (58) and “wisely resolve[s] to be particularly careful that no sign of admiration should now escape him, nothing that could elevate her with the hope of influencing his felicity” (60). Darcy’s deliberate reserve signifies not only his continued preoccupation with his status but also his sense of honor. While this rare look into Darcy’s consciousness suggests that he is guarding himself from the potential peril of an imprudent marriage, it also shows his desire to protect Elizabeth from social embarrassment or disappointment. Unlike Mr. B in Pamela, he does not wish to trifle with a “socially inferior” woman’s affections, if a marriage connection is considered impossible. Charlotte’s thoughts upon later noticing Darcy’s “partial behavior” complement the tenor of Darcy’s own reflections. Although Charlotte shares her perception with Elizabeth, she refrains from “press[ing] the subject,” in order to avoid “the danger of raising expectations which might end in disappointment” (181). The pragmatic Charlotte naturally assumes that Elizabeth’s “dislike” for Darcy would “vanish, if she could suppose him to be in her power” (181). However, despite her reference to Elizabeth’s potential power, Charlotte, like Darcy, mistakenly assumes that Elizabeth is the one who would face danger. Darcy’s and Charlotte’s resolution to protect Elizabeth from disappointment takes an ironic turn when Darcy succumbs to the peril he has projected onto her. Throwing

92  Enriching and Mocking Tradition all caution to the wind by proposing to Elizabeth in spite of what he considers her lowly connections, he is the one who is deeply chagrined. Unlike his more typical courtship novel hero counterparts, Darcy must endure a sharp rebuff in response to his proposal. Darcy’s full-blown status as a nearly perfect hero emerges only after he suffers mortifying rejection. The sound principles and generous protecting nature that he possesses all along become increasingly evident as Elizabeth’s knowledge of him grows. Readers discover that Darcy has functioned for years as his younger sister’s competent, caring guardian. Even more significant in terms of this novel’s courtship narrative is Darcy’s supremely chivalric act of saving the Bennet family name after Lydia’s elopement with Wickham. This rescue is foreshadowed in his sincere concern over Elizabeth’s initial reaction to the news of this event. His fitness as a spouse is palpable in this scene when he exclaims: “Would to heaven that any thing could be either said or done on my part, that might offer consolation to such distress” (278). Ultimately, Darcy does save Elizabeth and her entire family from the social ruin they all so much dread. Putting aside his pride and resentment toward Wickham, Darcy expends generous sums of money, time, and effort, “to secure and expedite a marriage” (323) between the erring couple. The word “secure” suggests the tangible safety that a man like Darcy can provide for the heroine. Despite the absence of a white horse surging beneath him and a fainting heroine to snatch from the arms of dreaded abductors, Darcy performs a yeoman’s task for the woman he so deeply loves and admires. Without melodrama and exaggerated heroics, Austen achieves her own brand of memorable drama based on an extraordinarily generous act in an ordinary world. Edmund Bertram’s portrayal in Mansfield Park represents Austen’s most elaborate satire of the Grandison-style, exalted gentleman of traditional courtship tales. Through presenting Fanny’s idealization of Edmund Bertram in conjunction with both his protective actions and distinctly unheroic behaviors, Austen introduces intricate ironic touches. Edmund functions as the “champion” and “friend” (152) of Fanny from her childhood days, helping to allay her “alarms” (35) and soften the “pains of tyranny, of ridicule, and neglect” (152). In addition, he effectively guides Fanny, discussing recommended readings with her and helping her intellect to blossom. He is, in fact, the sole individual who represents safety in Fanny’s Mansfield world. For example, at age sixteen, when the heroine loses her old pony and is “in danger of feeling the loss in her health as well as in her affections” (35), Edmund is the one who fights for this important resource, confronting both his mother’s indolence and his Aunt Norris’ mean-spirited stinginess. He gives Fanny the exclusive use of his tamest horse to help ensure her well-being. Given the range of his thoughtful services, it is not surprising that Fanny associates even Edmund’s name with “nobleness” and “the spirit of chivalry” (211).

Enriching and Mocking Tradition  93 Yet, in spite of all these positive features attributed to Edmund, Austen subverts courtship tradition once the alluring Mary Crawford arrives on the scene to deflect his attention from Fanny. The hero’s powerful infatuation for this newcomer almost irretrievably undermines his ability to be a worthy match for the novel’s heroine. As Edmund’s relationship with Mary progresses, he virtually undoes his good deed of giving Fanny one of his horses for her use. Once Mary begins to develop horse riding skills and shows eagerness for romps through the countryside with Edmund, our so-called hero clearly privileges Mary’s needs over Fanny’s. When he initially asks Fanny if Mary can borrow her mare, he is obviously conscious of what might be wrong with this request, for he says the following regarding Mary: “She would be extremely sorry to interfere with you. It would be very wrong if she did.—She rides only for pleasure, you for health” (70). Yet for five consecutive mornings, Edmund and Mary enjoy lengthy gallops across the downs that leave Fanny alone without her customary form of exercise. Even though Edmund deeply regrets “His own forgetfulness” (74), he continues to neglect Fanny while at Southerton, demonstrating once again how his failings counteract his original good intentions. Despite his efforts to ensure Fanny’s participation in this excursion, when the young people explore the estate grounds, Edmund leaves Fanny behind as he takes an hour-long walk with Miss Crawford. Insisting that Fanny needs to rest, he elaborates on her fatigue to Mary in terms that are quite ironic, given his earlier behavior in the horseback riding incident. He tells Mary that “Every sort of exercise fatigues her so soon . . . except riding” (95), and when Mary berates Edmund for letting her “engross” Fanny’s horse and promises “it shall never happen again” (95), Edmund admits that “Fanny’s interest seems in safer hands with [her] than with [himself]” (95). Of course, we as readers know that Fanny’s “interest” is anything but “safe” in Mary’s hands at this point. The most significant mark against Edmund’s behavior as protector occurs when he pressures Fanny to marry Henry Crawford. Already blinded to Henry’s faults and predisposed to admire him as Mary’s brother, Edmund concurs with his father’s desire to see Fanny happily married to a man whom she has adamantly rejected. While Edmund seems to truly believe that marriage to Henry would be a very fortunate fate for his little cousin, the hero’s short-sightedness regarding Henry’s character seems to be fueled primarily by his desire to please Henry’s sister. In two striking scenes, Edmund augments Fanny’s distress in relation to Henry’s courtship. The first occurs around the tea table at Mansfield Park. Having recently learned of Henry’s generous act in orchestrating the promotion of Fanny’s brother and of Henry’s desire to marry Fanny, Edmund hopes that his cousin will eventually learn to love this  man.

94  Enriching and Mocking Tradition He, therefore, eagerly observes the couple’s interactions while inwardly cheering on Henry’s wooing efforts. Even though Edmund likens Henry’s advance of his chair right by Fanny’s side as “a very thorough attack” (342), he deliberately leaves his devoted companion undefended, as is apparent in these words: “he sank as quietly as possible into a corner, turned his back, and took up a newspaper, very sincerely wishing” that Fanny would encourage the advances of “her ardent lover” (342). Seeing “Edmund’s arrangements,” Fanny is “grieved to the heart” and is left to “repulse” (342) Henry’s eloquent protestations of constancy on her own. Moreover, Austen uses incisive, hyperbolic phrasing to highlight Edmund’s incompetence as a hero, when she tells us that Fanny is only set “at liberty” and “protected” (344) by the “solemn procession . . . of tea-board, urn, and cake-bearers” (344). Besides suggesting that the trifles of tea service function as more adequate helpers than Edmund, Austen further tarnishes her hero’s image by noting that despite Fanny’s “flush of vexation,” he remains “inclined to hope” (344) that Henry has gained some advantage. Edmund fails even more dramatically in a follow-up scene. Like his father, he accuses Fanny of selfishness, ingratitude, and violation of duty in her refusal of Henry, accusations as appalling to Fanny as a murder indictment. After Edmund assures Fanny that he does “not mean to press her” (346) and disclaims “any disagreement between” them (346), he proceeds to paint “Crawford’s proposals” (346) in the most positive light. He urges Fanny to “let him [Henry] succeed at last” (347), and even tells her to “prove [her]self grateful and tender-hearted,” so that she “will be the perfect model of woman,” that he “believe[s]” she was “born for” (347). As this scene closes, Austen’s scathing irony seems designed not only to ridicule Edmund’s behavior but also to pinpoint limitations inherent to the entrenched masculine code of protection in her time. Despite finally noticing “weariness and distress” in Fanny’s “face” (354), Edmund seems quite satisfied with his own benevolence, as he leads Fanny into the house “with the kind authority of a privileged guardian” (355). Edmund’s shortcomings continue to be apparent during the Portsmouth episode when Fanny visits the shoddy surroundings of her original home. With Edmund far away and caught up with personal misery, Henry, the so-called false suitor/villain, is the one who compassionately witnesses Fanny’s plight firsthand. Even though we cannot take very seriously Mary’s claim that her brother is “quite the hero of an old romance” (360), he acts in distinctly chivalric ways. Here again, Austen provides a feast of irony disrupting reader expectations, for even though Fanny initially welcomes the prospect of this sojourn, imagining herself “safe from every look which could be fancied a reproach” on Henry Crawford’s account (370), it is Crawford’s “good manners” (402), tactfulness, and talk of Mansfield Park, which supply her only “pleasure”

Enriching and Mocking Tradition  95 (406) at Portsmouth. In contrast to Edmund, Henry accurately perceives the “confinement of Portsmouth” as “unfavourable” to Fanny’s “health” (410) and offers her safe, comfortable transportation back to Mansfield Park. Austen even adds a particularly perceptive comment from Henry that further debunks Edmund’s role as the heroine’s self-appointed guardian: “I know the danger of your being so far forgotten, as to have your comforts give way to the imaginary convenience of any single being in the family” (410). As the Portsmouth scenes highlight, Austen blurs the simplistic distinctions between hero and villain in relation to the danger/safety issue. Following the traditional pattern, Henry’s role as untrustworthy libertine is clearly set forth at the beginning of the novel, yet the reversal that occurs when Henry falls in love with Fanny causes readers to question their assumptions regarding worthy versus dishonorable suitors. In his discussion of “Heroes and Anti-Heroes in Jane Austen’s Novels,” John Lauber recognizes that the title of “villain” is not quite apt for Henry Crawford, for “he is considerably more interesting and complex than the word ‘villain’ allows for” (490). Complex as he is, Henry lacks a moral core. At the beginning of Mansfield Park, he, not intending to be “in any danger” himself (45), flirts irresponsibly with both Bertram sisters and even singles out the elder one because he believes “All is safe with a lady engaged” (45). Henry’s treacherous nature is even more obvious when he challenges Maria Bertram to bypass the locked iron gate at Sotherton, in order to roam freely with him while leaving her fiancé behind. His efforts to tempt Maria to flout her future husband’s “authority and protection” (99) foreshadow his decision to run off with her after she is married. When Henry initiates his pursuit of Fanny, the intentions he communicates to his sister carry suggestions of malicious intent and resemble his careless flirting behavior of earlier days. He is driven by the challenge to “make Fanny Price in love with [him]” and to make “a small whole” in her “heart” (229), while, at the same time, illogically concluding that he “will not do her any harm” (231). Yet Austen surprises readers when Henry temporarily morphs into the sincere suitor, ironically outsmarting himself in his own courtship game. “No longer” the “clandestine, insidious, treacherous admirer of Maria Bertram” (327–328), Henry devotes himself to “addressing” Fanny “with ardent, disinterested, love” (328) and makes an effort to become a better person in order to measure up to the woman he is pursuing. Persevering mightily, he also incorrectly assumes that Fanny, “guarded by youth,” has “never thought on the subject” of love “enough to be in danger” (326). When Henry enthusiastically shares his honorable intentions with his sister, he emphasizes how he can do more for Fanny’s “happiness, comfort, honour, and dignity” than anyone else in the world, her friend, Edmund included (297). Since this assertion of power to protect the

96  Enriching and Mocking Tradition “dependent, helpless, friendless, neglected, forgotten” (297) Fanny is spoken in confidence to Mary, the reader is reluctantly compelled to view Henry as a viable source of shelter for the heroine. In this same conversation, Mary assures her brother that he is “safe” because Fanny cannot refuse him her love. (293). Not only are Mary’s words ironic given the reader’s awareness of Fanny’s true state of mind, but they also suggest the risk that men, even seasoned coquets, can face when rejected by someone they love. After Maria “quit[s] her husband’s roof in company” with Henry, Mary blames Fanny for not accepting her brother’s proposals and believes that had they been together, Fanny “would have fixed him” (455). Mary’s assumption that a truly virtuous, sweet-mannered woman can save a man’s soul reflects the “angel in the house” stereotype that was growing ever more entrenched in the society of Austen’s time. However, the glib tone of Mary’s remark, along with Henry’s backsliding, calls into question the reformed rake notion. Mary also strategically advocates that Maria not be taken from “Henry’s protection” (457) so that the run-away couple might eventually marry. The irony inherent in Mary’s use of the word “protection” suggests Austen’s covert criticism of a patriarchal system where passionate women who break the rules are forced to rely on immoral men for their security. While both Maria’s actions and Mary’s suggestion are associated with a corrupted moral sense in this text, Austen’s narrator introduces an uncharacteristically direct statement of feminist protest against society’s double standard, declaring that women suffer the “public punishment of disgrace” much more fully than men, and “the penalty is less equal than could be wished” (468). In Emma, Austen once again delivers surprises within the dual suitor pattern. Frank Churchill, the heroine’s pseudo-suitor, saves Harriet Smith, in traditional style, when she is harassed by gypsy children. Arriving just in time, he drives off the offenders, chivalrously escorts the terrified Harriet to a place of safety, and thus prevents any injury she might have sustained. Austen introduces this stock rescue scene to create a humorously ironic situation in her courtship narrative involving Emma and Mr. Knightley. Daydreaming about a possible union between Harriet and Frank, Emma joyously assumes that this act of protection constitutes the logical prelude to a serious romance, just as she assumed that Mr. Dixon’s rescue of Jane Fairfax from drowning signaled a romantic attachment. Emma thus sets herself up to believe that Harriet is referring to Frank when she describes her great admiration for a “gentleman” who has rescued her. It doesn’t take long for Emma to learn that the magnanimous savior in Harriet’s life is Mr. Knightley, and his protective behavior involved asking Harriet to dance at a ball when she was publically snubbed by Mr. Elton. By minimizing Frank’s stereotypic rescue in contrast to Knightley’s shielding act of everyday compassion, Austen subverts

Enriching and Mocking Tradition  97 reader expectations and highlights Emma’s faulty assumptions. Putting her original stamp on her courtship text, Austen drives home a value system that privileges both realism and kindness toward others. She emphasizes the significant role that rescues from malicious actions can play within the ostensibly safe space of a village ballroom. Captain Wentworth emerges by the end of Persuasion as the hero par excellence, who has been scourged, like Darcy, of his initial faults and hurtful behavior.8 However, the nature of Wentworth’s faults is very different from Darcy’s. Unable to forgive Anne for what he views as her “weakness and timidity” (61) in yielding to others when she broke their past engagement, Wentworth harbors resentment that fuels his illjudged flirtations with the Musgrove sisters, Henrietta and Lousia. Not recognizing that he still places Anne above other women, he begins to single out Louisa in a thoughtless, almost inadvertent courtship, and his failure to catch her when she jumps from the Cobb steps at Lyme symbolizes the treacherous game he is playing. After Louisa suffers a serious head injury and endures a long recovery period, Austen playfully diminishes Wentworth’s heroic stature through Admiral Croft’s facetious remark on this incident: “Ay, a very bad business indeed.—A new sort of way this, for a young fellow to be making love, by breaking his mistress’s head!” (126–127). Yet the Admiral’s humor stands in sharp contrast to Wentworth’s somber soul-searching on the consequences of his behavior. He berates himself for being “too deeply concerned in the mischief” (183) of Louisa’s fall, and, in a reveal-all conversation with Anne, assesses his careless wooing of Louisa in the following way: I had not considered that my excessive intimacy must have its danger of ill consequence in many ways: and that I had no right to be trying whether I could attach myself to either of the girls, at the risk of raising even an unpleasant report, were there no other ill effects. (242–243) In relating this experience to Anne, Wentworth makes it clear that his sense of honor would have compelled him to marry Louisa if she and her family were expecting that outcome. Fortunately, for both hero and heroine, this obstacle swiftly dissipates when Louisa and Wentworth’s friend, Captain Benwick, become engaged. By depicting her hero as danger-maker in his courtship with Louisa, Austen once again conveys her distaste for perfect characters and compels readers to see the world in shades of gray rather than black and white. Wentworth’s foolhardy actions also complicate the portrait of Lady Russell as the misguided adviser to the heroine. Even though Lady Russell is proven wrong in both her support of Mr. Eliot’s suit and her denial of Wentworth’s positive qualities, her assessment of Wentworth’s “dangerous impetuosity” (249) proves to be not totally unfounded.9

98  Enriching and Mocking Tradition Lady Russell’s assessment of Wentworth’s character, however, does not take into account two protective actions that she does not witness. These gestures, while trivial in themselves, powerfully affect Anne Elliot, and by presenting a magnified version of Wentworth’s mundane “rescues” through Anne’s eyes, Austen not only once again challenges the stereotypic grand feats of heroic suitors but also adds emotional resonance to her last completed courtship novel. The first rescue occurs when Wentworth “release[s]” Anne’s neck from the grip of her nephew’s “sturdy little hands” (80). In response to “His kindness in stepping forward to her relief” (80), Anne is nearly overcome with tumultuous sensations. A short while later during an arduous walk with the Musgroves, Wentworth “clear[s] the hedge in a moment” (91) in order to secure a place for Anne in his sister and brother-in-law’s “one-horse chaise” (90). Experiencing “emotions so compounded of pleasure and pain” (91), Anne views the hero’s act in these terms: “Yes,—he had done it. She was in the carriage, and felt that he had placed her there, that his will and his hands had done it, that she owed it to his perception of her fatigue, and his resolution to give her rest” (91). Dwelling on this rescue, Anne concludes that although Wentworth no longer loves her, he “could not see her suffer, without the desire of giving her relief” (91). Mr. William Elliot provides a significant counterpoint to Wentworth, for while both pseudo-suitor and genuine hero are flawed men, the former hides “a designing” (199) and immoral nature under impeccable manners, while the latter makes perilous mistakes out in the open, but is essentially good hearted and virtuous. Moreover, while Wentworth ultimately upholds constancy in love, Mr. Elliot, like Henry Crawford, shifts quite readily from an honorable courtship of the heroine to an illicit liaison with another woman, whom we are told, at the novel’s end, is being “established under his protection in London” (250).

Austen’s Endings: Nearly Safe Havens of Companionate Marriage In crafting her conclusions, Austen both embraces and resists tradition. She provides happy endings where a deserving hero and heroine, possessing protective instincts, come together to begin their wedded life. However, her use of danger/safety terms highlights the ways she almost always qualifies the idyllic nature of her resolutions, while also emphasizing the significant and not always positive role of family and friends within the world of her fortunate couples. Focusing on the “problem of let-down” for readers that Austen’s “endings” create, Deanna K. Kreisel indicates that “the famous Austenian irony extends to the very model of narrative she practices, that of the linear, closure-directed plot of heterosexual courtship and marriage” (223). In the same vein, Mary Waldron notes the presence of “double and treble resonances” as characteristic of

Enriching and Mocking Tradition  99 “Austen’s closures” (82). Despite this partial frustration of reader expectation, however, it is clear that Austen’s female and male protagonists enter a realm of deep satisfaction and security in terms of their emotional, social, and financial situations. The double wedding of the Dashwood sisters in Sense and Sensibility fulfills the promise of the traditional courtship novel conclusion, yet given the fact that Colonel Brandon and Edward Ferrars are, as Tony Tanner notes, “notably unexciting ‘house builders’” (28), readers are left questioning just how supremely fortunate Marianne and Elinor are in their choice of husband. Although Colonel Brandon emerges as the more worthy of the two successful suitors, Austen’s ambiguous description of Marianne’s fate can be unsettling for readers expecting the blissful courtship novel ending. Instead of presenting Colonel Brandon as Marianne’s “reward,” Austen, in a quirky reversal of phrasing, indicates that Marianne, “by general consent, was to be the reward” of Colonel Brandon’s “sorrows,” Edward and Elinor’s “obligations,” and Mrs. Dashwood’s wishes (378). The narrator also asks, “With such a confederacy against her—with a knowledge so intimate of his goodness—with a conviction of his fond attachment to herself . . . what could she do?” (378). Taken together, these words suggest the justice of rewarding a good man but also imply entrapment for Marianne—a fate akin to that suffered by heroines compelled to marry against their will. However, Mrs. Dashwood, as the antithesis of the cruel tyrant figure, uses danger/safety wording to drive home her role as tender-hearted guardian of Marianne’s welfare. With Marianne “rendered dearer to her than ever . . . by danger” (334), Mrs. Dashwood shares with Elinor her hopes that Marianne will marry Colonel Brandon whose devotion and virtue have stood the test of time. Mrs. Dashwood also informs Elinor that since Marianne’s recovery, which she calls “our delightful security,” she, as the conscientious parent, has “given” Colonel Brandon “every encouragement in [her] power,” telling him that “His own merits must soon secure” Marianne’s “heart” (337). The verb “secure” in this context implies safety for Colonel Brandon rather than for Marianne. Yet, the author is also careful to assure readers that Marianne gives her hand “voluntarily” to Brandon and that “her whole heart [becomes], in time, as much devoted to her husband, as it had once been to Willoughby” (379).10 Coupled with this seemingly fortunate resolution is the narrator’s playful reminder that Marianne is about to become the wife of a man “whom, two years before, she had considered too old to be married,— and who still sought the constitutional safe-guard of a flannel waistcoat!” (378). Austen’s wording here suggests a desire not only to go beyond simplistic conclusions and drive home the mixed nature of reality, but also to assert the true value of marrying a good man who may not look the part of a typical romantic male lead.

100  Enriching and Mocking Tradition Elinor’s matrimonial haven of safety carries even more shades of ambiguity than her sister’s. While Elinor has “nothing to wish for” (374) after she and Edward marry, and Mrs. Jennings pronounces them “one of the happiest couples in the world” (374), Edward raises questions in the reader’s mind about his sense and principles when he converses with Elinor after his proposal. He explains why he allowed his friendship with her to grow at Norland: “I was simple enough to think, that because my faith was plighted to another, there could be no danger of my being with you; and that the consciousness of my engagement was to keep my heart as safe and sacred as my honour” (368). After acknowledging that he “was wrong in remaining so much in Sussex” once he discovered how much he admired Elinor, he elaborates on his culpability in these words: “. . . the arguments with which I reconciled myself to the expediency of it, were no better than these:—The danger is my own; I am doing no injury to anybody but myself” (368). While Elinor mutes her reaction to these explanations, only “smil[ing], and [shaking] her head” (368), Edward’s words suggest either an extreme degree of self-absorption or self-deprecation in not recognizing Elinor’s preference or peril within their interactions. Either way, Edward, who is even more unavailable as a suitor than Willoughby, does pay particular attention to Elinor in ways obvious enough to be recognized by everyone surrounding the couple.11 Despite Elinor’s generally restrained demeanor, Edward’s assumption of her indifference seems disingenuous in the light of what occurs at the novel’s end. The very moment that Edward is free of Lucy, he does not hesitate to declare his love for Elinor, nor does he seem to anticipate rejection. In fact, we are told that “he did not, upon the whole, expect a very cruel reception. It was his business, however, to say that he did, and he said it very prettily. What he might say on the subject a twelvemonth after, must be referred to the imagination of husbands and wives” (366). Even if Edward’s confidence right before he proposes does stem from the fact that he “perhaps saw—or even heard” Elinor’s “emotion” in her “tears of joy” (360), Austen gently calls into question Edward’s virtue in this scene. Margaret Doody goes even further in challenging Edward’s credentials as hero when she indicates that he “often acts the part of an abject liar and a cad,” but is “so very miserable” and “undashing in the process . . . that he always wins Elinor’s prejudiced and protective forgiveness” (xxxi).12 The romantic comedy conclusion of Pride and Prejudice is far less ambiguous than that of Sense and Sensibility. In fact, the hero and heroine’s ultimate haven is as close to perfection as Austen would ever come in any of her novels. Elizabeth and Darcy are well matched as protective, caring individuals. They even parallel each other quite closely in their efforts to shelter their beloved sisters from misfortune, and their virtue as siblings is in fact one of the ingredients that strengthens their attraction to one another. However, while Darcy proves he can be a most effective rescuer of Elizabeth and her family, Elizabeth, of all Austen’s heroines, shows the least protective behavior toward the hero, except when she cringes

Enriching and Mocking Tradition  101 inside at her mother’s rudeness and when she chastises herself for having vilified a man she has learned to admire so greatly. Once Elizabeth and Darcy directly acknowledge their mutual devotion, the obstacles pertaining to parental objections dissolve in a most satisfying manner. When Lady Catherine descends upon the Bennet household to dispel “A report of a most alarming nature” (353) involving Darcy’s perilously degrading engagement to the heroine, Elizabeth’s resistance inadvertently encourages Darcy to renew his addresses and thus ironically promotes the couple’s union. Also, Elizabeth’s vehement reassurances regarding Darcy’s character and her sincere love for him completely dispel her father’s sense of “danger” over an “unequal” match. Mrs. Bennet’s dislike for Darcy evaporates even more readily when she imagines the riches her daughter will possess as his wife. With all impediments removed and with their parallel journeys of self-growth to enlighten them, Darcy and Elizabeth can now fully enjoy emotional contentment, luxurious surroundings, and the company of the people they love best, while effectively drawing boundaries to keep their less savory relatives in check. In the novel’s final pages, Austen also reassures her readers that Elizabeth’s strong spirit will not suffer diminishment in marriage, when she includes a few sentences on the link between the heroine and Darcy’s young sister Georgiana. While Georgiana reacts with “astonishment bordering on alarm” (387) upon witnessing Elizabeth’s “lively, sportive, manner of talking to her brother” (387–388), she learns from her beloved sister-in-law that “a woman may take liberties with her husband” (388). By including this detail, Austen leaves readers with the impression that this couple are likely to flourish in an environment, safe enough to allow for the interplay of their two diverse temperaments and secure enough for a woman to stand as equal to her man. While Fanny’s fortunate fate is also obvious, there are several qualifiers present at the end of Mansfield Park. Austen directly tells her readers that Fanny “must have been happy in spite of everything,” for “she is safe from Mr. Crawford,” sees evidence of Sir Thomas Bertram’s “increased regard,” and is relieved that “Edmund [is] no longer the dupe of Miss Crawford” (461). The limits of Fanny’s compassion toward a heartbroken Edmund also emerge here when we are told that she can feel only a “sorrow so founded on satisfaction . . . that there are few who might not have been glad to exchange their greatest gaiety for it” (461). When Edmund moves beyond his love for Mary Crawford to court Fanny, Austen subtly mocks his speedy, yet exquisitely timed, transformation from brotherly companion to devoted suitor. Austen undercuts the purely happy ending of the traditional courtship novel, by referring, in an oxymoron, to Edmund’s “transfer of unchanging attachments” (470) and by elaborating on the hero’s change of heart in these terms: Loving, guiding, protecting her, as he had been doing ever since her being ten years old, her mind in so great a degree formed by his care,

102  Enriching and Mocking Tradition and her comfort depending on his kindness, an object to him of such close and peculiar interest, dearer by all his own importance to her than any one else at Mansfield, what was there now to add, but that he should learn to prefer soft light eyes to sparkling dark ones. (470) In this lengthy list of reasons to explain Edmund’s awakening as Fanny’s lover, Austen not only presents the hero’s role as wise guardian in exaggerated fashion to subtly remind readers of his shortcomings, but also suggests his vanity in valuing Fanny because of his “own importance to her.”13 In this novel’s final passages, Austen also indirectly raises questions regarding gender role stereotypes when she refers to Edmund’s long-term “regard” for Fanny as “founded on the most endearing claims of innocence and helplessness” (470). While these words suggest Edmund’s assumption that Fanny is a female weakling who requires his protection, Fanny, in fact, functions as Edmund’s chief haven of safety from the time that Mary Crawford appears on the scene. Not only does Edmund proclaim that Fanny’s “judgment” can be “safely trusted” (147) during the Lovers’ Vows theatrical, but after his hopes for a marriage to Mary are permanently dashed, he refers to Fanny as his “only comfort now” (444). Fortunately for Edmund, Fanny is all too willing to function as his primary shield from pain, and the couple’s eventual achievement of their haven is couched in language that is exuberant yet qualified at the same time. It is almost as if Austen ostensibly bows to the romantic tradition while reserving her judgment as a realist in a world of mixed blessings. Wrapping up her courtship narrative, the author tells us: “With so much merit and true love, and no want of fortune or friends, the happiness of the married cousins must appear as secure as earthly happiness can be” (473). One of the happy couple’s powerful “friends” is the formidable patriarch himself. Chastened by his failures as a parent and recognizing his niece’s virtues, Sir Thomas Bertram fully endorses a union that would have alarmed him in the past. Now, Sir Thomas eagerly anticipates the marriage of Edmund and Fanny because he is “chiefly anxious to bind by the strongest securities all that remain[s] to him of domestic felicity” (471). While this description of Sir Thomas’ state of mind seems positive, Austen’s wording focuses on his own rather than others’ refuge. This focus on self along with a suffocating sense of ownership becomes even more apparent when Sir Thomas views Fanny as “indeed the daughter he wanted” and is gratified that “His charitable kindness [has] been rearing a prime comfort for himself” (472). Moreover, the following words describing Sir Thomas’ daily routine in relation to Fanny even suggest that his presence in the newly married couple’s life may prove to be intrusive: “After settling her at Thornton Lacey with every kind attention to her comfort, the object of almost every day was to see her there, or to get her away from it” (472).

Enriching and Mocking Tradition  103 In the fortunate denouement of Emma, both hero and heroine are finally secure in one another’s love, and their sense of fitness as a couple is highlighted by the mutually protective behavior they reveal in the ultimate love declaration scene. Nevertheless, there are still some obstacles to surmount. Emma reflects upon the “alarming change” (470) that will take place when Harriet returns from London to discover the truth regarding Knightley’s matrimonial plans. Guilt-ridden at the thought of Harriet’s grief, Emma glows with joy when she hears that her young protégé has readily accepted a proposal from the loyal Robert Martin. Satisfied that Harriet has now gained “happiness” as well as “security” and will live “retired enough for safety” (482), Emma experiences what may look like a rather odd form of “exquisite delight,” for it places her “in danger of becoming too happy for security” (475). The peril of being flooded with two much positive emotion echoes Emma’s “dread of being awakened from the happiest dream” (430) when she first hears Knightley declare his love for her. Austen’s danger word usage in the closing portion of the novel highlights two key tenets of the heroine’s value system—her concern over friends’ welfare and her need to modulate her feelings in the face of overwhelming joy. The ultimate obstacle involves Mr. Woodhouse. Although Austen’s blocking parent is no mercenary monster holding his daughter in captivity, Mr. Woodhouse is a tyrant of timidity whose obsessive clinging to the status quo controls those around him. Emma, unable to “bear” her father’s “suffering” (483) at the thought of her imminent marriage, is very reluctant to name a wedding date. Yet after a series of poultry-house robberies, Mr. Woodhouse’s need to ensure that “Hartfield” is “safe” causes him to welcome the “protection” (484) guaranteed by a son-inlaw in permanent residence. Given this fortuitous set of crimes, Austen can now pronounce “the perfect happiness of the union” (484); however, even this “perfection” is tainted by the fact that the newlyweds are destined to live in a household bound by a neurotic man’s persistent sense of peril. As with her other texts, Austen unites a loving hero and heroine in Persuasion. At its closing, Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth fully appreciate one another’s merits and possess a bond that has grown so much stronger from the trials they have suffered. However, in her characteristic fashion, Austen provides some shadowy features to temper an ecstatic conclusion. As in more traditional courtship novels, the safe haven of a happy marriage is foreshadowed by the couple’s mutually protective behaviors. Even though Wentworth does not show “any semblance of a guardian-guide role” (150) as Margaret Kirkham points out, his minor “rescues,” as indicated earlier, signify genuine caring and are immensely significant to Anne. Like many counterparts in earlier novels, Anne passively protects the hero. For example, when her sister Mary

104  Enriching and Mocking Tradition and husband Charles argue over which Musgrove sister is favored by Wentworth, Anne is deeply concerned not only that Wentworth may “be endangering the happiness of either sister” but also that he may be “impeaching his own honour” (77). Besides passively protecting her beloved’s integrity, Anne worries about Wentworth’s social and emotional well-being when she receives the surprising news that Captain Benwick is engaged to Louisa. At this point, Anne finds it hard to “endure the idea of treachery or levity, or any thing akin to ill-usage between him [Wentworth] and his friend” (166). Besides this subtle form of shielding, Anne supplies relief to Wentworth in a much more proactive way that once again suggests Austen’s quiet subversion of gender norms. When Wentworth cannot stop Louisa from jumping down the Cobb steps in Lyme and fails to break her fall, he cries out “Is there no one to help me?” (110). Responding to his call, Anne calmly commands the accident scene with quick thinking and good judgment. Stripped of his role as rescuer, Wentworth witnesses Anne effectively providing the necessary aid and recognizes more fully than ever her worth as a human being. In the novel’s final chapter, when the joyous couple’s engagement is about to be announced, Anne still views Lady Russell as “The only person among” her family and friends “whose opposition of feelings could excite any serious anxiety” (270). The other “alloy” (251) to Anne’s bliss is the fact that she has “no relations” of worth to “bestow” on her beloved husband-to-be, except Lady Russell and Mrs. Smith. Fortunately, Lady Russell can now recognize Wentworth, not as a danger-maker, but as “the man who [is] securing” Anne’s “happiness” (249), and she can thus morph into the loving “mother” (249) of both hero and heroine. Mrs. Smith’s fate also becomes comfortably intertwined with that of Anne and Wentworth. Having “secured” two friends through Anne’s marriage, Mrs. Smith benefits greatly, as Wentworth acts, “with the activity and exertion of a fearless man and a determined friend” (251–252), to salvage her fortune. Through her wording, Austen once again valorizes down-toearth acts of rescue that blend courage with compassionate regard. The novel’s concluding paragraph contains one last unresolvable element within the happy couple’s future. Anne’s “spring of felicity,” as she basks in “the full worth of Wentworth’s affection” (252), is tempered by “the dread of future war,” which “could dim her sunshine” (252). Austen casts the shadow of realism over the fairy-tale ending with these final words regarding Anne’s situation: “She gloried in being a sailor’s wife, but she must pay the tax of quick alarm for belonging to that profession which is, if possible, more distinguished in its domestic virtues than in its national importance” (252). While Anne is blessed with love and the sense of belonging to an honored coterie, her safe haven cannot be assured.14

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Conclusion Despite Austen’s generous use of danger words to raise the suspense and energy level of her courtship tales, she avoids what LeRoy Smith describes as “moments of violence” and “extremes of behavior” (27). She introduces terms suggesting peril to create ironic twists in a drama of ordinary lives. In refining courtship fiction, Austen frequently uses emotional danger vocabulary to convey her heroines’ unspoken passions and to elaborate upon complicating factors in her courtship scenarios. While Austen never bludgeons her reader with didactic messages, the intense interactions she depicts are infused with her deeply held principles. Through idiosyncratic use of danger/safety language, she highlights values pertaining to female and male behavior while conveying at times layered responses to cultural and literary norms. Austen’s unique variations on the traditional courtship novel ending reveal a desire to eschew simplistic solutions in which complete bliss and safety merge. As Susan Morgan points out, “Austen’s fiction offers a messy and complex reality” (15), and Mary Waldon suggests the same level of complexity when she claims, “Because Austen wrote consciously against the grain of contemporary didacticism but within a familiar fictional framework, her narratives become not only ironic but richly contrapuntal” (14). The conclusions she creates thus both sustain and qualify the narrative and cultural traditions perpetuated by the didactic fiction and conduct works of her past and present. As an author capturing everyday truths in the courtship arena, Austen has frequently been cited as a pivotal figure between her own time and the ensuing Victorian period. As Frederick Karl points out, Austen succeeds in “redirecting the novel of sentiment into the mainstream of Victorian realism” (12). Like Karl, Waldron describes Austen as “stand[ing] at the point of change” between the simplistic good and bad character designations typical of eighteenth-century novels and the more subtle, contradictory character portraits of the nineteenth-century novel (166).

Notes 1 Referring to his sister, Jane in his “Biographical Notice,” Henry Austen indicates that Richardson’s power of creating and preserving the consistency of his characters, as particularly exemplified in ‘Sir Charles Grandison’, gratified the natural discrimination of her mind, whilst her taste secured her from the errors of his prolix style and tedious narrative. (7) J. E. Austen-Leigh, in a memoir written many years later, goes even further when he asserts that his aunt’s “knowledge of Richardson’s works was such as no one is likely again to acquire” and that “Every circumstance narrated in Sir Charles Grandison, all that was ever said or done in the cedar parlour, was familiar to her” (331).

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Works Cited Austen, Henry. “Biographical Notice of the Author.” The Oxford Illustrated Jane Austen: Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, Volume V, edited by R. W. Chapman, 3rd ed., Oxford University Press, 1933/1988, pp. 3–9. Austen, Jane. Jane Austen’s Letters, New Edition, edited by Deirdre Le Faye, Oxford University Press, 1997. ———. The Oxford Illustrated Jane Austen: Emma, Volume IV., edited by R. W. Chapman, 3rd ed., Oxford University Press, 1933/1988. ———. The Oxford Illustrated Jane Austen: Mansfield Park, Volume III, edited by R. W. Chapman, 3rd ed., Oxford University Press, 1934/1988. ———. The Oxford Illustrated Jane Austen: Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, Volume V, edited by R. W. Chapman, 3rd ed., Oxford University Press, 1933/1988. ———. The Oxford Illustrated Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice, Volume II, edited by R.W. Chapman, 3rd ed., Oxford University Press, 1932/1988. ———. The Oxford Illustrated Jane Austen: Sense and Sensibility, Volume I, edited by R.W. Chapman, 3rd ed., Oxford University Press, 1933/1988. ———. “Plan of Novel, According to Hints from Various Quarters.” The Works of Jane Austen, Minor Works. Volume VI, edited by R. W. Chapman, 3rd ed., Oxford University Press, 1954/1988, pp. 428–430. ———. Sir Charles Grandison or the Happy Man, edited by Brian Southam, Clarendon/Oxford University Press, 1980. Austen-Leigh, J. E. “A Memoir of Jane Austen.” Persuasion by Jane Austen, edited by D.W. Harding, Penguin Books, 1985, pp. 271–372. Bander, Elaine. “‘Liking’ Emma Woodhouse.” Persuasions: The Jane Austen Journal, vol. 38, 2016, pp. 13–29. Benis, Toby R. “Shipwrecked on Land in Persuasion.” Persuasion: The Jane Austen Journal, vol. 35, 2013, pp. 200–211. Boyd, Zelda. “The Language of Supposing: Modal Auxiliaries in Sense and Sensibility.” Jane Austen: New Perspectives, edited by Jane Todd, Holmes & Meier Publishers, 1983, pp. 142–154. Brownstein, Rachel M. “Northanger Abbey, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice.” The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen, edited by Edward Copeland and Juliet McMaster, Cambridge University Press, 1997, pp. 32–57. Doody, Margaret A. “Introduction.” Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, edited by James Kinsley, Oxford University Press, 2008, pp. vii–xxxix. Easton, Celia A. “Seduction and Seducers in English Spa Towns: Jane Austen’s Opportunity of Place.” Persuasions, vol. 40, 2018, pp. 104–117. The Etiquette of Courtship & Matrimony: With a Complete Guide to the Forms of a Wedding. David Bogue, 1852. Fritzer, Penelope Joan. Jane Austen and Eighteenth-Century Courtesy Books. Greenwood Press, 1997. Grundy, Isobel. “Jane Austen and Literary Traditions.” Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen, edited by Edward Copeland and Juliet McMaster, Cambridge University Press, 1997, pp. 189–210. Harmsel, Henrietta Ten. Jane Austen: A Study in Fictional Conventions. Mouton and Company, 1964.

Enriching and Mocking Tradition  109 Harris, Jocelyn. Jane Austen’s Art of Memory. Cambridge University Press, 1989. Hawkridge, Audrey. Jane and Her Gentlemen: Jane Austen and the Men in Her Life and Novels. Peter Owen, 2000. Hinnant, Charles H. “‘Wild Imagination’: Romance and the Courtship Plot in the Six Canonical Novels.” Narrative, vol. 14, no. 3, 2006, pp. 294–310. Karl, Frederick R. A Reader’s Guide to the Nineteenth Century British Novel. Noonday Press, 1965. Kennard, Jean E. Victims of Convention. Archon Books, 1978. Kirkham, Margaret. Jane Austen, Feminism and Fiction. The Athlone Press, 1997. Kramp, Michael. Disciplining Love: Austen and the Modern Man. Ohio State University Press, 2007. Kreisel, Deanna K. “Where Does the Pleasure Come From? The Marriage Plot and Its Discontents in Jane Austen’s Emma.” Persuasions: The Jane Austen Journal, vol. 29, 2007, pp. 217–226. Lascelles, Mary. Jane Austen and Her Art. Oxford University Press, 1939/1963. Lauber, John. “Heroes and Anti-Heroes in Jane Austen’s Novels.” Dalhousie Review, vol. 51, no. 4, 1971–1972, pp. 489–503. Leavis, F. R. A Study of the English Novel: The Great Tradition. Doubleday & Company, 1954. Leighton, Angela. “Sense and Silences: Reading Jane Austen Again.” Jane Austen: New Perspectives, edited by Jane Todd, Holmes and Meier Publishers, 1983, pp. 128–141. Lutz, Deborah. The Dangerous Lover: Gothic Villains, Byronism, and the Nineteenth-Century Seduction Narratives. Ohio State University Press, 2006. McMaster, Juliet. Jane Austen on Love. English Literary Studies, Monograph Series, no. 13, University of Victoria, 1978, pp. 9–85. Millard, Mary. “The Extraordinary Fate of Marianne Dashwood.” Persuasions: The Jane Austen Journal, vol. 3, 1981, pp. 5–6. Morgan, Susan. In the Meanwhile: Character and Perception in Jane Austen’s Fiction. University of Chicago Press, 1980. Mudrick, Marvin. Jane Austen: Irony as Defense and Discovery. Princeton University Press, 1952. Rheingold, Miriam. “‘Let Me Go, Mr. Thorpe; Isabella, Do Not Hold Me!’: Northanger Abbey and the Domestic Gothic.” Persuasions: The Jane Austen Journal, vol. 32, 2010, pp. 90–104. Richardson, Samuel. A Collection of the Moral and Instructive Sentiments, Maxims, Cautions, and Reflexions, Contained in the Histories of Pamela, Clarissa, and Sir Charles Grandison. S. Richardson, 1755. Ruoff, Gene W. Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility (Critical Studies of Key Texts). St. Martin’s Press, 1992. Savage, K. L. “Libertinism in Jane Austen’s Novels.” Persuasions: The Jane Austen Journal, vol. 22, 2000, pp. 41–49. Smith, LeRoy W. Jane Austen and the Drama of Woman. St. Martin’s Press, 1983.

110  Enriching and Mocking Tradition Spacks, Patricia Meyer. “Sisters.” Fetter’d or Free: British Women Novelists 1670–1815, edited by Mary Anne Schofield and Cecilia Macheski. Ohio University Press, 1986, pp. 136–151. Tanner, Tony. “Introduction.” Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, edited by Tony Tanner, Penguin Books, 1969, pp. 7–34. Tave, Stuart M. Some Words of Jane Austen. University of Chicago Press, 1973. Veisz, Elizabeth. “Lydia’s Prospect: Scandal, Sequels, and Second Chances.” Persuasion: The Jane Austen Journal, vol. 35, 2013, pp. 235–243. Waldron, Mary. Jane Austen and the Fiction of Her Time. Cambridge University Press 1999. Zionkowski, Linda. “Plans of Economy in Persuasion.” Persuasions: The Jane Austen Journal, vol. 40, 2018, pp. 45–60.


Flawed Heroes and Rescuing Heroines Victorian Challenges and Adherence to Tradition

The Victorian Courtship Novel In courtship novels of the Victorian period from the late 1840s through the 1890s, we see increasing complexity in the portrayal of the safety-danger-protection issue for courting couples. This complexity reflects both recognition and significant questioning of established gender ideology. This chapter focuses on texts by five major Victorian novelists, in which the courtship story is paramount. Particularly striking in these works by Charlotte Bronte, Elizabeth Gaskell, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, and Thomas Hardy are gender role reversals, involving deeply flawed or deficient heroes whose promises of protection ring hollow, and heroines who engage in daring rescues of the men they love. In spite of these reversals, men and women in these Victorian novels still operate within a world where established gender norms are upheld, male privilege prevails, and the guarding of a woman’s reputation is serious business. Self-sacrifice is a cherished ideal for female behavior, and the chivalric protection code remains an expressed expectation for male behavior. The courtship scenarios explored here are also profoundly affected by two divergent beliefs about women: they are the weaker sex in terms of their emotional and physical state; and they are morally superior beings, who are expected to function as men’s spiritual guardians, ensuring the sanctity of the home and moral well-being of family members.1 Aurora Leigh, the eponymous heroine of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s 1853 courtship novel-poem, suggests the degree to which traditional and changing gender norms tend to intertwine during the Victorian period. Planning to “save” the poem’s hero, Romney “from a devil’s company” even if she would have to “undo” herself, Aurora vehemently sums up her role as woman in these terms: We’re all so—made so—‘tis our woman’s trade To suffer torment for another’s ease. The world’s male chivalry has perished out, But women are knights-errant to the last; (Book VII, lines 222–225, 229)

112  Flawed Heroes and Rescuing Heroines While the poetic form for Browning’s novel is unique, prose serialized novels were enormously popular during the Victorian period, and their range, as Francis O’Gorman points out, reflects an “energetic variety” (2). Despite the capacious scope of their works, Victorian novelists sustain the courtship framework as a defining marker of the novel genre. Although they usually tackle a wide variety of social, political, and economic issues, these novelists retain a primary love interest involving major characters. Michael Wheeler points out that despite an expansive degree of content and tendency toward multiple plots in Victorian novels, “courtship and marriage remained the main staple of plotting in fiction throughout the Victorian age” (80). Tom Winnifrith suggests that courtship as well as seduction permeates Victorian novels when he writes, “Victorian novelists were interested in all aspects of human life, of which human sexuality is clearly an important part, if not the most important” (146). Two popular subgenres generated during the Victorian period, which incorporated the courtship narrative, are the social problem novel and the bildungsroman or coming-of-age novel. According to O’Gorman, “social problem novels” were particularly characteristic of the early Victorian period and primarily “exposed the shortcomings of modern industrial society” (149). Within the latter part of the nineteenth century, these novels of social consciousness increasingly address women’s struggles in relation to rigid standards of ideal feminine behavior. The other prominent Victorian novel form, acknowledged by William Marshall and Randall Stevenson, focuses on the development of a male or female protagonist from childhood days to adulthood. Joseph Boone emphasizes the tie between these coming-of-age novels and courtship/marriage narratives when he notes that “. . . most fictional expositions of love have to some degree followed the time-honored form of the bildungsroman, for the story of a youth’s progress from innocence to adulthood . . . is often marked by the vicissitudes and trials of love” (74). The courtship novels explored here build on the social and psychological realism of Austen’s fiction as they engage with challenging social issues of the day. In many of these works, a seduction plot provides a minor counterpoint to the major narrative involving the male and female protagonist. As Joseph Boone points out, Victorian novelists were in general content to incorporate seduction into their texts as admonitory subplots . . . Its secondary status as such could thus ‘safely’ be used to enhance the exemplary status and appeal of the wedlock ideal touted in the narrative’s major development. (113) Talia Schaffer frames the link between seduction and courtship themes in different terms. She distinguishes between the safe or “familiar”

Flawed Heroes and Rescuing Heroines  113 suitor and the more mysterious, dangerous, “romantic” suitor (7) and views the prevalence of a rivalry pattern between these character types as a way to help Victorian readers work out a balance between features of the practical, secure marriage and the “the newly dominant idea” of the passionate “romantic marriage” (8). While the enduring wedlock ideal strongly induces Victorian novelists to maintain the happily-everafter ending that often melds features of what Schaffer designates as familiar and romantic, authors such as Thomas Hardy, in particular, openly resist this pull. 2

Jane Eyre (1847) While Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, published in 1847, is often viewed primarily as a female “coming-of-age” narrative, according to Frederick Karl, it is also predominantly a courtship novel following the normative comedic pattern (98). In similar fashion, romance writer expert, Pamela Regis, observes that while Bronte’s widely acclaimed novel “incorporates elements of Bildungsroman,” “the remaining three quarters of the work are devoted to courtship” (86). Danger words and recurring image patterns as well as protection/ safety language abound within the pages of Bronte’s tumultuous, obstacle-strewn love tale, as we follow the fortunes of an orphaned heroine wooed by two contrasting suitors. Through her use of danger/protection motif, Bronte upholds existing female gender ideology—emphasizing the value of feminine chastity, a woman’s use of reason to defend against passion, and a woman’s role as man’s spiritual savior. However, despite this bow to literary/cultural tradition, Bronte subverts the paradigm of a noble male hero protecting a delicate maiden. She creates a uniquely proactive female hero and endows both of her two male pursuers with a constellation of positive and negative traits that transcend the black and white characterizations of earlier traditional courtship texts. In the portrayal of her male protagonist, she creates a renegade villain-hero figure that, in a sense, builds upon Richardson’s Mr. B. in Pamela. Jane Eyre’s presence as female hero, not relying on male protection, remains consistent throughout Bronte’s novel. Surviving harsh environments and tyrannical parent substitutes at Gateshead and Lowood School as a child and boldly setting forth into the unknown as a governess at Thornfield Hall, Jane Eyre learns she can take care of herself by the time her courtship adventure commences. She diverges significantly from earlier fictional counterparts because of her status as an educated, independent woman, earning her way in the world. She is, thus, a forerunner of the Victorian “New Woman,” a character type increasingly present in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century fiction. By dramatically presenting Jane in the rescuer role more than once, Bronte seriously undercuts the cultural norm of male chivalry.

114  Flawed Heroes and Rescuing Heroines Small-framed and seemingly fragile, Jane Eyre repeatedly rescues the brawny, almost exaggeratedly masculine Rochester. At their initial meeting, when Rochester falls from his horse on an icy road, he needs to lean on Jane, in order to remount so he can proceed homeward. A short while later when Rochester is nearly burned alive in his bed, Jane actually saves his life by awakening him with a dousing of water. Surly and accusatory during the initial incident, he now gratefully acknowledges her as his “cherished preserver” (156). Jane’s role as source of strength and safety for Rochester is once again apparent when he hears the news that his brother-in-law, Richard Mason, is waiting to see him. Perceiving Rochester’s state of helplessness at this moment, Jane immediately invites him to “lean on [her]” (205). Conscious of her previous aid, he acquiesces with these words, “Jane, you offered me your shoulder once before; let me have it now,” and Jane eagerly accommodates her beloved by also offering her “arm” (205). Highlighting his view of Jane as source of shelter, Rochester caps this moment with a wish for her sole companionship on a “quiet island” devoid of “trouble, and danger, and hideous recollections” (205). Besides her role as rescuer, Jane defies traditional stereotypes of courtship heroines by repeatedly revealing how intrepid she can be in the face of Rochester’s power, a power derived from his virile, bullying presence, life experience, and social stature. Even after their aborted wedding ceremony, Jane is undaunted when Rochester, crazed with grief, demands that she “share” his “solitude” and threaten’s “violence” (298), looking like “a man who is just about to . . . plunge headlong into wild licence” (298). Although Jane refers to this moment as a “crisis” that is “perilous,” she asserts that she is “not afraid, not in the least,” given her “inward power” and “sense of influence” over the hero (299). Jane also remains relatively nonplussed in the face of Gothic terrors at Thornfield Hall. Although her hand may tremble and her blood run cold when a “demoniac” laugh (153) is heard, or fires are set in the night, or a house guest gasps from grievous wounds, Jane seems to take all these events in stride maintaining her composure and, surprisingly, even a sense of overall safety. Assuming that the servant Grace Poole has perpetrated the “malignant pranks” (159), Jane is more perplexed and irate than terrified. Wisely concluding that she needs to be on her “guard,” Jane, indignantly rather than tremulously, addresses Grace with these words: “I was not aware any danger or annoyance was to be dreaded at Thornfield Hall; but in future . . . I shall take care to make all secure before I venture to lie down” (159). In contrast to the heroine’s intrepid response to a variety of external dangers, the perils within Jane’s psyche, as she confronts her passion for Rochester, are conveyed in potent and richly metaphorical terms. Bronte’s elaborations upon Jane’s internal danger reveal both traditional and non-traditional elements. While Jane’s sense of love’s dangers closely

Flawed Heroes and Rescuing Heroines  115 reflects the strong warnings pronounced by conduct book authors in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as well as the anxieties experienced by previous more conventional courtship heroines, Jane ultimately breaks new ground even in this area. Once Jane fully recognizes the “feverish” (156) nature of her emotions and the “imagination’s boundless and trackless waste” into which she has “been straying” (164), she begins a rigorous campaign to force herself back “into the safe fold of common sense” (164). During this selfprotective process, she chastises herself for having “swallowed poison as if it were nectar” (164) and also fears that if her love is “discovered and responded to,” she must enter “miry wilds, whence there is no extrication” (164). Like her traditional courtship novel predecessors, she also believes that if she allows “a secret love” that is “unreturned and unknown” to “kindle” within her, it “must devour the life that feeds it” (164). Jane’s use of fire imagery mirrors the language of conduct book writers who urge women to guard their emotional, social, and even physical safety when they harbor intense love feelings. For example, the very popular “The Whole Duty of a Woman” warns its female readers to carry themselves “with an even temper and deportment; and as [their] love kindles” to be “sure to keep it from blazing outwardly” (Kenrick 34). Safety/danger language continues to emerge when Rochester returns with the beautiful Blanche Ingram and his other fashionable associates for a lavish house party. Jane, assuming she will be safe if she stays out of sight, comes forth from her “asylum” only “with precaution” (170) and experiences “trepidation” (173) when her mandatory appearance before the group is approaching. In this episode, it is clear that the courageous woman never fears these other people; what frightens her is the possibility of self-annihilation if her feelings for Rochester do not remain under control. This apprehension of grave danger is particularly apparent one evening in the crowded parlor when Jane finds herself “Irresistably fix[ing]” her “glances” on Rochester. The “poignant pleasure” she experiences, at this instant, is compared to “a steely point of agony: a pleasure like what the thirst-perishing man might feel who knows the well to which he has crept is poisoned, yet stoops and drinks divine draughts nevertheless” (177). Jane’s emotional responses grow more complex when she views Rochester as a source of both peril and safety. For example, when she believes Rochester’s marriage with Blanche is imminent, she claims she “must seek another situation” for she wants to be “safe” with her little student Adele “out of the house before” Rochester’s “bride enters it” (226). However, after returning from her visit to her dying aunt at Gateshead, she is tempted to view Rochester as her shield. Even as she is “strangl[ing] a new-born agony” (243) and thus striving mightily to avoid making “an absolute fool of [her]self” (243), Jane “half” hopes that “even after his marriage,” Rochester will “keep” her, Adele, and

116  Flawed Heroes and Rescuing Heroines Mrs. Fairfax, the housekeeper, “together somewhere under the shelter of his protection” (245). When on that same night, Jane accidentally comes upon Rochester in the “shadowy orchard” (248), she dares not “risk a long sentence” (249), lest she unleash her uncontrollable emotions, yet, in a full assertion of self, she reveals the overwhelming ardor she has been so zealously guarding. Rather than an enemy, her love becomes an inseparable dimension of her inviolate being. Still believing that Rochester will marry Blanche, Jane boldly proclaims the “terror and anguish” she feels at the thought of being “torn from” Rochester “for ever” (251) and even likens her “departure” to “death” (251). In defying the deeply entrenched injunctions of conduct book writers on the subject of women’s reserve, Jane is far from weak or pathetic in this climactic scene. Angrily, she proclaims her equality with Rochester and her essence as a “free human being with an independent will” (252). When Rochester responds with a marriage proposal and succeeds in overcoming Jane’s doubts regarding his sincerity, the heroine revels in a complete sense of blissful safety. Her view of union with Rochester as a source of ultimate protection is so strong at this point that she remarkably remains “safe and tranquil,” with “no fear, and little awe,” even amidst the “fierce” lightening, thunder, and torrential rain of a storm powerful enough to demolish Thornfield’s “great horse-chestnut tree” (255). While this unleashing of nature’s fury symbolically foreshadows catastrophes to come, Jane’s mystifying sense of security presages the novel’s eventual happy union. Following the wedding ceremony fiasco, when Jane faces the full onslaught of Rochester’s desperate appeals, Bronte begins amplifying her heroine’s role as Rochester’s spiritual preserver while continuing to emphasize her potent internal strength. When Rochester accuses her of “snatch[ing] love and innocence from [him]” (312), her inner voice clamors with a rescue message she can barely resist: “Think of his misery; think of his danger . . . soothe him; save him; love him; tell him you love him and will be his” (312). Yet, “Conscience and Reason” ultimately combine to prevent her from staying with Rochester and thus becoming his unlawful wife. Secure in her self-respect and the principles she lives by, Jane resolves to leave Rochester. Even though she is nearly “devour[ed]” by “his flaming glance” and momentarily feels “powerless as stubble exposed to the draught and glow of a furnace” (313), her strength abides, and we are told that “mentally, [she] still possessed [her] soul and with it the certainty of ultimate safety” (313). Bronte’s wording here suggests that Jane is protecting something far more intrinsically valuable than society’s notion of female chastity, and armored in this way, Jane becomes, in Rochester’s eyes, “so indomitable” in spite of being “so frail” (313). In contrast to Jane in this scene, Rochester is reduced to a state of weakness, for he is the one directly beseeching Jane to be his “rescuer” (314).

Flawed Heroes and Rescuing Heroines  117 Jane’s moment of most extreme danger derives from her conflicting needs to preserve her integrity and to rescue Rochester from his own “self-abandonment” (316). In the days after fleeing from Thornfield Hall, when she is “absolutely destitute” and close to starvation, her emotions are dominated by “Mr. Rochester and his doom” (319). Kneeling to “pray” for him, she gains peace of mind only after believing that he will be “safe” and “guarded” by “God” (319). Nowhere is Jane’s mission to function as the Rochester’s spiritual guardian more apparent than when she later experiences a mystical moment that propels her back to this soul-mate. Just as she is about to succumb to the entreaties of her second suitor, St. John Rivers, she hears Rochester calling out her name “in woe wildly, eerily, urgently,” and in response, she declares, “I am coming! . . . Wait for me! Oh, I will come!” (409). Viewing this supernatural communion as “the work of nature” and declaring that her “powers” are “in force” (410), Jane essentially becomes Rochester’s religious agent, feeling assured that her “spirit . . . is willing to do what is right” and that her “flesh . . . is strong enough to accomplish the will of Heaven” (410). The portrait of Rochester pales alongside the self-possessed and zealously protective Jane Eyre. His role as hero is complicated not only by a rough demeanor and a great deal of danger imagery that mask suffering and a basic fair-mindedness, but most significantly by his ineffectuality as the heroine’s shield. While Rochester views Jane as the guardian angel who can dissipate his despair, he falls far short of the chivalrous masculine ideal prevalent in traditional courtship novels. He teases Jane and employs mischievous tricks to uncover the passion she feels for him. In this way, he augments rather than assuages the internal peril that she experiences. Rochester’s failure to protect Jane is particularly striking in the episodes during which his sequestered wife, Bertha Mason, breaks free from her confinement to wreak havoc. Knowing that Bertha is capable of inflicting serious physical harm, Rochester seems curiously nonchalant in his guarding of Jane. He leaves her alone right next door to the room in which Bertha is kept, after she has seriously wounded her brother. After Rochester returns, having obtained medical help for the victim, his words of assurance ring hollow in the reader’s ears: “I should have been a careless shepherd if I had left a lamb—my pet lamb—so near a wolf’s den, unguarded: you were safe” (217). Soothing as they sound, these words become even more ironic when Bertha later escapes from her confines, at least two more times, to commit other destructive acts. Rochester’s inadequacy as shield is also apparent right after Jane accepts her master’s marriage proposal. Addressing a higher power in a defiant tone, Rochester acts as if he is making reprisals for a secret transgression when he declares: “It will atone—it will atone. Have I not found her friendless, and cold, and comfortless? Will I not guard, and cherish

118  Flawed Heroes and Rescuing Heroines and solace her?” (254). While these rhetorical questions suggest the hero’s chivalric role, in this context they represent rationalizations for the sin of bigamy that Rochester is about to commit. However, unlike the false vows of protection typically uttered by treacherous suitors, the passionate promise that Rochester makes seems to convey a fervent desire to offer the shelter of a lasting devotion, at least as long as there is no one to “meddle” with his resolve (254). On the night before Jane and Rochester’s planned nuptials, Rochester is far from a careful shepherd when the raging Bertha Mason actually invades Jane’s bedroom, destroying the heroine’s wedding veil. Instead of telling Jane the truth so that she can protect herself from a variety of physical and social dangers, Rochester pressures Jane to deny the proof of her senses and remains obsessed with taking his new “bride” away as soon as possible. While Rochester’s actions hurt Jane, Bronte’s language suggests that his numerous deceptions result primarily from an acute awareness of self-endangerment that overrides his concern for Jane’s welfare. As a Byronic figure, Rochester is portrayed not only as a dark, menacing presence but also as a deeply troubled soul. When he is awakened in the night by Bertha’s attack on her brother, Rochester is described as looking “dangerous” with “black eyes” that are “dart[ing] sparks” (208). Yet, beneath this devilish appearance is an extreme vulnerability to external threats related to his mad wife’s secret existence at Thornfield Hall. In talking to Jane after Mr. Mason’s wounding, Rochester cryptically mentions that he “cannot vouch” for his “danger” being “gone by” until “Mason is out of England” (217) and then supplies a powerful volcano image to convey his precarious existence: “To live, for me, Jane, is to stand on a crater-crust which may crack and spew fire any day” (217). Underlying this figurative language is Rochester’s enormous dread of losing Jane, a dread that renders Jane herself, a source of peril, for he acknowledges that she “may injure” him and dares not explain where he is “vulnerable” because she might “transfix” him at once (218). After Bertha’s secret existence is exposed, Rochester explains his concealments to Jane, once again demonstrating his self-absorbed focus on personal harm: “I wanted to have you safe before hazarding confidences” (311). The intensity of Rochester’s danger imagery suggests that he experiences a greater degree of risk than the heroine, a fact that represents a divergence from more traditional texts. While Jane’s inner universe is suffused with the peril of her feelings for Rochester, he depends on Jane for his very existence. With her personhood and moral principles at stake, Jane proves that she can leave Rochester and actually survive this exile, but Rochester is a lost soul without her. Devoid of her presence, his life disintegrates, as symbolized by the burned-out ruin of Thornfield and his subsequent debilitating injuries.

Flawed Heroes and Rescuing Heroines  119 Given his actions and interior state, Rochester represents a disconcerting amalgam of duplicitous villain and vulnerable hero. His portrait is further complicated by his staunch adherence, in some instances, to the protective code of an honorable man. Deceived by others into marrying Bertha Mason, whom he considers “cunning and malignant” (305), Rochester finds himself in a hellish trap. However, he takes measures to “Place her in safety and comfort” and to “shelter her degradation with secrecy” (305) before moving on with his life. And when Bertha sets her last fatal fire at Thornfield Hall, Rochester attempts to rescue her. This daring act of self-sacrifice, which leaves Rochester lamed and blind, is deeply ironic. Having failed so utterly to protect the woman he calls his guardian angel, Rochester performs his most striking chivalric act for a woman he despises and denigrates as subhuman. Yet by redeeming himself in this striking manner, he can now measure up to Jane as a genuine sheltering force, a fit mate for a virtuous, nurturing woman.3 Like Rochester, Jane’s second suitor, St. John Rivers blends the roles of rescuer and danger-maker. Although he resembles the pseudo-suitors of traditional works, being rejected by the heroine and constituting an obstacle in the heroine’s courtship journey, St. John differs greatly from the villains who abduct heroines and threaten to ruin their reputation. In fact, as a very grateful Jane acknowledges, he “rescue[s]” her, “by [his] noble hospitality, from death” and takes her “under the shelter of [his] roof” (341). However, while he is a devout man with lofty goals, his stern demeanor and deeply entrenched “stoicism” (360) render him “despotic” and “austere” (399). When he literally commands Jane to be his missionary wife in India, she feels as if an “iron shroud” is contract[ing] round [her]” (394) and regards the prospect of their loveless marriage as nothing less than a death of the soul.4 As St. John Rivers doggedly pursues his agenda, his demeanor is likened to the “icy” presence of an “avalanche” about to “fall” (402), and Jane’s response to this pressure reveals the extent of her “terror”: “If I were to marry you, you would kill me. You are killing me now” (402). When St. John softens his tone, acting like a kindly “guardian angel watching the soul for which he is responsible” (408), Jane almost succumbs to his wishes, as she sees “visions” of “eternity” that promise “safety and bliss” (408). However, her yielding at this moment is conveyed through a danger metaphor that captures the extremity of her current state: “I was tempted to cease struggling with him—to rush down the torrent of his will into the gulf of his existence, and there lose my own” (408). At this moment of St. John’s most perilous influence, Jane, turning to prayer, miraculously hears Rochester’s plaintive voice summoning her presence and reaffirms a mission tied to Rochester’s welfare and her heart’s true feelings, rather than to any established religious order. In their final reunion, Jane and Rochester gain a life-renewing state of supreme safety. However, before Rochester can arrive there fully, he

120  Flawed Heroes and Rescuing Heroines needs to accept a redefinition of the husband’s traditional protector role. Viewing himself as a blighted “ruin” akin to the “old lightning-struck tree” at Thornfield (433), he balks at his dependency, for not only is he disabled and may need Jane’s physical assistance, but his financial resources will not be necessary because Jane has become an heiress and is now her “own mistress” (423). In response to Rochester’s misgivings, Jane compares her beloved to a “green and vigorous” tree whose roots allow nearby plants to flourish” because his “strength offers them so safe a prop” (433). Reassured by these remarks, Rochester ultimately accepts not only Jane’s physical guidance with good grace but also her reframing of his limitations in terms that highlight the couple’s newfound level of equality. She declares that she “love[s]” him “better now, when [she] can really be useful to [him],” than when he existed in a “state of proud independence” and “disdained every part but that of the giver and protector” (434). In this statement, Jane reinforces a two-fold message—affirming both a modern marriage of equals and the traditional sanctity of woman’s care-taking role. Nancy Cervetti also notes the blend of old and new in this ending, but in somewhat different terms than mine. She refers to the Jane-Rochester union as an unconventional “marriage of reversals” in which “Jane, with wealth and power, becomes the desiring subject” (68). Yet, Cervetti qualifies the radical nature of this novel when she points out that “the old romance plot complete with a fairy-tale ending runs parallel to the subversion in Jane Eyre” (68).

Mary Barton (1848) Like Jane Eyre, Elizabeth Gaskell’s Mary Barton follows a traditional courtship novel plot trajectory, featuring a heroine with two suitors and concluding with the union of loving mates. While Jane Eyre intertwines a coming-of-age narrative with its courtship story, Mary Barton, as Carolyn Lesjak points out, is a “classic” of the “industrial novel” in which the “so-called romance plot and political plot—become giddily indistinct” (50). While “Gaskell claimed she had in fact originally meant the novel to be called ‘John Barton’” (xv), its final title focusing on the heroine privileges the courtship narrative, which is “well integrated with both the John Barton element of the plot and the broad themes in general” (Wright, xvii). In Mary Barton, Gaskell follows old paths and charts new ground in the world of the courtship novel. She enriches her characterizations of heroine and hero with a mixture of virtues and flaws to enhance the realism of her work. She also subverts the hero-protector icon, but in a more subtle manner than Charlotte Bronte. While Gaskell initially presents her hero as a capable rescuer, she gently calls into question the hero’s rigid gender stereotyping. Like Bronte, Gaskell also presents a powerful role reversal situation, where the heroine proves her physical

Flawed Heroes and Rescuing Heroines  121 prowess and courage as an active rescuing agent of the hero. At the same time, Gaskell basically upholds her society’s traditional notions pertaining to gender roles and characteristics. Gaskell’s novel sounds a very traditional note when near the beginning of the courtship story, the hero Jem Wilson performs supremely courageous acts of rescue and establishes himself as the kindly, responsible, and faithful lover of the heroine. When Carson’s Mill is burning, Jem crosses a “perilous bridge” (52) consisting of a “ladder” flung between two buildings and quivering beneath him, in order to rescue both his unconscious father and a fellow worker. Jem’s heroic stature is manifest, as the anxious “multitude in the street” loudly proclaims their approbation when “all are saved” (53). Even though Mary Barton is not yet aware that she loves Jem, she faints with terror during this suspenseful episode. While her reaction may be used to signal her positive feelings toward Jem, it also reinforces an image of female fragility that would be very familiar to Victorian readers. When Jem later proposes to Mary after he has become a foreman and believes he can adequately support a wife, he reinforces his role as sincere protector. Admitting that he lacks the gallantry of rhetorical flourishes, he presents his offer in these unvarnished terms: And now, Mary, I’ve a home to offer you, and a heart as true as ever man had to love you and cherish you; we shall never be rich folk, I dare say; but if a loving heart and a strong right arm can shield you from sorrow, or from want, mine shall do it. (126) These words and the love Jem has been showing all along leave no doubt that he is the moral, upstanding suitor we are supposed to admire. Despite Jem’s suitability, his traditional proposal is not successful, and Mary’s firm refusal sets the stage for a more mixed portrait of the novel’s hero. Rather than bearing this rejection with grace, “His agitation [rises] and [carries] him into passion” (127), and surprisingly, his words take on a “tone” of “threatening despair” (127), not unlike that of Rochester when Jane refuses him. Like Rochester, Jem holds Mary responsible for his moral and spiritual well-being when he says: “Mary, you’ll hear, maybe, of me as a drunkard, and may be as a thief, and may be as a murderer. Remember! when all are speaking ill of me, you will have no right to blame me, for it’s your cruelty that will have made me what I feel I shall become” (127). Jem’s excessively bitter reaction in this scene both complicates his initial portrayal as masculine paragon and highlights the Victorian ideology of the woman as necessary source of spiritual protection. Gaskell’s portrait of Jem continues to blend strengths and flaws. Despite his threat and anguish in response to Mary’s rejection, he plods on, determined enough to build a career and noble enough to take on the

122  Flawed Heroes and Rescuing Heroines mantle of Mary’s protector when an opportunity presents itself. Mary’s prostitute aunt Esther, sensing that her beautiful niece is in danger of becoming a fallen woman like herself, seeks Jem’s help. Esther informs Jem that Mary has been meeting regularly with a gentleman far above her in station and beseeches Jem to “save” Mary “from harm” (155). In response, Jem not only accepts the challenge to guard Mary, promising, “With heart and soul” to do all he can to “keep her from falling” (160), but also attempts to “save” (160) the ruined Esther by helping her “lead a virtuous life” (159). Yet his Charles Grandison-type response is complicated by the fact that he still harbors feelings of rage. Smitten with the knowledge that Mary seems to love another, Jem experiences “a “frenzy of jealousy” (161). He even imagines murdering Mary and then thinks of killing her “wooer,” before his “better voice” forces him to consider the “anguish” he would inflict on Mary if he does so (162). Then after briefly contemplating suicide, he recalls his “solemn” promise to “save Mary from becoming such as Esther” (162). Ultimately giving the victory to the benevolent side of his “nature” (162), he frames this rhetorical question: “Would it not be a goodly thing to serve her, although she loved him not; to be her preserving angel, through the perils of life; and she unconscious all the while?” (162). Following these words, he concludes his internal debate by vowing “with God’s help,” to be his beloved’s “earthly keeper” (162). As “earthly keeper,” Jem decides he will even help to secure a matrimonial union between Mary and her lover, Harry Carson, by advocating for it with Mary’s father, who is fiercely opposed to the upper classes. However, having determined that his first “duty” (163) is to ascertain if Harry’s intentions are honorable, Jem initiates an encounter with Harry. When Harry calls Mary “an arrant flirt” and a “little hussy” (172), Jem resists believing this view of his beloved, yet resolves to “protect” the “poor faulty darling” (172) if she is as Harry describes her. As Jem presses Harry regarding his motives, their tempers flare, and the hero delivers a blow that levels his rival. As Jem stands over his fallen enemy, “panting with rage,” the narrator’s ominous words highlight the hero’s murderous potential: “What he would have done next in this moment of ungovernable passion, no one knows” (174). Even when a passing policeman intervenes, Jem continues to act as Mary’s fierce protector, threatening retribution if Harry should “dare to injure her in the least” (175). In response to Harry’s threat that “Mary shall fare no better for your insolent interference” (175), Jem counters in a way leaving little doubt of his serious intentions: “And if you dare to injure her in the least, I will await you where no policeman can step in between. And God shall judge between us two” (175). While Jem seems beside himself with anger, we, as readers, nevertheless, have a sense that he acts on the side of righteousness. At the start of her courtship story, Mary, like her traditional predecessors, is a beautiful, naïve young woman who needs to learn how to

Flawed Heroes and Rescuing Heroines  123 distinguish the true from the false lover. Like her stereotypic counterparts, Mary is distinctly unsheltered, losing her mother at a young age and largely neglected by a father increasingly consumed by his opium addiction and bitterness at the social injustice surrounding him. Left to her own devices, Mary works daily at a millinery establishment, manages her father’s domestic sphere, and travels around town usually unaccompanied. Caught up in a romantic dream of a luxurious life with the handsome, wealthy Harry Carson, Mary denies her feelings for Jem. She is not aware of any peril in her situation, until she refuses Jem’s proposal and realizes just how much she loves him. At this climactic point, Mary is able to view Harry as someone who has “decoyed her with his baubles” (128), and her realization of her encouraging behavior is couched in the following powerful danger metaphor: “She had hitherto been walking in grope-light towards a precipice; but in the clear revelation of that past hour she saw her danger, and turned away resolutely, and for ever” (128). Since Mary still believes Harry’s courting intentions are “honourable” (131), this danger image, commonly suggesting seduction fears, seems to reflect Mary’s guilt over her own moral failing rather than fear of a libertine’s advances. When she describes her past encouragement of Harry as a “cruel mistake” (129), she recognizes that she might have made a fateful error in choosing the wrong husband. Once Mary begins actively avoiding encounters with Harry, she learns to “dread” him (130), and when she successfully eludes him, she feels “safe from any encounter on her road” (130). When this persistent lover actually proposes marriage yet makes it clear that his proposal is designed to secure Mary’s sexual favors at any cost, he reveals his true colors as a pseudo-suitor. Mary’s response to this crude proposal reflects major positive facets of her character: her strong moral compass, compassion, and assertiveness. Since Mary “dread[s]” hurting Harry if her past receptiveness toward him has “called out” a “deep feeling” (134), she experiences relief when she learns that his “attachment was of that low, despicable kind which can plan to seduce the object of its affection” (134). Feeling she “need not be penitent to such a plotter” (134), she freely expresses her “scorn” and flies “off like a bolt” (134) from Harry’s grasping embrace. Despite her clear conscience regarding Harry’s heart ache, Mary faces danger from this “persecuting lover” (152), both to her physical wellbeing and to her reputation. As he “lie[s] in wait for her with wonderful perseverance” (152), Mary begins to wear a “hunted look, so full of dread” (152). During her father’s extended absence, Mary feels devoid of any “protection against Harry Carson and his threats” and “dread[s] lest he should learn she [is] alone” (195). In this text, Gaskell makes it clear that Mary must fight her own battles in spite of any efforts that her fallen aunt Esther and Jem might make on her behalf.

124  Flawed Heroes and Rescuing Heroines Mary’s heroic managing of her own battles takes a new turn when she learns of Harry’s murder, Jem’s arrest for the crime, and her own father’s role as the actual assassin. Moving beyond convention in this part of the novel, Gaskell spotlights her heroine as the bold knight-like rescuer. Reeling from Jem’s mother’s image of her as a “Dalilah” figure “lur[ing]” her son “to his danger” (221), Mary sets forth to prove her beloved suitor’s innocence while keeping her father’s guilt a secret. Portrayed as a solitary figure, Mary, with an “innate power” (238), reminiscent of Jane Eyre, determines that Jem “must be saved” (238) and “long[s] to do all herself; to be his liberator, his deliverer; to win him life” (247). Reflecting a gender role reversal that flouts tradition, Mary’s protective interventions prove to be far more effectual than Jem’s. Her rescue mission involves locating Jem’s cousin, Will, who can provide the alibi needed to clear the hero of the murder charge. Described as a woman with increased “dignity, self-reliance, and purpose” (252), Mary travels alone by train to the bustling, unfamiliar Liverpool dockyards, and then sails on choppy waters in a “shabby little river boat” (286) with a crew of “two rough, hard-looking men” (283), in order to reach Will’s ship, which is just about to set sail. Although Will’s ship puts out to sea, just as this boat is approaching, Mary manages to get her message across to Will, who responds that he will return in “time enough to save the life of the innocent” (287). Amidst serious hazards, Mary forges ahead, taxing her mind and body to its limit. Becoming quite ill and disoriented as she awaits Will’s arrival in the courtroom, Mary, nevertheless, tenaciously retains consciousness until Will arrives to give the testimony that will exonerate Jem. Despite the radical nature of Mary’s heroics, Gaskell upholds Jem’s masculine prerogative as the woman’s defender and diminishes the image of Mary’s strength. During Jem’s arrest and trial, it is clear that he is making the supreme sacrifice for the heroine by harboring the incriminating secret that John Barton borrowed his gun and thus is the real murderer. Moreover, just at the moment when Jem is “safe” (323) from a murder conviction due to Mary’s valiant efforts, Mary succumbs to brain fever, “hover[ing] between life and death” (335), and her illness provides another opportunity for the author to showcase the hero’s sheltering care. Having learned of Mary’s deep love for him because of her testimony on the witness stand, Jem views the heroine “as more his own, to guard from all shadow of injury with most loving care, than as belonging to any one else in the world” (334). Reinforcing Jem’s sense of parental prerogative, Gaskill’s narrator likens Mary to a newborn babe as her brain awakens. Seeing Jem’s “ever-bending look,” she “smile[s] gently, as a baby does when it sees its mother tending its little cot” (336), and before “memory and intelligence” return, she views Jem with “her innocent, infantile gaze” (336). Even as Mary convalesces, the child imagery continues with the heroine described as “totter[ing] once more out into the open air, leaning on Jem’s arm, and close to his beating heart” (338).

Flawed Heroes and Rescuing Heroines  125 From this diminishment of her power, Mary, however, does re-create her demeanor of noble courage as she subtly challenges Jem’s overly protective stance. Maturing quickly well beyond the “toddler” stage of her recovery, she firmly counters Jem’s demand that she not “go home,” with the words, “I must go home, and I must go alone” (338). Suspecting the return of her father, Mary resolves to face him on her own. While tempted to claim “protection against the life she must lead, for some time, at least, alone with a murderer” (340), she adheres to “filial duty” (340) and the love she bears for a father who treated her kindly as a child. Like a full-fledged and fearless Victorian “Angel in the House,” she vows to “watch over him tenderly” in order to “pour oil and balm into the bitter wounds” (340). Rather than affirming Mary’s determination, Jem magnifies her fragility, in his attempt to maintain his guardian-like function. Readers experience almost a contest between the two worthy lovers that is both amusing and ironic in effect. When Jem sees Mary after she has rejoined her father at home, he notices she is “all in a tremble” and declares, “with fond exaggeration of her helplessness,” that she is “not fit to be trusted home by [her]self” (349). Yet, the troubled appearance that Jem notices actually reflects Mary’s concern over his welfare, for she has just received news pertaining to his job loss and is very disturbed by the damage to Jem’s reputation resulting from the murder trial. Despite this amusing gendered competition on “who’s protecting whom,” the hero and heroine’s engagement in mutually shielding behaviors signals the fortunate and secure companionate union so typical of traditional courtship novels. Moreover, at this novel’s conclusion, we are left with a cozy tableau in which Mary, as wife and mother, awaits her husband’s return from work. With her heroic adventure behind her, Mary settles into a state of domestic contentment, which affirms the separation of spheres so zealously preserved by John Ruskin and likeminded Victorian cultural gurus. Gaskell’s use of danger/safety language in Mary Barton highlights a blend of adherence and resistance to gender norms of traditional courtship novels. This melding becomes particularly striking in her depiction of the hero and heroine’s features and actions. In her book, Victorian Women’s Fiction: Marriage, Freedom and the Individual, Shirley Foster suggests Gaskell’s cautious approach to change when she notes her “tentative questioning of current ideologies about womanly roles,” and adds that Mary Barton “does not offer any direct challenges to romantic orthodoxies” (144).

The Personal History of David Copperfield (1850) As one of the Victorian period’s most renowned voices, Charles Dickens created panoramic novels featuring a large cast of characters, and, in doing so, emphasized the consequences of many pressing social problems.

126  Flawed Heroes and Rescuing Heroines While courtship narratives occupy a place in several Dickens novels, courtship and seduction scenarios play a crucial role in David Copperfield. Although Joseph Boone points out, as a male bildungsroman, “the love interest” in this one “remains only one of several aspects defining” the hero’s development (75), the series of “love interests” David experiences color the essence of the entire novel and are inseparable from its major plot trajectory.5 David infuses a self-deprecating tone into first-person narration, as he describes his adolescent infatuations and his “sickly, spoony manner” (269). Through the way David mocks his own behavior, using hyperbolic sentimental language, Dickens also satirizes his hero’s male rescue fantasy. When David, at seventeen, becomes consumed with a shortterm “passion” that is “beyond all bounds” (268) for thirty-year-old Miss Larkins, he imagines grandly chivalric actions in terms that resemble the daring behavior of Jem Wilson in Mary Barton. Recalling one of his regular “walks outside Mr. Larkins’ house,” he shares his reflections in these terms: wishing that a fire would burst out; that the assembled crowd would stand appalled; that I, dashing through them with a ladder, might rear it against her window, save her in my arms, go back for something she had left behind, and perish in the flames. For I am generally disinterested in my love, and think I could be content to make a figure before Miss Larkins, and expire. (269) David’s daydreaming not only illustrates how Dicken’s hero has imbibed the popular notion of masculine protectiveness but also ironically sets in relief the degree to which he will fall short of the traditional hero stereotype in his later interactions with the females whose welfare is so important to him. In this novel’s significant subplot, David’s disconcertingly blind devotion to James Steerforth seriously compromises his ability to act as the protector of Emily, a beautiful orphan girl whom he very much admires. Referring to Steerforth as his “dearest friend, the protector of my boyhood, and the companion of my prime” (360), David toasts his friend as the “guiding star” of his “existence” (360). This worshipful view of Steerforth keeps David from detecting the treacherous side of his friend in relation to Emily. Unable to read the cues of Steerforth’s seduction scheme, he gushes over his friend’s generosity and also misses the sarcasm of Steerforth’s reference to Emily’s professed suitor, Ham, as a “true knight” who never leaves her!” (325). For David, the devoted Ham is simply “a very fit protector for the blooming little creature at his side” (325). Both Steerforth’s flippant attitude toward Ham’s chivalric presence and David’s misconstruction of his idol’s cynical words draw the reader’s attention to the prevalence of the traditional male protector role,

Flawed Heroes and Rescuing Heroines  127 a role that Mr. Peggotty, Emily’s surrogate father, also upholds when he describes Ham as the one who has “a right to defend” Emily (314). While David desires Emily’s welfare, he remains strikingly inert in the face of her travail, and his anguished onlooker behavior resembles the “passive protecting” of traditional virtuous females in early courtship novels. Gwendolyn Needham highlights David’s ineffectuality when she points out that he “lacks active courage” and “has a passive fortitude” (87). After Steerforth seduces Emily, David suffers guilt that he has initially introduced his friend into the Peggotty household, but he never confronts this man who has betrayed both his and Emily’s trust. David cannot bring himself to even condemn the man he has loved so deeply and is, in fact, as thoroughly beguiled as Emily by Steerforth’s charming facade.6 When Mr. Littimer, Steerforth’s servant, Steerforth’s mother, and her companion, Rosa Dartle, all vilify Emily as the “designing enemy” (673) who has ensnared Steerforth, David offers an anemic defense of his beloved female friend. In a politely restrained manner, all he manages to declare is that she has been “deeply wronged” and “cruelly deluded” (673). Even when faced with the full knowledge of his idol’s “treacherous” (469) behavior, David holds his judgment of Steerforth in abeyance. Despite his immediate impulse to “curse” Steerforth (454), David hesitantly admits, to his readers, that he “never loved Steerforth better than when the ties that bound” him to this man are “broken” (455). He also acknowledges that if he “had been brought face to face with him,” he “could not have uttered one reproach” because “the memory” of his “affection” is still so potent that he would be “as weak as a spirit-wounded child” (455). This last phrase reinforces the portrait of Dickens’ protagonist as a vulnerable and distinctly unheroic young man. When Mr. Peggotty seeks the wayward Emily after she has left Steerforth, David does help locate Martha, a prostitute to whom Emily has been kind in the past, yet Martha’s rescuing role is shown to be far more robust than David’s. Martha is more than willing to protect Emily “if [she] [has] any shelter to divide with her” and promises to bring Emily to David and Peggotty (685). Ready to “devote herself to this task, fervently and faithfully” (685), Martha is the one who actually “save[s] Emily from ultimate ruin in London, bringing her “safe out, in the dead of the night, from that black pit of ruin!” (729), which, in Victorian terms, undoubtedly refers to hellish existence as a beggarly prostitute. After Emily is found and David overhears her being viciously insulted and threatened by Rosa Dartle, he agonizes, but chooses not to act. As he impatiently awaits the arrival of Mr. Peggotty and hears Emily’s “frightened murmur,” he is paralyzed by indecision. Although he wants to end this painful “interview,” he feels that he has “no right to present [himself]; that it was for Mr. Peggotty alone to see her and recover her” (718). While David may be judging wisely that Mr. Peggotty’s presence

128  Flawed Heroes and Rescuing Heroines will be less embarrassing than his own to the fallen young woman, his lack of action as he listens to Emily’s outcries constitutes a prominent feature of this scene. When Emily’s assailant finally departs and Mr. Peggotty arrives, David, at last “looking in,” witnesses the vintage heroic behavior of his fatherly friend, “supporting” Emily’s “insensible figure in his arms” and carrying her “motionless and unconscious, down the stairs” (723). David’s lack of agency as a strong guard for the women he loves is once again apparent in his courtship of and marriage to Dora Spenlow. When David falls in love with her at first sight, his language use suggests a focus on his own endangerment. He feels as if he has been “swallowed up in an abyss of love in an instant” and lacks the power to pause “on the brink” (390). While it is difficult to take seriously David’s melodramatic words, he does end up wed to a most unsuitable mate. Enormously attracted to this young lady, who is a caricature of the infantilized female, David automatically assumes a doting, fatherly role, using the adjective “little” to describe nearly every feature that captivates him. Yet his male role is not depicted as powerful or enviable, for he suggests that he has lost control of his own agency, describing himself as “a lost youth” being “led” into “hopeless slavery” by Dora’s “most fascinating little ways” (391). When Dora playfully refers to her adored little dog, Jip as a much better “protector” than the chaperone that her father has hired for her (395), her words are viewed by David as “a new heap of fetters, riveted above the last” (395). David’s reactions during this episode suggest how keenly he is both drawn to and trapped by the prospect of becoming Dora’s devoted defender. David’s self-demeaning narrative voice emerges again, when walking around the outside of his loved one’s home, he “romantically call[s] on the night, at intervals, to shield [his] Dora” even though he admits he doesn’t “exactly know what from” (474). He proceeds to flippantly guess that he is praying to shield Dora “from fire” or “Perhaps from mice, to which she had a great objection” (474). From lighthearted ignorance of what might be sources of Dora’s danger, David demonstrates a more serious failing as protector when he learns that his prospects have dimmed considerably due to his aunt’s financial ruin. Even though he is wracked with guilt that he cannot adequately provide for Dora and considers “the chivalrous necessity of . . . releasing her from her engagement if she thought fit” (505), he does not decide against marrying Dora. Instead, he vows to work as hard as he can to earn this beloved “fragile flower” (554) as his “reward” (520). Despite this embrace of the Victorian husband’s normative role as his wife’s financial provider and possessor, David’s gestures in relation to Dora are rendered even more ineffectual by his dependency on Agnes Wickfield, whom David regards as the “guardian angel” to both Dora and himself (612). Although David accepts Dora’s designation of herself

Flawed Heroes and Rescuing Heroines  129 as his “Child-wife” (643), he realizes, after they marry, how much he needs a life partner who not only can help shoulder life’s “toils and cares” (646) but also can be his “counsellor” (646)—someone, in fact, like Agnes, who can “sustain” and “improve” him (646).7 When Dora’s health fails, David does carry his “light burden up and down stairs” (765), but he actually falls into a “swoon” (769) upon realizing that Dora is about to draw her last breath. Since swooning in nineteenth-century fiction is so widely associated with feminine delicacy, this is indeed a striking detail. And when David awakens, it is Agnes who provides the rescuing. Right before his eyes, “like a sacred presence” in David’s “lonely house” (769), she appears, ready to relieve him from the oblivion of total despair. From the moment David meets Agnes and during his time in the Wickfield home, her role as moral/spiritual savior is evident. He is impressed by her “bright and happy” countenance (223), “modest, orderly, placid manner” (232), and the readiness with which she meets her father’s needs. Consistently, he refers to her as “the better angel of the lives of all who come within her calm, self-denying influence” (268). Even during the period in which he is smitten with Dora, he acknowledges that “in all emotions” his “heart” would find “its refuge and best friend” in Agnes’ nearly divine presence (491). He even suggests that Agnes functions as his moral compass, when he declares that “all the harm” he has avoided and “all the little good” he has “done” can be traced back to her (519). Although Joseph Boone’s assessment that Agnes “symbolize[s] an inner principle within David himself” (76) makes sense, Dickens’ wording does suggest that David is profoundly dependent on her as an external agent. Although David’s fervent admiration for Agnes is accompanied by his genuine desire for her well-being, his protective gestures in relation to her are far more passive than active. While he utters grandiose phrases to assert his big brotherly role in Agnes’ love life, saying for example, that only “one of noble character” will receive his “consent” (276), his guarantees of protection become quite ironic when dealing with the villainous Uriah Heep. When Uriah reveals his desire to claim Agnes for his wife, David does virtually nothing to intervene, despite his awareness that this man already has power over Agnes’ father. Although David conjures up “a delirious idea of seizing the red-hot poker out of the fire, and running him through with it” (381), he never engages in any sort of battle with Uriah. Referring to him as a “wretch” (382) and struggling over what he “could” do and “ought to do,” David concludes “that the best course for her [Agnes’] peace was to do nothing” (383). Yet, this decision results in “a leaden dread” (383) that Agnes may actually “sacrifice” (385) herself for her father’s benefit by marrying Uriah. Even though David believes that the “greatest danger” for Agnes lies in the striking contrast between “the self-denial of her pure soul and the sordid baseness” of Uriah’s soul (385), he leaves “without explanation” (385).

130  Flawed Heroes and Rescuing Heroines David’s basic stance as viewer rather than doer continues during a subsequent visit when he perceives the entrenched presence of Uriah and his doting mother in the Wickfield home. Comparing these two individuals to “great bats hanging over the whole house, and darkening it with their ugly forms” (572), David gets hardly any sleep, yet still does nothing. When Uriah later confesses that he sees David as “quite a dangerous rival” (573), the hero inadvertently leaves the field open for this despicable man. Once again restraining himself “on account of Agnes,” David declares that he regards her “as a very dear sister” (573) and tells Uriah about his engagement to another. He then attempts to dissuade Uriah from his plan to pursue Agnes, by using words that are far more likely to harden rather than block the prideful Uriah’s resolve: “you ought to understand . . . that I believe Agnes Wickfield to be as far above you, and as far removed from all your aspirations, as that moon herself!” (574). Later viewing Uriah’s continued confidence as Agnes’ suitor, David returns to his realm of macho fantasy, proclaiming to himself that he would give “all” he has, in order to “knock” Uriah “down” (576). David eventually does speak up to ascertain if Agnes will be able to resist marrying Uriah in order to save her father from ruin. When Agnes reassures David with the words, “I have no apprehensions for me . . . the step you dread my taking, I shall never take” (613), he is relieved, rightly trusting that her own strength and wisdom are her most viable guardians. In contrast to David’s less than lackluster performance as Agnes’ protector, Agnes once again demonstrates her renovating influence when David wanders abroad stricken with grief and remorse after Dora’s death. Like Dr. Frankenstein’s solitary creature, David experiences alpine “precipices” and “wastes of ice and snow” (814). Yet coming to a place of “gentler vegetation,” he receives a letter from Agnes affirming the “strength” that will grow in him through his “sorrow” (815). Acknowledging in his response to Agnes that he has “been in sore need of her help” (816), David also, at this time, finally recognizes his romantic love for this icon of feminine perfection. However, he continues in a state of inertia, besieged, for a period of three years, by a set of “perplexities and inconsistences” (818), conveyed in a danger image of “shifting quicksands” (819). Not only does he dread losing Agnes’ “sisterly affection” (817), but he also contrasts his “weakness” to Agnes’ “fortitude” (818) while assuming that he has lost all chance of gaining her as a marriage partner. David’s lack of heroic manliness at this point is aptly captured by Gwendolyn Needham when she observes that “A confident man of action would have unhesitatingly tried his fortune” (105). In the novel’s denouement upon his return from abroad, David shows signs of a transformation, for his interactions with Agnes reveal both selflessness and offers of genuine emotional protection. He “guard[s]” her “sisterly affection with religious care” (841), and under the impression that she has a secret suitor, he reassures her that given his devotion,

Flawed Heroes and Rescuing Heroines  131 she should have no doubt that he can “resign [her] to a dearer protector, of [her] own choosing” (861). When she denies the existence of a suitor and hints at her true feelings, David is finally emboldened to declare his love while also chastising himself for being “so self-absorbed” and for allowing his “heedless fancy” (862) to delay their union for so long.8 David Copperfield both upholds and challenges Victorian gender ideology and traditions of the courtship novel. Besides delivering the stock happily-ever-after ending when David and Agnes attain a marriage of “domestic joy” that is nothing less than “perfect” (866), Dickens perpetuates the norms of his time by focusing on a virtuous, hard-working young man who can honestly declare that he has “always been thoroughly in earnest” (606). Dickens also vigorously promulgates the “Angel in the House” through his depiction of Agnes and elaborates upon the fragile female stereotype through Dora’s portrait. However, David Copperfield also reflects a subtle gender bending in its depiction of its eponymous hero, which dulls the luster of the hyper-masculinized rescuer icon established within the early days of courtship novels. While David repeatedly pays homage to the notion of the male as woman’s protector, “effeminate” hesitation and helplessness repeatedly characterize his behavior. He is also virtually seduced by the sophisticated young gentleman who offered a form of protection during a vulnerable time in his life. David’s opening words in his “personal history” aptly reflect the ambiguity of the male hero’s stature that is a growing phenomenon in the Victorian courtship novel: “Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show” (1).

Adam Bede (1859) As its title suggests, Adam Bede, like David Copperfield, diverges from a major trend within the courtship novel’s history, in that its eponymous character is male, rather than female. While F. R. Leavis does not place Adam Bede in his very select category of truly “great novels” (51), he asserts that it “deserves its currency as a classic” and that “it has been among the most widely read” of the “classical English novels” (51). In Adam Bede, George Eliot both deepens the psychological realism of the courtship novel and modifies its standard plot formula. As David Cecil points out, “George Eliot’s grip on psychological essentials enables her to draw complex characters better than her predecessors” (235). While Adam is defined as the typical courtship hero who is “tall, upright, clever, brave” (96), a major portion of this novel is devoted to his futile courtship with Hetty Sorel, a “distracting kitten-like maiden” (84), who constitutes a danger to herself and others. Hetty’s blend of innocent girlishness and treacherous impulsivity is metaphorically captured when her manner is compared to “the innocence of a young

132  Flawed Heroes and Rescuing Heroines star-browed calf . . . inclined for a promenade out of bounds,” which “leads you a severe steeple-chase over hedge and ditch and only comes to a stand in the middle of a bog” (84). Eliot’s use of danger imagery here suggests how seductive behavior imperils both the naïve female and the male who are new to the love game’s pitfalls. Given the foreshadowing couched in Eliot’s metaphorical language, it is not surprising that Hetty, like so many of her forbears in cautionary courtship/seduction novels, is deflowered and abandoned by Captain Arthur Donnithorne, a young man, far less reliable as a lover than Adam. While the triangular dynamics involving Adam, Arthur, and Hetty unfold with their hazardous consequences, the novel is also developing the story of its true heroine—the pious, nurturing, and wise female preacher, Dinah Morris. Briefly courted by Adam’s brother Seth, this paragon of female virtue ultimately marries Adam at the novel’s conclusion. As two born saviors further refined by their compassionate response to others’ suffering, Dinah and Adam, like so many earlier courtship novel couples, are well suited to one another and find a deep, love commensurate with their deserts. Alongside her novel’s traditional elements, Eliot provides a richly ironic and nuanced characterization of the seducer or false suitor who destroys Hetty’s life and leaves Adam emotionally depleted. Citing Arthur Donnthorne as an apt example, David Cecil refers to Eliot’s distinctive ability to “follow the windings of motive through the most tortuous labyrinths” and “her power to describe mixed characters” and “mixed states of mind” (236). While Arthur Donnithorne, at age twenty-one, exudes a sense of boyishness, aspires to “be the model of an English gentleman” (125), and has “a considerable reliance on his own virtues” (124), he is also impetuous and ultimately unwilling or incapable of exerting his yet untried skill of “self-mastery” (125). Although the narrator suggests that the privileged status enjoyed by Arthur diminishes his capacity to envision the harm he can inflict, the novel does reveal him wrestling with his conscience, and readers are privy to both his conscious and unconscious levels. While he is enormously attracted to seventeen-year-old Hetty, he is aware that her lowly station renders her off limits as a proper spouse for him. Trapped between strong sexual impulses and a sense of honor, Arthur see-saws between “unguardedly” speaking with Hetty in a “caressing way” and resolving to act responsibly in order to “prevent her from running away with wrong notions about their mutual relation” (137). Just when Arthur is ready to convey the “right” notions to Hetty, her tears elicit a parental impulse that quickly coalesces into sexual arousal. As he converses with this object of desire, he diminishes her personhood while retaining a gently protective tone. For example, he calls her “silly pet” (137) and “little frightened bird” (137) and speaks to her “in a soft soothing tone as if she were a bright-eyed spaniel with a thorn in her

Flawed Heroes and Rescuing Heroines  133 foot” (137). Playing the dichotomous roles of comforting parent and seductive male, he concludes their meeting with a familiar pseudo-suitor message: “Don’t be frightened—I’ll take care of you now” (137), and after a parting passionate embrace, adds: “Trot along quickly with your little feet, and get home safely” (138). These solicitous words, which may reflect some measure of sincere caring, are, in effect, condescending and ultimately ironic, given the fact that this couple’s clandestine meeting constitutes a grave threat to a very impressionable young lady. After this encounter, Arthur’s inner struggles continue to complicate his classification as a stereotypic libertine bent on robbing Hetty of her maidenhood. Arthur is described as “dissatisfied with himself, irritated, mortified” and looks clearheadedly at the consequences to Hetty and his own good name if he continues “flirting” in this way (139). He also recognizes the power of his own “impulse” in regard to Hetty and so resolves to tell his mentor and pastor, Mr. Irwine, about the situation, in hopes of avoiding future temptation. The presence of Arthur’s relationship with Reverend Irwine highlights the young man’s intricate internal process. As the two men converse in broad terms on moral decision-making and temptation, Mr. Irwine suspects there is a personal story that Arthur is withholding and asks, “Is it some danger of your own that you are considering in this philosophical general way?” (173). Somewhat alarmed at this question, Arthur “[shrinks] back” (173) and fools himself with this thought: “it would quite mislead Irwine—he would imagine there was a deep passion for Hetty, while there was no such thing.” Yet as he voices his denial with the words, “O no, no danger” (173), we are told that “He [is] conscious of colouring, and [is] annoyed at his boyishness” (173). The narrator’s commentary at this critical moment lays bare Arthur’s swirling subconscious realm: Was there a motive at work under this strange reluctance of Arthur’s which had a sort of backstairs influence, not admitted to himself? . . . Possibly, there was some such unrecognized agent secretly busy in Arthur’s mind at this moment—possibly it was the fear lest he might hereafter find the fact of having made a confession to the Rector a serious annoyance, in case he should not be able quite to carry out his good resolutions? I dare not assert that it was not so. The human soul is a very complex thing. (173) In this conversation, we are privy to Mr. Irvine’s mind as well. While he suspects that Hetty may be the subject on Arthur’s mind, he chooses to believe Arthur’s disclaimer and concludes that “there could be no danger in that quarter” because Arthur will be joining his regiment soon. Mr. Irvine also assumes that “Arthur’s character” and desire to retain “the good will and respect of everybody about him” will act as

134  Flawed Heroes and Rescuing Heroines “a  safeguard even against foolish romance, still more against a lower kind of folly” (174). Despite Mr. Irwine’s reliance on Arthur’s integrity, the narrator’s imagery at the end of their exchange embodies the tenuous quality of Arthur’s ethical code: “. . . the rope to which he might have clung had drifted away—he must trust now to his own swimming” (174). Other uses of figurative language add complexity to Eliot’s portrait of the seducing “villain” character, by conveying the sense that his own erotic impulses constitute enemy forces endangering him. For instance, battle imagery early in the lovers’ relationship captures Arthur’s internal conflict in this way: “It is the favorite stratagem of our passions to sham a retreat, and to turn sharp round upon us at the moment we have made up our minds that the day is our own” (128). Also, when Arthur is about to encounter Hetty on the path where he has gone to meet her, the sinister depiction of the atmosphere foreshadows the peril facing both man and woman: “an afternoon in which destiny disguises her cold awful face behind a hazy radiant veil, encloses us in warm, downy wings, and poisons us with violet-scented breath” (130). Despite the shared danger implied in the above imagery, when Hetty becomes pregnant and sets off on a harrowing journey to find her absent lover, she is forced to face adversity on her own. Arthur’s lack of shielding presence is emphasized when we are told that the downtrodden woman “must now make her toilsome way in loneliness, her peaceful home left behind for ever, and nothing but a tremulous hope of distant refuge before her” (371). Present in these words is a characteristically Victorian trope of the fallen woman as bereft of social shelter and open to every peril imaginable. In contrast to Arthur, Adam Bede is the traditional hero figure, steadfastly shielding Hetty as much as he can. However, unlike writers before and during her time, Eliot allows Hetty’s tale and the hero’s wooing of and grief over this fallen woman to dominate a large portion of the narrative. As Hetty’s honorable suitor, Adam never wavers from his serious intentions to marry the woman he adores. While his financial situation slows down his wooing, his physical prowess informs his courting behavior. Like Gaskell’s Jem Wilson, Adam seems to revel in his beloved’s fragility as a way to bolster his status as a pillar of strength and, in effect, diminishes Hetty’s identity in a manner that ironically does not greatly differ from the condescending tone that Arthur adopts. When Adam meets Hetty in the garden of her aunt and uncle’s home where she resides, he asks to carry her basket, explaining that it is “too heavy for [her] little arms” (221). When she claims that she could have carried it “with both hands,” Adam jokingly replies that she would make slow progress with her load, looking like “a little ant carrying a caterpillar” (221). Exaggerating his muscle power, Adam tells Hetty that he can “carry the basket with one arm, as if it was an empty nutshell”

Flawed Heroes and Rescuing Heroines  135 and invites her to give him “th’ other arm to lean on.” He caps off his invitation by once more distinguishing his strength from her weakness: “Such big arms as mine were made for little arms like yours to lean on” (221). Adam’s rescuer role with Hetty takes a more significant and traditional form when he intervenes, as self-appointed guardian on her behalf, to discourage Arthur’s inappropriate behavior. When Adam confronts Arthur after seeing him kissing Hetty in the forest, his main intention is to ensure her future safety. In their man-to-man dialogue, Arthur relies on the well-established rhetoric of masculine protection to mask the truth of his devious behavior: “I overtook pretty little Hetty Sorrel as I was coming to my den—the Hermitage, there. She ought not to come home this way so late. So I took care of her to the gate, and asked for a kiss for my pains” (297). His lie is ironic because we learn shortly thereafter that the very Hermitage he mentions is the couple’s clandestine rendezvous site. When pressed further by Adam, Arthur minimizes his actions, calling them merely “a little flirtation,” and adding these words in an effort to terminate the conversation: “But if you are right in supposing there is any danger in it—I’m going away on Saturday, and there will be an end of it” (306). The “danger” that Arthur acknowledges as a possibility is that Hetty may take Arthur’s attentions more seriously than he intends them to be. Despite Arthur’s light tone, Adam reprimands his social superior reminding him that he “ought to feel bound” as a “man with a conscience” to “take care” of a young woman who is “all but a child” (307). He even forces Arthur to write to Hetty, in order to clarify his lack of matrimonial intentions, declaring to the seducer that “There’s nobody can take care o’ Hetty in this thing but me” (308). After witnessing the kissing scene, Adam also feels “bound” to warn Hetty (320), and his attempt is replete with danger and rescue language. Visiting her home with Arthur’s letter in hand, Adam tells her, “It’s right for me to do what I can to save you from getting into trouble for want o’ your knowing where you’re being led to” (321). Not knowing that his warnings have come too late, the two-fold peril he has in mind involves Hetty’s reputation and her heart. He says that if others knew of her meeting with Arthur and her acceptance of gifts from him, they would “speak light” of her; and he refers to her having “to suffer in [her] feelings” in giving her “love to a man” who “can never marry” her and thus “take care” of her (321). Seeing Hetty’s distress at his words, the loving Adam yearns to “rescue her poor troubled mind, as he would have rescued her body in the face of all danger!” (321). He tells Hetty he blames Arthur for “trifling” with her and “caring nothing about [her] as a man ought to care” (321), thus suggesting Arthur’s dishonorable behavior. He also upholds the class distinctions of his society when he adds, “It wouldna ha’ been good for you, if he’d wanted to do such a mad thing as marry you: it ‘ud ha’ led to no happiness i’ th’ end” (322).

136  Flawed Heroes and Rescuing Heroines Adam’s persistent sheltering efforts continue to be evident when he lingers at the Poyser’s farm in order to “see” Hetty “safely through that evening and is delighted to observe how much self-command she show[s]” (323). Not only does he want Hetty’s indiscretions with Arthur to remain a secret, but he also worries that his words have driven her to despair. Upon his departure, he expresses his hope that she will see his action “as sign that if his love could be a refuge for her, it was there the same as ever” (324). Given his rhetoric in this last scene, it is not surprising that Adam’s subsequent proposal to Hetty is couched in protective terms: “Will you be my own wife, to love and take care of as long as I live?” (359). Drawn to the refuge that he vows to provide, Hetty initially accepts him, and even when she leaves home in a desperate attempt to locate Arthur, she feels “a sense of protection” in Adam’s “presence” (367). In her state of disillusionment, Hetty contrasts Adam and Arthur in fiercely realistic terms, describing Adam as “this brave tender man who offered up his whole life to her” and defining Arthur as “the man who would think it a misfortune that she was obliged to cling to him” (367). Adam maintains his benevolent intentions but cannot save Hetty when she is being tried for the murder of her newborn baby. Forced to wait in agony near the courthouse, Adam is described by the narrator in terms that reinforce his traditionally heroic persona: “This brave active man, who would have hastened towards any danger or toil to rescue Hetty from an apprehended wrong or misfortune, felt himself powerless to contemplate irremediable evil and suffering” (425). He also conjectures that Hetty “might never ha’ done anything bad” (459), if he had been her “loving” husband and “took care of her” and if Arthur had “never come near her” (459). In imagining himself as moral shield, Adam, in effect, takes on a key role of the ideal Victorian woman. In what may be the most ironic twist in this novel, Adam’s helplessness is set in contrast to the pseudo-suitor’s last minute rescue of Hetty from the gallows. Suddenly appearing as a horseman “cleaving the crowd at full gallop,” the remorseful seducer rides forward, looking as if his eyes are “glazed by madness” (462) and “carrying in his hand . . . the hardwon release from death” (462). However, despite her narrow escape, Hetty is forced into exile at an Australian penal colony and dies a number of years later on her return passage to England. Thus flashy as it is, Arthur’s rescue proves futile, as the fallen woman suffers her typical fate in the Victorian world of fiction. In the novel’s final segment, Adam is at last ready to recognize the depth of his love for Dinah Morris. However, this novel’s heroine is not simply the pure maiden set in contrast to the scarlet woman. She is an independent, committed preacher with a finely tuned spiritual sense and a calling to serve underprivileged and suffering humanity wherever she goes. She is a woman who hardly needs protecting, and as a potent force

Flawed Heroes and Rescuing Heroines  137 for good, she is, in many ways, as much of a protector to her cousin, Hetty as Adam is. She senses when Hetty is in trouble, and as Hetty awaits her sentence in a state of despondency, Dinah, undaunted and compassionate, provides much needed solace. At the novel’s end when Adam gains Dinah as his wife, he acknowledges her renovating spiritual power in a way that echoes David Copperfield’s affirmations of Agnes Wickfield. The “strong gentle love” that “found its way to the dark prison cell and to Hetty’s darker soul” is now, we are told, to be “Adam’s companion and helper till death” (534). At the novel’s closing, these words suggest a union in which mutual love and respect will reign in a haven of safety. Yet, according to critic Frederick Karl, “this marriage” is “the only part of Adam Bede” that “does not ring true” (262) because it represents “a concession to the popular romance novel” (262–263). David Cecil has a more ambivalent reaction. While he asserts that “the marriage between Dinah and Adam, which provides the happy ending for Adam Bede, does not strike us as inevitable,” he adds that “the moral purpose which directs the story demands that Adam and Dinah, the two virtuous characters in the book, should be adequately rewarded for their virtue” (247). According to Dorothea Barrett, “critics generally agree that Hetty, not Dinah, is at the centre of Adam Bede” (43), a fact which helps to explain why Adam and Dinah’s marriage seems tacked onto the ending. Through her feminist lens, Barret underscores her view that Adam Bede concludes on an “unsatisfying note,” since for Dinah, “marriage is the extinction of vocational possibility” (36).

Thomas Hardy’s Novels: Candour and Catastrophe Although Hardy’s courtship novels hark back to earlier works in some ways, he charts new ground in a late Victorian time period marked by vigorous stirrings of what is called the “Woman Question.” A more accurate title for this phenomenon would be the “Gender Question” since it reflects an abundance of debates regarding the nature of femininity as well as masculinity. Like Eliot in Adam Bede, Hardy experiments with new combinations of seduction and courtship scenarios, in order to explore the ramifications of social norms impinging on men and women as they experience romantic love entanglements. In his essay, “Candour in English Fiction,” published in 1890, Hardy registers his defiance against the status quo and proclaims his freedom to write “conscientious fiction” (504), which challenges the “puerile inventions” of conforming writers. He affirms fiction that recognizes “Life” as a “physiological fact” and principally concerns “the relations between the sexes” (505). For Hardy, “honest portrayal” involves “catastrophes based upon sexual relationship as it is,” rather than “such catastrophes as favour the false colouring best expressed by the regulation finish that

138  Flawed Heroes and Rescuing Heroines ‘they married and were happy ever after’” (505). Resisting both the tyranny of the traditional love plot and the censorship of the literary establishment of his time, Hardy bemoans the fact that “English society” has impeded the “expansion” of authentic literary truth by raising “a well-nigh insuperable bar” (505). In developing his “catastrophes” of courting couples and expanding the presence of authentic literary truth, Hardy conveys his vision of human interaction in an indifferent, even cruel universe. This study focuses on Thomas Hardy’s A Pair of Blue Eyes and Tess of the d’Urbervilles, novels in which danger and protection images and scenarios particularly illuminate Hardy’s ironic subversion of traditional courtship novel features. In these works, he presents well-meaning, sensitive, and flawed major characters whose desires are thwarted and whose fates are determined by a variety of factors, and in these portrayals, he frequently inserts narrator commentary that offers a contradictory blend of condemnation, ridicule, and compassion. Besides their own personality quirks and missteps, these characters encounter random coincidences and suffer from the rigid norms and ideals of the Victorian society in which they live. Hardy adds particular resonance to his characters’ experiences of peril and protection by permeating his courtship narrative with figurative language, allusions, and symbolism.

A Pair of Blue Eyes (1873) In A Pair of Blue Eyes, Thomas Hardy diverges significantly from conventional courtship novels of his predecessors. While he bows to tradition by showing his virtuous, immature, and motherless heroine’s inner turmoil and vulnerability within a world of rigid gender expectations and class distinctions, he introduces striking innovations in his detailed portrayals of the heroine’s suitors and in the way he upends the happily-ever-after conclusion. Through employing a motif of medieval courtly imagery throughout this novel, Hardy both mocks chivalric romances and casts serious doubts on the viability of traditional ideals of masculinity, particularly those involving the guidance and rescue of females in distress. The plot’s energy centers on a love triangle involving Elfride Swancourt and her two suitors, Stephen Smith and the Oxford-educated mentor whom Stephen idolizes, ironically named Henry Knight. Although these two men are very different in class, temperament, and intellect, they both are sincere suitors with honorable intentions. However, instead of shielding their beloved Elfride from harm, they endanger her, due to a combination of personal shortcomings and the constricting social norms that profoundly affect their identity and decisions. Elfride’s first suitor, Stephen, is a naïve young man smitten with a woman whom he views as his superior. On the day following his love

Flawed Heroes and Rescuing Heroines  139 declaration, when a horseback riding excursion to the Cornwall cliffs is planned, Stephen immediately fails to live up to a knightly image. While awkwardly assisting Elfride to mount her horse, he causes her to be “ultimately deposited upon the ground rather more forcibly than was pleasant” (56). With a “microscopic look of indignation” (56), Elfride decides to ask her servant to assist, not giving Stephen a second chance to prove his prowess. Regarding himself as a “useless encumbrance,” Stephen eloquently vows to learn both horseback riding and mounting techniques for his fair lady’s “sake” (57). Stephen’s next failure this day relates to a “task” that Elfride has “imperatively” asked him to “perform” (56). In these mock-heroic terms, she requests that Stephen protect her earrings: “It would be doing me knight service if you keep your eyes fixed upon them, and remember them every minute of the day, and tell me directly I drop one. They have had such hairbreadth escapes. . .” (56). Despite Elfride’s request, one treasured earring is in fact lost, and it is more than likely that the couple’s amorous scuffle has precipitated this loss. Incensed at Stephen’s forgetfulness and embarrassed by their physical playfulness, Elfride commands her lover to make amends, sending him to the cliffs to look for her “stray jewel” (66). Enjoying her power over the young man’s heart during this same excursion, Elfride asks Stephen if she “seem[s] like La belle dame sans merci” and actually quotes from Keats’ poem with this title (57). Elfride’s alignment of herself with the dangerously seductive lady within this poem creates a metaphorical link between Stephen and a knight once again, but this time a knight left “alone and palely loitering,” not one executing brave deeds of rescue. However, despite this disempowering allusion, Stephen still eagerly borrows the chivalric lover’s gallantries when he calls Elfride “my queen” and states that he “would die” for her (58). Questions regarding the nature of masculine heroism continue to occupy center stage as the young couple engage in a conversation that foreshadows later courtship plot complications. When Stephen asks Elfride why she loves him, she replies, “because you are so docile and gentle” (63), and in a “dissatisfied tone of self-criticism,” he responds with the words, “Those are not quite the correct qualities for a man to be loved for” (63). As if to emphasize a contrast, Stephen introduces Henry Knight into their conversation, enthusiastically describing him as “noble” (63). Stephen’s obvious “fervour” evokes Elfride’s jealousy, because she thinks Stephen focuses more on this “dear friend” (63) than on her. Still imagining herself in a realm of courtly romance, Elfride tests her lover’s devotion and perhaps his manliness as well, by posing this hypothetical question: “suppose that I and this man Knight of yours were both drowning, and you could only save one of us—” (65). Dismayed by this test, Stephen insists he would save both, but Elfride’s persistence

140  Flawed Heroes and Rescuing Heroines compels him to voice the flattering response she seeks. This comical exchange becomes quite ironic in the light of the novel’s ending, in which neither Stephen nor Knight can save Elfride and are left together, as “sorrowing friends,” to mourn her death (368). Stephen’s comic failures as chivalric male early in the novel foreshadow his far more consequential inability to protect Elfride within the secure parameters of a respectable, socially sanctioned marriage. He declares his matrimonial intentions without initially telling either Elfride or her father about his humble origins, because he “dread[s]” the prospect of “los[ing]” her (74). When he encourages Elfride to pledge her love before he tells her about his lowly background, she does so, and when he confesses the truth, she recklessly exclaims, “Why need we be alarmed” (76), thus pushing aside the inevitable objections of her father, who embodies the rigid class and moral standards of his society. When Elfride’s father discovers Stephen’s inferior status and forbids the couples’ engagement, Stephen proposes a secret marriage to ensure their union while he gains his fortune, and Elfride readily agrees. Hardy’s choice of imagery highlights the peril surrounding Elfride’s impetuosity and immature attachment to Stephen and the hazards she faces due to divided loyalties. Using a fire metaphor, the narrator cynically comments on the fact that this “young girl’s love” is fann[ed] into a “blaze” by “her father’s opposition” (97). Yet, as plans get underway for the couple’s clandestine marriage, Elfride suffers “misgivings” (104) that are couched in terms also suggesting peril. Although she wants to be honest with her father regarding her plans, she fears “risk[ing] Stephen’s displeasure” (104) and experiences “the dread of losing her lover” (104). During the elopement trip, Stephen continues to reveal his incompetence as virile guardian of Elfride’s welfare, and as this episode unfolds, it is clear that the heroine’s good name as a clergyman’s daughter and chaste woman in a restrictive Victorian society is seriously jeopardized. Their plan is immediately complicated by a miscalculation, on Stephen’s part, that compels the couple to travel a very long way to London in order to be married. Upon entering the London station with its nightmarish urban landscape, Elfride “writh[es] uneasily” as she makes a decision to return home right away and begins to fear “the stings of evil report” she may incur (112). At what Hardy terms, “this critical juncture” (125), Stephen is not assertive enough to dissuade Elfride. Although he does tell her that “going back unmarried may compromise [her] good name” (113), he immediately allows her reservations to hold sway and is greatly dismayed when during their return trip, Elfride recognizes that marrying Stephen in London was, in fact, her “only safe defence” (114). Compounding the disastrous results of this trip is the appearance of Mrs. Jethway, who recognizes Elfride and will prove to be a most hostile witness to her disgrace. When the flustered couple part ways after agreeing to stay engaged, the narrator offers the commentary that Stephen’s

Flawed Heroes and Rescuing Heroines  141 “very kindness” diminishes his “shine” as a masterful hero in Elfride’s eyes (125) because she has “her sex’s love of sheer force in a man” and would have welcomed being “dragg[ed] by the wrist to the rails of some altar” to get married (125). As readers, we cannot tell if we are being encouraged to applaud forceful action in men or to question women’s attraction to hyper-masculine behavior. What we do come to realize is that Stephen’s passivity sets up a chain of events leading to the novel’s tragic denouement. While Stephen’s ineptitude and what Hardy later calls “feminine” nature (345) eventually cost him the relationship with the woman he loves, Henry Knight, who admits he doesn’t “know much about women” (130), fails in a more drastic manner as Elfride’s suitor. In spite of his “fine old family name” (158) and intermittent chivalric behaviors, Knight brings even more harm than Stephen into Elfride’s life and often acts in ways that are distinctly unknightly. While Elfride behaves queenly with Stephen, she views Knight as her superior and is, therefore, particularly vulnerable to his judgments. Hardy suggests that there is even a touch of “cruelty” (179) in Knight’s nature, which feeds off Elfride’s intense craving for his respect and love. Although Elfride’s and Knight’s beginning acquaintance has a “sparring” quality to it (179), as is evident in their chess games, their perilous relationship as a whole is marked by episodes taking place in hazardous landscapes and is characterized by Elfride’s subordinate position, intense guilt over abandoning her first love, and gradually deteriorating health. At the same time, their interactions reveal a complex blend of harsh and gentle words from Knight and many mutually protective impulses. In an incident occurring early in their acquaintance, Knight castigates Elfride for deliberately courting danger by walking around the parapet of the old Endelstow church tower. While the physically agile heroine insists she is “safe enough” (160), Knight is outraged at her “rashness” and scolds her as if she were a child showing off. His tone causes the heroine to “almost” lose “her balance” and to injure her wrist. At the instant she totters on this brink, we are told that “Knight [springs] forward with a face of horror,” yet it is an act of “a considerate Providence” according to the narrator that saves the heroine here, not Knight (160). Only after she is out of danger, does Knight seize “her as in a vice” (160) and chide her even more fiercely. Once Elfride recovers from her swoon, brought on largely by Knight’s “severe remarks” (160), Knight’s depiction as flawed hero becomes nuanced when he assumes a protective role in which masculine and feminine features coalesce. While he forcefully insists on carrying her down from the tower despite her resistance, he also attends to her cut arm “with the gentleness of a nursing mother” (162). A hazardous scenario far more melodramatic and subversive than the church tower escapade amplifies Elfride’s internal struggles between embracing her love for Knight and honoring her prior engagement promise

142  Flawed Heroes and Rescuing Heroines to Stephen. With her fiancé’s return imminent from his sojourn in India to gain his fortune, Elfride and Knight ascend to the “top of the precipice” (202) on a rocky coastline. Knight invites Elfride to take his arm, but she, eager to demonstrate her equal degree of agility, rejects his gallant offer. Ironically, Knight, shortly thereafter, becomes the one sorely in need of protection. When he descends over a little bank to retrieve his hat, he is trapped on a rock ledge with a nearly perpendicular drop and cannot return to safety. Horrified at the “sensation that Knight [is] in bodily danger,” Elfride “venture[s] upon the treacherous incline” (203), giving him her hand. Seeing her attempt to rescue him, Knight is dismayed that Elfride has “endangered [her]self” (203), and at this point, the couple engage in a sequence of acrobatic maneuvers that demonstrates well-matched vitality and mutually rescuing behaviors. In the most intense moments of this episode, as Knight literally hangs from a cliff, Elfride cries out in distress, “if I can only save you by running for help! . . . O, I would have died instead!” (208). But knowing there is no time to waste, Elfride goes from “helpless agony” to a viable rescue plan, involving an ingenious linen rope constructed from her clothing. Stripped down in the pouring rain to a “singularly attenuated” form (214) and virtually naked for a Victorian lady, Elfride performs an action that is singularly brave in a physical and social sense. She ties this makeshift rope around her waist using her body to hoist Knight to a place of safety. Simply put, “He was saved, and by Elfride” (215). Yet Knight’s masculine supremacy remains in place even during this episode, chiefly through his unfailing presence of mind in the face of death and his retention of the adviser role. When the couple unite in a spontaneous embrace after this ordeal, Hardy captures the ominous nature of Elfride’s situation with her two suitors. Demonstrating what the narrator calls “a total recklessness” regarding the “plighted faith” (215) she owes to Stephen, Elfride relinquishes her “volition as a guiding power.” In succumbing to “feeling” (215), she goes from being Stephen Smith’s “queen” to Henry Knight’s “slave” (216). Hardy’s word usage here conveys the serious degree of Elfride’s self-endangerment, and her risk is amplified not only by the operations of her own conscience but also by the fact that Knight is courting her “so intangibly” (249). To further emphasize Elfride’s fearful struggle, Hardy tells us that even though her awareness of Stephen’s “littleness beside Knight” grows “upon her alarmingly” (249), this recognition triggers her need to “save herself’ from her first suitor whom she now views as “a man not fit for her” (249). The alarm within Elfride escalates when Knight, completely ignorant of her past, announces to Stephen that he is engaged to Elfride. Noting his fiancée’s pallor, Knight asks if “it is safe” for her to “mount” her horse, and when she replies “with a look of appeal” that “indeed it is,” Knight’s expert “performance” in “tenderly” lifting her onto her

Flawed Heroes and Rescuing Heroines  143 “saddle” (260) starkly contrasts to Stephen’s earlier clumsy efforts. When Elfride, aware of this palpable difference, looks back to see “the intense agony of reproach in Stephen’s eye” (260), his pained glance becomes “a nail piercing” her “heart with a deadliness no words can describe” (261). The lethal quality of the guilt Stephen elicits at this moment, combined with the past secrets she is withholding from Knight, combines to plague Elfride with sensations of “dread” (263) and “risk” (264). Despite dissimilarities between Elfride’s two suitors, both men are naive in their conception of ideal womanhood, but Knight seems far more invested than Stephen in an extreme view of feminine purity at least in part because he needs to possess a woman as “unpractised” as he is (285). The narrator’s warning of Knight’s rigidity is couched in these ominous words: “Inbred in him was an invincible objection to be any but the first comer in a woman’s heart” (186). It is, therefore, no surprise when Knight’s devotion drains away as he discovers more and more details pertaining to Elfride’s past romantic experiences.9 When Knight first shares his credo regarding woman’s purity, it falls “like a weight” (286) upon Elfride, and her frightened demeanor elicits a condescending protective response from her lover strongly resembling the responses that Hetty Sorrel receives from her suitors in Adam Bede: “Don’t be frightened, little bird, you are safe” (287). At this point, given Elfride’s secret past, she is, ironically, anything but safe in Knight’s arms, as subsequent scenes show. Experiencing disillusionment and wounded pride as he learns more of Elfride’s prior courtship experience, Knight relentlessly assails her with questions that cause her “throbbing” heart to “defend itself unaided” (298). As his “strong mind” practices “its unerring archery” upon the heroine’s “heart” (298), a heart he paradoxically “love[s] better than his own” (298), it is clear that Knight’s actions along with the heroine’s “docile devotion” constitute a formidable destructive force (298), especially for Elfride, but also for Knight himself. The harmful nature of Elfride and Knight’s relationship at this time is amplified by another harrowing incident within precipitous, craggy terrain. Despite their earlier near-death experience, Knight, “without consulting her wishes,” proposes a trip to Windy Beak, the “second cliff in height” (299). Entirely in Knight’s power, Elfride agrees to visit a place hazardous to both her physical and psychological well-being, especially since she has already confessed to losing an earring at this location while kissing a former suitor. In response to Elfride’s agitation when she finally reveals her previous “secret engagement” (301), Knight pivots back and forth between angry declaration and solicitous remark. Although he is “alarmed” at Elfride’s distress (302), he angrily declares that he has been “deluded by fibs,” yet immediately claims, “I don’t want to grieve you” (303). Given this contradictory blend in Knight’s manner of treating Elfride, her flattering comparison of him to her “strong tower . . . against

144  Flawed Heroes and Rescuing Heroines the enemy” becomes strikingly ironic, especially when the old church tower topples as the couple return from their excursion (304). This melodramatic touch symbolically captures both a diminishment of Knight’s stature and a sense of futility that everything human beings take so seriously crumbles to dust. As Knight grows increasingly disturbed at details surrounding Elfride’s past, he still functions, in a perfunctory manner, as the courtly gentleman concerned for his lady’s welfare, yet proves himself incapable of providing the type of shelter his beloved needs. For example, when Elfride pursues him barefooted one morning, he tells her, “There is danger in getting wet feet” (323), yet proceeds to accuse her of deception in a manner that disarms her. Even her heartfelt declaration that her “sole wish was not to endanger [their] love” (325) fails to modify his stance. In effect, Knight mistakenly convicts his beloved of unchaste behavior without having all the facts, and the narrator’s strong commentary underscores the enormity of Knight’s unjust treatment. Referring to men who pronounce the “verdict of perfection . . . upon their sweethearts,” the narrator claims that “once suspecting their purity,” these men “morally hang them upon evidence they would be ashamed to admit in judging a dog” (326). Harsh as these words are, however, Hardy does not leave his readers with the impression that Knight is the only one to blame for the tragedy that is unfolding, nor does he minimize Knight’s desire to be more protective. Elfride harbors a profound sense of unworthiness due to indiscreet behavior that renders her incapable of defending herself. While she does call what she has done a “little fault” (330), she never stoutly proclaims that she has retained her virgin status. As a female in her Victorian world, she accepts without question not only the fact that her chastity is her most essential virtue but also the belief that a damaged reputation virtually makes her a “fallen woman.” The most culpable villains in Elfride’s courting arena seem to be the damaging societal constructs that abide both within her and within the patriarchal world surrounding her. When Elfride, reeling from Knight’s rejection, follows him to London to beg for forgiveness, her father storms into Knight’s apartment and, seeing his daughter there, acts the role of the wronged patriarch. He accuses Knight of dishonorable behavior and rages at Elfride for “disgrac[ing]” his “family name and house” (331). Even though Knight beseeches Pastor Swancourt to be “tender” and not “harsh” with his daughter (331), he never offers the option of marrying Elfride, and despite his “dreadful conflict” over whether or not to “stand forward, seize upon Elfride, and be her cherisher and protector through life” (332), he allows the enraged father to lead his daughter away forever. Knight’s fear of Elfride’s “indifference to decorum” (332) militates against his power as the heroine’s rescuer at the most critical moment of her life. Using his “mental ability

Flawed Heroes and Rescuing Heroines  145 to reason her down” and relegate her to a mere “temptation,” this man of “moral rightness” reveals a “wrongheadedness” (333), which leaves the heroine bereft of hope.10 In wrapping up his plot, Hardy exercises his distinct powers as the arch tragic ironist and demonstrates his disdain for the predicable marriage-as-safe-haven conclusion. Within the novel’s final two chapters, Knight and Stephen constitute the major focal point as they meet in London and finally become active rivals for a woman they do not know is already deceased. When Knight finally learns that Stephen was Elfride’s first fiancé and Stephen learns that Knight has not married Elfride, both practice deception in a way that belies their basic integrity. As the two men travel to Cornwall, each secretly harbors hopes of winning the heroine’s hand in marriage, not knowing that the train they occupy also carries Elfride’s hearse. The two men’s conversation upon learning of Elfried’s death, filled with a sort of macabre humor, reveals their selfish desire to triumph over one another and serves as a powerful indictment against male competitiveness and insensitivity. Each man seeks to prove to the other that he is the cause of Elfride’s death from heartbreak. While Stephen claims that Elfride “risk[ed] her name” for him, Knight asserts that Elfride “risk[ed] her life” for him “on a cliff yonder” (364). By using Elfride’s courageous act of self-sacrifice as a strategy in this battle of words, Knight desecrates perhaps the most sacred feature of the traditional courtship novel’s happy ending—the affirmation of a fortunate couple’s mutual protectiveness. The portrait of these two “honorable” suitors is further tainted by the way they both blame the deceased Elfride for being “false” and for denying them of their dream (367), right after they discover that she married the “Fifteenth Baron Luxellian” (366) five months earlier. Knight also falls back on his condescending view of the female as weak, when he speculates that Elfride’s decision to marry was due to being “fragile and delicate” and “overpowered” by “Circumstance” (367). Elfride’s story briefly comes back into focus as her lady’s maid tells the two men what she knows, and her narrative provides a few more doses of irony within the novel’s final pages. While we learn that Elfride has been permanently debilitated in body and mind by her harrowing love experiences and has died of a miscarriage, we also are led to believe that she managed to summon enough strength to move forward when she married Lord Luxellian. Even though she made this choice “for the benefit of [her] family” (368), she seems to have found some compensations in her husband’s love and gained a measure of purpose in nurturing his two little daughters. Moreover, Elfride’s husband, now lying prostate with grief, ironically looks far more like Prince Charming than Stephen or Knight. According to Elfride’s past servant, Lord Luxellian possesses all the stock traits of the classic hero. In addition to being “handsome and kind,” he is “a splendid courter,” who would “have died” for Elfride

146  Flawed Heroes and Rescuing Heroines (370). The novel’s omniscient narrator adds to this sterling portrait by also noting that he is “still young—younger, perhaps, than Knight—and even now show[s] how graceful [is] his figure and symmetrical his build” (371). But as Hardy’s text makes painfully clear, even this dashing embodiment of the ideal gentleman lover cannot save the woman he adores. While the shortcomings of two male protagonists and the woman they love in Hardy’s novel are set forth in vivid detail, the tragic outcome is infused with the sense that fundamentally good-hearted human beings, with their imperfections, are pawns in a universe where the forces of both society and the fates conspire to do harm. The presence of Mrs. Jethway as an avenging Fury or Victorian voice of doom augments the havoc that descends upon all three members of this novel’s central love triangle. Even though Hardy frequently presents Stephen and Knight in an unflattering light, they, like Elfride, suffer greatly from the “catastrophe” of love relationships that Hardy claims as his purview in his essay on “Candour.”

Tess of the d’Urbervilles: A Pure Woman Faithfully Presented (1891/1912) Tess of the d’Urbervilles provides an unusual intertwining of seduction and courtship plots. Penny Boumelha highlights this blend when she points out that “Tess brings together . . . the woman compromised and doomed by her own sexuality . . . and the young woman poised at the moment of marriageability . . .” (117). Hardy’s plot diverges from both stereotypic courtship and seduction narratives, in that the “fall” of the heroine occurs early in the novel before her courtship adventure begins. By inserting a subtitle designating Tess as “A Pure Woman,” Hardy also flouts the received chastity code of “True Womanhood.” Besides indicting his Victorian society’s deeply entrenched sexual double standard, he challenges the cruel treatment of seduced women by showing how guilt and shame engendered by rigid purity standards help to mar Tess’ psyche and life course. As in his other courtship novels, Hardy’s characterizations of heroine, hero, and pseudo-suitor are richly complex. The hero, Angel Clare, both shields and betrays his beloved Tess, in effect becoming as treacherous as the ostensible villain, Alec D’Urberville, who, ironically, also plays the roles of both destroyer and protector. From the beginning, Hardy portrays Tess as the good-hearted, responsible member of a chaotic, poverty-stricken family. Although not orphaned like so many of her earlier courtship counterparts, Tess suffers from her father’s shiftlessness and her mother’s simple-minded ignorance. Compelled to seek work and “claim kin” with those bearing her family’s ancestral name, Tess, like Richardson’s Pamela, becomes a vulnerable servant relentlessly pursued by a dishonorable master. However, unlike Pamela, Tess falls victim to her seducer, even bearing a child who dies in infancy.

Flawed Heroes and Rescuing Heroines  147 Alec D’Urberville demonstrates his role as mustache-twirling libertine figure early in the novel. The threatening force of his presence is symbolically conveyed when he picks up Tess in his horse-drawn carriage as she sets out on her journey to work on his estate. Not unlike the more comical John Thorpe in Northanger Abbey, he drives recklessly down steep hills and augments Tess’ distress by describing his horse as “very touchy” and warning that “one’s life is hardly safe behind her sometimes” (95). He courts “danger” in order to compel Tess to hold him around the waist and accept his unwelcome kisses. Incensed by his behavior and unaware that Alec is not a blood relative, Tess expresses her assumption that Alec, as her “kinsman,” ought to “protect” her (96), but his behavior shows him to be decidedly untrustworthy. During the night that Alec rapes Tess in a fog-infested forest, aptly named “The Chase” (116), he ironically rescues her from the bullying of her drunken walking companions and scoops her up onto his horse. Like so many rogues before him, he vows to ensure Tess’ “safe-conduct home” (116) yet is driven by dishonorable intentions. His violation of Tess in a very deserted place takes on cosmic overtones when the narrator remarks that Tess’ “guardian angel” (119) is nowhere to be found. When Tess leaves Alec D’Urberville’s home, she accuses her mother of neglecting to tell her “there was danger in men-folk” and, interestingly enough, adds that “Ladies know what to fend hands against, because they read novels that tell them of these tricks; but I never had the chance o’ learning in that way, and you did not help me!” (131). Tess’ words not only highlight lack of adequate parenting but also affirm the function of novels as cautionary tales for young female readers. Blighted as she is in her young life, Tess goes on to experience a bona fide courtship with the respectable middle-class Angel Clare. Haunted by the “chasm” that has made her a “Maiden No More” (121), Tess buffets between euphoria and alarm at Angel’s genuine love declarations, and his marriage proposals cause particular distress, due to her belief that, as ‘damaged goods,’ she does not deserve to be Angel’s wife. Frequently, the two emotional extremes meld, as Tess experiences “terrifying bliss” at the “sound” of Angel’s “voice” (246) renewing his addresses. Within Tess’ psyche, an extreme sense of peril and the longing for safety uneasily coexist. At times, she allows herself to “bask” in” Angel’s “manner,” which seems to be “so much that of one who would love and cherish and defend her under any conditions, changes, or revelations” (246). Feeling a “sublime trustfulness” in his “goodness” and knowledge as “a guide, philosopher, and friend” (257),” Tess believes that Angel embodies the most secure haven. However, her “shame” and “past sorrows” manifest as sinister agents, lurking in the form of “gloomy spectres” that “persist in their attempts to touch her” as they stand, “waiting like wolves just outside the circumscribing light” (260). Her pain, likened to “the bitterness of dissolution” (233), seems nearly lethal, and as

148  Flawed Heroes and Rescuing Heroines she struggles with the dilemma of whether or not to reveal her sullied past, her dread is metaphorically linked to “tread[ing] on a coal that is smoldering and dangerous” (257). Despite her mother’s advice to stay silent, Tess tries to reveal her painful history to Angel before their marriage ceremony because she believes that “preserv[ing] a silence . . . might be deemed a treachery to him” (265), a belief showing that she places her beloved’s welfare above her own. When these attempts prove unsuccessful and she exposes her secret on the night after the couple’s wedding, she faces Angel’s grim rejection. Yet, within the next nightmarish days, Tess’ powerful instincts to protect her estranged husband fully emerge and highlight how utter loss of self-regard jeopardizes the fallen woman’s safety. When a troubled, sleep-walking Angel carries Tess down the stairs, she lies in “his arms” in a “precarious position” (318), ready to accept his right “of harming her” (319). When he crosses a “narrow foot-bridge” with no “handrail” (319), “lying a few inches above the speeding current” of a river, Tess momentarily welcomes the fact they are both likely to “drown” (319), if she makes the least movement. Recognizing, however, that she has “no right to tamper” with his life, she remains absolutely still so that he may reach “the other side with her in safety” (320). When he falls asleep on the ground, she recognizes that the “night” is “more than sufficiently cold to make it dangerous for him to remain” and that he would probably “be chilled to certain death” (320). She, therefore, prompts him to continue his dream walk back to the house, sacrificing her own comfort to his well-being, as she treads barefoot on the icy pathway (320). The next morning, Tess, demonstrating again the extremity of her unselfish regard for Angel, chooses not to tell him about this extraordinary episode. Focusing on her respect for Angel and her own worthlessness, she refuses to complicate his resolution to leave her. In Women and Fiction: Feminism and the Novel 1880–1920, Patricia Stubbs aptly indicates that both Tess’ disregard of self and Angel’s emotional withdrawal reflect Hardy’s indictment of the Victorian social order. She not only claims that Angel’s “feebleness and inconsistency . . . illustrate the unconscious hypocrisy of the whole moral system” (69) but also contends that “the fundamental cause” of Tess’ troubles comes from the fact that “she has embraced the ideality of purity and passivity and is left defenceless because of it” (82). Stubbs also recognizes Hardy’s awareness of “the dangers” occurring within “a relationship” based on “an ideal of womanhood or of manhood but bearing little relation to the facts of individual personality” (71). While Angel Clare is wooing Tess at Talbothays Dairy, he often seems to embody an ideal of chivalric masculinity. His enthusiasm for the male protector role is evident in a minor incident, involving Tess and her three dairymaid friends. When the young ladies need to cross a flooded meadow on their way to church, Angel comes along to “rescue” each of

Flawed Heroes and Rescuing Heroines  149 them, chiefly as a tribute to the one woman he loves, and even brags that he is ready to “carry” them “all four together” (146). Also, in contrast to Alec who regards the lower class woman as his natural prey, Angel keeps his passion in check until he is fully ready to offer Tess a genuine marriage proposal. Aware of the “affection” he has “awakened” in her, he recognizes he has the power to “agonize and wreck her” (214). Even though his “feeling” has “smothered” his “judgment” (213), Angel tries to remain “aloof” so as not to “harm” Tess (215). During the time she delays her acceptance of his proposals, he continues to exercise restraint. For example, when Tess comes one morning in her nightgown to awaken Angel for their pre-dawn tasks, he is clearly sexually aroused and begs her to finally tell him her intentions, or he will need to “leave this house” to ensure her “safety” (246). When she later suggests delaying their marriage while he establishes his farm, he once again emphasizes his male guardianship role with the words, “I don’t like you to be left anywhere away from my protection and sympathy” (269). Despite details that characterize Angel as the nearly perfect hero-suitor, the omniscient narrator informs us that his man is “absurdly far, indeed” from Tess’ ideal. The narrator also suggests that Angel’s virtuous self-restraint reflects a rigid adherence to the Victorian era’s code of purity for women. Like Henry Knight’s dangerous obsession with Elfride’s innocence, Angel’s love is described as “inclined to the imaginative and ethereal” and as a “fastidious emotion which could jealously guard the loved one against his very self” (257). Given what Gail Cunningham calls the “ludicrously unjust” behavior of these heroes (95), Hardy seems to be suggesting that men’s unwavering allegiance to their society’s feminine ideology can be fatal to the women they adore. In response to Tess’ confession, Angel instantaneously moves from protector to betrayer and, unlike Henry Knight, even becomes an ugly embodiment of the sexual double standard and its deleterious effects. Tess gains courage to reveal her past immediately after Angel shares a sordid secret of his own, described as an “eight-and-forty hours’ dissipation with a stranger” (292). Even though he expects to be fully exonerated, he explains that he delayed informing Tess about how he “fell” (291) because he “was afraid of endangering [his] chance” with her, whom he calls “the great prize of [his] life” (291). After readily granting Angel’s request for forgiveness, Tess naively expects equal treatment; however, Angel’s past worshipful language and promises of lasting protection ring hollow, as his ideal image of Tess dissolves. Utterly disillusioned, he abandons the heroine in a space just as unshielded as the dark forest where she was raped a few years before. He leaves her with only some financial assistance and instructions to contact his parents if she needs more. While Angel plays the villain here, he seems to be genuinely incapacitated by internalized tenets of his middle-class society and cannot function as a fully realized, empathetic being.

150  Flawed Heroes and Rescuing Heroines After the couple separate, Angel’s character deteriorates even further, and his actions underscore the sinister flavor of gender inequity. The veneration Tess has for Angel’s virtue is ironically juxtaposed to his extremely dishonorable behavior with Izz Huet, whom he encounters as he is about to depart for Brazil. He asks her to be his “wife” there, and when she accepts but inadvertently tells him that no woman could love him as deeply as Tess, he expresses remorse, thanking Izz for “sav[ing]” him with her “honest words” from “an incredible impulse towards folly and treachery” (345). Despite this realization, Angel remains determined to stay apart from Tess, intending to “soon come back” (345) yet never communicating this intention. In these post-wedding scenes, Angel functions as a more destructive agent than Alec, a point supported by Patricia Stubbs when she notes that Tess’ “experience of rejection by Clare” is what “crushes” her, “not her seduction by the ‘wicked’ Alec” (69). After Angel’s abandonment, Tess’ ability to endure backbreaking labor in order to survive, along with her reactions to Alec D’Urberville, undercut her image as passive victim. When Alec re-enters her life as one of the perils she faces, he offers himself as her protector and provider, and her responses waver between bold defiance and sorrowful resignation. Alec’s character, like Tess’ at this time, takes on increased depth. He expresses regret that he was a “Scamp” to “foul” Tess’ “innocent life” (393); however, he makes Tess “swear” an oath not to “tempt” him (390) and then later blames her beauty for luring him away from the sinless Christian life he has embraced as a convert. He, nevertheless, shows genuine concern for Tess’ harsh life as a worker at Flintcomb Ash, functioning as her “protector” against an abusive employer, but it is clear that Tess dreads this “defender” more than “her assailant” (397). His persistent desire to help also has a possessive quality as is suggested in these words: “When I saw you ill-used on the farm that day I was nearly mad to think that I had no legal right to protect you . . . whilst he who has it seems to neglect you utterly” (402). Tess angry rebuttal shows she still wishes to shield the husband who has left her. She tells Alec to leave her “before any scandal spreads that may do harm to his [Angel’s] honest name!” (402). In spite of Tess’ defense, however, Alec blends his continuing offers of assistance with taunting remarks on Angel’s failure as a husband. When Tess’ mother and siblings lose their home, Tess experiences her greatest sense of peril and writes a desperate letter to Angel that combines an assertion of her truth with a distress call. She insists that she is “the same woman” that he “fell in love with” but also claims it was “silly” to “trust” that he would “always” love her. She indicates how “defenceless” she feels “on account of [her] first error” (418) and begs Angel to return “before anything terrible happens” (417). At this point, her family’s dire circumstances as well as Alec’s persistent view that Tess is his “natural” wife are clearly forces threatening her destruction. While Angel’s desertion represents a primary factor within the heroine’s tragically malevolent universe, his portrait is softened by the fact that he

Flawed Heroes and Rescuing Heroines  151 has expanded his perspective on the subject of women’s purity while in Brazil, regrets his decision to leave Tess, and is prevented from communicating or returning home by a severe illness. The heroine’s desperate letter also, by mischance, is delayed in getting to Angel. Given these details, Hardy moves readers from a focus on the hero’s villainy to a broader view of both hero and heroine gripped in a common fate within a world that is dangerous for both sensitive, loving women and men. This broader view is supported by the bleak reunion of hero and heroine at the Sandbourne villa where Tess is residing with Alec. Angel, ravished by illness, and Tess, “dissociated from” her “living will,” face each other in a state of complete “joylessness pitiful to see,” and this comment from the narrator pinpoints the extremity of their unprotected state: “Both seemed to implore something to shelter them from reality” (467). After Tess begs Angel to leave her, she accuses Alec of having “torn [her] life to pieces” (469), and when he calls Angel by a “foul name” (475), she murders her seducer. In essence, Tess takes on the masculine hero’s role defending her loved one’s honor against the evil male rival. This warrior-like image of Tess fits with an earlier reference in the novel to “the Knight of the Conquerer” who bears the d’Urberville name of her ancestry (184). Ironically, now that his loved one has sinned on multiple levels, Angel commits fully to his guardian role, uttering the comforting words he ought to have said to Tess on their wedding night: “I will not desert you! I will protect you by every means in my power, dearest love, whatever you may have done or not have done!” (475). While Angel fulfills the promise of these words, all that he can effectually do at this point is love Tess fully in the moment, help her elude the law as long as possible, promise that he will “watch over” her sister, Liza-Lu (485), and mourn as Tess is executed.11 Capturing the essence of this devastating conclusion, Alan Friedman calls it “a ghastly parody of the classic ending of a novel” (62), and Hardy once again introduces cosmic elements when he ironically comments on Tess’ execution in these terms: “Justice” was done, and “the President of the Immortals . . . had ended his sport with Tess” (489). Using the word “Fulfillment” as the ironic title for his novel’s final section, Hardy highlights his potent resistance to the traditional “happily ever after” ending, while also delivering a staple feature of the Victorian novel: the fallen woman’s tragic fate.

Conclusion Through their use of danger/safety language and imagery, all the authors studied in this chapter invite readers to reflect upon a major tenet of masculine gender ideology—a man’s right and responsibility to actively shield the women in their midst, particularly the beloved female they are courting. In their own unique subtle or more direct ways, Gaskell, Bronte,

152  Flawed Heroes and Rescuing Heroines Dickens, Eliot, and Hardy reveal the inadequacies of their male protagonists as protectors. In portraying their hero’s shortcomings, these authors do not send a distinct message regarding their acceptance or rejection of the chivalric male ideal, but they do cause us to either laugh or cry at the discrepancy between an often messy reality and an ideal that still seems to exist as an expectation in Victorian society. At times, the male figures in these novels who exaggerate their masculine prerogative as rescuers maintain a demeaning view of women as overly fragile, as childlike, or as objects to be possessed. At odds with this feminine image is the presence in these novels of major women characters whose daring and courageous acts of rescue defy the stereotype of women as delicate creatures requiring protection. Alongside these acts are several references to women’s glorified role as guardians of the hearth and saviors of men’s spiritual being. To varying degrees, the conclusions to the novels explored in this chapter, with their realistic depiction of serious social problems, fall short of the traditional courtship novel’s idyllic ending. In her article entitled “Romancing the Ending: Adaptations in Nineteenth-Century Closure,” critic Maryanne Ward illuminates the struggle faced by novelists who feel bound to depict society’s pervasive ills particularly in relation to gender, class, and wealth inequities, but also feel the tug of the public readership’s continued “demands” (15) for blissful closure. Ward’s key point is that Victorian novelists who do provide the sense of “quiescence” (18) that readers crave and expect convey only “the illusion of ongoing happiness” by allowing hero and heroine to “retreat into some domestic bower” (18), away from a world where “social strife” still reigns (15). More often than not, strands of comic and tragic vision intertwine in a world marked by a range of social changes that have “[shaken] many of the old certainties” (Ward, 18). Despite the seemingly “conventional” flavor of the hero and heroine’s union at the end of Bronte’s Jane Eyre, Gaskell’s Mary Barton, and Eliot’s Adam Bede, these novels aptly reflect what Ward describes as an “enclave based on the ability of individual characters to find secure relationships . . . in the face of a hopelessly flawed society” (23). According to Ward, “Authors like Hardy” go even further “by destroying the possibility of the enclave” (29). While Ward focuses on Return of the Native and Jude the Obscure, her statement certainly applies to A Pair of Blue Eyes and Tess of the d’Urbervilles as well.

Notes 1 Julie Shaffer asserts that women’s moral superiority in the domestic sphere as “Angel in the House” not only is very much present in Victorian novels, but is “important precisely to the extent that it provides men with a haven.” Shaffer thereby suggests that as moral paragons “ruling in the house,” women were expected to function as protectors of men (“Not Subordinate” 37).

Flawed Heroes and Rescuing Heroines  153

154  Flawed Heroes and Rescuing Heroines

Flawed Heroes and Rescuing Heroines  155 Friedman, Alan. The Turn of the Novel. Oxford University Press, 1966. Gaskell, Elizabeth. Mary Barton: A Tale of Manchester Life (1848), edited by Shirley Foster, Oxford University Press, 2006. Gay, Peter. The Bourgeois Experience Victoria to Freud, Volume 2: The Tender Passion. Oxford University Press, 1986. Gilbert, Sandra M. and Susan Gubar. The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-century Literary Imagination. Yale University Press, 1979. Hardy, Thomas. “Candour in English Fiction” (1890). Appendix I of Tess of the d’Urbervilles, edited by Sarah E. Maier, Broadview Press, 1996. pp. 503–509. ———. A Pair of Blue Eyes (1873), edited by Alan Manford, Oxford University Press, 1985. ———. Tess of the d’Urbervilles: A Pure Woman Faithfully Presented (1891/1912), edited by David Skilton, Penguin Books, 1978. Karl, Frederick R. A Reader’s Guide to The Nineteenth Century British Novel. Noonday Press, 1965. Kenrick, William. The Whole Duty of a Woman, of a Guide to the Female Sex from the Age of Sixteen to Sixty with the Whole Art of Love Written by a Lady. Dean and Munday. 17—. Microfilm, Research Publications, 1975. Leavis, F. R. A Study of the English Novel: The Great Tradition. Doubleday and Company, 1954. Lesjak, Carolyn. Working Fictions: A Genealogy of the Victorian Novel. Duke University Press, 2006. Lutz, Deborah. The Dangerous Lover: Gothic Villains, Byronism, and the Nineteenth-Century Seduction Narratives. Ohio State University Press, 2006. Marshall, William H. The World of the Victorian Novel. A.S. Barnes and Company, 1967. McAleavey, Maia. “Soul-Mates: David Copperfield’s Angelic Bigamy.” Victorian Studies, vol. 52, no. 2, 2010, pp. 191–218. Needham, Gwendolyn. “The Undisciplined Heart of David Copperfield.” Nineteenth Century Fiction, vol. 9, no. 2, 1954, pp. 81–107. O’Gorman, Francis, editor. The Victorian Novel. John Wiley and Sons, 2002. Regis, Pamela. A Natural History of the Romance Novel. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003. Schaffer, Talia. Romance’s Rival: Familiar Marriage in Victorian Fiction. Oxford University Press, 2016. Shaffer, Julie. “Not Subordinate: Empowering Women in the Marriage Plot— The Novels of Frances Burney Maria Edgeworth, and Jane Austen.” Reading with a Difference: Gender, Race, and Cultural Identity, edited by A. F. Marotti et al., Wayne State University Press, 1986, pp. 21–43. Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft. Frankenstein, or, the Modern Prometheus (1818), edited by Marilyn Butler, Oxford University Press, 2008. Stevenson, Randall. A Reader’s Guide to the Twentieth-Century Novel in Britain. University Press of Kentucky, 1993. Stubbs, Patricia. Women and Fiction: Feminism and the Novel 1880–1920. The Harvester Press, 1979. Ward, Maryanne C. “Romancing the Ending: Adaptations in NineteenthCentury Closure.” The Journal of the Midwest Modern Language Association, vol. 29, no. 1, 1996, pp. 15–31.

156  Flawed Heroes and Rescuing Heroines Wheeler, Michael. English Fiction of the Victorian Period 1830–1890. 2nd ed. Longman, 1994. Winnifrith, Tom. Fallen Women in the Nineteenth-Century Novel. St. Martin’s Press, 1994. Wright, Edgar. “Introduction.” Mary Barton, edited by Elizabeth Gaskell. Oxford University Press, 1991, pp. vii–xxiii.


Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures Modernist Deconstructions of Courtship Novel Danger in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries

The Modernist Courtship Novel in a Changing Cultural Milieu In “A Room of One’s Own” (1929), Virginia Woolf cites a key difference between men and women of her time and during the eras of her mother and grandmother. During the period of the raging “Woman Question” and Suffragette movement, Woolf ponders “the safety and prosperity of the one sex” and “the poverty and insecurity of the other . . .” (188). In identifying men as the secure ones and women as the insecure ones, Woolf highlights the disappearance of the masculine protector role in economic terms. However, as we shall see in this chapter on courtship novels of the Modern period written between the years 1893 and 1920, the discourse focuses not primarily on women’s financial perils, but rather on the hazards of emotional turmoil and existential angst faced by both women and men. In modern British courtship novels, readers experience intense psychological battles between the sexes that call into question the established usage of terms such as danger and safety, particularly in relation to the legal matrimony option and the traditional “refuge” of domestic life it promises.1 In these novels, male and female protagonists grapple with changing gender expectations and ambivalent attitudes toward cohabitation, marriage, and friendship between the sexes. These couples often show openness to hitherto unacceptable life styles, and, in an often dizzying dance, move between the polarities of intimacy and isolation, love and fear, as they seek better understanding of both their personal identity and their relationships. In capturing the essence of Modernism, Michael Levenson points out that it produced “individually audacious artifacts” (8) that were “emblems of a widening counterworld” and “exemplified rival forms of life, other styles of thinking and feeling” (12). One sign of this “widening counterworld” is the modern courtship novel’s treatment of sexual danger. In the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century novel, we see a diminishing of emphasis on women’s purity. Joseph Boone suggests the essence of this change when he claims, “the lifting of the sexual taboo

158  Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures has stripped the classic archetype of embattled seducer/virgin of much of its former power to horrify and titillate” (113). Most of the female protagonists we meet in the modernist works explored in this chapter do not at all resemble the “daughters” of “Pamela” with their “canonical virtues” of “delicacy, sensibility” and “chastity” (41) who, according to Robert Utter and Gwendolyn Needham, have occupied the pages of the English novel for “a century and a half” following Richardson’s work (47). However, despite increasing normalization of women’s sexuality, major female characters in modernist courtship novels often struggle between enjoying unhampered sexual expression and dreading the loss of a defined, independent self. In these same novels, men experience parallel conflicts between sexual cravings that render them dependent on women and the need to maintain their ego integrity. Men’s diminishing protective role and the subtle gender role reversals that we see in Victorian courtship novels become even more pronounced in modern texts. Assertions, such as those of Sarah Grand in her 1894 essay, “The New Aspect of the Woman Question,” help to fuel the notion of masculine inadequacy, while also reflecting the energetic debates over what constitutes proper masculine and feminine behavior. Citing the patriarchy’s “mismanage[ment] of the “whole social system” (142), Grand states that women of her time are “dissatisfied with the poor quality” of their potential marriage partners (141) and being aware of man’s “weakness,” need to “[hold] out a strong hand to the child-man” who “morally is in his infancy” (143). Countering conservative forces in this same essay, Grand claims that “True womanliness is not in danger” and that “The trouble is not because women are mannish, but because men grow ever more effeminate” (145). She bemoans the loss of true “manliness” (145), and, in doing so, harks back to an earlier idealized version of masculinity, when she asks, “Where is the chivalry, the truth, and affection, the earnest purpose, the plain living, high thinking, and noble self-sacrifice that make a man?” (145). Recognizing the significant erosion of manly protectiveness in literature as well as life, Grand states that “We look in vain among the bulk of our writers even for appreciation of these qualities” (145). Despite these discouraging remarks, Grand, ending her essay on a positive note, imagines women “set[ting] the human household in order,” ensuring that “all is clean and sweet and comfortable for the men who are fit to help us to make a home in it” (146). While this conclusion suggests the safe haven of an ideal equalitarian relationship, it also reinforces the prevailing Victorian notion that the “Angel in the House” is a man’s primary saving force. In an article entitled “The Man of the Moment,” published two months later, Grand emphasizes the strength of women’s agency as protectors of themselves. She tells readers that the “modern girl” or “new woman . . . understands the art of self-defence” (151) and that women in cooperation with one another “are bound to defend our own sex,

Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures  159 especially when we find them suffering injustice, injury, poverty, and disgrace” (147). However, by referring to this situation as a “horrid necessity” (147) that exists “until men are manly and chivalrous enough to relieve us” (147), Grand implies that this role change is an unwelcome aberration in need of remedy. The conservative note implied in Grand’s text mirrors some sentiments expressed by Grant Allen. Moved by fear of the “danger” that “the English-speaking race will become extinct” (218) and threatened by the cries for women’s equal education and employment opportunities, Allen underscores the male protection role in his 1889 essay, “Plain Words on the Woman Question.” He refers to the fact that “in civilized communities,” men “take upon themselves the duty of providing for wives and children” (213) and that women “have a right to the fullest and most generous support in carrying out their functions as wives and mothers” (214). He speaks up in anger against those who “impugn” men’s “essential manhood” or “virility” (214), and referring to the “selfsupporting spinster” as a “deplorable accident,” Allen asserts that men’s “very chivalry” ought to result in helping these unfortunate women in their “struggle for existence” (217). Allen sums up his call to action in these terms: “a genuine Woman Question and a genuine Woman Movement . . . must assume as its goal, not general celibacy and the independence of women, but general marriage and ample support of women by men of the community” (219).

Introducing the Modernist Courtship Novels of Gissing, Wells, Sinclair, Woolf, and Lawrence George Gissing and H. G. Wells create courtship novels that grapple with turn-of-the century gender role issues surfacing in essays such as those by Allen, Grand, and Woolf. While the content of these novels can be considered “modern,” they do not offer any striking stylistic innovations. George Gissing’s The Odd Women is included in this chapter because it constitutes a pivotal work between the late Victorian and Modern periods. In her “Introduction” to A New Woman Reader, Carolyn Christensen Nelson recognizes Gissing as one of the men writing “New Woman fiction” (xii), a subgenre “characterized by the representation of strong heroines who rebel against the limitations placed on their lives” and by an increased “emphasis on women’s sexuality” and “frankness” regarding “the psychology of women” (xii). In like fashion, despite its traditional form, Wells’ Ann Veronica directly tackles early twentieth-century societal factors impinging upon courting couples. Combining elements of modernist content and style, May Sinclair, Virginia Woolf, and D. H. Lawrence incorporate features of “New Woman” fiction and bring intensified psychological depth to the courtship novel genre. The work of these three novelists also reflects the link, noted by

160  Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures Michael Levenson, between modernist creations and “the appearance of Symbolism in the 1880s” (23). Experimenting with innovative ways to signal varying levels of consciousness, Sinclair, in The Three Sisters (1914), captures the realities of a changing world while highlighting the stranglehold of traditional norms on women’s as well as men’s lives. In Woolf’s Night and Day and Lawrence’s Women in Love, richly symbolic and metaphorical language is used to embody characters’ multi-layered world and convey elaborate interior monologues capturing thoughts, memories, daydreams, and physical sensations. The novels of all three authors highlight the fluidity and often paradoxical conceptions of safety and danger within the mating experience of the Modern period.

The Odd Women (1893) Gissing’s The Odd Women sets forth, in vivid terms, the battle between the sexes. Both the hero, Everard Barfoot, and the heroine, Rhoda Nunn, are far from protective toward one another. Locked in a power struggle, they function more as competitors than as guardian angels. Well-matched equals clearly very attracted to one another, they engage in a war of wits and nerves, vying for the emotional upper hand in their relationship. In this novel, readers meet the fully realized modern woman who possesses a strong sense of personhood and enjoys sparring with a modern man, who plays a new courtship game without any clear-cut rules. The scenarios and language associated with danger and protection in this novel function as a useful lens through which to view Gissing’s radical challenges to Victorian gender expectations. Through exploring new possibilities for gender relations, Gissing’s courting couple experience emotional and social peril in the uncharted territory they inhabit. Interwoven with Rhoda and Everard’s story is the courtship subplot involving Monica Madden and Edward Widdowson. Taken together, the two narrative strains emphasize the dearth of models for mutually satisfying, equalitarian male-female relationships. Spouting John Ruskin’s rhetoric pertaining to the husband’s protective role and separation of spheres, Widdowson creates an untenable prison-like atmosphere for Monica, which poisons the couple’s married life. However, the novel’s main couple become subjects of a complex and confusing modern experiment. Elaine Showalter provides an interesting view on why the men in The Odd Women fail as chivalric protectors, when she writes that Gissing intends for us to see that “To cast off the chains of womanliness . . . is not enough,” that “equality between the sexes means that the man too gets to cast off his chains of obligation, to be slow, uncertain, inept, and even afraid” (p. xiii). The urbane Everard Barfoot challenges the traditional chivalric code of protection embodied by his friend, Thomas Micklethwaite, whom he accuses of “belong[ing] to the Ruskin school” (105). In this resistance,

Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures  161 Barfoot can be viewed as an early modern manifestation of the anti-hero. However, objectionable as some of his actions are, Everard is neither the mustache-twirling villain of early courtship fiction nor the Bryonic hybrid hero-villain of the Rochester and Heathcliff variety. He is simply a man loath to relinquish male privilege and bent on enjoying his life with a moderate degree of integrity. In some ways, his closest fictional ancestor is Austen’s Henry Crawford from Mansfield Park. Even though Rhoda eventually encounters danger in her relationship with Barfoot, she is anything but a victim. She is introduced as someone who has grown up with an “invalid mother” (3) and has known from an early age that “she would have to earn her living” (4). As an adult lacking a fortune and forced to survive on her own, she is mature, well educated, and quite prepared to negotiate the social dangers of her late Victorian world. When she learns of the seduction of Bella Royston, a former student at the school Rhoda runs with her friend Mary Barfoot, she rails against romance novelists. She chastises their silence on the subject of “sexual instinct,” the “one truth that would be profitable” for young women readers (64). According to Rhoda, novelists who spout sentimental details while avoiding the subject of sex are missing an opportunity to teach women readers how to manage their sexual feelings and avoid the fate of being abandoned by their lovers. Despite Rhoda’s fierce opinions and no-nonsense demeanor, Gissing sets up the threat facing the heroine, by fully divulging Everard Barfoot’s intentions regarding her. The courting “game” Everard intends to play with a woman who intrigues him with her “grandly severe” manner (106) is directly set forth in these declarations to Micklewaite: “I don’t believe in marriage at all” (105), but “it’s rather a temptation to a man of my kind. There would be something piquant in making vigorous love to Miss Nunn, just to prove her sincerity” (106). Yet, in this same conversation, Everard complicates his stance against marriage, by adding “A wife might be acceptable to me; but marriage with poverty—I know myself and the world too well for that” (108). Like the Wickhams and Willoughbys of the world, Everard is ready to woe a woman without money but doesn’t view himself as seriously intending to marry her. Everard also resembles Henry Crawford who flippantly sets out to test his charm and ends up falling in love with the object of his intended sport. Like Henry, Barfoot also doesn’t intend to severely damage the woman he courts. Besides convincing himself that “One does not break the heart of such a woman” (148), he assumes that Rhoda is “enjoy[ing] this opportunity of studying a modern male” (148) and surmises that she will not care “how far he proceed[s] in his own investigations, and will be able to “at any moment . . . bid him fall back” (148). Ironically, Barfoot has devised a game that carries as much risk for himself as for Rhoda, for while he gleefully undertakes this “contest” between “his will” and

162  Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures “hers” (143), he admits that should this “amusement” become “earnest,” he would forge ahead as a seeker of “strong experiences” (148). Ready for stimulation from exciting pitfalls, Gissing’s modern anti-hero, like the pseudo-suitors of earlier novels, courts Rhoda by flattering her. However, instead of focusing on her beauty, he applauds her “consistency” (147) and very much enjoys “her air of equality” (114). As he proceeds, he watches Rhoda in vain for any sign of a “nervous tremor” or “weak self-consciousness” (162) and thus regards her as “more than ever a challenge to his manhood” (162). As part of his courting strategy, Barfoot tests the degree of Rhoda’s radicalization by voicing his “own ideal of marriage” which “involves perfect freedom on both sides” (117). Later using the term “free union” (164), he, “without forethought” (163), lays down the gauntlet with this “bold declaration” (163): “Marry in the legal sense I never shall. My companion must be as independent as I am myself” (163). Kathleen Blake captures well the mixed nature of Barfoot as Rhoda’s suitor, when she describes him as “an arresting picture of the feminist who is also a misogynist” and as a character who “remains righteously entrenched in a male perspective” (89). In his coy pursuit, Everard gets caught in his own trap. As he speculates regarding Rhoda’s level of interest in his “free union” ideal, he reveals his own emotional investment in this relationship and the peril he now faces: she would not yield, was in no real danger from his love-making. Nay, the danger was to his own peace. He felt that resistance would intensify the ardour of his wooing, and possibly end by making him a victim of genuine passion. Well, let her enjoy that triumph, if she were capable of winning it. (165) While Everard’s use of the word “genuine” suggests that his sincere ardor is growing, his playful tone still characterizes him as a daredevil relishing this battle between the sexes. 2 Barfoot’s second conversation with Micklewaite and his ensuing reflections are filled with contradictions that capture his confusion. In attempting to clarify what sort of relationship he is seeking with Rhoda, Barfoot tells his friend, “I begin to think that marriage isn’t impossible for me . . . But as likely as not it will be marriage without forms—simply a free union” (200). Yet, within his reflections on “wedlock” following this conversation, he decides that “intellect was his first requirement” (202) but “there must be passion” (201) as well. As a sophisticated yet muddled modern man charting unknown territory, Barfoot seems to be seeking a new sort of union—one that replaces the “repose” and “drowsiness” (201) of the stale, conventional marriage, with an attachment characterized by “the mutual incitement of vigorous minds” (201). However, even in the midst of defining his concept, he still wrestles with

Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures  163 the question of love and the type of cohabitation arrangement he is seeking. While he admits to himself that he is “in love with Rhoda” (202), he questions “If the phrase [has] any meaning” (202) and experiences what Gissing calls a “strange complex of emotions” (202). And in his perplexity, Barfoot falls back on the game he has been playing. He regards himself as “still only half serious in his desire to take [Rhoda] for a wife” and maintains that he wishes “to amuse and flatter himself by merely inspiring her with passion” and thus cannot “entertain a thought of formal marriage” (202). Everard’s contradictory motives, self-centeredness, and pleasureseeking temperament pose a serious threat to Rhoda’s well-being. By “playing upon” Rhoda’s “emotions” (202), Barfoot pursues the goal of moving this “proud, intellectual, earnest woman” (202) to the point where she is “willing to defy society for his sake” (202). As Rhoda is courted by Barfoot, she becomes as confused as he is and as fully trapped in a world of changing sexual mores and gender norms. While initially guarded in her interactions with Barfoot, Rhoda moves from “sportive mockery to all but alarm” (207) when Barfoot takes her hand “vehemently” (207) and asks her to become “the companion of [his] life” (206). The threat she experiences derives from her own encroaching passion and the recognition that her hard-won, independent life style and convictions as a “New Woman” are in jeopardy. Distrusting Barfoot’s sincerity while enjoying his “show of homage” (166), she is plagued by “a perturbation” which “distresse[s] and shame[s] her” (167). Unlike her predecessors in earlier courtship texts, Rhoda discovers that the difference between the honorable and dishonorable suitor is not simply a question of his intention to marry. Yet, like many courtship heroines before her, Rhoda experiences the burden of distinguishing between the false and sincere, the dangerous and the safe, potential mate. When Rhoda and Barfoot meet at a seaside town and go through a climactic point in their relationship, they experience their own diverging thought patterns. Barfoot is ready to conduct “his last trial of Rhoda” by proposing a “free union” as “a test only” (299), and if she passes the test, “he would go cheerfully on his way as a married man” (299). In this war he is still fighting, Barfoot craves Rhoda’s “unconditional surrender” (299) and “complete subjugation to him” (299), before he rewards her with the gift of legal marriage. However, Rhoda agonizes over whether or not she will ultimately accept the free union he offers. Although she thinks she should demand a legal marriage to assure herself of Everard’s sincerity, she faces the risk of incurring his contempt if she shows lack of courage. What she wishes to “demand of him” is “a flawless faith” (291), whether they have the “forms” of marriage or “none” (291). Having some reason to suspect that Everard might be involved with Monica Madden Widdowson, she recognizes “how jealousy might wreck her life” (291).

164  Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures Before this final “trial” takes place, the couple enjoy their “perfect day” (299), climbing coastal trails of England’s highest mountain with equal stamina and dexterity. Ironically, hero and heroine never fear danger on the “steep and stony, zigzagging” pathways (298), above “rugged gorges” (298), or from a “mountain torrent roar[ing] by the wayside” (295), and it is clear that they are equally matched both in their physical “strength” (296) and in their war of wit. When Barfoot playfully shares with Rhoda a vision he has of spending six months with her in a cottage, Rhoda tells him to be on his “guard” (298) because he is becoming too conventional and sentimental in his musings. In her response, Rhoda embodies the modern woman teasing a man for being too traditional. Continuing the banter, Barfoot reassures Rhoda that he is “in no danger” because “There is a vast difference between six months and all one’s life” and adds that they “would leave England” after “the half year” has gone by (298). Here, Barfoot’s words suggest that he is teasing Rhoda with an ambiguous form of commitment—a series of quasi-permanent, shared adventures at changing locations. Rhoda’s apprehension of danger in response to Barfoot’s offer of a free union pinpoints her status as a late nineteenth-century woman caught between the new and the old. Initially, for Rhoda, it seems “an easier and a nobler thing to proclaim her emancipation from social statutes than to announce before her friends the simple news that she [is] about to marry” (303). If she openly “[takes] a step such as few women would have dared to take—deliberately setting an example of new liberty,” her reputation for “proud independence” (303) will remain intact. This reflection completely overturns the female ideology still securely in place within her time. Rhoda’s continuing thoughts may be even more striking as she takes the man’s reputation more seriously than her own, should the two enter an illicit relationship. While Rhoda believes she is ready to pursue the “sensational step” of co-habitation and can “dare everything—as far as the danger concern[s] herself,” ironically she thinks “such practical heresy” might “affect Everard’s position” adversely (303). When she asks him, “Are you willing, for the sake of this idea, to abandon all society but that of the very few people who would approve or tolerate what you have done?”(303), his answer disappoints in an unexpected way and shifts the gears of this conversation. Desiring to view “Everard in a nobler light than hitherto” (304) and possessing an “idealism that “enable[s] her to take him literally” (304), she is chagrined when he explains that they need not “declare” their “principles” (303) to others and can maintain the appearance of formal marriage. Unaware that Barfoot has been testing her courage and depth of feeling for him with his cohabitation proposal, Rhoda begins to struggle with the arrangement he seems to be offering. On the one hand, if she moves him toward a legal marriage proposal, she “fear[s] an ignominious failure of purpose” that “would belittle her in Everard’s eyes” and

Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures  165 cause personal “shame” (304). On the other hand, she begins to doubt her “readiness” (305) to enter an illegal union with him. As Rhoda experiences this intense inner conflict, she views the “marriage ring” that Barfoot “slip[s] . . . upon her finger” (305) as a “perilous symbol” (305). As readers, we may interpret the wedding ring as “perilous” because it represents Barfoot’s hypocrisy and false radicalism, or it may be dangerous because it highlights Rhoda’s fear of losing her integrity by succumbing to a conventional marriage or accepting a façade of marriage as a cover for cohabitation. Her immediate and angry response to the ring’s placement on her finger to is remove it and say, “Take it back. Custom is too strong for us. We should only play at defying it. Take it back—or I shall drop it on the sand” (305). But in the very next moment, Rhoda shows her own inconsistency when she softly requests that Barfoot kiss her. From this gesture, he guesses that she “wish[es] for that old, idle form” (305) and proceeds to discuss plans to obtain the marriage license. Rather than presenting the secure embrace of a happy couple, this crucial scene’s disquieting conclusion pinpoints the power struggle that has characterized this relationship all along. While Rhoda tries to convince herself and her lover that the traditional option will make the couple’s life “so much simpler and happier” (305), she reprimands Barfoot in a way that shows her fundamental sense of endangerment: “But you have spoilt my life, you know. Such a grand life it might have been” (306). Moreover, while Rhoda admits that inviting a legal marriage proposal “was the only way of making sure that [Barfoot] loved [her],” Barfoot responds in kind with these words, “And what if I needed the other proof that you loved me?” (306). As Barfoot’s last words in this scene suggest, he proceeds to anguish over having lost the battle, likening himself to an “obedient slave” and anticipating “a long, perhaps bitter, struggle for predominance” (307). Going through a parallel process, Rhoda gloats that she has “triumphed splendidly,” but fears two very different outcomes—Barfoot’s disappointment but also “his strong instinct of lordship” that would “impose” upon her (309). Modern as they are in their well-matched battle, both hero and heroine are subject to the power of traditional mores. A subtle yet telling example occurs the day after the climactic “proposal” scene, when they choose to meet “some distance” from the seascape town so that “There was little danger in observation unless by a casual peasant” (309). Gissing’s use of “danger” here suggests that both Rhoda and Barfoot are keenly aware that even the appearance of sexual promiscuity can damage one’s reputation. Everard’s and Rhoda’s marriage plans are strikingly short-lived, as their war of nerves continues. Having substantial reasons to suspect that Barfoot has had an affair with Monica, Rhoda questions his fidelity. As he angrily refuses to clear himself of a false charge and Rhoda insists

166  Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures he do so, the “pride” and “obstinacy” of both heroine and hero are forced to “battle it out” (313). Succumbing to the will of the other proves hazardous to them both. Barfoot feels “in danger of weakness” (317), when he is drawn to take a “very attractive” Rhoda in his arms. In like manner, when a broken-hearted Rhoda contemplates suicide, she fears that she is “in danger of forgetting” the “watchwords” of “Will!” and “Purpose!” which have “guided her life” (334) and recognizes that work will be her “only way of salvation” (324). As she rediscovers her “old ambitions” (335), she understands that in her relationship with Barfoot, she has been “abandoning a course which her reason steadily approved for one that was beset with perils of indignity” (335). The author’s words here illuminate both the plight and triumph of the “New Woman” who was struggling to find genuinely fulfilling alternatives to the traditional happy courtship novel ending. This novel’s concluding chapters are as unconventional as the major couple’s convoluted interactions. In their final conversation, during which Everard admits he was only testing Rhoda with his free union ideal and issues one last marriage proposal, Gissing’s heroine describes her temporary desire to marry him as “weakness” (375) and declares that she “shall never marry” (375). Two weeks later, Barfoot announces his engagement to another woman, someone intelligent yet compliant, with whom he can achieve a degree of contentment and security. In the final chapter, entitled “A New Beginning” (377), the hero marries his new, safer mate choice, while the heroine, resolving to remain single, pursues her life’s work with deeply held commitment. Rhoda’s fate at the conclusion of this novel reflects one of the two “major counter traditions” to the wedlock plot identified by Joseph Boone, in which the “successful existence” of a “single protagonist” challenges “the viability of marital roles and arrangements” (19).3

Ann Veronica (1909) In Wells’ coming-of-age novel, peril and protection words and images highlight how Ann Veronica Stanley, like Rhoda Nunn, buffets between established and emerging cultural forces. Wells’ twenty-one-year-old female protagonist struggles against suffocating safety and embraces some dangers while fearing others. With George Bernard Shaw’s feisty heroine, Vivie Warren, as role model, Ann Veronica consciously seeks to realize her potential as a proactive human being and encounters threatening male figures, before attaining her safe haven with the love of her life. In his focus on Ann Veronica’s social and emotional development, Wells also shows how the swirling winds of change affect his heroine’s conservative father and her two male suitors. Fighting her father’s rules and restrictions, Ann Veronica contemptuously labels them “the wrappered life” (32) and refuses “to be

Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures  167 protected as something too precious for life, cooped up in one narrow little corner” (22). Ann Veronica can be categorized as one of the “New Women,” a term aptly defined by Jenni Calder as “a young generation of mostly middle-class women who reacted restlessly against the traditional system of over-protection by parents until marriage, followed by over-protection by husband” (163). These women, Calder goes on to say, “wanted a more practical education, more experience of life before having to make major decisions” and “wanted to do more in the open air, take more exercise, ride a bicycle, climb mountains and swim” (163). Countering the desires of Ann Veronica to break free, Peter Stanley deplores “his little Vee’s” discontent with her “beautiful, safe, and sheltering home” (11). Forced to raise this youngest daughter rendered motherless at age thirteen, Mr. Stanley is described as having “no ideas about daughters” (10), yet considers them “his absolute property, bound to obey him, his to give away or his to keep to be a comfort in his declining years” (11). As Ann Veronica increasingly asserts her right to self-development, Mr. Stanley grows tyrannical and even abusive, resembling the imprisoning paternal figures of Gothic courtship novels. He bemoans the fact that “A man’s children nowadays are not his own”, that “Their minds” are corrupted by “Rubbishy novels and pernicious rascals”, and that parents “can’t even protect them from themselves” (87). After escaping her father’s repressive domain to make her way alone in London, Ann Veronica has a number of unsavory experiences with the “hungry gaze” of men, which compromise her “free, unembarrassed movement” (72) and force her to acknowledge “that evil walks abroad and dangers, and petty insults more irritating than dangers, lurk” (73). In trying to persuade his sister to return home, Roddy tells her, “What you’re after is too risky” (89), and then sums up his view of the social situation in these terms: “Life’s hard enough nowadays for an unprotected male. Let alone a girl. You got to take the world as it is, and the only possible trade for a girl that isn’t sweated is to get hold of a man and make him do it for her” (90). Ann’s London education includes the disillusioning realization that men may use the modern notion of an equalitarian friendship between the sexes as a pathway to sexual license. While the problem of teasing out the difference between romantic/sexual love and friendship between the sexes gains prominence within the early twentieth century due to women’s increasingly independent life style, Ann Veronica’s experience with Mr. Ramage dramatizes the warning that Dr. Gregory issued in his “Father’s Legacy to His Daughters” more than a century before Wells’ novel. While Gregory acknowledges that a man’s friendship for a woman may involve man’s “obligation” to provide “protection and good offices,” he expresses this warning: “Thousands of women of the best hearts and finest parts have been ruined by men, who approached them under the specious name of friendship” (140).

168  Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures When Ann Veronica is almost raped by the middle-aged, married Mr. Ramage, whom she innocently considers a friend, she wonders if her “nasty” (151) predicament represents a sign of her modern times. She makes a brief bow to her cultural heritage by reflecting that the “young women of Jane Austen’s time didn’t get into this sort of scrape” yet at the same time “wonder[s] if some of them did” (152). She contrasts the “daintiness and its defensive restraints” of women in Austen’s era to the indignity of her present situation and entertains the possibility that her own overly free “manners” (152) constitute a flaw. From the first time Ramage meets Ann Veronica, he is enticed by the “emancipation” of “the New Woman” that she represents, and, in the following words, facetiously laments the predatory image so common in cautionary tales of a bygone era: “While that lamb was about every man of any spirit was regarded as a dangerous wolf” (55). Ironically, the wolf image that he mocks as irrelevant foreshadows his own misbehavior as a lustful rake. While Ann Veronica initially welcomes Mr. Ramage as a companion, even accepting the loan he graciously offers for her college education, she discovers his “dangerous wolf” quality in a scene that involves very real physical harm. As Ramage demands “payment” for his favors in a locked room, an outraged heroine successfully defends herself. What is striking in this incident is how equally matched man and woman are in terms of muscle and will power. As Ramage is about to “leap upon her and take possession,” the couple “wrestle fiercely” (144). Ramage is “astonished” by Ann Veronica’s “strength” and by her “defence,” which “cease[s] rapidly to be in any sense ladylike, and [becomes] vigorous and effective” (145). Nothing suggests more clearly the modern nature of Wells’ heroine than the fact that her experiences as “an ardent hockey player” and student of “ju-jutsu” in high school serve her well in this perilous encounter (145). As the antithesis of the fainting female who requires rescuing, Ann Veronica is “alarmed and disgusted” but also “highly excited” during this tawdry event and “not a bit afraid of Ramage” (146). Yet after this battle, she is haunted not just by her need to return his loan but also by her “visions, half memories, half dreams of Ramage” as an “ugly and monstrous” figure “threatening” and “assailing her” (189).4 Ann Veronica’s struggle between the polarities of a safe conventional life and fulfilling, yet risky, self-realization is nowhere more apparent than in her relationship with Hubert Manning, a suitor who embodies an outmoded tradition of male chivalry. In his treatment of this courtship, Wells turns the tables on the traditional binary of danger and safety. In his initial proposal letter, Manning expresses his belief that “it is . . . the man’s share in life to shield, to protect, to lead and to toil and watch and battle with the world at large” (40) and vows to be Ann Veronica’s “knight” and “servant” and “protector” (40). While Ann Veronica appreciates Manning’s motives, her discomfort at his words contains

Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures  169 a strong element of alarm. She imagines being “cooped up in a house under the benevolent shadow of Mr. Manning” (52–53) and describes herself as a “sleep walker” who awakens to find herself “among dangers, hindrances, and perplexities, on the verge of a cardinal crisis” (53). A primary reason why Ann Veronica refuses Manning’s initial proposal is captured in her written response: “I want to be a person by myself, and to pull my own strings. I had rather have trouble and hardship like that than be taken care of by others” (77). When Manning later visits Ann Veronica in London and learns that she is actually attempting to earn a salary, he is predictably dismayed. In his usual overblown sentimental style, he compares her to “some splendid Princess in Exile” forced to live in “Dreadful Dingy apartments” (91) and describes her as “an archangel going on the Stock Exchange” (91). Rather than resonating to the images that Manning puts forth, Ann Veronica finds his desire to remove her from “the battle and the mire” (92) as somewhat fanciful and experiences “a general feeling of insecurity and futility” (93) when he promises a “beautiful garden close” (92). When Ann Veronica later reluctantly accepts Manning’s second proposal, she views her courtly suitor as the safe alternative and her biology lab instructor, Capes, as the source of her own perilous passion. Fearing that Capes is “beginning to feel keenly interested in her” (193), Ann Veronica senses “more and more the quality of the brink upon which she [stands]—the dreadful readiness with which in certain moods she might plunge, the unmitigated wrongness and recklessness of such a selfabandonment” (193). In contrast to Capes, Manning represents “security” (193), as he declares himself Ann Veronica’s “city of refuge from every sort of bother” (200) and promises to create “an inner temple” or “place where the crowd does not clamor, nor ill winds blow” (200). At first, Ann tries to accept the gift he offers, viewing him “as realizing, indeed, his ideal of protection and service” and yet also “as chivalrously leaving her free to live her own life” (201). However, once she accepts Manning’s offer, she experiences “a moment of sheet panic at the thing she [has] done” (203). She recognizes that Manning represents the “wrappered life” (203) and recognizes “that faint undefinable flavor of absurdity that pervade[s] his courtly bearing” (203). Her polite understatement here contrasts not only with Wells’ satiric treatment of Manning’s rhetoric but also with Ann Veronica’s realization that she is “just a mannequin for her lover’s imagination” (204). Yet, when she utters the words to break their engagement, her sense of danger is palpable: “she plunged, and felt exactly that loss of breath that comes with a dive into icy water” (206). Once she takes the plunge, however, she triumphantly proclaims that she is “done for ever with the Age of Chivalry, and her own base adaptations of its traditions to the compromising life” (210). Much more complex than Manning, Capes, the ultimate “right” suitor, is a fundamentally honorable, yet fallible modern man. Although

170  Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures he avoids courting Ann because he is still married and has a sullied past, he does send thoughtful gazes her way and engages her in long meaningful talks. One of the topics they discuss involves the position of men and women, and the free-thinking Capes articulates views at this point that ironically echo Manning’s conservative “Ruskin”-like beliefs. Not only does Capes say that “Women are not in the world in the same sense that men are” (156), but he also asserts that “Every home is a little recess, a niche, out of the world, of business and competition, in which women and the future shelter” (156). Countering his words, Ann Veronica calls this so-called safe niche, “a little prison,” but Capes insists “It’s just as often a little refuge” and the man stands “As sentinel” (156). Continuing to fight his opinion, she claims that he cannot know what a “pit” women live in and asserts that women “have minds like men, desires like men” and “some” of them do “come out into the world” (156). Capes distinguishes himself from Manning when, after this conversation, he apologizes for insulting Ann Veronica, thus showing the respectful attitude that the heroine craves. The heroine’s love for Capes involves not only friendly debates but also strong sexual attraction. Wells’ use of ambivalent danger language in his explicit description of his heroine’s burgeoning physical desire reflects how Ann Veronica exists in the liminal space between Victorian and modernist mores. One day as the two examine specimens in their classroom laboratory, Ann Veronica becomes acutely aware of Capes’ beauty and finds herself “trembling at his nearness and full of a thrilling dread that he might touch her” (130). The oxymoronic phrase, “thrilling dread,” reflects Ann Veronica’s confusion over whether she feels “infinite regret or infinite relief” (130) after Capes leaves the room. The aftermath of this experience suggests more “thrill” than “dread,” as the heroine transitions into full consciousness of her own sensual being and is “flooded” with the “realization” that she is “in love” (131). After Anne Veronica learns that Capes is married, she feels threatened by social forces swirling around her. Her sexual craving for this man wars with her feminist “wrath at the present conditions of a woman’s life” (160). She “scowl[s] into the cold blacknesses about her” (161) and “flounder[s] deep” (161) as she yearns to declare her illicit passion openly as if she were a “man” yet feels sorely hampered in doing so. She then resists the lure of Capes by declaring, “I will not have this slavery” (161), and as she resolves to wholly commit to the Suffragette cause, she asks two key questions focusing on feminine gender norms: “Why should women be dependent on men” and “Why does one faint at danger” (164). Ann Veronica’s internal crisis escalates during her first night’s imprisonment as a Suffragette demonstrator. In an elaborate interior monologue, she is “haunted” by thoughts of Capes (175) and associates him with disparities between men’s power and women’s limitations. Yet, suddenly shifting her position, she contemplates the notion that “Women

Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures  171 ought to be gentle and submissive persons” and “strong only in virtue and in resistance to evil compulsion” (176). Confessing that she is not “a good specimen of a woman” (177) and even possesses “a streak of male” (177), she worries about her “fallen thoughts” (177). At this juncture, she is clearly alone, devoid of clear moral and religious rules to guide her on her way. From this stream of troubling reflections, there re-emerges an acute awareness of her “craving for Mr. Capes,” but this time she attempts to counter her failure “to get away from him” by declaring that her desire for this man does not encompass “all” of who she is (178). With the essence of her identity at risk, she moves to a self-protective stance with the words, “The soul you need to save is Ann Veronica’s soul” (178). This resolve, however, is short-lived when separating herself from her Suffragette sisters, she reflects that she is not a woman who is “hostile to men” (180) and does not “want any laws or freedoms to protect [her] from a man like Mr. Capes” (180). Reflecting upon a woman’s relationship with the “right” versus the “wrong” man, she frames her right to be with Capes in these terms: “She wants to be free—she wants to be legally and economically free, so as not to be subject to the wrong man; but only God, who made the world, can alter things to prevent her being slave to the right one” (180). Although the word “slave” suggests the danger of losing one’s self, Ann Veronica now defines the all-consuming love she can have with Capes, as one that melds emotion, spirit, intellect, and sexual passion, and thus seriously challenges Victorian norms. Before Capes and Ann Veronica fully commit to one another as romantic partners, they try to deceive themselves that a platonic friendship is possible for them. Capes even celebrates this “Age of Friendship,” proclaiming “the superiority of intellectual fellowship” over “merely passionate relationships” (195). Although the narrator calls Capes’ words “more than a little insincere” (195), this hero’s desire to preserve Ann Veronica from scandal is shown to be both genuine and honorable. Even after the heroine breaks her engagement to Manning and declares that she has “fallen in love” (212), Capes warns her of the danger he poses and darkens his own character. He describes himself as a man with a “streak of ardent animal” in his “composition” (217), who has destroyed his marriage by having an affair with an older married woman. He paints quite an anti-heroic portrait of himself as “a mixture of beast and uncle” and as a “fraudulent trustee” (215) to Ann Veronica. He even adds that he is “damaged goods” (218), a term usually reserved for the fallen woman, not the lustful man. All of Capes’ danger signals, however, fail to deter Ann Veronica from the course she now chooses. No longer fearful of plunging into the untrodden territory of passionate love, she mirrors Capes’ harsh self-judgments by brazenly declaring that she hasn’t “a spark of shame” (214). Turning the tables on Victorian stereotypes, Ann Veronica conveys

172  Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures just how completely she embraces this risky courtship venture when she announces, “the fences are down for good” (214). She forges eagerly ahead even in the face of Capes’ one last attempt to warn her. Claiming he is afraid “only” for Ann’s sake (224), he adds that he foresees both “Hardship and danger” for them as a couple (224). The daring twosome’s subsequent hiking journey on precipitous Swiss mountain ranges symbolically conveys the social and emotional risks they are taking. Yet, despite the hazards of their physical path, they thrive in their connection and are equally matched “in a state of unprecedented physical fitness” (246). Shredding all vestiges of her sheltered upbringing, Ann Veronica proudly proclaims herself an “abandoned female” (239), ironically celebrating the couple’s triumphant union with language typically used to describe the tragic fate of seduced heroines. This excursion to treacherous heights in Ann Veronica resembles the trek that Rhoda and Barfoot enjoy on their only “perfect” day together in The Odd Women. However, Wells’ risk-taking couple are far more ready to create the safe haven of an equalitarian relationship based on mutual trust, open communication, and the absence of an alienating power struggle. Wells’ couple are “enormously pleased with one another” as they “do things together that [are] just a little difficult and dangerous” (243), yet at the same time, even though Ann Veronica is a “good climber” who is “plucky,” she is also “quite willing to be cautious” at her lover’s “command” (243). Instead of plunging to their death on “the steepest zigzag you can imagine” (240), Well’s hero and heroine proclaim that they “both” have “fallen on [their] feet” (244). Their manner of proceeding also demonstrates how mutual caretaking strengthens their bond. Climbing “a shining space of wet, steep rocks,” Capes goes “first, finding footholds” and “placing Ann Veronica’s “feet” (244). Yet, Capes unabashedly describes a different sort of saving when he calls himself a “protected thing” in the presence of his “dear friend” and “goddess” (248). Experiencing his comrade-lover as a divine, renovating presence, Capes even designates her “the high Priestess of Life” (248). In contrast to her dismissal of Manning’s chivalric clichés, Ann joyously embraces Capes’ title for her (248), expressing gratitude to God for bringing this life-giving man into her world. In this celebration of a love relationship that breaks the bounds of Victorian rules, there are still echoes of the popular Victorian notion of woman as man’s spiritual savior. Yet, the couple’s mutual affirmations reflect a modern vision of love that prefigures D. H. Lawrence’s conception of the ideal male-female relationship. There are hints of Lawrentian ideology also in Ann Veronica’s use of the word “primordial” (228) rather than “Modern” (228) when she joyously anticipates “going through a new world” with Capes, “side by side” (226). In Ann Veronica, the couple’s foray into the hazardous heights provides the prelude to their happily-ever-after ending four years later. Wells

Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures  173 portrays them as enjoying a comfortable domestic life in a legal marital union, reconciling with Ann Veronica’s family and awaiting the birth of their first baby. The only shadow cast on the novel’s finale involves the heroine’s somewhat desperate need for reassurance that she and Capes will not degenerate into the “wrappered” life. Describing her current world with Capes as “hedged about with discretions,” she beseeches her husband not to forget the time when they “risked everything for one another, when all the wrappings and coverings seemed to have fallen from life and left it light and fire” (257). Despite Capes’ understanding response, the heroine’s call of distress dominates this ending and leaves the reader to figure out if the ultimate haven of love can exist in confined flats or only in the exciting spaces where risk prevails. According to Janet Eldredge Miller in her book on Rebel Women, Wells’ depiction of the couple’s “daily domestic life . . . exposes the inconsistencies in his narrative and his feminism” (169). Miller persuasively argues that the “pattern of enclosure and escape” that Wells establishes in depicting Ann Veronica throughout most of the novel “is violated” by “the tiny urban apartment” in which the couple resides (170). It is also worth noting that the heroine’s distressed plea at the novel’s end is also hard to separate from her earlier willingness to assume the “slave” role with the “right” man (Ann Veronica 180), and readers are left to wonder if Wells’ domestic ending constitutes such an enslavement. We might also wonder if Ann Veronica has relinquished her earlier resolution to “save” her own “soul” (Ann Veronica 178).

The Three Sisters (1914) Although Janet Eldredge Miller classifies H. G. Wells and May Sinclair as “best known” Edwardian novelists (164) and indicates that both authors “are linked by their common interest in feminism and their self-conscious modernity” (164), she claims that Sinclair “moved beyond the modern content she shared with Wells, and sought new narrative structures and styles with which to express it” (165). Emphasizing this innovation, Miller points out that “Sinclair’s exploration of the unconscious, sexual desire, repression and sublimation in The Three Sisters was clearly influenced by recent developments in psychoanalysis” (196). In her introduction to the Virago Press’ re-publication of this novel in 1982, Jean Radford also links Sinclair’s “knowledge of psychoanalytic theory” to her fictional works, when she notes that Sinclair “dramatise[s] the tension between conscious and unconscious motives in her characters, between the social rationalisations and the irrational forces of their sexual drives” (vi). Despite remaining outside the male-dominated literary canon for so many years, Sinclair, within recent generations, has been receiving much renewed attention as an author acutely aware of the literary currents

174  Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures of her day and as a novelist straddling the late Victorian and Modern periods. Besides Miller and Radford’s acknowledgement of Sinclair’s significant role in the development of the Modern novel, several other critics proclaim Sinclair’s importance. For example, Rebecca Bowler and Claire Drewery describe Sinclair as “a bestselling author of her day, whose fame was established with the publication of The Divine Fire in 1904, and whose “subsequent novels” all “sold well” (1). The entry on Sinclair in The Feminist Companion to Literature in English indicates that she was “Generally acknowledged in the 1920s as one of the most important writers of her day” and “the decline of her reputation is an enigma” (987). Sinclair’s The Three Sisters is a complex variant of the courtship novel, and the peril/protection language threaded throughout its narrative and suffusing the consciousness of its characters attests to its complexity. This novel focuses on the courtship story of Vicar James Carteret’s daughter Gwenda as well as her two sisters. Unlike the traditional courtship novel, Sinclair’s work involves a male protagonist, Dr. Steven Rowcliffe, who does not have a rival. Inadvertently capturing the heart of all three sisters, Steven is intent on pursuing only Gwenda, but the relationship between this hero and heroine is complicated by the presence of Gwenda’s elder sister, Mary, and younger sister, Alice or Ally. Besides the presence of this love quadrangle, Gwenda and Steven’s romantic interactions are characterized by unacknowledged and conflicting intentions and emotions that resemble the hero-heroine dynamics we encounter within the courtship novels of Sinclair’s contemporaries, D. H. Lawrence and Virginia Woolf. In her multi-layered narrative, Sinclair uses danger/safety language primarily to highlight inner turmoil, but also to signal harmful behavior of treacherous characters and convey the strangling effect of social expectations. Drawing upon courtship novel tradition, Sinclair incorporates two established character types who constitute external sources of villainy—the formidable paternal ogre and the duplicitous female rival. Besides suffering from these destructive forces, the hero and heroine seem to be even more deeply imperiled by their own internal struggles between expressing passion and inhibiting or sublimating it and between self-sacrifice and personal fulfillment. As a modern author, Sinclair provides a version of the “New Woman” in the character of Gwenda, yet reveals the perils she faces by adhering to crippling norms in spite of her early twentieth-century view of female agency. Through her characterizations of both Gwenda and Mary, Sinclair provides scathing satire on the tenacious nineteenth-century “Angel in the House” icon, revealing the ways this ideal of femininity fosters not only women’s hypocrisy and soullessness but also extremes of self-sacrifice that seriously endanger women’s lives. As Diane Sweeney in the “May Sinclair Papers” puts it, “Through her fiction, she exposed

Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures  175 the Victorian tenets of family and self-sacrifice, as a system of female oppression” (5). In her depiction of Ally, Sinclair also explores, more openly than her Victorian predecessors, the hazards and rewards for women whose powerful sexuality runs counter to prevailing notions of female purity. At the outset of the novel, the Vicar of Garth emerges as a tyrant who blends an “image of righteousness” (19) with a “profound and secret sensuality” (17). His role as treacherous patriarch is immediately evident in the exposition on his past. Gwenda angrily blames him for the death of his first wife because he compelled her to give birth to a third child despite her weakened condition. We also discover that his third wife was “afraid of him” (21), took flight in the fifth year of their marriage, and sought a divorce. The most compelling evidence of his autocratic tendencies is the fact that he has moved his three grown daughters to a rural village in northern England, in order to avoid what he viewed as Ally’s scandalous behavior, and it is clear that both Ally and Gwenda regard this move as destructive and unwarranted. Ally sees her father as wanting to “bury” her in this place (6), while Gwenda believes that her father acted like a “frantic fool,” proceeding as if Ally “really had done something” (27). Vicar Carteret also seeks to obstruct his daughters’ courting progress because he unconsciously does not want his daughters to have the satisfaction he lacks. At one point, referring to all three sisters, Gwenda sums up her father’s distaste for anything resembling courtship when she tells Steven that the Vicar “always has disliked anybody we like” (100). Later when Ally becomes involved with the lower class Jim Greatorex, she feels terror anticipating her father’s reaction and credits him “with an infinite capacity to crush and wound” (250). Like Gothic villain father-figures, the Vicar reveals an underlying yet potent sexual predator quality. For example, when he catches Ally looking in his mirror, she sees in his face “evil” and “cruelty” and “some quality nameless . . . yet crude somehow and vivid” (89). Later in the novel, Gwenda recognizes the same sinister corruption in her father: “She knew from what source his eyes drew their darkness. She understood the meaning of the gross red mouth that showed itself in the fierce lifting of the ascetic, grim moustache. And she conceived a horror of his fatherhood” (285). Despite the Vicar’s threatening presence, he, like his counterparts in the early twentieth-century courtship novels of Wells, Woolf, and Lawrence, is rendered ineffectual against the defiance of strong-willed daughters. For example, when the Vicar accuses Gwenda of “scampering about all over the country” with Steven and “solemnly” declares, “I won’t have it” (164), he has no retort when the heroine counters with the following words: “It’s no good locking me up in my room, . . . for I can get out of the window. . . . It’s not a bit of good trying to bully me.

176  Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures You’ll be beaten every time” (165). Mary also defeats the tyrant father when she later broadsides him with an announcement of her engagement to Steven. Resenting the “treachery” of the one daughter “he [has] depended on and trusted,” he “absolutely [forbids] the engagement” (247). However, despite the fact that he repeatedly “bullie[s] and “threaten[s],” Mary too “beat[s] him in the end” (247) with her sweet, seemingly passive demeanor. Later even Ally, who usually trembles at her father’s wrath, threatens to “kill” him if he dare hurt the man who has gotten her pregnant (276). The athletic and outspoken Gwenda constitutes the most formidable counterforce to her father’s patriarchal power. However, she is characterized not only by “New Woman” qualities but also by faithful adherence to two central tenets of the nineteenth-century “true womanhood” cult: chastity and self-sacrificing behavior. Carrying herself “like a huntress” (39), finely attuned to her natural surroundings, and experiencing a special kinship with the moon, Gwenda is repeatedly aligned with Artemis, the Olympian maiden-goddess who guarded her virginity as well as that of her female attendants. Gwenda takes very seriously her mission as her younger sister’s shield particularly against the domineering presence of their father. Viewing Ally, with her overly sensitive nature and overt sexuality, as “the fragile vehicle of an alien and overpowering impulse” (58), Gwenda tries repeatedly to keep her from harm. Gwenda’s urge to save her from suffering and irretrievable scandal is so intense that she decides to leave their family home in order to help ensure that Steven will marry Ally. Fearing that Ally will die or go mad from heartbreak, Gwenda relinquishes her chance for a romantic happy ending with the man who loves her and whom she loves in return. Later when Ally becomes pregnant and fears that her family will force her to marry Jim Greatorex, the father of her unborn child, Gwenda once again steps forth to “keep” Ally “safe” (282). She “defend[s]” (284) her in the face of her father’s and sister Mary’s badgering and resists her father’s command that Ally marry Jim even if she is reluctant to do so. Shining like a woman warrior “with the fierceness and the madness of pity and compassion” (285), Gwenda squarely places the blame for Ally’s illicit relationship with Jim on her father, accusing him in these terms: “You were told not to shut her up. And you did shut her up. You can’t blame her if she got away” (286). Believing that Ally is “afraid” (286) of Jim, Gwenda goes even further declaring that she has an alternative for her sister—to “take her away somewhere and look after her” not only by “work[ing] for her,” but also by “tak[ing] care of the child” that Ally will bare (286). In contrast to Gwenda’s genuine rescuing instincts, Mary feigns protectiveness for self-gain. She is a treacherous character because she is adept at deceiving herself and others, and Gwenda, with her staunch allegiance to honesty and family loyalty, easily falls prey to her devious

Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures  177 sibling. While Mary plays the “Angel” role to perfection in order to augment her social worth, Gwenda actually ends up living out that role to her detriment. Early in the novel, Mary congratulates herself that she has “saved Ally” (68) when she “surreptitiously” goes “to fetch” Dr. Rowcliffe, while repressing her real intention to cultivate her own relationship with this man. She also never honors Gwenda’s request to help unite Ally with Steven Rowcliffe and even leads him to believe that Gwenda will never return from London. Before Gwenda recognizes Mary’s true nature, she inadvertently captures her sinister hypocrisy. In explaining to her father why he cannot “bully” Mary, Gwenda claims the following: “She’s really more dangerous than I am, because she looks so meek and mild” (165). Once Mary is married to Steven, she continually submerges any recognition of alarm regarding her husband’s allegiance to Gwenda, by devoting all her energies to her true womanhood role. Creating a pleasurably comfortable milieu that renders her husband dependent, she saps his vitality and ultimately cripples his spirit. Sinclair conveys Mary’s insidious nature through paradoxical danger wording. Not only does Mary, like a siren, know “by instinct how she [can] enthrall” (319) Steven, but by “habituating” his “senses to her way,” she can “produce in him, through sheer satisfaction that sense of security which is the most dangerous of all” (319).5 While Ally, in contrast to Mary, is aligned with Gwenda as a woman with integrity, she is ostensibly the weak one of the three sisters, the one who appears most vulnerable to social, psychological, and physical peril during most of the novel. The combination of Ally’s delicate constitution with a potent sexuality seems to constitute grave danger. When she uses her illness to lure Steven to the Carteret home in the beginning of the novel, she touches her heart and takes “the full thrill of its dangerous throbbing” (55). Also at this time, her attraction to the eligible young physician is couched in words that reinforce the precarious nature of her situation: “Her eyes were dragged to the terror and the danger” (92). Ally’s vulnerability emerges again later when Jim Greatorex, a laborer fascinated by her “fragility” and “prettiness” (114), thinks, “If I was to touch her I should break her” (115). Ally and Jim’s subsequent relationship seems filled with danger not only because of a significant social class divide that is sure to enrage the Vicar but also because Jim is presented as a highly sexualized male with a past history of alcohol abuse and affairs with women. However, Ally, fearful as she is, welcomes the caresses of this “rough” (255) man who turns out to be a sincere and protective suitor. Described as “reverent” and “tender” (288) in his behavior toward Ally, Jim tries to convince her that she would not have to run “these awful risks” if she would marry him (258).6 Despite all the ostensible hazards Ally faces, she, of all three sisters, ironically emerges with the most fortunate life. After she marries Jim, his

178  Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures “bodily presence” becomes “her shelter from her fear” (296), and during the ensuing years, they create a family in a vibrant household described by Gwenda as “so entirely the place of happy life” (365). While the rewards that Ally gains are traditionally female, she embodies a complex blend of modernist and Victorian values. She embraces her sexuality despite her fears of others’ judgments, holds on to her moral core by declaring that she would never stoop to “sneaking” Steven “away” from Gwenda (193), and aptly regards her devoted sister’s excessive selfsacrifice on her behalf as “monstrous, absurd, altogether futile” (341). Gwenda’s manner of relating to Steven as they grow better acquainted on the moors around Garth is strongly influenced by two different yet converging factors—the female reserve imperative for women that constituted a tenet of feminine ideology during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries along with the new woman’s claim to independence and wholeness. Viewing Ally’s outward expression of passion as being “morbid and perverted” (146), Gwenda experiences “terror” (146) at the prospect of resembling her sister once she realizes the full extent of her love for the hero. The paradoxical blend of danger and safety imagery at this moment of Gwenda’s realization highlights the striking ambivalence that epitomizes the heroine’s feelings toward the hero. Gwenda first recognizes how she has been repressing her love feelings when she hears a rumor that Steven has become seriously ill while tending one of his patients. Realizing that “nothing would ever matter to her again” if he dies, Gwenda regards her love for him as “treacherous” (146). However, ironically, when this love “show[s] itself unveiled, unarmed, superbly defenseless, her terror of it cease[s]” (146). While she recognizes how she has “dreaded the secret gates, the dreamy labyrinths, the poisonous air of the Paradise of Fools” and has “not felt altogether safe” in “Rowcliffe’s presence” (146), she suddenly seems to enter a protected space, but one characterized by features of hazardous, craggy moorlands. For example, she acknowledges that despite standing “on the edge of an abyss,” she is rooted “firm on the solid earth” and can “even lean forward a little and look over, without losing her head, thrilled with the uncertainty and peril of the adventure” (146). She is, moreover, reassured that her lover is there fully with her, “draw[ing] her after him at an exciting pace, along the edge of the abyss” (147). She also recognizes that she has needed to “[know] him better” in order to “feel safe” and, in this striking moment, focuses on the quality of selflessness within Steven that frees her to love him completely. Embracing the words, “He never saved himself” as she reflects on all the patients he has served, Gwenda can now lift “the passion she had trampled on” to the level of “adoration” (147). However, the narrator’s description of this “sanction of the soul” as “dangerous” (147) carries sinister suggestions of ultimate disillusionment that leave readers wondering where this relationship is headed. Moreover, despite her brief

Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures  179 surrender to an idealized version of the hero, Gwenda is “utterly disgusted” (151) at having shown him how much she cares, once she learns that he is not at death’s door. While sincere and well-meaning, Rowcliffe never rises to the ideal level that Gwenda seems to expect in a lover. During their early courting days, he engages in indirect communication and skirmishes with Gwenda, revealing the same sort of hesitancy, ambivalence, and confusion that characterize so many of his modern hero or anti-hero counterparts. Even after Gwenda proves how much she cares for him when she believes he is dying, Steven assumes that she is “sure of him,” but doesn’t actually know, if this is true (154), and chooses not “to be precipitate” (154) in openly declaring his love. Sinclair’s hero seems afraid to “put their love to the test” and foolishly convinces himself that the “very secrecy” of their “whole communion” is what makes it “so secure” (156). At this time, Rowcliffe also mixes passivity with carelessness when he not only is “content to leave their meetings to luck and his own imperfect ingenuity” (156), but also makes a “reckless” decision to take Gwenda driving through a neighboring village, much “to the consternation of its inhabitants” (156). Besides risking Gwenda’s reputation and her father’s wrath, Steven continues to procrastinate, lulled by the couple’s “isolation” in “Garthdale” into a paradoxical state that the narrator calls, “dangerously secure” (156). The reasons behind the hero’s hesitancy become more evident one evening as the hearty couple trek across the moors alone together in true modern style. At last “definitely looking for the moment” (156) to make known his matrimonial intentions, Rowcliffe views as “inimical” (157) Gwenda’s “estranging ecstasy” and “absorption” (157) in the natural elements surrounding them. Sinclair’s depiction of the potent female in passionate communion with the moon as a dangerous force is later echoed in D. H. Lawrence’s The Rainbow and Women in Love. Like Lawrence’s Anton Skrebensky and Rupbert Birkin with the moonloving Ursula Brangwen, Steven Rowcliffe resents “an incomprehensible and monstrous rivalry” caused by the “profound” and self-sufficient joy (158) his lover experiences without him. The modern battle of the sexes emerges full tilt at this point, as Rowcliffe, longing to “say cruel and biting things” to Gwenda, fights with her instead of proposing, and heroine proclaims her “liberty” as a chief source of fulfillment (160). The second and distinctly non-traditional phase of the protagonists’ courtship narrative begins after Gwenda returns home to nurse her invalid father and the hero is already married to her sister, Mary. When Gwenda and Radcliffe resume their night walks on the moors, peril and protection language highlight the hero’s inner turmoil more than the heroine’s. Tortured by the fact that a woman whom he regards as “born for the wild open air” is “tied to that half-paralyzed, half-imbecile old man forever” (307), Rowcliffe defies the “danger” that both he and

180  Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures Gwenda face, despite being “warned“ by his “common sense” and “reproached” by “his conscience” (307). He says to himself, “I can’t help it if it is dangerous. It’s been taken out of my hands. If somebody doesn’t drag her out of doors, she’ll get ill. If somebody doesn’t talk to her, she’ll grow morbid. And there’s nobody but me” (307). As these words emphasize, the hero now consciously functions as Gwenda’s protector, yet the narrator suggests that he may be rationalizing the illicit nature of their meetings by viewing them as sacred, for we are told, “He sheltered himself in the immensity of her tragedy. Its darkness covered them. Her sadness and her isolation sanctified them” (307). He also reassures himself that Mary has the “social value” she desires, and finds himself both “poisoned” and “consoled” by the thought of Mary’s treachery at having “lied to him about Gwenda” (314). Focusing on Mary’s “turpitude” at this time in his life, he comes to “dread” his “evenings” with her, experiencing “her silences” as particularly “menacing” (315). When the “romantic youth” that is still “mov[ing] uneasily within him” (315) drives Steven to openly express his passion for Gwenda, she insists on the chastity of their relationship. More fully than Steven, she sublimates her sexual urges and seems content with a platonic but vital, even at times, ecstatic connection with him. Tortured by his desire, Steven, nevertheless, promises to stay in Garth and continue their meetings because she tells him it “would kill” her (330) if he leaves. Unable to resist her “helplessness” (330), he recognizes that any happiness she has now depends on him. However, as the years go by, he ceases to roam with Gwenda alone at night because he views them as no longer “safe together” (349) and regards their wonderings as “much too risky” (349). As this language suggests, the threat Steven apprehends, at this point, involves primarily fear of his own uncontrollable erotic energy. When Steven visits Gwenda’s father as his physician during daylight hours, we see that Gwenda, despite her denials, is also endangered by her physical desire, for both remain “on their guard, still afraid of each other’s touch” (353). Like so many of his Victorian and Modern counterparts, Sinclair’s male protagonist is a well-meaning individual with some protective instincts but also with realistic human shortcomings. He is a caring physician who treats all three sisters in a gentlemanly way, guarding them at times from exposure to rain or cold. He also wishes the best for Ally’s physical and mental well-being as her doctor, yet never entertains the notion of saving Ally by marrying her, as Gwenda would have liked him to do. His most selfless act of rescue could be considered his promise not to abandon Gwenda even after he has married Mary. Ultimately, however, he cannot be the paragon of unerring courage, integrity, and selflessness that Gwenda requires in a mate. By the novel’s end, it is clear that Rowcliffe has lost the power to save Gwenda as well as himself. Suffering “headaches” throughout most of

Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures  181 his marriage (373), he eventually succumbs to the ways that Mary, “insidiously,” has “set herself” to “encourage” his “malady” and “destroy” the “youth” and “energy” that has drawn him to Gwenda (374). Due to Mary’s consistent efforts, Steven’s “new self” becomes “the slave of comfort” and falls victim to a “strangling lethargy” (375). As Steven’s old self dies, Gwenda must face the profound loneliness that is jeopardizing both her mind and body. Despite isolated moments of spiritual uplift, her emotional dependence on Steven seems to defeat her. While consciously she “still look[s] on her joy in the earth as a solitary emotion untouched by any other” (339), she senses, with dread, that her capacity for independent mystical experiences is permanently impaired. Although she fights for her freedom and fulfillment by continuing to focus on her deeply spiritual link to nature and by feeding her intellect “to fight her passion” (352), she is devastated when Steven withdraws his emotional allegiance. During the couple’s final meeting, Gwenda asks Rowcliffe to leave Garth for a life of more opportunity and less anguish and to no longer feel bound to stay on her account. Covered in a solid cloak of benevolent indifference, Rowcliffe sends signals that reveal just how completely he has buried his passionate self. As the two sit in his home at a table acting as a “barrier between them” (382), he “gently” lays his “sheltering hand” (383) over Gwenda’s hand, which he views as “so tense and yet so helpless” (383). Despite this superficial caring gesture, as Gwenda’s emotions escalate, his “nerves [wince] before her fierce intensity” and he “with[draws] his sheltering hand” (384), telling her basically that they both ought to be finished with “bothering” (384) about what has existed in the past. The novel’s denouement shows how fully Sinclair diverges from both the traditional comic and tragic variants of the courtship novel’s plot trajectory. The weakling sister, branded as a fallen woman by her community and married to a man of ill repute, attains the traditionally fulfilling safe haven that her sisters do not. The unscrupulous elder sister who attains her goal of a socially sanctioned life style must labor to maintain the security of her world at the expense of her husband’s soul. The novel’s heroine and hero suffer tragic fates leaving them bereft and isolated in very different ways. Instead of experiencing the lasting refuge of a happily-ever-after marriage, they are both trapped by decisions that have drained their physical, emotional, and spiritual resources. While Rowcliffe resigns himself to a shallow, but reasonably secure existence with his wife and children, Gwenda is left numb and entirely alone, with a “heart” that is “so mortally wounded as to be unaware that it was hurt” (387). Having relinquished her chance for either love or a viable London career, Sinclair’s potential “New Woman” has ironically shut herself up in the tragically imprisoning life she so dreaded for Ally. Gwenda’s

182  Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures selflessness seems ultimately to be her greatest hazard. When she initially decides that she must leave Rowcliffe in order to prevent Ally from dying or going mad, her inner battle is described in violent and fatalistic terms that foreshadow her ominous ending: “her heart dragged and tore at her, as if it fought against her will to die. But it never occurred to her that this dying of hers was willed by her. It seemed foredoomed, inevitable” (185). When Gwenda returns home to nurse her bedridden father in the novel’s last portion, her self-immolation is once again conveyed in distinctly destructive terms. By deciding to serve the felled tyrant who is “at last supreme,” she is “his to bend or break or utterly destroy” (306), and the pity she experiences renders her “defenseless” and is likened to “a dangerous solvent in which her will sank and was melted away” (337). Ironically, the ogre father, earlier rendered impotent by all three daughters’ revolt, poses the greatest hazard as a meek, dependent invalid. Gwenda’s fate, at the novel’s end, is profoundly disturbing in its nullity. She exists in a place beyond danger in the midst of the “living death” that kept her stepmother from returning to take care of the Vicar (333). While Gwenda keeps her virginal wholeness and integrity intact, we leave her sitting in her “small dull room” awaiting “the hour of her deliverance” with “her sewing and her book,” while up on the moors, “under the risen moon, the white thorn-trees [flower] in their glory” (388). By juxtaposing these discordant images, Sinclair concludes her novel on an ambiguous note. While Gwenda seems hopelessly immured from glories beyond her room, the “hour of deliverance” she awaits might refer to her death but it could also be a future opportunity to transcend earthly suffering through communion with beauties of earth and sky. Sinclair’s iconoclastic courtship novel leaves readers with more questions than answers regarding what constitutes ultimate safety and happiness.7 We are left wondering if Gwenda’s unerring fidelity to her moral core is being lauded, or if extreme self-sacrificing behavior is to be viewed as a tragic waste of human potential. We are unsure if a woman’s solitary radiant experiences constitute a viable or more freeing alternative to a sexually and emotionally fulfilling marriage. Sinclair’s ending also leaves us questioning if a woman’s life of communion with a cosmic order is ever an attainable ideal, and if man can ever save a woman by sharing these transcendent moments as her soul mate. In her 1912 Essay “A Defence of Men,” May Sinclair suggests that the safe haven of a spiritual union between men and women may very well be beyond reach because “Spirituality, so difficult for [man] to come by, has been positively thrust upon woman. Born of her sacrificial destiny, it has been expected of her, nourished in her, guarded by all the sanctions of her life” (414).

Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures  183

Woolf and Lawrence: Expanding the Psychological Playing Field of the Courtship Novel In their “Introduction” to “The Twentieth Century and After” volume of The Norton Anthology, Jahan Ramazani and Jon Stallworthy claim that Virginia Woolf and D. H. Lawrence are among “the most instrumental inventors of the modernist ‘English’ novel” (1901). Both these innovative authors express awareness of the new ground they are charting as novelists. Providing a sense of his credo as an author, Lawrence writes in a 1929 letter, “all art is au fond symbolic, conscious or unconscious” (Collected Letters, Volume Two 1194). In “Why the Novel Matters,” Lawrence elaborates upon the novelty of his approach in these terms: Right and wrong is an instinct: but an instinct of the whole consciousness in a man, bodily, mental, spiritual at once. And only in the novel are all things given fully play, or at least, they may be given full play . . . For out of the full play of all things emerges the only thing that is anything, the wholeness of a man, the wholeness of a woman, man alive, and live woman. (538) In “Morality and the Novel,” Lawrence privileges the dynamic quality of male-female interactions within the courtship novel genre. Besides emphasizing the fact that “The great relationship, for humanity, will always be the relation between man and woman” (531), he tells readers that “Men and women will be for ever subtly and changingly related to one another” (531). He captures the essence of his goal as author by defining the novel as “a perfect medium for revealing to us the changing rainbow of our living relationships” (532). Woolf’s “Modern Fiction” essay focuses on the early twentieth-century novelist’s drive to convey a deepened awareness of human nature by experimenting with language that captures a kaleidoscope of mental and sensory experience in the midst of everyday human existence. Emphasizing characters’ interior world and a nonlinear approach to reality, Woolf defines “life” as “a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end” (189). Woolf urges both herself and her fellow fiction writers to “record the atoms as they fall upon the mind in the order in which they fall” (190) and to “trace the pattern, however disconnected and incoherent in appearance, which each sight or incident scores upon the consciousness” (190). In the works discussed in this chapter, Woolf and Lawrence follow the long trail of the British courtship novel, while also propelling this genre into deeply psychological, symbolic, and philosophical/mystical territory. Joan Bennet captures the place of Night and Day in the novel genre’s history when she describes it as a “rich and fascinating

184  Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures book, in which the new wine of her [Woolf’s] individual vision of life is imperfectly contained within the old bottle of the traditional form” (54). In assessing Lawrence’s work, his contemporary, E. M. Forster, calls him a “prophetic novelist” (Aspects of the Novel 143) who “uses his heritage yet goes beyond it,” taking us into “a new world” (144). Similarly, R. P. Draper asserts that Lawrence’s “knowledge, particularly of nineteenth-century literature, was extensive,” yet “he is also a breaker of new ground, especially in The Rainbow and in Women in Love” (28). Exploring the danger vocabulary in Woolf’s Night and Day and Lawrence’s Women in Love helps to illuminate the parallel yet distinct ways in which these two groundbreaking authors expand the range of the standard courtship narrative and convey the uneasy quest of courting couples in early twentieth-century society. While Night and Day can be considered Woolf’s most conventional novel, written before she thoroughly deconstructed the courtship plot, Lawrence’s Women in Love represents the author’s signature depiction of modern relationships. However, both works adhere to the basic comedic courtship novel structure while emphasizing the psychosocial nature and at times dizzying fluidity of the mating drama. Within their novels, Woolf and Lawrence interweave a contradictory welter of feelings and impressions, various levels of consciousness, and half-formed utterances within the context of social realities faced by their heroes and heroines. They capture perils that arise from a profound sense of isolation as well as potent doubts pertaining to old belief systems that involve the nature of the self, the viability of marriage, and appropriate ways to behave toward the opposite sex. For both authors, the chief obstacles their courting couples face are not stereotypic tyrannical parents, impassable oceans, or social class distinctions. What primarily complicates the love lives of Woolf’s and Lawrence’s courting couples are their own internal responses, rendered vivid through rapid-fire shifting between the polarities of danger and safety, and paradoxical phrasing that fuses these opposites.

Night and Day (1919) In Night and Day, characters’ perspectives on what constitutes danger and safety in the realm of courtship and friendship between men and women constantly change. While loving deeply creates alarm in this novel, so does living without love or without the capacity to love. Characters’ sense of extreme vulnerability in the face of passion is not unlike that felt by the first heroes and heroines of Richardson’s and Hayward’s time; however, the emotional danger conveyed by Woolf is more layered than that of her predecessors. In Woolf’s text, unrequited loving threatens both men and women with the prospect of self-annihilation. Also, because the act of communicating one’s deepest feelings is so

Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures  185 challenging, characters often disappoint and mystify one another with their silences and contradictory messages. In Night and Day, Ralph Denham and Katharine Hilbery constitute the primary couple, but three other characters play crucial roles within this heroine and hero’s romantic journey. These are William Rodney, the rejected suitor, who is initially engaged to Katharine; Cassandra, the woman who replaces Katharine as Rodney’s more appropriate mate choice; and Mary Datchet, the woman who loves Denham and whose friendship and wisdom are valued by both hero and heroine. Despite the intricacy of this five-character constellation with its interlaced set of love stories, the most serious obstructions within the hero and heroine’s courtship storyline involve William’s presence in Katharine’s life and Katharine’s deep-seated identity struggles. Even though Ralph Denham realizes from his first meeting with Katharine that he is out of her social league, he conjures up visions of possessing this elegant beauty, resolving that he will “take” her and that she will “do for weeks, perhaps for months” (25). Despite the cavalier and perhaps even ominous tone of his rhetoric, Ralph never poses a danger to Katharine’s virtue and bears no resemblance to villains of earlier courtship fiction. In fact, it is apparent early in the novel that Ralph is a serious lover whose pain and uncertainty come from his view that Katharine is unattainable. Woolf charts new ground in portraying the extreme and sustained nature of Ralph’s emotional vulnerability as suitor. Frequently during the course of the novel, he experiences alarm at the vehemence of his feelings for Katharine, yet risks shattering the very foundations of his existence, as he buffets between despondency and exhilaration. His visceral reaction when he first learns of Katharine’s engagement to William Rodney is captured in terms of suggesting a life and death battle. First, he experiences “Abysses” that seem “to plunge into darkness between” him and Katharine (156). Then, after abruptly fleeing from Katharine’s presence, all his muscles are “taut and braced as if to resist some sudden attack from outside” (156). The anguish that follows this state of hyper-alertness takes “possession of every governing seat” and is “met with scarcely any resistance from powers exhausted by their first effort at defence” (157). Later when Ralph believes that Katharine’s marriage is imminent, he foresees another bout of despair if he fails to “exorcise” (371) her power over him. His use of “exorcise” suggests the demonic quality of the beloved’s hold and the devastating harm she can cause. Besides use of intense peril language, Woolf presents Ralph’s confusion over what constitutes safety and danger, by creating a dynamic inner landscape featuring image patterns of birds, lighthouses, and buffetings in stormy weather. At different moments, Ralph identifies either with the lighthouse or with the vulnerable winged creatures. The lighthouse and

186  Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures its accompanying light/dark imagery are also linked, in Ralph’s psyche, to the warmly lit sanctuary of Katharine’s drawing room. When Ralph and Katharine walk down the street together early in the novel, Ralph’s sensations are couched in terms that foreshadow this storm and lighthouse imagery in later episodes while also suggesting the hero’s sense of smallness in Katharine’s presence. As they stroll, “parting and coming together again,” Ralph views himself as “addressing the summit of a poplar in a high gale of wind” (94). Much later in the novel when his emotions have escalated, Ralph conjures up a far more fierce image. Walking in a “high strong wind” (392) toward Katharine’s house, he envisions “his mind” as “a lighthouse besieged by the flying bodies of lost birds, who [are] dashed senseless, by the gale against the glass” (394). He also at this moment has a “strange sensation that he [is] both lighthouse and bird” (394), a paradoxical image that juxtaposes a strong self “as steadfast and brilliant” with a sense of extreme helplessness. Carrying his vision all the way to Katharine’s house, he sees “the steady light” of “its drawing room” sending forth “its beams, like those of a lighthouse, with searching composure over the trackless waste” (395). He even conceptualizes this interior space as a “little sanctuary” which represents “all safety” and visualizes Katharine’s presence there “as a shape of light, the light itself” (395). In contrast, he identifies himself with “one of those lost birds fascinated by the lighthouse and held to the glass by the splendor of the blaze” (395). From this “lost bird” image, Ralph rapidly transitions to a highly romanticized vision of himself and Katharine “alone together aloft, splendid, and luminous with a twofold radiance” (398). Yet, when William Rodney invites him into Katharine’s home, Ralph resumes his fragile state, when “half dazed by the strong light,” he resembles “somebody rescued from an open boat out at sea” (419). Ralph’s hectic love journey with Katharine is complicated by the way he unheroically sweeps his “sensible, loyal friend” (223), Mary Datchet, into his passionate maelstrom. Feeling hopeless in his quest for Katharine, Ralph craves the maternal-like shelter of Mary’s presence. When Ralph watches Mary affectionately caressing her younger brother at her family’s country home, he thinks, “I should like Mary to stroke my head like that” (192). And the following day as he and Mary experience “a sagacious kind of comradeship” (226), Ralph’s impulsive proposal emerges from “some curious instinct” (229), some subconscious space where the image of Mary’s nurturing gesture resides. The thoughtlessness of Ralph’s proceeding is highlighted when the vigilant Mary, having detected his love for Katharine, angrily calls his marriage offer the “cruelest treachery” (250). Owning his misstep and feeling wretchedly inauthentic, Ralph, nevertheless, still wants Mary’s friendship, and in distinguishing caring “genuinely” from being “in love,” he even proclaims that “the risk of marrying a person you’re in love with

Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures  187 is something colossal” (253). Ralph’s paradoxical statement captures the modern hero’s anguished uncertainty and challenges the link between true love and a securely comforting marriage taken for granted in traditional courtship novels. Moreover, by emphasizing the exigency of Ralph’s craving for motherly comfort, Woolf participates in the modernists’ unraveling of masculine stereotypes. As fallible male protagonist, Ralph also pursues an unorthodox and even dishonorable course when he openly declares his adoration for Katharine at a time when he believes she is still engaged to William Rodney. A short while after this declaration, during their meeting in Kew Gardens, he “proposes” a model of ideal friendship in which people can live together in “perfect sincerity” and “where each is free, where there’s no obligation upon either side” (337). Since it is apparent that he is deeply smitten by Katharine, this offer of ideal friendship seems disingenuous, particularly when he defines it as “unemotional” and declares that “if either chooses to fall in love, he or she does so entirely at his own risk” (337). Ralph’s desperation and irrational state of mind are apparent when we juxtapose his casual mention of “risk” here with his earlier assertion of the “colossal” risk involved in marrying someone you love. Although Ralph’s motive differs from that of Gissing’s Everard Barfoot, Ralph’s ostensible promise of friendship resembles the “free union” ideal of cohabitation proposed by Barfoot. Ralph’s muddling of friendship and romantic love in this scene captures one of the essential ways in which normative courtship behavior is being deconstructed in modernist fiction. At the same time, however, Ralph’s idealization of the unattainable goddess-like female, extreme level of despair, and attempt to construct a platonic alternative to marriage suggest his role as medieval courtly lover in modern dress. Despite Ralph’s missteps and worshipful attitude toward his beloved, it is evident that he struggles between two contradictory desires: to preserve his ideal image of Katharine and to fathom her unique essence as a human being. Ralph’s efforts to continually distinguish between his two versions of Katherine separate him from those shallow or misguided suitors, such as William Rodney, Wells’ Hubert Manning, and Hardy’s Angel Clare, who fail to comprehend or appreciate the complexity of the flesh and blood women they idealize. Ralph’s quest to know the real Katharine suggests his worthiness as genuine suitor who eventually can win the heroine’s hand in marriage. Like Ralph, Katharine moves amidst a welter of confusion and exemplifies what Ramazani and Stallworthy call “a fraught condition of existential loneliness,” which they designate as a “marked feature of the new fictional selfhood” (1902). She alternates between considering marriage to her longtime friend, William Rodney, as either a safe haven or a dreary life sentence. She dreads the possibility that she is incapable of true love, yet often craves a state of isolation in which to contemplate

188  Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures astronomical and mathematical symbols. In an identity crisis that spans most of Night and Day, Katharine has very little idea of who she is, lacks inspiring work, and remains ignorant of what role love can play in her life. While she daydreams of the perfect lover as “some magnanimous hero, riding a great horse by the shore of the sea” (107), she can, for a while, entertain the notion of “a perfectly loveless marriage, as the thing one did actually in real life” (108), even if she is deflated by this prospect. What is particularly unique, especially among female courtship novel authors, is Woolf’s choice to provide a more coherent and sharply delineated interior life of her male suitor hero than of her female protagonist. While as readers we may be frustrated by the fuzzy atmosphere of Katharine Hilbery’s mind, we can recognize the aptness of this vague sense of self, by considering the subtle peril of the heroine’s life situation in the context of her time. Alys W. Pearsall Smith’s 1894 article, that was part of a widespread debate on the “New Woman,” describes the phenomenon that Woolf embodies through her depiction of Katharine. Smith expresses concern that “unmarried girls at home” are “in danger of withering” (269) because “they are not allowed to live their own lives, but are always compelled to live the lives of other people” (270). Functioning as a foil to Katharine Hilbery, Mary Datchet enjoys a freedom of movement and engagement with meaningful work in the Women’s Movement, which magnifies Katharine’s discontent with what Ann Veronica would have called her “wrappered life” as the obedient daughter of a renowned literary family. Also, Mary’s hyper-conscious experience of her unrequited love for Ralph renders even more striking Katharine’s persistent incapacity to access her own feelings for the novel’s hero. Early in Night and Day, Mary becomes “almost alarmingly conscious of her desire” (82), yet experiences a “determination not to be in love with Ralph” (92). This resolution, however, does not prevent her from facing head-on her sense of emotional danger in response to “passion” that has “taken possession of her soul” (192). A particularly visceral image conveys the price Mary fears paying for unreciprocated love. Her “mind” is described as “plung[ing] desperately for some hold upon slippery banks” (192). Like Ralph, Mary connects love to peril. Throwing caution to the wind and clearly privileging honesty over the love reserve rule so prevalent in previous centuries, Mary tells Katharine that she is “tremendously in love” (276) with Ralph and has “run risks” (277) in allowing feelings that are not mutual. Yet, Mary finds a way to heroically combat a “harsh and lonely” future existence that is “almost beyond endurance, by relying on her moral core, sense of purpose, and the “solitary study,” which is one of her “defence[s] against the world” (268). Mary’s ability to land solidly on her feet at the novel’s end, despite her lack of the traditional happily-ever-after, is noteworthy in this modern text. Mary finds a viable, lasting way to secure her own protection. She saves herself and her life without the help of any dashing hero.

Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures  189 As different as Mary and Katharine are in their level of awareness and life situations, they both find it necessary to forge their own path without guidance from parents, even though neither are orphans like so many of their fictional predecessors. They both ultimately rely on their inner compass to navigate social norms pertaining particularly to relationships. Even before the novel begins, Mary, away from family, has created a rewarding life style for herself in London. However, at the novel’s outset, Katharine, still very much tied to family expectations, is just beginning to swirl in a sea of questions regarding love, friendship, engagement, marriage, cohabitation, and the “rules which should govern the behavior of an unmarried woman” (312). Katharine’s characteristically distracted manner throughout the entire novel can be, in part, explained by the fact that such questions “become phantoms” when she “trie[s] seriously to find an answer” (312). As she recognizes that the “frail beam” constituting “the truth of what she herself [feels]” is her only “guide through the dark masses which [confront] her” (313), she experiences a “pursuit” that involves both peril and growth. Katharine’s relationship with William Rodney is fraught with ambivalence involving a complex array of factors—her fear of loneliness, her terror at the thought of being a cold person, her desire for independence, and her growing resolve to establish honesty in her relationships. At one point when Katharine tells William that she was “wrong” to accept his proposal and that she has “never loved” him (242), she “is alarmed” that she may be incapable of caring for anyone and even considers this incapacity as “the uttermost sin” (243). When in his desperation, William firmly holds her arm, she momentarily submits to what she perceives as “his enormously superior strength,” yet knows that “such submission” is in fact “treachery to him” (243). She, however, pivots once again upon witnessing William’s tears and “contorted” face in response to her rejection. Experiencing “horror” and the urge to stop his pain “at all costs” (244), she offers him a maternal sort of comfort by drawing his head “upon her shoulder” (244). Susceptible to her own self-doubts and drawn to shield William, she actually once again agrees to marry him and “try to make [him] happy” (247). Katherine’s gesture of motherly protection here replicates the maternal image of Mary with her brother that instinctually lures Ralph to what he views as the safe haven of a passionless marriage. Through this repeated motif, Woolf not only highlights men’s need for women’s nurturing but also raises the question if a marriage without passion increases risk or provides shelter for either spouse. As Katharine struggles, she also develops as a human being, understanding more fully the nature of being authentic and giving to others. In her decision to facilitate William’s courtship with her malleable cousin Cassandra, Katharine honors her friendship with William by providing “safety” (291) for his image as an honorable man. In an intriguing turn

190  Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures of plot, after the couple secretly break off their engagement once again, Katharine provides socially sanctioned opportunities for her ex-fiancé and Cassandra to pursue their undercover romance. In devising this plan, Katharine reveals both her adherence to and transcendence of existing norms for feminine behavior, embracing contradictory roles of self-sacrificing guide and independent “risk” taker. Resolving to “serve the people who loved” (314),” she believes “no risk [is] too great” (314). While the particular danger is not specified, the peril that Katharine seems ready to face involves the displeasure of the parental generation and the social order as a whole. As Katharine takes on this challenge, she experiences both relief at ending an undesired engagement and a potent sense of suffocation at the prospect of “being sealed away and for ever from all companionship with the person she care[s] for most” (327). As William begins courting Cassandra, Katherine wrestles with the treacherous demon of loneliness. At a moment when she regards William as particularly petty in his demands, she experiences the peril of her own violent loathing. She views his behavior as “pull[ing] her down into some horrible swamp of her nature where the primeval struggle between man and woman still rages” (370). When he later asks Katharine one last time to take him back, the heroine views, with “terror,” the “blankness” of the “skeleton world” when “all sense of love [leaves] her” (412). However, when William “[takes] her hand in his,” evoking in her “a desire, like that of a child for shelter,” she yields to what he offers (412), but the impulse to accept this marriage option “that could make it tolerable to live” (412) swiftly dissipates. From the helpless inner child dreading annihilation, Katharine quickly returns to her developing adult self, as she realizes that she cannot be “dependent on his protection” (412). Choosing honesty rather than security as her guide, she tells him, “Cassandra loves you more than I do” (412). By declaring this truth, she ensures that William will marry someone far more ready to massage his masculine ego. As the rejected suitor figure, William is a prime target for Woolf’s feminist satire in his spouting of outmoded patriarchal norms and exaggerated preoccupation with appearances. While courting Katharine, William seems to genuinely care for her, yet is primarily focused on maintaining traditional gender roles and on avoiding damage to his reputation. He is consistently more protective of his own male ego than he is of Katherine’s well-being. Like Wells’ Hubert Manning, William Rodney encounters resistance to his old-fashioned gender notions from the woman he woos. For instance at one point, William insults Katharine with his opinions that “all women” are “nothing at all without” marriage and that “unmarried women” are only “half alive” and use “only half [their] faculties” (66). Also, when the couple are walking together in London, William, defending the “traditions” he has “inherited” (68), voices concern over

Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures  191 the gossip that would occur if anyone they know sees them “together at this time of night” (68). In response, Katharine not only calls him “half old-maid” (68), but mockingly turns the tables on his feeble effort to protect her reputation when she replies: “You may come of the oldest family in Devonshire, but that’s no reason why you should mind being seen alone with me on the Embankment” (68). Despite Katharine’s witty rejoinder, Rodney maintains his conservative stance by vehemently blocking Katharine’s desire to walk home alone. He calls her a cab in order to deliver her safely to her door, and when she continues to object, he becomes “despotic” (68), and we, as readers, see that what actually alarms him most at this moment is the possibility that others will hear their argument. Woolf’s ridicule of William Rodney as a sham, ineffectual protector intensifies after he and Katharine are engaged. When Katharine’s aunts dredge up a family story in which Katharine, as an infant, was thought to be endangered by a bull, one of the aunts rather absurdly links this early perilous incident to the promise of her niece’s safe haven in marriage. When she tells Katharine, “I’m glad you have some one to protect you from bulls now” (15f4), the heroine immediately counters with the words, “I can’t imagine William protecting any one from bulls” (154). William’s lack of male agency and dependency on Katharine are highlighted during an intense conversation in which both individuals acknowledge the absence of romance in their relationship and in which William first admits his affection for Cassandra. Feeling as if he is “afloat upon a sea of unknown and tumultuous possibilities” (290), he relinquishes all sense of personal responsibility in a way that suggests his infantile nature. Ready to “put himself entirely into her [Katharine’s] hands,” he is described as “conscious only of an implicit trust that, somehow, he was safe with her, that she would see him through, find out what it was that he wanted, and procure it for him” (290). Because Katharine is so distracted by her complex relationship with William and remains out of touch with large expanses of her psyche, she fails to recognize her love feelings toward Ralph Denham during most of the novel. While she may resemble heroines of old, such as Betsy Thoughtless, Elizabeth Bennet, and Emma Woodhouse in this lack of awareness, Katharine’s blindness is presented more fully as a psychological phenomenon than a social one. In conveying Ralph and Katharine’s developing relationship, Woolf employs idiosyncratic danger language to capture Katharine’s state of mind and amplify her lack of awareness. When Ralph passionately declares how much he adores Katharine, she discounts his flowery words of admiration as “unintelligible rambling” (297) and shows no inkling of alarm at the prospect of being seduced by his flattery. However, the day after Ralph promises to set up their meeting at Kew Gardens, Katharine’s “mind and body [are] in a state of tension” (308), and this tension

192  Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures seems to derive from her subliminal anticipation of Ralph’s phone call. When Ralph does call, Katharine agrees to meet him “With more than the usual sense of being impinged upon the point of a bayonet” (310). These surprisingly violent words connote great harm, yet Woolf’s heroine is far from knowing where this harm lies.8 Despite the dread suggested by Woolf’s language of weaponry, when Ralph proposes his model of ideal friendship during the couple’s “date” at Kew Gardens, Katharine does not view his request as dishonorable, even though she recognizes that he still believes she is engaged to another. However, Woolf’s use of danger words during this significant conversation suggests that Katharine is apprehensive regarding the subjects of both friendship and love in relation to William. Fearing that she is incapable of loving and despondent that she had lost William’s adoration, Katharine is “alarmed” at “Anything that hint[s] at love” (337). As she prepares to hear Ralph’s “terms for a friendship,” she recalls his recent “curious abstract declaration” of admiration for her but what “conceal[s] dangers better known to her than to [Ralph]” (337) is her promise to assist William as a friend in his clandestine courtship of Cassandra. In spite of Katharine’s discomfort at this point, she experiences “pleasure” as she embraces the pitfalls involved in Ralph’s offer of a no-stringsattached, mutually free friendship. Even though she “speculate[s]” on the possibility that “They would find themselves in difficulties” and searches “for some definite catastrophe into which they must inevitably plunge,” she views “these catastrophes” as “fictitious” (338). Considering herself “at the end of her stock of caution” (338), she envisions a “rare and wonderful chance of friendship” (339) that would eliminate the “astonishing precipice” between her “active” soul in “broad daylight” and hidden soul, “contemplative and dark as night” (338–339). In Woolf’s hands, the precipice image takes on new dimensions but also echoes novels of the early Modern period. Like Hardy’s Elfride Swancourt, Gissing’s Rhoda Nunn, and Wells’ Ann Veronica, who all scale literal precipices with their lovers, Katharine Hilbery, at this moment, figuratively envisions herself as a modern woman enjoying an equalitarian relationship. But, for Katharine, this new relationship is viewed as a way to bridge the chasm between her “life of solitude” and “the life of society” (338). Stepping into this new territory, Katharine glimpses, for the very first time, a possible way to integrate intimate connection with the special brand of privacy and “protection against the world” (479) that she finds when working alone in her room or daydreaming during solitary strolls through London. Although the “ideal” friendship that Ralph offers excites Katharine, she does not recognize her passionate love for him until the novel’s penultimate chapters. Her transformation into full awareness comes in tandem with her most visceral experience of emotional danger. It almost seems as if she needs to be jolted into this knowledge, because she has

Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures  193 been not only out of touch with her capacity for passion, but also wary of perpetuating the lack of personal agency she has experienced in her home life. Katharine’s odd behavior, witnessed by William and Cassandra, foreshadows this dawning of love awareness. Noticing Katharine’s way of abruptly leaving the tea table, they sense “something queer and ominous about it out of all proportion to its surface strangeness” (436). Disturbed by thoughts of the prior evening’s unfinished conversation with Ralph, Katharine seeks to ensure that the two of them will have a private space to fully “explain” (432) themselves to one another. To this end, she begins a quest that takes on mythic proportions and the energy of panic. After walking rapidly without direction, she takes a cab to a map shop to locate Ralph’s place of work and finds him already gone. With “Anxiety gain[ing] upon her” (440), she “ransack[s] her memory in desperation” (441) for Ralph’s home address, experiences “something that alarm[s] her,” and feels “unable to cope with the strength of her own desires” (442). When Katharine visits Mary Datchet’s flat to obtain Ralph’s address and possible whereabouts, her anxiety level reaches a pitch and emerges in a form that suggests, like the heroines of old, she feels genuine concern for Ralph’s safety: “I am desperate. How do I know what’s happening to him now? He may do anything. He may wander about the streets all night. Anything may happen to him” (446). For Mary, as for the reader, these words reveal Katharine’s hitherto unseen level of “selfabandonment” (446). From this “self-abandonment,” Katharine finally enters an unfamiliar universe of love, coming closer, in fits and starts, to the ultimate risktaker role she will share with Ralph Denham. Toward the end of the novel, when Mrs. Hilbery mentions how “safe” she felt with Ralph when he helped her find the site of ruins in Lincoln, Katharine vehemently contradicts her mother’s assessment in these terms: “Safe? Oh no, he’s fearfully rash—he’s always taking risks” (481). The energy of Katharine’s response here suggests her excitement, with its pastiche of attraction and anxiety, regarding this element of Ralph’s personality. Within this same conversation, to her mother’s dismay, Katharine raises the possibility of cohabitation instead of traditional marriage when she asks, “Why after all isn’t it perfectly possible to live together without being married?” (482). Finding this alternative “so dreadfully ugly,” Mrs. Hilbery conjures up visions of married love as an eternal “voyage” upon a “great sea” (483). However, this idyllic melding of freedom and married love is marred, as the recognition of real-life disappointment among married couples enters the picture. Although Mrs. Hilbery insists on “love” as “our faith” (484), she “cast[s] a lightning glance into the depths of disillusionment” regarding her own wedded life (484–485). In doing so, she silently validates her daughter’s stated “horror” (484)

194  Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures over “being happy one moment and miserable the next” (484), and when Woolf describes mother and daughter “look[ing] together into the abyss” (485), she suggests how perilous it is to question the sacrosanct happily-ever-after myth (485). Within Katharine and Ralph’s final conversation, the insecure, yet exhilarating, quality of their experience is conveyed in these words: She felt him trying to piece together in a laborious and elementary fashion fragments of belief, unsoldered and separate, lacking the unity of phrases fashioned by the old believers. Together they groped in this difficult region, where the unfinished, the unfulfilled, the unwritten, the unreturned, came together in their ghostly way and wore the semblance of the complete and satisfactory. The future emerged more splendid than ever from this construction of the present. (506) As a part of the couple’s struggle to understand and express their intimate connection at this point, Woolf introduces a melding of light and dark imagery that layers even further the courtship tale’s traditionally sanguine ending. When Katharine and Ralph enter the “enchanted region” down by the Chelsea embankment, “flying waters” churned by “winds dissipating and dissolving” blend with “the return of security, the earth firm, superb and brilliant in the sun” (507). From the “dark tide of waters” (507), the couple turns toward the threshold of Katharine’s house with its “soft golden grains” of light (508). While they achieve a level of bliss in their togetherness, at this moment of the novel’s closing, their state suggests liminality rather than a permanent haven.9 There is irony here as well, for although Katharine’s residence with its “hushed and sleeping household” embodies at this moment peace and safety, it also represents the space where Katharine has been burdened by incessant family encumbrances. The subtle ambiguity of this novel’s conclusion suggests the modernist author’s penchant for what Ramazani and Stallworthy call “irresolute open endings” that challenge “old conclusive plots” (1902).

The Rainbow (1915) and Women in Love (1920) When Lawrence was finishing “The Sisters,” an early draft of The Rainbow and Women in Love, he highlighted in a 1913 letter to Edward Garnett his mission to capture the essence of male-female relational dynamics during a time of social change: “I can only write what I feel strongly about: and that, at present, is the relation between men and women. After all, it is the problem of today, the establishment of a new relation, or the readjustment of the old one, between men and women” (Collected Letters, Volume One 200).

Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures  195 Women in Love is a particularly apt novel to include in this study because it focuses primarily on the courtship struggles of two major couples. As its prequel, The Rainbow, is also worth briefly considering here, since it depicts three generations of courting couples and provides illuminating examples of how, in Lawrence’s hands, danger and safety images, coalescing in oxymoronic fashion, convey innovative insights regarding women’s and men’s consciousness of the love experience and one another’s sexual allure. Lawrence’s use of danger/safety language in both these novels provides a window into this author’s unique manner of conceptualizing human relationships and gender issues. In the opening chapter of The Rainbow, the omniscient narrator summarizes past generations of Brangwen husbands and wives by articulating the popular Victorian notion that women act as men’s spiritual/ moral guardians: “The men placed in her hands their own conscience, they said to her ‘Be my conscience-keeper, be the angel at the doorway guarding my outgoing and my incoming’” (17). While the biblical phrasing here suggests the godlike force of Brangwen women, the intense struggles between all the courting couples in this novel suggest a much more complicated and ever-shifting power differential that involves an often paradoxical melding of peril and protection. Yet what stands out within the turbulent courtship scenarios in The Rainbow is the female’s dangerous, elemental power to annihilate the male persona and the trepidation felt by men due to their profound dependency on women. This sense of visceral danger in Lawrence’s courtship narratives is reflected in Deborah Lutz’ observation that “Lawrence is the writer we look to when we want to try to understand the terror of love, the utter nightmare of coming close to the other” (11).10 The novel’s initial courtship between Tom Brangwen and Lydia Lensky provides vivid examples of how Lawrence’s danger/safety language captures the continual back-and-forth movement between distancing and intimacy that characterizes men and women’s relationships. Early in their interactions, Lydia is drawn to Tom’s “young, warm-twinkling eyes” that “extend her his protection” (36), yet even though she desires “this new life” he offers, she regards it as “a destruction” against which “she must defend herself” (38). Tom also grapples with polar opposites, at one moment, relishing the thought of Lydia as “something given into his protection, like a child without parents” (38) and, at the next moment, experiencing overwhelming fear that he will “remain as a nothingness” (38) without her, if she refuses his proposal. Upon departing from Lydia on their betrothal night, Tom transitions from ecstacy to an “unbearable” impression that combines “intimacy of embrace” with “such utter foreignness of contact” (47). The scene surrounding him at this moment mirrors his keen sense of peril, with its “teeming” sky “tearing along” and its “moon” as a source of “terror” (47).

196  Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures Like Lydia and Tom, Anna and Will, the second generation’s courting couple, pivot continually between intimacy and isolation, yet are portrayed as quite dangerous forces and never function as protectors. Lawrence metaphorically links Will to a predatory creature with “sharp teeth” and “eyes” of a “hawk” (115). Instead of being fearful, however, Anna boldly declares her love, and it is Will who is portrayed as the vulnerable one in this context. He “shudder[s]” as her declaration “issue[s] him naked into the endless space” and “tremble[s] with fear” at the recollection of her “strange, transfigured face” (118). The dynamics of this couple at the start and throughout the years deconstructs nineteenth-century norms in striking ways. Rather than quail at the man’s predatory presence, the woman unabashedly celebrates her erotic responsiveness, and instead of judging her as forward or “fallen,” the man is transfixed and has no choice but to follow the woman’s lead. Ursula Brangwen of the novel’s third generation clearly desires a superior sort of mate, yet never includes protectiveness as one of her criteria. In fact, she seems to crave risky adventure as she seeks passionate conjunction between her independent woman self and an equally selfsufficient man. Her zest for peril is foreshadowed early in her relationship with Anton Skrebensky, when the couple ride the “swingboats” (293) together at a fair. In this scene, their mutual abandon is evident as they “[rush] through the bright air, up at the sky as if flung from a catapult, then falling terribly back” (294). As their passion escalates, this couple’s behavior, likened to a “game” that is “Daring and reckless and dangerous” (300), breaks the bounds of Victorian custom. Unlike traditional heroines who guard their virginity and are rewarded for their circumspection and modesty, Ursula is “possessed” by “defiance of all the world” (300), as she joins in the spirit of Skrebensky’s “dare-devilry” (300). Moreover, even though she is described as feeling “shaken” and “afraid” when Anton becomes “mad with desire” for “possession” of “her body” (301), there is no indication that she fears the loss of her chastity. What she seems to dread is loss of control in the context of joining with another person. When the couple make love under the moon on a subsequent night, Lawrence sharply distinguishes Ursula from the seduced maidens of old, by reversing the predator/prey imagery popularized back in the early days in the courtship novel. Experiencing “waves of delirious darkness” (315),” Ursula is compared to both the “quarry” and “the hound” (315) in a hunting party, and even though Anton anticipates “enclos[ing]” Ursula “in a net of shadow” and “enjoy[ing]” her “when she [is] caught” (318), she becomes “bright as a steel blade” (318–319), which hurts him when he embraces her. As “a sudden lust seize[s] her, to lay hold of him and tear him and make him into nothing” (319), Ursula even becomes as fiercely monstrous as the ancient Maenads of Bacchanalian orgies, and Anton is “the victim, consumed, annihilated” (320). Yet, her sense of triumph is short-lived as “filled with overpowering fear” of her

Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures  197 ­

198  Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures Ursula is attracted by her man’s rejection of the socially sanctioned husband provider role, Gudrun is actually fascinated by her lover’s underlying dangerous ferocity. By presenting two such couples, Lawrence directly defies the gender role expectations that surrounded him during the days of his Victorian boyhood. Early in the novel, Ursula reacts ambivalently toward Birkin. She senses “a certain hostility, a hidden ultimate reserve in him” (20), yet also thinks he “seem[s] to acknowledge some kinship between her and him” (20). During their initial conversation in Ursula’s classroom, the possibility of a positive future together is foreshadowed through sunlight, flower, and flame imagery, and the only pernicious force in the room is Rupbert’s current lover, Hermione Raddice. As Ursula and Birkin’s relationship develops, they move between the polarities of fear and attraction. At Hermione’s house party, Birkin views Ursula as “rich, full of dangerous power,” yet is “unconsciously drawn to her” as “a strange unconscious bud of powerful womanhood” (92). As they forge “a pure balance of two single beings” (148), they engage in power struggles that involve risk. Attaining “fulfillment” (43) of the “equilibrium” (148) advocated by Birkin requires a “deluge” into “the great dark knowledge” (43) and constitutes “death” to the everyday, social “self” (43). Given this definition, it is no surprise that both Ursula and Birkin feel threatened as well as intrigued by the possibilities and liabilities of this ultimate relationship. One example of the couple’s struggle involves a conversation on men’s domination over women. Birkin bates Ursula by declaring “It’s a dangerous thing to domesticate even horses, let alone women” (141). Lacking full comprehension of the ideal Birkin is pursuing and repulsed by what she views as his “assumption of male superiority” (150), Ursula, for some time, resists the “pledge” (145) to something “quite inhuman” (146) that Birkin offers. She insists on maintaining the “freedom” that love brings, while Birkin insists on “the mystic conjunction” (152) that does not include the mere “emotion of love” (145). Yet, in the very midst of their conflict, Birkin is drawn to the perilous glory of Ursula’s presence, as is evident in the oxymoronic phrasing used to convey his perceptions: “She was so quick, and so lambent, like discernible fire, and so vindictive, and so rich in her dangerous flamy sensitiveness” (151). Even when Birkin’s contentiousness subsides and he “listens” with love and “reverence” (153) to stories of Ursula’s past, his view of Ursula is once again conveyed in a paradoxical manner: He was almost afraid of the mocking recklessness of her splendid face. Here was one who would go the whole lengths of heaven or hell whichever she had to go. And he mistrusted her, he was afraid of a woman capable of such abandon, such dangerous thoroughness of destructivity. Yet he chuckled within himself also. (154)

Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures  199 Birkin’s mixed reaction to Ursula’s capacity for annihilating her social self in an intimate relationship shows that he, like Ursula, is still growing into his own espoused ideal. The scene in which these mixed reactions are described sets the stage for the couple’s first love-making encounter. It blends pain and pleasure because it takes place shortly after the accidental drowning of Gerald’s sister and her new husband. Seeking gentle togetherness, the grieving Birkin is carried away by Ursula’s passionate embrace, and the “extreme desire” he experiences “seem[s] inevitable as death, beyond question” (187). The aftermath of this episode, from Birkin’s viewpoint, also reflects a melding of safety and danger, with Lawrence juxtaposing “satisfied” with “shattered” and “fulfilled” with “destroyed” (187). In a subsequent chapter, Birkin symbolically continues to resist Ursula’s feminine “assertive will” (251) when he throws stones to shatter the moon’s watery reflection. Despite of, or perhaps through, these futile efforts, he comes to accept that equilibrium, rather than power struggle, is possible with Ursula. He decides that they “must marry at once” (254), having accepted, at least temporarily, that the soul can maintain “its own proud individual singleness, even while it loves and yields” (254). When Birkin comes to Ursula’s home to propose and is forced to converse with the heroine’s father, the “radical antagonism” (257) between the two generations of men as well as that between Ursula and both men reflects significant changes in courtship mores and gender expectations. While Lawrence inserts a “dangerous pause” (257) in the conversation that results from the father’s rage, it is clear that the younger generation has the upper hand. When Will Brangwen attempts to play the demanding patriarch, questioning the sincerity of Birkin’s proposal and what he assumes are Birkin’s radical views pertaining to sexual morality and the marriage vow, he is rendered impotent by the young man’s self-assurance and thinly veiled contempt. Likewise, when Will perceives his daughter’s detached response to both him and her suitor, he is enraged at her potent self-containment, and both men are irritated and deflated by her accusations that they are trying “to bully” her (261). Like the fathers of Ann Veronica and Katherine Hilbery, Will Brangwen, “overcome with futility” (257), represents a sharp contrast to those paternal figures of eighteenth-century fiction who seriously endanger their daughters or female wards and obstruct the hero and heroine’s union. Despite her self-assertion in this proposal scene, Ursula experiences a sense of peril. Even though her “face” appears “glimmering and dangerous” (261) to the two men, she perceives Birkin’s “voice” as “very soft” and “dangerous” (261) when he denies that she is being bullied. Also, upon Birkin’s departure in “a drift of rage” (261), she feels “afraid” of him and senses she has “escaped from some danger” (261). Even though she “turn[s] in spirit towards Birkin again” (264), she still is concerned

200  Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures that his inability to “abandon himself finally to her” (264) will prevent him from honoring her ideal of “absolute surrender to love” (265). The “Excurse” chapter, filled with symbolic detail, provides an illuminating example of how Ursula and Birkin continue to encounter peril as they negotiate the messy process of attaining a safe haven together. In juxtaposing Birkin’s gift of three rings for Ursula with his “careless” (303) motor car driving, Lawrence conveys the hazards of love’s darkly unknowable regions that Birkin is offering. Birkin’s resistance to the traditional protector role is particularly evident in the way he responds to Ursula’s fear while he is driving. When she asks him, “Isn’t it rather dangerous, the way you drive?” his simple response, “No, it isn’t dangerous” (303), seems quite cavalier. However, despite the fact that Ursula is “terrified,” even “suddenly” imagining that Birkin “might kill her” (303), she is actually “excited” to be traveling in a “motor-car” (303), and is attracted by Birkin’s readiness to jettison all the safeguards of his present social position. When he names the couple’s destination as “Anywhere” (303), we are told “It [is] the answer” that Ursula “like[s]” (304). While Birkin’s excessive speed in operating his vehicle may echo earlier insidious actions of rejected villain-suitors such as Austen’s John Thorpe or Hardy’s Alec D’Urberville, Birkin’s behavior in Lawrence’s modernist novel sets the stage for the couple’s subsequent entry into a vital “transcendent reality” (312) that represents Lawrence’s revitalizing alternative to deadening traditional male-female relationships. Despite the conflict that Ursula and Birkin experience, the positive potential of their intimate connection is highlighted, through contrast, by the presence of grotesquely destructive interactions between Gerald and Gudrun. While Deborah Lutz refers to Gerald as “one of the clearest dangerous lover figures in Lawrence” (10), both individuals pose a grave danger to the other, and Gudrun proves to be an even more deadly force than her mate. Recognizing that they are “of the same kind,” they establish an unspoken “diabolic free-masonry” (122). Drawn into a licentious trap, they engage in a deadly power struggle that represents the antithesis of mutual protectiveness, and Mark Kinkead-Weekes’ comparison of their “sex-relation” to “a kind of war” (xvii) is quite apt. Both David Cavitch and Sheila MacLeod underscore the extreme nature of this couple’s reactions to one another. Cavitch points out that “Gerald and Gudrun anticipate the fulfillment of their romance in an aura of revulsion, hysteria, and disaster” (59), while MacLeod characterizes their relationship as a “life-or-death fight for individual identity” (109). Gerald and Gudrun are attracted to the cruelty in one another’s nature, and this sinister lure functions as an exciting distraction from their own sense of futility. At a party when the couple first become acquainted, Gerald’s “blood” is “penetrated” by what he perceives as

Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures  201 Gudrun’s “subterranean recklessness” (92). In a later episode, he views her as “a dangerous hostile spirit, that could stand undiminished and unabated” (122). In like fashion, Gudrun savors Gerald’s masculine savagery as she watches him, in two separate incidents, violently subdue his terrified horse and subjugate his little sister’s pet rabbit. As his father lays dying, Gerald, experiencing an increasing “void of death in his soul” (322), craves contact with Gudrun, even though he recognizes her potentially destructive power. While he maintains a masculine facade, he “strip[s] himself of every safeguard” when he admits that Gudrun is “everything” to him (329). As she senses the potency of Gerald’s need, Gudrun is both “filled” with “dread” (325) and “almost mesmerised” (324). She feels “caught at last by fate, imprisoned in some horrible and fatal trap” (325). Even though she likens Gerald’s voice to “a sweetish, poisonous drug” (329), we are told, “she sip[s] the poison” and experiences “a thrill of strange, fatal elation” (329). Viewing Gerald’s facial features as “perfect,” she also sees him as “foreign” and quite “dangerous” (331), and the language Lawrence uses to convey Gerald’s first fierce embrace reflects the peril he promises: “His body vibrated taught and powerful as he closed upon and crushed her” (330). After his father’s death, “A dangerous resolve form[s]” in Gerald’s “heart” to “get at” Gudrun late at night when she is “safe in her home” (339). Stealing into her bedroom while her entire family is asleep, he focuses solely on his own overwhelming need and “hardly care[s]” (348) that he is likely jeopardizing Gudrun’s reputation or peace of mind. While Gerald may look very much like a rapist/seducer in this episode, the renegade artist, Gudrun, is hardly a vulnerable young woman, and she is not upset at the prospect of losing her chastity. However, she does experience their sexual encounter as a one-sided act of violence, as is evident in these words: “Into her he poured all his pent-up darkness and corrosive death, and he was whole again” (344). She is also “sick with terror” (347), when she tries to awaken him in the early dawn, so that her family will not know he has been there. We are told that she “suffer[s] badly with fear, lest her people should be roused” (348) and believes “One must be cautious. One must preserve oneself” (348). Even though Gudrun recognizes, on this night, that the two of them “would never be together” (346), she stays in this dysfunctional relationship. Beset with ambivalence, she reflects upon the “wonderful stability of marriage,” yet wants freedom above anything else and views herself as “one of life’s outcasts, one of the drifting lives that have no root” (376). When Gerald and Gudrun go away for a ski vacation in the Alps with Ursula and Birkin, their fierce union becomes a life-death struggle. With a “constant passion” that is “like a doom upon him” (401), Gerald poses

202  Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures a threat to Gudrun who remains profoundly aloof, in order to fend off his destructive influence, and forms a “deep resolve . . . to combat him” (413). Like other modernist couples studied in this chapter, these two also engage in risky physical behavior during their adventurous excursion; however, their mutually murderous rage invites deadliness rather than exhilarating companionship. Riding a toboggan together, the two go “sheering down over the keen slope” (420), and when Gerald asks Gudrun if the experience has been “too much” for her, her sense of triumph and “overweening laughter” (421), instead of delighting him, cuts him like “A fine blade” entering “his heart” (421). As the couple once again head down in their “flying sledge” (421), Gerald seems to be courting death for them both. Even though he feels he can “guide the toboggan” (421), he craves “a perfect long, fierce sweep, sheering past the foot of a rock into the trees at the base,” a maneuver he knows is “dangerous” (421). The ultimate fate of each couple in this novel differs greatly. Gerald’s icy demise, after nearly choking the life of out Gudrun, provides dismal closure to their interactions and reads like a cautionary tale for courting couples of what to avoid. In contrast to Gerald and Gudrun’s life-denying progression, Ursula and Birkin achieve life-affirming coexistence. They emerge as two special individuals who exist beyond the crowd. Besides having a strong sense of personal awareness, they know each other on many levels, from ethereal connection to the full satisfaction of their “unabashed” lustful animal selves (413). In spite of past hurdles, they both approach an ideal they seek. While Birkin affirms that “They would give each other this star-equilibrium which alone is freedom” (319), Ursula believes that she can be both “pure and silvery” in her selfhood and “[belong] only to the oneness with Birkin” as well (409). Besides finding a balance between an independent self and deeply satisfying togetherness, this more fortunate couple, marrying without parental permission or involvement, enjoy the carefree ambiance of temporary households that Gudrun tells her sister is “out of” the “ordinary life” (373–374). When Ursula tells Birkin that Gudrun “could not bear to be married and put into a house,” he replies, “if you know beforehand you couldn’t stand it, you’re safe” (375). Birkin’s use of the word “safe” in this context implies his belief that traditional domesticity does not provide a guaranteed secure haven for everyone. Ursula, echoing the heroine’s desire at the end of Ann Veronica, also shows her penchant for the nonconformist marriage by asking the following rhetorical questions: “Why does every woman think her aim in life is to have a hubby and a little grey home in the west? Why is this the goal of life? Why should it be?” (375). Ursula and Birkin’s sense of transport within the context of their unconventional marriage is symbolically rendered when traveling by ship at night away from England to the Alps, the couple sit “folded together”

Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures  203 in a “comparatively sheltered nook” at the bow of “the softly plunging vessel” (387). Described as “conscious only of this pure trajectory through the surpassing darkness” (388), the couple each arrive at a place of transcendence. Ursula experiences “the effulgence of a paradise unknown,” represented by a “most wonderful” and “golden” light (388). However, Birkin feels, for the first time in his life, an “absolute peace,” an “unutterable peace of darkness” within his “heart” and “soul” (388). Despite emphasis on the strikingly affirmative nature of Ursula and Birkin’s relationship in the last part of Women in Love, Lawrence honors the ever-present flux of life, by avoiding the simplistic closure of traditional courtship novels.11 Exalted as Ursula is in her marriage to Birkin, when a skeptical Gudrun suggests that her sister’s freewheeling marital venture may merely “secure” one’s “illusions” (437) and not lead to “a new world at all” (437), Ursula is described as “frightened” (434) because her beliefs are susceptible to “mere word-force” (434). The phrase, “mere word-force,” suggests that language or over-intellectualizing can create obstacles or doubts within relationships of even the most fortunate couples. Besides the challenge of discouraging words, Ursula and Birkin experience one last significant disruption to their idealized connection. While the couple’s plan to travel toward southern climes at the novel’s end suggests the potent warmth and luminosity of their union, their differences continue to create tension. Rupert remains unsettled as he grieves Gerald’s decision to will his own demise within the frozen Alpine terrain. While Ursula declares, “You are enough for me. I don’t want anybody else but you” (481), Birkin counters by asserting, “You are all women to me. But I wanted a man friend, as eternal as you and I are eternal” (481). Attempting to explain what he means in the face of Ursula’s questioning, he adds, “Having you, I can live all my life without anybody else, any other sheer intimacy. But to make it complete, really happy, I wanted eternal union with a man too: another kind of love” (481). In the novel’s final lines, Ursula continues to challenge Birkin’s adherence to this dual desire, by calling his “theory” a “perversity” that is both “false” and “impossible” (481). In his depiction of courting couples, Lawrence emphasizes the ways in which men and women imperil one another on a psychological and emotional level, when their will prevails and when their bodily, mental, and spiritual centers are out of balance. Lawrence also shows how his heroines and heroes create their own impediments, as they struggle to fully realize freedom as well as intimacy. While harmonious interdependency is an obvious source of bliss and seems to provide a safe haven in Lawrence’s positive courtship scenarios, this state of being is always tenuous, because, for Lawrence, “only the flow matters” in life and love (“Do Women Change?” 542). In his novels, this profound belief in life’s “fluidity” manifests in relentless fluctuations between danger and safety and makes narrative closure impossible.

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Modernist Open Endings and Traditional Plot Deconstructions Lawrence’s contemporary, E. M. Forster, in his 1907 essay, “Pessimism in Literature,” defends the need to jettison what he calls “the old, old answer, marriage” as the “predictable” ending of novels (135). Acknowledging that this sort of narrative conclusion may have been a viable option a “hundred years ago, or fifty years ago,” Forster points out “our social feelings are altering very rapidly” (135). He explains that the modern individual’s fuller knowledge of women’s lives has resulted in this revised view of marriage: “We of today know that whatever marriage is, it is not an end” but “rather a beginning and that the lovers enter upon life’s real problems when those wedding bells are silent” (135). As a modern man, Forster reinforces the truth that “all things change” (136) and that there cannot be “any happy situation on earth that does not contain the seeds of decay” or “transformation” (137). He suggests that “Separation, then is the end that best pleases the novelist or dramatist of today—erection of a barrier, spiritual or physical, between the people in his book” (137). While the non-traditional endings of The Odd Women and The Three Sisters overtly reflect the sort of novel conclusion that Forster has in mind, the ambiguously happy denouements of Ann Veronica, Night and Day, and Women in Love contain only hints of the “pessimism” that Forster affirms. While all five modernist writers discussed in this chapter probe the psyches of their courting heroes and heroines, Woolf’s and Lawrence’s careers suggest the dead end reached by the British courtship novel as a medium where innovation could remain vital. Woolf decimates the traditional courtship tale in her most famous later novels, Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse, relegating the courtship story to very minor characters or to past memories of her middle-aged protagonists. Lawrence jettisons the courtship plot when he creates a highly sexualized tale of an adulterous relationship in his final novel, Lady Chatterley’s Lover. The tangential courtship scenarios within Woolf’s modernist stream of consciousness novels highlight the evanescent and ultimately disillusioning quality of the romantic love dream within the context of lifetimes rife with seemingly mundane events, poignant recalled images, and existential reflections. Lawrence’s focus, in Lady Chatterley’s Lover, on the tender, life-affirming liaison between the desolate wife of an incapacitated coal magnate and the couple’s games keeper, continues the allegorical and prophetic quality of The Rainbow and Women in Love. In all three of Lawrence’s novels, the courtship narratives symbolically convey both modern anguish and an iconoclastic vision for a better future. Unlike the above experimental works, E. M. Forster’s A Passage to India provides an apt example of how an influential modernist writer

Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures  205 not only challenges the restrictions of the traditional plotline and the cliché happy ending, but also expands the racial/ethnic diversity of the courtship novel. While a courtship saga involving Adela Quested and Ronny Heaslop is important in this novel, it is dwarfed by social/ cultural issues profoundly affecting both the native populations of India and the elitist Anglo-Indian bureaucrats who epitomize the white privilege, racism, and oppression of the British Empire. This novel’s palpable dangers, therefore, do not surface within the courting couple’s interactions but arise from the evils of colonialism. Moreover, Adela and Ronny’s superficial courtship venture ends in a parting of the ways, and the most authentic relationships exist elsewhere—between Adela and her potential mother-in-law, Mrs. Moore, and especially between Cyril Fielding, a white schoolmaster, and Dr. Aziz, a Moslem Indian physician. Forster’s use of danger/safety language drives home his innovative emphases and distinctly ironic touches. For example, the somewhat naïve Dr. Aziz faces far more peril than the equally inexperienced white female Adela. She becomes the inadvertent, yet most direct, danger-maker within the world of Dr. Aziz and the mixed society of Chandropore, when she mistakenly accuses him of “insulting advances” in a dark cave (185) and does not retract her accusation until his trial is underway. Another example of Forster’s divergence from courtship novel norms and corresponding focus on the evils of imperialism involves his portrayal of Mr. Fielding, the only genuinely protective character in this text, who has “a natural sympathy for the downtrodden” (272). After Dr. Aziz is imprisoned and his physical being and social repute are seriously jeopardized, Fielding consistently defends his innocence. In contrast, the rest of the Anglo community feed their frenzy of racist fear and disgust, with the men mouthing a superficial protective offer to “Get the women folk off to the hills” (204). While the region’s white ruling class uses Adela as a pawn for their racist agenda, providing what is clearly hypocritical “chivalry” (237) during her convalescence, Fielding is the only one who shields her when she finds herself ostracized following her courtroom retraction. Given the existing courtship fiction trope, it is not surprising that Fielding’s role as Adela’s rescuer is construed by Dr. Aziz and others as a signal of romantic attachment. Yet Forster overturns this expectation when Fielding marries Mrs. Moore’s daughter, a character mentioned but never appearing at all in the novel. One of the key ironies in this text is that despite Fielding’s genuine caring and the significant friendship between the two men, Dr. Aziz can never fully trust Fielding. In fact, this novel’s first reference to danger involves Aziz’s fear of letting down his guard with the schoolmaster, who despite his engaging “good will” is a member of the “Ruling Race” (70).

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Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures  207 laudable gesture of the sisterly ‘solidarity’” or “something even more complex?” Wallace responds to her own question by suggesting that The Three Sisters “probably reflect[s] Sinclair’s own ambivalence” and “is dialogic in that the contradictory viewpoints it offers are not finally subordinated to a single authorial interpretation” (87). Wallace adds that while Sinclair seems “unable fully to endorse sublimation” (90), Gwenda’s choice of “celibacy can be seen as a positive and even subversive alternative” to marriage (91). Wendy Truran’s and Faye Pickrem’s diverging interpretations of The Three Sisters highlight this novel’s ambiguous treatment of Gwenda’s fate and what constitutes safety in the courtship arena. Drawing upon a variety of Sinclair’s psychological and philosophical writings, Truran, in her essay, “Feminism, Freedom and the Hierarchy of Happiness,” interprets Gwenda’s fate in a more positive way than the text of this novel seems to warrant. She claims that Gwenda “represents” a “stage of development” characterized by “Selfcontrol and sublimation . . . which moves beyond ‘physiological emergencies’ and towards perfect happiness” (87). While Truran aptly points out that Sinclair, “through eschewing the happily-ever-after courtship novel endings, “forces readers to confront their own desires for traditional forms of narrative conclusion,” she also adds that Sinclair has “begun” to offer “a new narrative with Gwenda,” which “conclude[s] a woman’s life with a bliss that is not constituted by marriage” (93). Pickrem, referring to this novel’s “doomed romance plot” (“Disembodying Desire” 128), offers a far more pessimistic reading than Truran, pointing out that while Sinclair’s “text attempts to institute mystical ecstasy” as the heroine’s “compensation” for renouncing Steven, “Gwenda is caught in the net of longing and repudiation” (129). She goes even further by claiming that “Having foreclosed normative paths of pleasure, Gwenda succumbs to self-interment, an abject servant to the punitive code of the novel” (131), and her “hollow existence resonates in the foreboding sense of waiting for transcendence that never comes” (131). Janet Eldredge Miller’s interpretation closely matches that of Pickrem. According to Miller, There is no feeling of closure at the end of the novel, only a sense that while nature goes on endlessly renewing itself, Gwenda will only grow older and weaker. The sense of isolation, entrapment and monotony is overwhelming, and functions as a powerful indictment of the patriarchal social order. (Rebel Women 198) 8 In the Penguin edition of Night and Day, Julia Riggs’ note pertaining to Woolf’s use of the word “impinged” indicates that it was “probably a mistake for impaled” (447). However, in a sense, both meanings are apt. While “impaled” is a far more violent word, “impinged” is particularly fitting for Katharine, since relentless imposition of others’ demands constitutes a major source of distress from which she constantly seeks escape. 9 Michael H. Whitworth notes the lack of complete closure in Night and Day when he observes that despite having “finally reach[ed] an understanding,” Woolf’s major courting couple “retain a sense of their fundamental isolation” (Virginia Woolf, 156). Like Whitworth, Marion Dell notes that “Woolf resists the traditional, resolved, happy marriage ending” (31). Dell supports this point by stating that although Katharine and Ralph “have agreed to marry,” at the novel’s end, “Ralph is walking away from Katharine’s confining, domestic circle of light, into the darkness and freedom of the external world,” while “Katharine is poised in liminal space; framed in a doorway which is only half-open” (Virginia Woolf’s Influential Forebears 27). 10 In highlighting men’s fear of and fascination for women, H. L. Mencken, in an 1922 essay, claims that women’s “chief charm” in his day “lies precisely

208  Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures in the fact that they are dangerous, that they threaten masculine liberty and autonomy, that their sharp minds present a menace vastly greater than that of acts of God and the public enemy—and they will be dangerous for ever” (“The Eternal Romance”). Mencken’s message reflects the flavor of Lawrence’s imagery when he characterizes his major female characters’ interactions with their suitors. However, in The Rainbow and Women in Love, Lawrence’s figurative language repeatedly conveys the perilous nature of both female and male, as they live out the drama of their courtship struggles. 11 Several critics have remarked on the open-endedness of Lawrence’s conclusion in Women in Love. Lucia Henning Heldt, noting the “tentative” quality of this novel’s ending, suggests that “the Ursula-Birkin relationship can be taken only as pointing towards Lawrence’s definition of love rather than representing a final or full statement of his ideas” (“Lawrence on Love,” 358). Mark Kinkead-Weekes, in his “Introduction” to Women in Love, elaborates on this deliberate lack of closure when he defines an important tenet of Lawrence’s beliefs: “Lawrence thought that what was fully formed and finished was dead—which is why his best work ‘ends’ with a question, or a signpost, rather than a conclusion.” Describing Ursula and Birkin as “only on their way towards well-being, Kinkead-Weekes further notes that their “finding and marrying each other” is “only a better beginning, not the happy ending so characteristic of the art of the nineteenth century novel” (xxx). Similarly, Sheila MacLeod points out that in Women in Love, “Marriage is not presented as a happy ending . . . but as a tentative beginning” (120). MacLeod also recognizes that even though Lawrence conceptualizes the “optimum marriage” as “a perfect balance between two equal partners,” it is a “precarious state” and “has to be fought for again and again. . . ” (Lawrence’s Men and Women 228).

Works Cited Allen, Grant. “Plain Words on the Woman Question” (1889). A New Woman Reader, edited by Carolyn Christensen Nelson, Broadview Press, 2001, pp. 210–224. Bennet, Joan. Virginia Woolf: Her Art as Novelist. 2nd ed., Cambridge University Press, 1964. Blain, Virginia, et al. The Feminist Companion to Literature in English. Yale University Press, 1990. Blake, Kathleen. Love and the Woman Question in Victorian Literature: The Art of Self-Postponement. The Harvester Press, 1983. Boone, Joseph A. Tradition Counter Tradition: Love and the Form of Fiction. University of Chicago Press, 1987. Bowler, Rebecca, and Claire Drewery. “Introduction: May Sinclair’s Interdisciplinarity.” May Sinclair: Re-Thinking Bodies and Minds, edited by Rebecca Bowler and Claire Drewery, Edinburg University Press, 2017, pp. 1–17. Calder, Jenni. Women and Marriage in Victorian Fiction. Oxford University Press, 1976. Cavitch, David. “On Women in Love.” D.H. Lawrence: A Collection of Criticism, edited by Leo Hamalian, McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1973, pp. 54–64. Dell, Marion. Virginia Woolf’s Influential Forebears: Julia Margaret Cameron, Anny Thackeray Ritchie and Julia Prinsep Stephen. Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.

Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures  209 Draper, R.P. D.H. Lawrence (Twayne’s English Authors Series). Twayne Publishers, 1964. Federico, Annette. Masculine Identity in Hardy and Gissing. Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1991. Forster, E.M. Aspects of the Novel. Harcourt, Brace & World, 1927. ———. A Passage to India. Harcourt, 1924. ———. “Pessimism in Literature” (1907) in Albergo Empedocle and Other Writings, edited by George H. Thomson, Liveright, 1971, pp. 129–145. Gilbert, Sandra M., and Susan Gubar. “Preface.” No Man’s Land: The Place of the Woman Writer in the Twentieth Century, Volume 1: The War of the Words. Yale University Press, 1988, pp. xi–xvi. Gissing, George. The Odd Women (1893), introduced by Elaine Showalter, Penguin Books, 1993. Grand, Sarah. “The Man of the Moment” (1894). A New Woman Reader: Fiction, Articles, and Drama of the 1890s, edited by Carolyn Christensen Nelson, Broadview Press, 2001, pp. 146–152. ———. “The New Aspect of the Woman Question” (1894). A New Woman Reader: Fiction, Articles, and Drama of the 1890s, edited by Carolyn Christensen Nelson, Broadview Press, 2001, pp. 141–146. Gregory, John. A Father’s Legacy to His Daughters (1774). The Lady’s Pocket Library, 4th American Edition. Matthew Carey, 1809. Heldt, Lucia Henning. “Lawrence on Love: The Courtship and Marriage of Tom Brangwen and Lydia Lensky.” The D.H. Lawrence Review, vol. 8, no. 3, 1975, pp. 358–370. Kinkead-Weekes, Mark. “Introduction.” Women in Love, edited by David Farmer et al., Penguin Books, 1995, pp. xiii–xxxii. Lawrence, D.H. The Collected Letters of D.H. Lawrence, 2 vols, edited by Harry T. Moore, Viking Press, 1962. ———. “Do Women Change?” Phoenix II: Uncollected, Unpublished and Other Works by D.H. Lawrence, edited by Warren Roberts and Harry T. Moore, Viking Press, 1968, pp. 539–542. ———. “Foreword.” Women in Love (Appendix I), edited by David Farmer, et al., Penguin Books, 1995, pp. 485–486. ———. Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1928), introduced by Kathyrn Harrison. Modern Library, 2001. ———. “Morality and the Novel.” Phoenix: The Posthumous Papers of D.H. Lawrence, edited by Edward D. McDonald, Viking Press, 1936/1968, pp. 527–532. ———. The Rainbow, edited by Kate Flint. Oxford University Press, 1997. ———. “Why the Novel Matters.” Phoenix: The Posthumous Papers of D.H. Lawrence, edited by Edward D. McDonald, Viking Press, 1936/1968, pp. 533–538. ———. Women in Love (1920), edited by David Farmer et al., Penguin Books, 1995. Levenson, Michael. Modernism. Yale University Press, 2011. Lutz, Deborah. The Dangerous Lover: Gothic Villains, Byronism, and the Nineteenth-Century Seduction Narrative. Ohio State University Press, 2006. MacLeod, Sheila. Lawrence’s Men and Women. Heinemann, 1985.

210  Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures Mencken, H.L. “The Eternal Romance.” Defense of Women (1922), Section 46. Miller, Janet Eldredge. Rebel Women: Feminism, Modernism and the Edwardian Novel. University of Chicago Press, 1997. Nelson, Carolyn Christensen. “Introduction.” A New Woman Reader: Fiction, Articles, and Drama of the 1890s, edited by Carolyn Christensen Nelson, Broadview Press, 2001, pp. ix–xiv. Pickrem, Faye. “Disembodying Desire: Ontological Fantasy, Libidinal Anxiety and the Erotics of Renunciation in May Sinclair.” May Sinclair: Re-Thinking Bodies and Minds, edited by Rebecca Bowler and Claire Drewery, Edinburgh University Press, 2017, pp. 119–138. Radford, Jean. “Introduction.” The Three Sisters by May Sinclair. Virago Press, 1982, pp. v–x. Ramazani, Johan, and Jon Stallworthy. “Introduction.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Twentieth Century and After, edited by Johan Ramazani and Jon Stallworthy, 9th ed., W.W. Norton and Company, 2012, pp. 1887–1910. Riggs, Julia. “Introduction.” Night and Day by Virginia Woolf, edited by Julia Riggs. Penguin Books, 1992. Schyllert, Sanna Melin. “Why British Society Had to ‘Get a Young Virgin Sacrificed’: Sacrificial Destiny in The Three of Heaven.” May Sinclair: ReThinking Bodies and Minds, edited by Rebecca Bowler and Claire Drewery, Edinburgh University Press, 2017, pp. 177–193. Shaw, George Bernard. Mrs. Warren’s Profession (1898), edited by William-Alan Landes, Players Press, 1991. Showalter, Elaine. “Introduction.” The Odd Women, edited by George Gissing. Penguin Classics, 1993. pp. vii–xxvi. Sinclair, May. “A Defence of Man.” The Forum, vol. 48, 1912, pp. 409–420. ———. “May Sinclair Papers.” Kislak Center for Special Collections, University of Pennsylvania, 1998, pdf?id=PACSCL_UPENN_ RBML_MsColl184. ———. The Three Sisters (1914). Virago Press Ltd., 1982. Smith, Alys W. Pearsall. “A Reply from the Daughters” (1894). A New Woman Reader: Fiction, Articles, and Drama of the 1890s, edited by Carolyn Christensen Nelson, Broadview Press, 2001, pp. 269–276. Sweeney, Diane. “Biography/History.” “May Sinclair Papers.” Kislak Center for Special Collections, University of Pennsylvania, 1998, http://dla.library. Truran, Wendy. “Feminism, Freedom and the Hierarchy of Happiness in the Psychological Novels of May Sinclair.” May Sinclair: Re-thinking Bodies and Minds, edited by Rebecca Bowler and Claire Drewery, Edinburgh University Press, 2017, pp. 79–97. Utter, Robert Palfrey, and Gwendolyn Bridges Needham. Pamela’s Daughters. MacMillan Company, 1936. Wallace, Diana J. Sisters and Rivals: The Theme of Female Rivalry in Novels by Women, 1914–1939. Doctoral Thesis, Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough, 1997, Wells, H. G. Ann Veronica, edited by Sylvia Hardy, Everyman/ J.M. Dent, 1993.

Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures  211 Whitworth, Michael H. Virginia Woolf (Authors in Context). Oxford University Press, 2005. Woolf, Virginia. “Jane Austen.” The Virginia Woolf Reader, edited by Mitchell A. Leaska. Harcourt, 1984, pp. 221–232. ———. “Modern Fiction.” The Common Reader, edited by Virginia Woolf. Hogarth Press, 1925, pp. 184–195. ———. Night and Day (1920). Harcourt Brace & Company, 1948. ———. “A Room of One’s Own.” The Virginia Woolf Reader, edited by Mitchell A. Leaska, Harcourt, 1984, pp. 169–188. ———. To the Lighthouse. Harcourt, Inc., 1981. ———. The Voyage Out (1915), introduced by Jane Wheare, Penguin Books, 1992.

7 Reflections on Continuity, Change, and Contemporary Trends in Courtship Fiction

This concluding chapter both looks back and moves forward. Its threefold purpose is to summarize salient features of continuity and change that emerge from an exploration of the peril/protection motif in British courtship novels, to suggest future scholarly directions, and to share some ways in which danger and safety remain hallmarks of best-selling contemporary romance fiction. These last reflections involve links between the two-hundred-year span of the evolving British novel genre and current debates pertaining to portrayal of couples in romantic relationships and messages regarding gender stereotypes within widely read novels published in recent decades.

Overview of Findings: Continuity and Change in British Courtship Novels from 1719 to 1920 Explorations of danger/safety language within courtship novels written over a two-hundred-year period reveal both tenacious adherence and overt or subtle challenges to plot, character, and thematic traditions established early within the English novel’s history. Joseph Boone captures the complex rhythm of continuity and change when he refers to the “novel’s simultaneous and contradictory drives toward radical expression and maintenance of the status quo” (33). This intertwining of tradition and re-visioning illustrates what Louise Rosenblatt calls the “relation between the processes of cultural lag and social innovation” (257). The novels discussed within this book introduce physical, social, and emotional dangers that complicate the lives of their courting couples, create suspense, and shed light on internal dilemmas as well as social pressures. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, emotional or psychological perils, of either a conscious or subconscious nature, constitute the chief impediments that female and male protagonists encounter. Throughout the two-hundred-year period following the inception of the courtship novel, danger/protection vocabulary, imagery, and scenarios highlight a number of trends pertaining to female-male relationships and gender issues.

Reflections on Trends in Courtship Fiction  213 All the novels explored in this study provide ample evidence of ­female protagonists’ vulnerability as well as their strategies for self-­preservation, as they encounter men’s honorable and dishonorable wooing motives and behaviors. All along, we witness a blend of w ­ omen’s fragility and strength; however, in the latter part of this book’s time span, vigor increasingly outweighs delicacy as women interact with others in the courtship arena. The notion of women as men’s spiritual or moral saviors, along with their readiness to sacrifice for others, exists early in the courtship novel’s history, reaches its apex with the Victorian “Angel in the House,” and survives, in a more muted form, into the twentieth century. While the heroines within eighteenth- and nineteenth-century courtship novels largely conform to such feminine ideals as chastity, modesty, compassion, and sweetness of disposition, some of these characters are more assertive or more aware of injustices within their world than others. Whether assertive or passive, virtually all of these characters experience some degree of tension between feeling and reason. Passive protecting behavior, involving prayers and anxieties ­usually over the physical safety of beloved suitors, remains a hallmark of traditional female protagonists throughout most of the nineteenth ­century. These behaviors tend to diminish within late nineteenth- and early t­ wentieth-century courtship narratives, as major women ­characters focus more on self-realization and their desire for freedom in intimate relationships. These more modern females embrace risk and often consider safety as suffocating. They also engage, more than their predecessors, in psychological and verbal skirmishes with male protagonists. With the exception of Marianne Dashwood, the powerful injunction against feeling love until it is reciprocated and against revealing love for a suitor consistently creates alarm in courtship novel heroines of ­eighteenth- to mid-nineteenth-century novels. The palpable sense of danger experienced by these young women, forced to love in secret, seems to come primarily from a fear of losing heart-wholeness and of suffering humiliation or censure within their communities. As courtship novel heroines gain economic rights and independence, this “reserve” or urge to tamp down love feelings morphs into a proud desire to show self-sufficiency, or, at times, a daring determination to proclaim one’s right to passion. With the relaxing of sexual mores, female protagonists of early twentieth-century courtship narratives are less cautious regarding their virgin status but still recognize threats to their reputation. The peril arising from women’s platonic friendships with men emerges early in Sir Charles Grandison, yet becomes a more overt issue by the end of the nineteenth century when the two sexes interact more regularly in a variety of settings beyond the domestic sphere. Eighteenth- and nineteenth-century courtship novels reflect a tradition of virile, chivalric heroes and an enduring masculine ideology that affirms the rescuer and provider roles. Often, the words that the genuinely

214  Reflections on Trends in Courtship Fiction protective suitor uses to convey offers of aid suggest an underlying sense of ownership that is rarely resented or even noticed by the woman being courted. In novels of late Victorian and Modern periods, the hero significantly diminishes as a sheltering presence. For the most part, readers are not privy to the male character’s reactions to this loss of role, but when we are, we see some level of disappointment but also hyper-masculine behaviors designed to demonstrate physical superiority. Modernist male protagonists of a cynical nature appear to debunk the masculine rescuer role. In his essay, “We Need One Another,” published in 1930, D. H. Lawrence proclaims what he sees as the virtual disappearance of the protective male prototype when he states that “The conquering hero business is as obsolete as Marshal Hindenburg, and about as effective. The world sees attempts at revival of this stunt, but they are usually silly, in the end” (192). Consistent with this growing lack of male heroism, major female characters, with their increased level of freedom and independence, in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century courtship novels, reveal distinctly lowered expectations regarding masculine protection. At times, Victorian and Modern novelists even introduce role reversals, with major women characters engaging in daring rescues of imperiled men. However, despite what may look like a lessened dependency on their male mates and an increasing readiness to enjoy perilous adventure, female protagonists are still drawn to the prospect of a secure haven with a man they can love. Early traditional courtship novels, including the late eighteenth-­ century Gothic form, solidify the sharp distinction between benevolent and malevolent suitors. Within works published in the 1700s and early 1800s, the genuine hero’s assertions of his role as protector are matched by significant acts of rescue. In contrast, pseudo-suitors or seducers declare their desire to protect, in order to mask and pursue their treacherous schemes. In the courtship novel’s history, there is a parallel enduring strain of hybrid hero-villains, such as Richardson’s Mr. B. and Bronte’s Rochester, who need to be redeemed before they can gain their happy marriage in the end. There are also some pseudo-suitors along the way whose characterization is somewhat ambiguous. For example, ­Austen’s Henry Crawford, Eliot’s Arthur Donnithorne, and ­Hardy’s Alec ­d’Urberville, despite their fundamental role as danger-makers, ­offer aid at times with some degree of sincerity. By the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the happily-­everafter courtship novel ending becomes nuanced in various ways. While novelists of this time period continue bowing to pressure from readers and publishers to deliver this fortunate resolution, their works reflect less assurance that a lifetime of blissful serenity is an unassailable guarantee for a deserving heroine and hero. This questioning of simplistic conclusions seems linked not only to the ever-increasing scrutiny into

Reflections on Trends in Courtship Fiction  215 couples’ conflicting needs and dysfunctional communication, but also to authors’ rebellion against traditional plot constraints.

Invitations to Future Courtship Novel Researchers Given the fact that this study focuses solely on novels featuring heterosexual couples of the dominant white culture and concludes with early twentieth-century novels that retain a clearly discernible courtship plot trajectory, there are many ways that future scholars can build upon material presented in this book. Some of these ways include studying fictional portrayals of couples from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds and those with non-normative sexual orientations and gender identities. Other ways involve focusing on post-colonial expansions of the romance tradition across the English-speaking world and exploring radical Modernist deconstructions of courtship novel traditions in works, such as Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway (1925) and To the Lighthouse (1927). Three examples of works that can begin expanding the racial/ethnic or gender identity diversity of this book’s study are Radcliffe Hall’s novel, Well of Loneliness (1928), “a seminal work of gay literature” that depicts “lesbian sexuality and gender non-conformity” (Funke); Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937), which depicts a series of courtships and marriages of a strikingly resilient African American female hero; and Uzma Jalaluddin’s Ayesha at Last (2018), a novel drawing upon Austen’s Pride and Prejudice for its courtship narrative involving a Muslim immigrant community in Canada.

Courtship Novels and Today’s Popular Romance Novel: Echoes of the Past Subsequent studies could also explore the ways in which courtship fiction written within the past few decades both reflects and diverges from the heritage of British courtship novels set forth in this book. Today’s literary scholars can add much to contemporary conversations on the “Me Too” movement and current gender identity issues, by showing how danger and safety play out in contemporary romance novels. Despite Modernist protests and experiments designed to eliminate constrictions of the traditional comic romance plot, the courtship novel continues to flourish in the spectacularly lucrative contemporary romance fiction industry.1 Pamela Regis emphasizes the courtship novel’s striking longevity in this way: “The romance novel is old. The form is stable. Since the birth of the novel in English, the romance novel as I have defined it here—the story of the courtship and betrothal of one or more heroines—has provided a form for novels” (205). Romance novels published within the past fifty years bear a variety of labels, such as sweet savage romance, historical romance, Regency romance, Gothic

216  Reflections on Trends in Courtship Fiction romance, paranormal romance, vampire romance, erotic historical, bodice ripper, and chic lit. Within the pages of these subgenres, the danger/protection motif persists, often in an intensified form since contemporary female protagonists, like their Modernist forebears, invite and even relish risk-taking. Two of the most significant lures of contemporary works, like those of earlier courtship novels, are their gripping tension and the happily-­everafter sanctuary they deliver. The “wedlock ideal” (62) that Joseph Boone identifies as a cornerstone of the English novel still exerts enormous appeal, as is evident in Janice Radway’s interviews with avid romance readers, who make it clear that a happy ending is absolutely necessary (162–164). Radway’s findings are reinforced by Maryanne Ward’s claim that “The majority of postmodern readers are as unwilling as the ­Victorians were to pay for an accurate and critical vision of the world we have made” (30). Filled with scenes of passion, the contemporary romance novel seems to have its roots in the “amatory fiction” of authors such as Eliza Haywood. Stephanie Harzewski refers to Haywood as “the Danielle Steele of her day” (30). Ros Ballaster also singles out “Haywood’s amatory novels of the 1720s” as “mark[ing] the beginnings of an autonomous tradition in romantic fiction, primarily addressed to and authored by women” (158) and asserts that “amatory fiction does indeed subscribe to many of the conventions feminist critics have analysed as central to twentieth century romantic fiction” (34). Today’s romance novels are, however, most often viewed as following in a direct line from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, both of which develop an edgy male protagonist and a feisty female protagonist who get past their sparring to find genuine love and mutual respect. Under the influence of a strong-willed, intelligent woman of integrity, the tamed man becomes the caring, protective partner in a loving, equalitarian marriage. With her set of enduringly popular courtship novels, Austen is widely acknowledged as the virtual founder of contemporary romance narrative. Joan Klingel calls Austen “the queen of the courtship novel and the originator of the Regency romance” (11), while also proclaiming that she is “certainly” the “mother of the genre” often referred to as “chic lit” (298). 2 Likewise, Jennifer Crusie, award-winning romance novelist, asserts that Austen “set the standard for the genre,” writing “woman-centered fiction set in an emotionally just universe” where her heroines struggle, grow, and earn their happiness (Tyler, 240). In delineating the role of Austen as bridge between past and present, David Lodge notes that she “fused together” the “comedy of manners” with “the sentimental novel,” or “the didactic, heroine-centered love story . . . which survives today in the popular women’s fiction generally known as ‘romance’” (165).

Reflections on Trends in Courtship Fiction  217 The influence of Jane Eyre is usually linked to paranormal varieties of contemporary romance with mysterious Byronic male protagonists. For example, Yvonne Griggs views Jane Eyre as the “prototype for the twentieth and twenty-first centuries’ populist gothic courtship/romance novel” (23), while Deborah Lutz credits both Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights for the “reinscription of the hero/villain as one character” that would endure into contemporary fiction as an attractive and omnipresent figure (12). Both Lutz and Ballaster focus on the amplified peril, suspense, and terror in contemporary romance fiction, especially in relation to the female protagonist’s fate, and, in doing so, suggest the influence of Gothic novelists, such as Radcliffe and Walpole. In addition to the alluring “demon” (ix) or “enemy-like” lovers” (xi) that Lutz identifies as prevalent in today’s erotic and romantic love narratives, contemporary fictional suitors take a variety of monstrous, exaggerated forms. These include vampires and werewolves, such as those found in the enormously popular Twilight series, or masters of sadomasochistic sexuality such as the male protagonist in the bestselling Fifty Shades. What is interesting to note, however, is that heroes such as Edward Cullen and Christian Grey, despite being formidable forces of peril, issue warnings regarding their dangerous potential and are persistent protectors of the women they love.3

Yesterday’s Courtship Novels and Today’s Romance Novels as Good-Bad Medicine: The Old Debate in a New Form Given the magnification of threatening male figures in the love life of today’s female protagonists and the continuing allure of the comic romance conclusion, it is not surprising to find the presence of spirited debates over the degree to which contemporary romance works are regressive or progressive in their messages and impact on readers. In a sense, these current controversies hark back to earlier opposing views on the novel’s deleterious versus beneficial effects. In Women’s Reading in Britain 1750–1835: A Dangerous Recreation, Jacqueline Pearson points out that there were arguments as to whether material in novels would act as cautionary tales, warning innocent females of “sexual danger,” or might actually “imperil” these young ladies “rather than protect them” (88). Eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century book reviewers and conduct writers feared that novels depicting romantic relationships would harm female readers, in particular, by heightening passions and promising fantastical fulfillment.4 Pearson highlights a prevailing and consistently voiced concern that novels had a poisoning and corrupting effect that would render female readers “sexually vulnerable” (82). On the other side of the argument was the notion that “Virtuous women”

218  Reflections on Trends in Courtship Fiction could be “constructed by good reading” (88). Those defending novels emphasized the ones that presented positive role models, conveyed clear moral messages, and included information on ways to stay safe amidst the pitfalls in the courtship arena.5 The contemporary version of conflicting messages has emerged primarily from feminist critics and authors of romance novels. In today’s debate, those citing the positive effects of popular romance focus on the female protagonist’s power to tame the bad boy or uncover his sensitive, caring side. This element resembles depictions, within earlier courtship novels, of the heroine’s role as man’s reformer or savior. According to this pro-romance novel viewpoint, the female hero so fully captivates the rakish fellow that he becomes the tender, devoted mate she craves.6 Defenders of the romance novel also cite the fact that major female characters possess the freedom to pursue their own desire and positively affect their destiny. Jennifer Crusie celebrates today’s romance novel as derived from Jane Austen in the following way: The romance novel’s great theme is that women can achieve anything through their own resources, intelligence, courage, and faith.  .  . . they’ll succeed because of who they are and what they do, not what they look like or who rescues them. That’s a hell of a theme coupled to a hell of a story. Which for me pretty well explains the popularity of the genre. (Tyler 242) Janice Radway reports that the women romance novel readers she interviewed applaud heroines who are intelligent, independent, and have a sense of humor but also are “willing to sacrifice extreme self-interest for a long-term relationship where mutually agreed-upon goals take precedence over selfish desire” (78). From her findings, Radway emphasizes the emotionally and psychologically restorative quality of works that conclude with “the creation of that perfect union where the ideal male, who is masculine and strong yet nurturant too, finally recognizes the intrinsic worth of the heroine” (97). In essence, Radway’s discoveries reflect contemporary romance novel fans’ affirmation of the mutually protective ideal couple so omnipresent in early courtship novels. Moving beyond Radway’s findings, Harzewski emphasizes how chic lit stands apart from other romance novels. Proclaiming the progressiveness of this subgenre, she asserts that its “heroines in their degree of sexual autonomy and professional choices, stand as direct beneficiaries of the women’s liberation movement” (37). She also points out that since these often farcical or satirical novels “do not necessarily culminate in marriage,” they “present a more realistic portrait of single life and dating, exploring, in varying degrees, the dissolution of romantic ideas or exposing those ideals as unmet, sometimes unrealistic, expectations” (39).

Reflections on Trends in Courtship Fiction  219 Critics on the anti-romance novel side argue that women characters are portrayed as mesmerized by treacherous men whose presence threatens physical as well as emotional harm. These critics particularly regard as repugnant the glorification and sentimentalizing of women’s passionate surrender to the attractive, self-absorbed, and often possessive male. There is a veritable army of indignant feminist critics decrying Meyer’s Twilight series, particularly its depiction of Bella Swan’s fragility, lack of confidence, subjugation to her vampire lover, and “self-endangerment,” which puts her in a position of needing “constant protection and rescue” (Jarvis, 110).7 Those who express concern over the effects of today’s romance novels also claim that they fail to present diverse pathways for women’s self-realization that transcend the happy marriage or long-term romantic union. Julie Shaffer captures the backdrop to this current objection in the following terms: For the most part, feminist critics have found the marriage-plot novel of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries disappointingly unsuccessful at challenging the patriarchal ideology of the period . . . by presenting marriage to the male protagonist as the virtuous heroine’s best reward, these works militate against the heroine’s movement toward autonomy under the plot of her movement toward relationality. (21) Despite her focus on avid women readers’ support of romance novels, Radway concludes her study by highlighting the contradictions inherent to this genre. She claims that the romance recognizes and thereby protests the weaknesses of patriarchy and the failure of traditional marriage even as it apparently acts to assert the perfection of each and to teach women how to re-view their own imperfect relationships in such a way that they seem unassailable. (221)

Concluding Remarks This brief foray into the connections between courtship novels published from 1719 to 1920 and contemporary romance novels reveals that continuity predominates over change, seeming to prove the validity of the old adage, “The more things change the more they stay the same.” Despite the prevalence of divorce, high levels of co-habitation among unmarried couples, and the decreased stigma of the single life, the search for a loving, suitable mate with whom one can enjoy the safe haven of an enduring monogamous relationship continues to be evident. Penelope Williamson’s summation of how the old and new merge to create the

220  Reflections on Trends in Courtship Fiction traditional courtship novel ending in today’s romance novel seems apt here. According to Williamson, the hero is still allowed the traditional role of protector and provider, while at the same time admitting respect and admiration for the way his woman has proved that she can take care of herself. She is able to have both worlds—she is independent, her own woman, yet at the same time there is a man in her life to stand by her side when the going gets rough. But the fantasy does not stop here. The hero also acknowledges that she is there for him. By the end of the book there is an ideal union of two equal partners, each respecting the other’s abilities, complementing their strengths and weaknesses—a true marriage in the broadest sense of the word. (128–129) Williamson’s words illuminate how contemporary romance fiction comes closer, ironically, to the earlier rather than the later British courtship novels studied in this book. Romance novels written within the last fifty years seem to reinstate two major features that were diminishing within the latter half of the nineteenth century and the first decades of twentieth century: the male rescuer role and the mutually protective behavior of the major courting couple.8 Given our human nature, many individuals in today’s world, no matter what their gender, still crave the security of intimate relationships characterized by attraction and trust and still experience the risks of emotional pain when caught in the grip of love. Even though women’s sexuality is widely accepted, women’s career opportunities have greatly expanded, and dual-career couples are a common phenomenon; the social milieu remains a more perilous place for females than males, given existing gender inequities, persistent stereotypes from bygone eras, sexual harassment, rape, and domestic abuse. Like their predecessors, women in today’s fiction and society experience threats of sexual violation from unworthy suitors, not unlike those facing Richardson’s Pamela, Hayward’s Betsy, Hardy’s Tess, or Wells’ Ann Veronica. Moreover, danger continues to be a staple in our romance fiction of today undoubtedly because hazardous situations and ventures turn pages and sell books. As in days of old, we can read in our secure spaces as we vicariously experience the ways in which fictional characters negotiate and overcome harmful obstacles. As contemporary romance writer, Sandra Brown, puts it, “In fantasy, no matter how exciting, how dangerous our experiences are, we are always safe” (149).

Notes 1 Laurie Kahn-Leavitt’s (2015) documentary entitled “Love between the Covers” focuses on the billion-dollar romance fiction industry, which is helping

Reflections on Trends in Courtship Fiction  221 to keep afloat the print book business as a whole. This film elaborates upon the continually engaged community of female authors and their readers. It also addresses a longstanding lack of racial and sexual orientation diversity among the coterie of award-winning romance novelists as well as the ways in which this landscape has been changing, given the widespread success of Beverly Jenkins, a pioneer of African American romance, and Len Barot (aka Radclyffe, L. L. Rand), a groundbreaking lesbian romance writer. 2 In challenging distinctions between highbrow literary and middlebrow popular novels, Cecilia Konchar Farr observes that “To take chic lit seriously, scholars who write about it have to begin with . . . the genre’s links to a tradition of women’s literature, almost always through Austen,” whom Farr notes “is one of the few women” who has a “foothold among the Great Books” of the “literary canon” (Ulysses Delusion 80). 3 The legacy of the British courtship novel tradition is evident in both E. L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey and Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight. Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles provides a backdrop to James’ novel with its tongue-incheek links between Christian Grey and both Hardy’s Alec d’Urberville and Angel Claire, and in its presentation of the ways Anastasia Steele identifies with Tess’ victimization. During the early stages of her relationship with Christian, Anastasia evaluates “this game of seduction” she has agreed to play, in terms of fictional female role models, which include not only Tess but also Elizabeth Bennet and Jane Eyre. Meyer, in a 2008 interview with Gregory Kirschling, declares that her “favorite-favorite” author is “probably Jane Austen” and adds that when she was a teenager, one of her two favorite books was Pride and Prejudice. Meyer as well as others has identified Pride and Prejudice as a major source of inspiration for Twilight (see en.­ and Marta Miquel-Baldellou’s “Pride and ­Twilight” 162). Twilight’s female protagonist, Bella Swan, mirrors her author when she refers to being an avid reader of Austen and claims that Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility are her “favorites” (148). 4 James Fordyce refers to the idealizations in courtship as “sweet poison” (Addresses to Young Men 205). In Book I of her periodical, The Female Spectator (1744–1746), Eliza Haywood speaks out against the attractive “rendering” of passionate characters, lacking virtue, restraint, and a sense of duty in “Romances, Novels, and Plays” (11), expressing “How fatal, how pernicious to a young and unexperienced Mind,” such depictions can be (12). Haywood voices concern that young girls will “affect the Languishment they read of” (12) and will “neglect every useful Learning, and attend to nothing but acquiring the Reputation of being enough a Woman to know all the pains and Delicacies of Love” (12). Mirroring Haywood, Hannah More refers to the young woman particularly vulnerable to false sentimental courtships because she has “had her head originally turned by pernicious reading” (37). 5 According to Samuel Johnson in a 1750 Rambler essay, “works of fiction” now in vogue that “exhibit life in its true state” (19) can be of “greater use than the solemnities of professed morality, and convey the knowledge of vice and virtue with more efficacy than axioms and definitions” (21–22). Johnson also emphasizes that it is incumbent upon authors of these realistic works to provide viable role models as “best examples” for readers to emulate (22) and to avoid the “fatal error” of “confound[ing] the colours of right and wrong” in an engaging character (24). 6 Janice Radway describes the typical romance novel heroine as a “spunky” and “independent” young woman who is “powerful enough to remake the hero who is initially incapable of expressing emotions or admitting dependence”

222  Reflections on Trends in Courtship Fiction (125–128). According to Radway, this female protagonist also brings to the surface the “affectionate and tender soul” of a “spectacularly masculine” hero (128). Jayne Ann Krentz draws a similar conclusion when she notes, “Romance novels are tales of brave women taming dangerous men” (“Trying to Tame the Romance” 113). Krentz emphasizes the theme of “female empowerment” that runs through the essays compiled within the book she edited. She notes that the heroine of a romance novel “brings the most dangerous creature on earth, the human male, to his knees” and “forces him to acknowledge her power as a woman” (“Introduction,” 5). This female character also “civilizes the hero by teaching him to combine his warrior qualities with the protective, nurturing aspects of his nature” (“Introduction” 6). The runaway bestseller, Fifty Shades of Grey, replicates this literary trope of the woman’s power to transform her potentially dangerous mate. As her relationship with Christian Grey develops, female protagonist, Anastasia Steele, comes to see him as neither a “brave shining white knight” nor a “dark knight,” but as “a man with serious, deep emotional flaws” and a traumatic past from which she has the power to “guide him into the light” (355). 7 In addition to Christine Jarvis’ scathing review of the Twilight series, ­Jessica Taylor (“Romance and the Female Gaze”) emphasizes the hero, Edward’s “psychological and emotional abuse” of Bella (391), and points out that “the inclusion of the supernatural allows the depiction of an aggressive, even monstrous masculinity—a masculinity that feminism forbade for the ordinary human male” (393). Taylor also notes that “Meyer’s adherence to conventions of the romance genre . . . transform the powerful, violent and therefore potentially anxiety-inducing males within the series into sites of pleasure and desire” (394). In like fashion, Danielle Borgia strongly objects to the Twilight series’ “glamorization of female subordination and its justification of abusive romantic relationships” (165). Borgia also argues that this saga so wildly popular with teen girls is “validating women with a complex about trying to ‘fix’ men who are abusive” (161). According to Marta Miquel-Baldellou (“Pride and Twilight”), Meyer’s Twilight mostly underlines a remarkably reactionary discourse” (164), especially in light of striking contrasts between Bella Swan’s “clumsy manners and fragility” (169) and Elizabeth Bennet’s “self-confidence and resilience in spite of humiliation” (169). Summing up the distinction between Austen’s and Meyer’s heroines, Miquel-Baldellou differentiates “Bella’s devotion” to Edward, “despite becoming a victim,” from “Elizabeth’s triumph and subtle empowerment” in relation to Darcy (182). 8 My conclusion that the rescuing/protective masculine hero is very much present within the twentieth- and twenty-first-century romance novels seems to contradict an observation made by Victor Brombert in his 1969 study of The Hero in Literature. In this work, Brombert indicates that critics of the novel view the “literary hero” as “vanishing in the contemporary novel” (266). However, Brombert’s use of the term “literary” suggests a distinction between literary and popular novels. While my discussion in this final chapter aligns these different levels of literature, it does not directly address this dichotomy. Yet, it is worth noting, as Cecilia Konchar Farr points out, that “Popular novels and literary novels are, now more than ever, figured as two completely different creatures” (Ulysses Delusion, 24).

Works Cited Ballaster, Ros. Seductive Forms: Women’s Amatory Fiction from 1684 to 1740. Oxford University Press, 1992

Reflections on Trends in Courtship Fiction  223 Boone, Joseph A. Tradition Counter Tradition: Love and the Form of Fiction. University of Chicago Press, 1987. Borgia, Danielle N. “Twilight: The Glamorization of Abuse, Codependency, and White Privilege.” The Journal of Popular Culture, vol. 47, no. 1, 2014, pp. 153–173. Brombert, Victor, editor. The Hero in Literature. Fawcett Publications, 1969. Brown, Sandra. “The Risk of Seduction and the Seduction of Risk.” Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women: Romance Writers on the Appeal of the Romance, edited by Jayne Ann Krentz, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1992, pp. 145–150. Farr, Cecilia Konchar. The Ulysses Delusion: Rethinking Standards of Literary Merit. Palgrave/Macmillan, 2016. Fordyce, James. Addresses to Young Men, vol. I. T. Cadell, 1777. Funke, Jana. “It Has Made Me Want to Live Public: Support for Lesbian Novelist Radcliffe Hall over Banned Book Revealed,” books/2019/jan/10/it-has-made-me-want-to-live-public. Griggs, Yvonne. “Adapting Jane Eyre: An Analytic Approach.” The Bloomsbury Introduction to Adaptation Studies: Adapting the Canon in Film, TV, Novels and Popular Culture. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2016, pp. 21–75. Hall, Radclyffe. The Well of Loneliness (1928). Virago Press, 1982. Harzewski, Stephanie. “Tradition and Displacement in the New Novel of Manners.” Chick Lit: The New Woman’s Fiction, edited by Suzanne Ferriss and Mallory Young, Routledge/Taylor & Francis, 2006, pp. 29–46. Haywood, Eliza. Selections from the Female Spectator, edited by Patricia Meyer Spacks, Oxford University Press, 1999. Hurston, Zora Neale. (1937). Their Eyes Were Watching God. Harper and Row, 1990. Jalaluddin, Uzma. Ayesha at Last. Thorndike Press/Gale, 2018. James. E. L. Fifty Shades of Grey. Random House, 2011. Jarvis, Christine. “The Twilight of Feminism? Stephenie Meyer’s Saga and the Contradictions of Contemporary Girlhood.” Children’s Literature in Education, vol. 45, 2014, pp. 101–115. Johnson, Samuel. “The Rambler, no. 4 (1750–1752).” The Yale Edition of the Works of Samuel Johnson, vol. 3., edited by W. J. Bate and Albrecht B. Strauss, Yale University Press, 1969, pp. 19–25. Kahn-Leavitt, Laurie, Writer/Director/Producer. “Love Between the Covers” (Video). 2015. Kirschling, Gregory. “Interview with Vampire Writer Stephenie Meyer,” 5 July 2008. Entertainment Weekly, interview-vampire-writer-stephenie-meyer/. Klingel, Joan. Jane Austen for Dummies. Wiley Publishing, 2006. Krentz, Jayne Ann. “Introduction.” Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women: Romance Writers on the Appeal of the Romance. University of Pennsylvania Press, 1992, pp. 1–9. ———. “Trying to Tame the Romance: Critics and Correctness.” Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women: Romance Writers on the Appeal of the Romance. University of Pennsylvania Press, 1992, pp. 107–114. Lodge, David. “Jane Austen’s Novels: Form and Structure.” The Jane Austen Companion, edited by David J. Grey et al., Macmillan, 1986, pp. 165–178.

224  Reflections on Trends in Courtship Fiction Lutz, Deborah. The Dangerous Lover: Gothic Villains, Byronism, and the Nineteenth-Century Seduction Narratives. Ohio State University Press, 2006. Meyer, Stephenie. (2005) Twilight. MT/Little Brown Books, 2008. Miquel-Baldellou, Marta. “Pride and Twilight: Updating the Bennet-Darcy Myth?” English Studies, vol. 31, 2010, pp. 161–185. More, Hannah. Essays on Various Subjects, Principally Designed for Young Ladies. Young, Stewart and M’Culloch, 1786. Pearson, Jacqueline. Women’s Reading in Britain 1750–1835: A Dangerous Recreation. Cambridge University Press, 1999. Radway, Janice A. Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature. University of North Carolina Press, 1984. Regis, Pamela. A Natural History of the Romance Novel. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003. Rosenblatt, Louise M. Literature as Exploration (1938). The Modern Language Association, 1976. Shaffer, Julie. “Not Subordinate: Empowering Women in the Marriage Plot— The Novels of Frances Burney Maria Edgeworth, and Jane Austen.” Reading with a Difference: Gender, Race, and Cultural Identity, edited by A.F. ­Marotti et al., Wayne State University Press, 1986, pp. 21–43. Taylor, Jessica. “Romance and the Female Gaze Obscuring Gendered ­Violence in the Twilight Saga.” Feminist Media Studies, vol. 14, no. 3, 2014, pp. 388–402. Tyler, Natalie. “Jennifer Crusie on Jane Austen as the Mother of the Romantic Novel.” The Friendly Jane Austen: A Well-Mannered Introduction to a Lady of Sense and Sensibility, Viking, 1999, pp. 240–242. Ward, Maryanne C. “Romancing the Ending: Adaptations in Nineteenth-­ Century Closure.” The Journal of the Midwest Modern Language Association, vol. 29, no. 1, 1996, pp. 15–31. Williamson, Penelope. “By Honor Bound: The Heroine as Hero.” Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women: Romance Writers on the Appeal of the ­Romance, edited by Jayne Ann Krentz, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1992, pp. 125–132. Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. Harcourt Brace, 1925. ———. To the Lighthouse. Harcourt, 1927.


Note: Page numbers followed by “n” denote endnotes. abduction 37, 38, 40, 59, 60, 66, 72, 84 Adam Bede (Eliot) 131–7; Adam Bede 131, 132, 134–6, 137, [Jem Wilson resemblance 134], [David Copperfield resemblance to 137]; Arthur Donnithorne, Captain 132–4, 135, 136; controversial conclusion of 137; Dinah Morris 132, 136–7; Hetty Sorel 131–2, 134, 135, 136, 137; irony in 134, 135, 136; seduction plot in 132–4, 135–6 Addresses to Young Men (Fordyce) 7 amatory fiction/novel of amorous intrigue 3, 18, 25, 46n4 Amorous Gallant’s Tongue 8, 17 Anatomy of Melancholy, The (Burton) 106n3 “Angel in the House” 96, 125, 131, 152n1, 158, 206n5, 213; satire of see The Three Sisters Ann Veronica (Wells) 159, 166–73; Ann Veronica’s relationship with conventional Hubert Manning 168–9; Ann Veronica’s relationship with unconventional Capes 169–73, [akin o Lawrence’s relationship ideal 172]; Ann Veronica’s struggle to emancipate 166–8; Austen era allusion 168; feminist criticism of conclusion 173; Ramage, Mr. 167, 168; Stanley, Peter 167; Vivie Warren allusion 166 Art of Courtly Love, The (Chapelain) 7 Aurora Leigh (Browning) 111

Austen, Jane 1, 35, 42, 64–6, 69, 72–3, 80, 81, 83, 88, 92, 96, 97, 98–99, 102, 105; as contemporary romance/chic lit novel “mother” 216, 218; “Plan of Novel” 65–6; and Samuel Richardson 64, 65, 105n1; and Victorian novel 105, 106n2, 112; see also Emma; Mansfield Park; Northanger Abbey; Persuasion; Pride and Prejudice; Sense and Sensibility Ayesha at Last (Jalaluddin) 215 battle between the sexes 157, 160, 162, 179, 198, 200, 206n1 Bildungsroman/ coming of age novel 112, 113, 120, 126, 166 Boone, Joseph see Tradition Counter Tradition Bronte, Charlotte 113, 120; see also Jane Eyre Burney, Fanny 18, 35, 41; see also Evelina Byronic hero see hero-villain hybrid Castle of Otranto, The (Walpole) 51–6; and Antigone 56; Frederick, Lord 52, 53, 55–6; Friar Jerome 53, 54, 55; Hippolita 52; influence of 51; Isabella 52, 53, 54, 55, 56; Manfred 52, 53–4, 55, [as grotesque version of Dorilaus 53]; Matilda 52, 54, 56; Theodore 52, 54–6 chastity/purity of women 27, 28, 29, 34, 38, 55, 113, 116, 146, 176, 180; lifting of sexual taboo related to 157–8, 196

226 Index chic lit 218; see also contemporary romance novel chivalry/chivalric code 7–8, 10, 11, 12, 16, 54, 92, 169 clandestine courtship practices 30, 192; correspondence by letter 74; engagement 70–1, 75, 76, 83, 90–1; meeting/rendez-vous 19, 131, 135; see also elopement Clarissa (Richardson) 46n4, 46n5, 65 cohabitation see marriage alternative comic courtship plot, 3 conclusion of courtship novels: ambiguous/open-ended 173, 181, 182, 194, 197, 203, 204, 207n9, 208n11, 214–15; Austen’s nuanced traditional 98–100, 101–4, 105, 107n10, 107n13; traditional/ ‘happily-ever-after’ 3, 16, 27, 56, 59, 61, 67, 68, 100–1, 113, 131 conduct book 1, 8, 80; connection to courtship novel 4–6, 29, 35, 46–7n6; messages/warnings in 5–7, 8–9, 10, 24, 32, 39, 45n2, 46–7n6, 106n4, 115, 167, 168 contemporary romance fiction 21, 215–16, 217, 220; amatory fiction as forerunner to 216; Austen as “mother” of 216, 218, 221n2, 221n3; as flourishing industry 215, 221n1; Gothic novel influence on 217; Jane Eyre as forerunner of 216, 217; Pride and Prejudice as forerunner of 216, 221n3; as progressive/positive influence 218, 221–2n6; as regressive/negative influence 219, 222n7 Country Wife, The (Wycherley) 45n3 courtship novel genre: contemporary romance novel link to 215–18, 220, 221n3; definition/history/origins of 3–6, 18; traditional features of 7, 16–17, 35, 57, 66 Courtship Novel, The 1740–1820 A Feminized Genre (Green) 4, 5 courtship novel researchers, invitation to 215 danger imagery: abyss/brink//plunge 128, 169, 178, 185, 188, 194; battle/enemy forces 134; drowning/ flood/shipwreck/quicksand 6, 17, 31, 88, 115, 119, 130, 134, 148, 170, 186, 198; fire/flame/smoldering

coal/volcano 41, 115, 116, 118, 140, 148, 198; ghost/spectre 147; ice/cold 119, 134, 169; piercing/ sharp objects 20, 32, 85, 115, 143, 192, 196, 202; poison 115, 134, 178, 180, 201; precipice/steep mountain/cliff 7, 36, 123, 142, 164, 172, 192, 197; predatory beast/ hunting imagery 6, 39, 47n6, 123, 147, 168, 196; prison/suffocating/ buried alive 50, 119, 169, 170, 175, 181, 182, 190, 201; slavery/bondage 27, 31, 128, 142, 165, 170, 171n3, 181, 197; speed, catapulting 132, 196; storm/wind/torrents bursting 25, 68, 116, 186, 194, 195; vehicle recklessly driven 147, 200, 202 danger/protection etymology 13n1, 22 Daughters of England (Ellis) 45n2 David Copperfield (Dickens) 125–131; Agnes Wickfield as moral/ spiritual guide 128, 129, 130; David Copperfield as passive protector 127–8, 129–30, [Dr. Frankenstein link to 130], [Jem Wilson link to 126]; gender bending in 131, 153n6; narrator’s self-mocking tone in 126, 128; as satire of male rescue fantasy 126; seduction subplot in 126–8 Dickens, Charles 125; see also David Copperfield dual/two-suitor pattern 17, 51, 75, 88, 96, 105n2, 113, 120, 138 duel fight 33, 34, 41, 90 Edgeworth, Maria 35 Eliot, George 35, 131, 132; see also Adam Bede elopement 79, 80, 92, 140 Emile (Rousseau) 9 Emma (Austen) 69, 72, 83–6, 96–7; conclusion, nuanced of 103; Elton, Mr. 84, 96; Emma Woodhouse 69, 72, 83–6, 96, 103; Frank Churchill 83, 86, 96; Harriet Smith 83, 84, 85, 86, 96, 103; irony in 83, 96; Jane Fairfax 83, 85, 96; Knightley, Mr. George 72, 83, 85, 86, 96, 103; Mr. Woodhouse 72, 84, 103 engagement 100, 104; broken 86, 169; secret see clandestine courtship practices

Index  227 Enquiry into the duties of the female sex, An (Gisbourne) 6 equalitarian relationship between female and male protagonist 101, 120, 172, 192, 202, 216, 220 Essays on Various Subjects (More) 6 “Eternal Romance” (Mencken) 207–8n10 Evelina (Burney) 18, 41–5; Evelina Anville 42, 43, 44, 45; Lord Orville 42, 43–4, 45; Sir Sir Clement Willoughby 43, 44, 45; Villars, Mr. 42, 43, 44 Faerie Queene, The (Spenser) 8 fainting/swooning 23, 28, 32, 40, 42, 55, 57, 58, 60, 61, 84, 121, 129, 141 fallen woman 19, 36, 80, 106n5, 122, 123, 128, 134, 136, 151, 181 fathers of heroines 22, 27, 42, 45, 77, 101, 123, 124, 125; inept/foolish 70, 71, 72, 84, 103; loving 71; modern disempowered 175–6, 199; as tyrant villain figures 57–8, 60, 140, 144, 167, 175 Father’s Legacy to His Daughters (Gregory) 6, 9, 47n6, 167 feminine gender ideals/norms 7, 8–12, 30, 33, 51, 57, 107n9, 111, 113, 170, 195, 213; modern overturning of 164, 171, 172; see also gender ideology feminist criticism/theory 2, 50, 206n3, 219 femme fatale/siren 71, 177 Fielding, Henry 42, 46n4, 64, 153n5 Fifty Shades of Grey (James) 217, 222n6; Elizabeth Bennet, Jane Eyre and Tess of the d’Urbervilles allusion in 221n3 flattery danger 6, 27, 39, 162 flirt/flirting/flirtation 27, 28, 29, 73, 83, 95, 97, 122, 133, 135 Fordyce, James see Addresses to Young Men; Sermons to Young Women Forster, E.M.: Aspects of the Novel 3, 184; “Pessimism in Literature” 204; see also Passage to India Fortunate Foundlings, The (Haywood) 18, 25, 26–8, 37, 43; Bellfleur 26, 27; Dorilaus 26, 27; du Plessis, Monsieur 26, 27; Horatio’s story 26, 27–8; Louisa 26, 27

fortune/wealth in courtship situations 26, 35, 71, 73, 77–8, 89, 101, 120, 128 fortune hunter see pseudo-suitor friendship: man-man 104, 203, 205; man-woman 38, 100, 171, 186; platonic, dangers of 40, 167, 180, 187, 192, 213; woman-woman 103 Gaskell, Elizabeth 120–1, 125; see also Mary Barton gender ideology 1, 7, 8, 25, 35, 37–8, 131; subversion of 104, 111, 195, 196, 198; see also feminine gender ideals; masculine gender ideals gender role reversals 111, 120–1, 124, 158, 214; see also heroine as active rescuer of hero “Girl of the Period” (Linton) 12 Gissing, George 159, 160; see also The Odd Women gossip 38, 70, 74 Gothic novel 32, 50–1, 57, 65, 66, 67, 68, 214, 217; female plot of 50, 60, 62n1; male plot of 62n2 gratitude as expectation for women 25, 40, 41, 82, 94 guardians of heroines 17, 37, 42, 43, 53, 78; foolish/inept 70; treacherous 20, 26, 67, 72; wise 29 gypsies as danger source 60, 96 Hardy, Thomas 113, 146, 148; “Candour in English Fiction” 137–8; see also Pair of Blue Eyes; Tess of the d’Urbervilles Haywood, Eliza Fowler 18, 21, 22, 42, 46n4; Female Spectator 5, 221n4; as mother of courtship novel 18, 25; see also The Fortunate Foundlings; The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless; Love in Excess heartbreak 32, 40, 44, 73, 74, 80, 82, 83, 86, 89, 101 hero: flawed/inadequate 72, 90–1, 93–5, 102, 117–18, 121, 126–31, 138–45, 149–50, 179, 186, 187; as protective paragon 16, 26, 33, 35, 37, 43, 54–5, 58, 60, 88, 90, 91, 92, 98, 119, 120, 121, 122, 124, 134–6 hero-villain hybrid/Byronic hero 18, 19, 21, 113, 118, 214, 217 heroine: as female exemplar 35, 39, 52, 55, 56, 57, 75, 83, 132 see also

228 Index feminine gender ideals; and love reserve norm/rule 32, 72, 74, 75, 85, 87, 106n4, 116, 178, 213; as moral/spiritual guardian 23, 30, 46n5, 61, 96, 116–17, 121, 128–9, 137, 172; see also “Angel in the House”; passive protecting behavior of 17, 23, 27, 34, 41, 45, 45n2, 56, 60, 61, 103–4, 193, 213; reason as sentinel for 40, 44, 115, 116, 166; as rescuer, active of hero 54, 113, 120–1, 124; unprotected state of 12, 13n2, 17, 28–9, 39, 42, 52, 57, 69–72, 123, 146 History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless, The (Haywood) 18, 25, 26, 28–34, 37, 43, 45; Betsy Thoughtless 28–34, 46–7n6; Flora Mellansin 28, 29, 33, 34; as inspiration for Evelina 41–2; marriage in 28, 31–2, 33, 34; Miss Forward 28, 30, 33; Munden, Mr. 31, 32; Trueworth, Charles 28, 29, 32–4, [Monsieur du Plessis resemblance to 33] History of Sir Charles Grandison, The (Richardson) 18, 34–41, 43, 52, 56, 65, 105n1, 213; Charles Grandison, Sir 35–9, 40, 41, 44, 65; Charlotte Grandison 36, 37–8, 40, 41; Clementina della Poretta 35, 36–7, 38, 41; fame/influence of 35, 47n7; gender ideology messages in 36; Hargrave Pollexfen, Sir 35, 37, 38, 39, 41; Harriet Byron 35, 36, 37, 38, 39–41; narrative mode in 39 honor/honour: of family 31, 38, 92, 144; of men 29, 30, 33, 38, 58, 91, 97, 100, 104, 119, 182; of women 28, 37, 38, 58 illness 106n3; of hero 24, 151, 180–1; of heroine 40, 42, 44, 61, 73, 74, 90, 93, 124, 145 incest overtones 26, 53, 175 James, Henry 35 Jane Eyre (C. Bronte) 21, 113–20; Bertha Mason 117, 118–19; Blanch Ingram 115, 116; as contemporary romance novel forerunner 216, 217; Jane Eyre 113–17, 118, 119, 120; Rochester 114, 115, 116, 117–19, 120, 121; St. John Rivers 117, 119, 153n4 jealousy/rivalry 58, 75–6, 81, 83, 122, 145, 163, 179

Johnson, Samuel: Dictionary of the English Language 13n1; Rambler 5–6, 221n5 Joseph Andrews (Fielding) 153n5 Lady Chatterley’s Lover (Lawrence) 204, 206n6 Lady’s New-year’s Gift, The (Halifax) 6, 8, 47n6 Lawrence, D. H. 194, 203, 208n10, 214; as modern novel innovator 183, 184; see also The Rainbow; Women in Love London as place of danger 17, 29, 40, 43, 167 love reserve norm/rule see heroine love triangle 82, 122, 132, 138 “Love Between the Covers” (KahnLeavitt) 220–1n1 Love in Excess (Haywood) 2–3, 18–20, 21; Amena 19; Count D’elmont 19–20; as forerunner of courtship novel 18–19, 46n4; Melliora 20 Madwoman in the Attic, The (Gilbert & Gubar) 153n3 male-centered coming of age courtship novel 153n5 Man of Mode (Etheredge) 45n3 “Man of the Moment” (Grand) 158 Mansfield Park (Austen) 69, 71, 81–3, 92–6; conclusion, nuanced of 101–2; Edmund Bertram 72, 81, 82, 83, 92–4, 95, 101–2, 107n13; Fanny Price 69, 71, 81–3, 87, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 101, 102; Henry Crawford 81, 82, 93, 94–6, 101; irony in 81, 82, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96; Mary Crawford 81, 82, 93, 96, 101, 102; Sir Thomas Bertram 81, 82, 101, 102 marriage: companionate 5, 17, 77, 125; of convenience 5, 20, 73, 77; as haven/refuge 16, 25, 26, 28, 39, 41, 42, 56, 61, 71, 99, 100, 102, 103, 137; mock 40; threat of forced 52–3, 57–8, 60, 82, 94 marriage alternative/cohabitation 162–3, 164, 187, 193, 197 marriage proposal 82, 91, 92, 100, 116, 123, 147, 166, 186, 199; as promise of protection 23, 26 44, 59, 117–18, 121, 136, 168, 177 Mary Barton (Gaskell) 120–5; Esther 122, 123; Harry Carson

Index  229 122, 123; Jem Wilson 121, 122, 123, 124, 125; John Barton 123, 124, 125; Mary Barton 121, 122–4, 125 masculine gender ideals/norms 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 45n1, 54–55, 107n9, 111, 213 “Me Too” movement 215 Mistress role 22, 29, 34, 96, 98 “Modern Fiction” (Woolf) 3–4 modern novel 159–60, 174; role of Lawrence and Woolf in development of 183 Modern period 3, 12–13, 214 modernism/modernist 3, 157, 159–60, 215, 216 modest/modesty 6, 33, 47n6, 54 moon as image of female power 179, 196, 199 mothers of heroines 13n2, 52, 57–8, 59, 66–7, 68, 70–1, 147, 193 Mothers of the Novel (Spender) 18 Mysteries of Udolpho, The (Radcliffe) 57, 59–61; Emily St. Aubert 59–60, 61, 62n3; Montoni 60; Valancourt 60, 61 “New Aspect of the Woman Question” (Grand) 158 “New Woman”/modern girl 113, 158–9, 160, 163, 166, 167, 168, 174, 176, 181, 188 “New Woman” fiction 159 Night and Day (Woolf) 160, 183, 184–94; conclusion, ambiguous of 194; feminist satire in 190–1; Katharine Hilbery-Ralph Denham relationship 185–6, 187, 191–4; Katharine-William Rodney relationship 185, 187, 188, 189–91, 192; Mary Datchet as foil to Katherine 188, 189; MaryRalph relationship 185, 186–7, 188; William-Cassandra Otway relationship 185, 190 Northanger Abbey (Austen) 66–8, 69; Catherine Morland 66–8, 69; General Tilney 67, 68; Henry Tilney 68; irony in 67, 68; Mrs. Allen 67; as satire of Gothic fiction 66–7 novel reading: as morally edifying 5, 6, 217–18, 221n5; as pernicious/ poisonous 161, 167, 217, 221n4; as protection against danger 147, 217, 218

Odd Women, The (Gissing) 159, 160–6; conclusion, unconventional of 166; Everard Barfoot as modern anti-hero 161, 162, 163, 206n2; Everard’s resemblance to Henry Crawford 161; Monica Madden-Edward Widdowson subplot 160; Rhoda Nunn, background and career of 161; Rhoda-Everard relationship 160, 161–6 On the Origins and Progress of Novel-Writing (Barbauld) 6 Pair of Blue Eyes, A (Hardy) 138–46; conclusion, subversion of traditional 138, 145–6; courtly imagery, satirically used in 138, 139; Elfride Swancourt as victim of Victorian society 138, 144; Elfide’s marriage to Lord Luxellian 145–6; Elfride’s relationship with Henry Knight 141–2, 143–5, 154n10; Elfride’s relationship with Stephen Smith 138–41; irony in 138, 139–40, 143, 144, 145–6; La Belle Dame Sans Merci allusion 139; narrator commentary in 141, 144; Parson/Mr. Swancourt 140, 144 Pamela (Richardson) 5, 18, 21–6, 45, 46n5; Love in Excess as influence on 21, 46n4; marriage of Pamela and Mr. B. 25; Mr. B. 21–5, 91, 113; Pamela Andrews 21–5; Parson Williams 22–3, 26; popularity of 21 Passage to India, A (Forster) 204–5; as modernist deconstruction of courtship plot 205; as protest against colonialism 205 patriarchal system inequities/power 11, 12, 17, 25, 50, 51, 52, 57, 96, 111, 219 Persuasion (Austen) 69, 72, 86–8, 103–4; Anne Elliot 69, 70, 72, 86–8, 97, 98, 103–4, 107n9, 107n14; conclusion, nuanced of 103, 104; irony in 72; Lady Russell 72, 86, 87, 88, 97, 98, 104; Mrs. Smith 88, 104; Sir Walter Elliot 72, 86; Wentworth, Captain 86, 87, 97–8, 103, 104, 107n8, 107n9, 107n14; William Eliot 87, 88, 97, 98 “Plain Words on the Woman Question” (Allen) 159

230 Index popular vs. literary novels 221n2, 222n8 possessiveness of male suitors 84, 124, 128 Pride and Prejudice (Austen) 69, 70, 76–81, 91–2, 100–1; Charlotte Lucas 77, 79, 91; Collins, Mr. 77; conclusion, ‘happily ever after’ of 100–1; as contemporary romance precursor 216; Darcy, Mr. Fitzwilliam 69, 71, 77, 78, 79–80, 91–2, 97, 100, 101, 106n7; Elizabeth Bennet 69, 71, 76–81, 83, 84, 91–2, 100–1; irony in 71, 78, 79, 91, 101; Jane Bennet 71, 79, 80, 81; Lady Catherine DeBourgh 71, 101; Lydia Bennet 78, 79, 80, 92; Wickham, George 77, 78, 79, 83, 92 Progress of Romance (Reeve) 8, 21 prostitute/”woman of the town” 30, 33, 122, 127; see also fallen woman protection, mutual between heroheroine couple 7, 20, 24, 41, 44–5, 61, 86, 103, 125, 142, 172 pseudo-suitor/anti-hero suitor 66, 72, 81, 82, 83, 87, 88–9, 94–6, 98, 119; false protection claims of 16, 22, 43, 53, 133, 147, 214; as fortune hunter 6, 17, 78; hyperbolic rhetoric use of 17, 27, 30, 84, 168–9; as libertine/seducer 37, 43, 95, 123, 132 Radcliffe, Ann: fame of 57; influence on contemporary romance novel 217; see also Sicilian Romance; Mysteries of Udolpho, The Rainbow, The (Lawrence) 195–7; Anna Brangwen-Will Brangwen relationship 196; Lydia LenskyTom Brangwen relationship 195; Ursula Brangwen-Anton Skrebensky relationship 196–7 Reading the Romance (Radway) 216, 218, 219, 221n6 reformed rake 18, 24, 88, 96, 106n7 Religious Courtship (Defoe) 5, 6 reputation/social danger: of female protagonist 29, 31, 32, 33, 38, 43, 53, 55, 58, 70, 73, 74, 76, 123, 140, 164, 165, 179, 201; of male protagonist 34, 61, 125, 164 Richardson, Samuel 18, 42; and amatory fiction 21, 46n4;

Collection of Moral and Instructive Sentiments 5, 24, 106n4; fame and influence 5, 64–5; see also Clarissa; History of Sir Charles Grandison; Pamela risky ventures of modern couples 142, 164, 172, 196, 200, 202 “Room of One’s Own” (Woolf) 157 Ruskin, John 10–11, 125, 160, 170; see also separation of spheres safety/security imagery: light/radiance/ sun 186, 194, 203; lighthouse 59, 185–6; solid ground 178, 194; tree 120 secret engagement see clandestine courtship practices seducer see pseudo-suitor seduction narrative/plot/theme 4, 19, 46n4, 50, 51, 112, 123, 126–8, 132–4, 135–6, 146 Sense and Sensibility (Austen) 69, 70–1, 73–6, 88–91; Colonel Brandon 88, 89–90, 99, 106n6, [Charles Grandison, resemblance to 90]; conclusion, nuanced of 99–100; Edward Ferrars 75, 76, 88, 90–1, 99, 100, 106n6, 107n11, 107n12; Elinor Dashwood 69, 70, 71, 73–4, 75–6, 77, 81, 87, 89, 90, 91, 99, 100; irony in 71, 75, 88, 89; Marianne Dashwood 69, 70, 73, 74, 75, 76, 88, 89, 99, 107n10; Mrs. Dashwood 70–1, 90, 99; Willoughby, John 70, 71, 73, 74, 88, 89, 90, 99, 100, 107n11 sensibility/novel of sensibility 51, 61, 62n3, 65, 73 separation of spheres 10–11, 38, 45n1, 125, 160 Sermons to Young Women 5, 6, 7, 8, 11, 36, 39, 47n6 sexual assault 29, 30, 31, 43, 72, 84, 147, 168, 220 sexual double standard 27, 29, 30, 34, 96, 149 sexuality/sexual passion of women 19, 154n9, 158, 170, 175, 176, 177, 178, 196 Sicilian Romance, A (Radcliffe) 57–9; Abate 58; Duke de Luovo 57, 58, 59; Hippolitus, Count de Vereza 57, 58–9; Julia Mazzini 57, 58–9, 60; Marquis of Mazzini 57, 58, 59

Index  231 Sinclair, May 173–4, 175; “Defence of Man” 182; fame/importance of 173–4; psychoanalysis, influence on 173; see also The Three Sisters sister relationship 79, 80, 100, 176, 177 sister-brother relationship 30–1, 35–6, 59, 92, 100, 101 social class obstacles 23, 27, 45, 88, 91, 122, 132, 135, 140, 177 Sons and Lovers (Lawrence) 153n5 Sphere and Duties of Woman, The (Burnap) 10 Subjection of Women, The (Mill) 11 Suffragette movement 157, 170 symbolism 97, 116, 118, 144, 160 Tess of the d’Urbervilles (Hardy) 146–51; Alec d’Urberville as villain and protector 146, 147, 150, 151; Angel Clare as protector and betrayer 147, 148–50, 151, 154n11, [likeness to Henry Knight 149]; conclusion, tragic of 151; irony in 146, 147, 150, 151; Tess Durbyfield 146, 147, 148, 149, 150, 151, [Pamela Andrews, link to] 146 Tom Jones (Fielding) 153n5 Their Eyes Were Watching God (Hurston) 215 Three Sisters, The (Sinclair) 160, 173, 174–82; conclusion, controversial of 181, 182, 206–7n7; Ally (Alice) Carteret 174, 175, 176, 177, 178; Ally-Jim Greatorex relationship 175, 176, 177–8; Gwenda Carteret 174, 175, 176, 181–2; GwendaSteven Rowcliffe relationship 174, 176, 178–80, 181; Mary Carteret 174, 176–7, 206n5; Mary-Steven relationship 177, 180, 181; satire of “Angel in the House” in 174, 177; Vicar James Carteret 175–6,

182 Tradition Counter Tradition (Boone) 3, 16, 46n4, 50, 112, 126, 157–8, 212; wedlock ideal 4, 112, 216; wedlock plot, counter tradition to 166 Twilight series (Meyers) 217; feminist criticism against 219, 222n7; and Pride and Prejudice 221n3, 222n7 two-suitor pattern see dual suitor pattern vampires/werewolves as suitors 217 Victorian period 12, 111, 112, 214 Victorian social problem novel 112 Vindication of the Rights of Women (Wollstonecraft) 8, 9 Voyage Out, The (Woolf) 206n4 Walpole, Horace 51, 62; “Prefaces” to Otranto 51; see also Castle of Otranto Well of Loneliness (Hall) 215 Wells, H. G. see Ann Veronica Whole Duty of Woman, The (Kenrick) 6, 46n6, 115 “Wild Women” (Linton) 12 “Woman Question” 137, 157, 158, 159 Women in Love (Lawrence) 160, 195, 197–203; Ann Veronica, echoed in 202; conclusion, open-ended of 202–3, 208n11; Gudrun BrangwenGerald Birkin relationship 197, 200–2; Ursula Brangwen-Rupbert Birkin relationship 197, 198–200, 202–3; Will Brangwen 199 Women of England, The (Ellis) 7 Woolf, Virginia 157; as modern novel innovator/theorist 3–4, 183, 184; Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse as modernist deconstructions of courtship novel 204, 215; see also Night and Day