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Title:Reconcilable differences: Double proposals and the renegotiation of marriage in American women's fiction, 1850-1890
Author(s):Tracey, Karen Kaiser
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Baym, Nina
Department / Program:English
Discipline:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:Ph.D.
Genre:Dissertation
Subject(s):Women's Studies
Literature, American
Abstract:Double proposals thread through nineteenth-century novels, tying American to British writers, and southern to northern novelists, creating a distinctive tradition within fiction by women that demonstrates how popular novels may have challenged the very norms courtship plots are often thought to reproduce. In the double-proposal plot, which is derived from British models including Jane Eyre and Aurora Leigh, one suitor proposes to the heroine twice; she rejects him the first time, and accepts him the second time. The novels in this study are analyzed through two distinctive structural elements created by the doubled proposal. First, the two proposed marriages, the first rejected and the second accepted, are contrasted to evaluate how the marriage was renegotiated between the two proposals. Second, the opened space between proposals, in which the heroine directs her plot beyond the proposal scene which might have ended it, is analyzed as an alternative path to courtship. The double-proposal tradition created by British and American novelists tracks cultural shifts occurring in how love and marriage were conceptualized. Seen through the horizon of expectations reconstructed with the help of social history, each of the novels advocates more companionate and egalitarian marriages. They also advocate more autonomy for women outside of marriage, either within a family or in a career setting. The American novelists included in this study, each of whom wrote at least two double-proposal novels, are Caroline Lee Hentz, Augusta Evans (Wilson), Laura Curtis Bullard, E.D.E.N. Southworth, and Elizabeth Stuart Phelps.
Issue Date:1994
Type:Text
Language:English
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/21706
Rights Information:Copyright 1994 Tracey, Karen Kaiser
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9512575
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9512575


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