UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

"The object of their life": defining female self in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and Miss Marjoribanks Goodison, Susanne 1993

Your browser doesn't seem to have a PDF viewer, please download the PDF to view this item.

Item Metadata

Download

Media
831-ubc_1993_fall_goodison_susanne.pdf [ 3.39MB ]
Metadata
JSON: 831-1.0098790.json
JSON-LD: 831-1.0098790-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): 831-1.0098790-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: 831-1.0098790-rdf.json
Turtle: 831-1.0098790-turtle.txt
N-Triples: 831-1.0098790-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: 831-1.0098790-source.json
Full Text
831-1.0098790-fulltext.txt
Citation
831-1.0098790.ris

Full Text

"THE OBJECT OF THEIR LIFE": DEFINING FEMALE SELF INTHE TENANT OF WILDFELL HALL AND MISS MARJORIBANKS bySUSANNE GOOD ISONB.A., The University of British Columbia, 1991A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFMASTER OF ARTSinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIESDepartment of EnglishWe accept this thesis as conformingTHE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIAAugust 1993© Susanne Goodison, 1993In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of mydepartment or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying orpublication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my writtenpermission.(SignatureeNCA-IS4Department ofThe University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDate AcklU • g-i , M3DE-6 (2/88)iiABSTRACTIn this thesis, I study genre and characterizationchoices made by Anne Brontë in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and Margaret Oliphant in Miss Marjoribanks. For the mostpart, these choices have been perceived negatively bycritics because the resulting text does not produce evidenceof either twentieth-century aesthetics or themes. However,as recent interpretations based on principles of culturalcriticism suggest, these texts offer insights into Victorianwomen's interactions with their culture. Through texts likeThe Tenant and Miss Marioribanks, we catch glimpses of actsof female self-definition which radically contradictindividualistic notions of self. Essentially, this thesisseeks to trace the perspective these texts offer which isfounded on the integration of masculine and feminine and noton the exclusion of either.TABLE OF CONTENTSAbstractTable of Contents^ iiiChapter One:An Alternative Definition of Self^ 1Chapter Two:Integrating Masculine and Feminine: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall^ 16Sentimental Fiction^ 17Romance Fiction 34Chapter Three:Confronting Theories of Individualism: Miss Marioribanks^ 45Introduction 45Domestic Fiction^ 46A Cross-Gendered Definition of Self^50Domestic Politics^ 54"[N]onexclusion" and the Practical Self^59Domestic Values^ 61Individualism and Community^ 67Integration^ 71Theory and Practice^ 73Chapter Four:Conclusion^ 83Works Cited and Consulted^ 90■,(-.■trAir\i\ ik Is( 1.AN ALTERNATIVE DEFINITION OF SELFIn A Literature of Their Own, Elaine Showalterdescribes women novelists as "always . . . self-conscious,but only rarely self-defining" (4). In other words, women'are self-reflexive writers but may have difficulty positingan autonomous self which would have an effect on society.Many women writers may be not aware of the influence theirwriting might have beyond their personal lives:While they have been deeply and perennially awareof their individual identities and experiences,women writers have very infrequently consideredwhether these experiences might transcend thepersonal and local, assume a collective form inart, and reveal a history. (4)As Showalter points out, nineteenth-century women novelistsare very aware of the ramifications of their writing fortheir understanding of themselves and also for theirculture's judgement of them. Consistently, critics findevidence of the anxiety these women felt about the verypublic nature of their writing. Further, their under-representation in this century's canon would indicate theaccuracy of Showalter's comment on a nineteenth-century1 Although I use the words "men" and "women" asdefining categories throughout this essay, I wish torecognize that these terms are generalizations. While I usethese words for their socially constructed meanings, I thinkcrossing socially-constructed gender boundaries is a regularoccurrence within a complex belief system. I use these termsto simplify the articulation of concepts that arerhetorically and socially gendered.Defining Self 2context: Victorian women's art does not generally transcendits cultural moment.Anne Brontë and Margaret Oliphant fit Showalter'sdescription well. Despite significant differences of subjectand style, both authors wrote novels which engage issuesarising out of the female protagonist's negotiations of thecultural definition of her self. Consequently both novelsaddress issues of women's relationship to autonomy andpower. Bronte's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848) plots awoman's struggle to maintain her moral integrity despite thelife-long difficulties this resolve promises to bring her.Although the novel is very clear about the moral culpabilityof Helen's peers, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall does not, inthe end, significantly undercut the world that hascontributed to Helen's problems; and Helen's potentiallysocially disruptive thoughts and feelings about hersituation stand obscured by her compliance with society'sstrictures. Margaret Oliphant's Miss Marioribanks (1866)charts the difficulties that a self-conscious woman of"genius" has in defining herself as autonomous even whileacting influentially within her limited sphere. The questionraised in The Tenant, in Miss Marjoribanks, and byShowalter's comments on the relative absence of female self-definition is "why is self-definition difficult for women inthis period?"Showalter provides one potential response in her essayDefining Self 3"Feminist Criticism in the Wilderness," in which she laysout clearly the largest schools of feminist criticism asthey existed in 1979 (the time of writing). In the lastsection on cultural criticism, Showalter postulates theexistence of a "Wild Zone"--a place of experiences unsharedby men and unarticulated by women even to or amongourselves. As a patriarchal system does not have a place forthose experiences, no words have been invented to explainthem. As women exist within patriarchal discourse, our wordsare insufficient for the articulation of any of ourexperiences that lie outside such discourse. CarolGilligan's research, recorded in In a Different Voice (1982), suggests that the implication of this "wild zone"is:. . men and women may speak different languagesthat they assume are the same, using similar wordsto encode disparate experiences of self and socialrelationships. Because these languages share anoverlapping moral vocabulary, they contain apropensitI for systematic mistranslation, creatingmisunderstandings which impede communication .(173)Twentieth-century theories such as Gilligan's offer away to re-read nineteenth-century fiction by women and tovalue these novelists in our twentieth-century context.These theories suggest that the critical standards we haveDefining Self 4tended to apply to this fiction misunderstand theirexperience. They also suggest which words belonging to thecurrent literary establishment Anne Brontë and MargaretOliphant might misunderstand: "transcend," "personal,""local," and "collective."The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and Miss Marjoribanks aretwo texts whose critical evaluation suffers from"mistranslation." Past critics have judged Brontë andOliphant according to the same standards they used forwriters like George Eliot and Charlotte Brontë who fitaesthetic standards of realist prose and develop themes thatwere recognized as philosophical or psychological. GeorgeEliot and Charlotte Brontd transcend their time to become"classics"; Anne Brontë and Margaret Oliphant do not.Typically Anne Brontë is seen as less imaginative butproportionally more moralistic than her sisters (Ewbank 49).Margaret Oliphant, we are told, wrote too much to write well(Colby 44). These judgements are sound within theirevaluative base. Brontë was a moralist; Oliphant wrotestories full of repetitive phrases. I do not intend to claimthat either Brontë or Oliphant is a "great" writer by thestandards used to judge them. Instead, I assume that theyaimed for different standards than the ones we have culledfrom reading particular nineteenth-century novels whoseconcerns more closely mirror our own. I further assume thatreading their work can give contemporary readers some senseDefining Self 5of what their standards might have been.2 With the wide-spread practice of cultural criticism, recent re-evaluationsof these writers tend to examine how their art fits theircontext. I wish to follow this tradition. To attempt to readthese books in a manner somewhat more suited to their aimshas been part of my motivation for writing this thesis.. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and Miss Marjoribanks aremore distinct than comparable. The Tenant is an example ofthe realistic combination of sentimental and romance fictionand has an overt and serious social message. Miss Marjoribanks fits into the category of domestic fiction andis wickedly humourous in its form of social parody. One ofthe few characteristics that the two books share is thatthey are both examples of what remain critically unpopulargenres. The denigration of these genres as places ofartistic accomplishment is clearly illustrated in the caseof the sentimental novel which is represented by the diarysection of The Tenant.To use the term sentimental in describing a novelseems almost automatically to consign that book to obscurityand "minor" status. Holman and Harmon, while placing thegenre within a social context of "a reaction againstorthodox Calvinist theology," give a definition that overtlydenies the sentimental any value: "an overindulgence in2 See Gillian Brown, Domestic Individualism (1990) fora discussion of how our contemporary standard of"uniqueness" evolved during this period.Defining Self 6emotion, . . . the failure to restrain or evaluate emotionthrough the exercise of judgement," and, most positively,"an optimistic overemphasis of the goodness of humanity"[emphasis mine] (Holman 462). Jane Tompkins takes on thisvision of sentimental in a discussion of Harriet BeecherStowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, identifying the sentimentaltradition with women (124-5). The criteria of goodliterature are clear in Holman and Harman's definition ofsentimental: fiction should be tempered by rationality,emotion should not be excessive, moral representation shouldbe realistic. While these criteria are more complex andfluid than I or Holman and Harman indicate here, critics dojudge the sentimental according to a sense of itsexcessiveness. As Tompkins suggests, students have beentaught to equate "popularity with debasement, emotionalitywith ineffectiveness . . . domesticity with triviality, andall of these, implicitly, with womanly inferiority"(Tompkins 123). The consequence of such equations is that:. . the tradition . . . has prevented evencommitted feminists from recognizing and assertingthe value of a powerful and specifically femalenovelistic tradition. (Tompkins 123)Tompkins works in an American context but her analysis seemsvalid for British fiction because it addresses twentieth-century values that judge both American and Britishnineteenth-century fiction. She sees canonical standards ofDefining Self 7aesthetics as representing the critical establishment'sworld view. She makes it clear that critical denigration ofsentimental prose as excessive is a denigration of valuesthat sentimental fiction espouses.Despite the suggestion that sentimental fiction is tooemotionally-based, sentimental literature does have aphilosophical basis: the combination of the emotional andthe rational. Sentiment is "a moral reflection, a rationalopinion usually about the rights and wrongs of human conduct• • . influenced by emotion" (Todd 7). Sentimentalliterature begins in a belief in the innate goodness ofhumankind and in literature's ability to touch this goodnessand improve moral behaviour (Todd 4-7). In the sentimental'sconstruction of human nature, our emotions are intricatelyconnected with the decisions we make regarding socialconduct, and therefore, a novel's ability to make us feelwill influence how we behave. This philosophy encouragedprose designed to evoke emotion. One reason the genre'spopularity declined in the early nineteenth century was thelack of moderation in the scenes intended to evoke emotion.Sentimental fiction became associated with those scenes and"sentimental" became a pejorative term. Other aspects ofsentimental fiction were incorporated into other genres.3As Tompkins suggests, the excessiveness of sentimental3 For a full history and definition of sentimentalfiction see Janet Todd, Sensibility: An Introduction (1986).Defining Self 8scenes is, however, only part of the problem. Gillian Brown,in a discussion of Melville's Pierre, supports Tompkins.Brown traces contemporary literary values to the rise of arhetoric of masculine individuality: ". . . literaryindividualism appropriates the anti-market rhetoric ofdomestic individualism in order to distinguish maleindividuality from femininity, 'mature' from 'juvenile'authors, and, ultimately, classic American literature frommass-market productions" (Brown 136).4 When placed inopposition to femininity, masculinity is privileged; thisprivilege is justified on the basis of individualism.Changing social conditions, particularly the increasingstability of the American economy, enabled Melville toexploit the marketability of his fiction by describing it asunique and therefore better than domestic fiction.5Melville wrote fiction that both reflected and participatedin the rise of individualism within in his culture. InEngland, the publication of On Liberty (1859), which4 Brown definrls domestic individualism as an act ofself-definition which removed the individual frominteractions with the marketplace. In this way, domesticitywas a factor in altering American individualist philosophy"updating and reshaping" it to include women's experiencewithin it (1-4).5 Susan Coultrap-McQuin in Doing Literary Business (1990) discusses the changes in the American publishingindustry that came from the stabilizing of the Americaneconomy. She suggests that authors competed for publishersrather than publishers seeking out authors as the marketgrew calmer than it had been. The increasing competitivenessof the market lead to preference for distinctive texts.Defining Self 9espouses individual rights as "sovereign," does the same.The production of such works indicate the presence of socialchanges that begin the move away from the ideal of communityinvolvement in the propagation of moral values, an idealassociated with sentimentality. The critical traditionoccurs within such movements; consequently, sentimentalfiction does not figure in twentieth-century canons.Domestic fiction suffered a similar devaluation, as theAmerican example might suggest. Domestic fiction espousesvalues of community and moral piety that are contradictoryto twentieth-century values. Its local specificity condemnsit to obscurity. Even when it was written, domestic fictionwas mocked; categorized as what constituted "novel reading"in a pejorative sense, it seemed to have little socialrelevance despite the fact that the large numbers of peoplewho read domestic novels would be influenced by them. EvenOliphant, in Miss Marioribanks, points out the fantasynature of domestic fiction by connecting it with thesentimental. Upon her mother's death, Lucilla Marjoribanksdecides with her mind "considerably enlightened by novelsand popular philosophy" how she will:• . . wind herself up to the duty of presiding ather papa's dinner-parties, and charming everybody• • • and how, when it was all over, she wouldwithdraw and cry her eyes out . . • and be foundin the morning languid and worn-out, but alwaysDefining Self 10heroical, ready to go downstairs and assist atdear papa's breakfast, and keep up her smiles forhim. . . . (Miss Marjoribanks 26)Oliphant mocks Lucilla's melodramatic style, but, as herheroine does end up presiding charmingly at her father'sdinners, albeit for a more serious purpose than her earlyfantasy acknowledges, Oliphant does not mock the ideals ofdomesticity Lucilla espouses. Oliphant's distinction was notrecognized when the canon was formed.Carol Gilligan offers another reason to re-evaluate thework of less-valued women writers. Her discussion of femalepatterns of psychological development suggests why womenmight not transcend the practice of their art in order totheorize about it (Literature 4):. . issues of femininity or feminine identity donot depend on the achievement of separation fromthe mother or on the progress of individuation.Since masculinity is defined through separationwhile femininity is defined through attachment,male gender identitr is threatened by intimacywhile female gender identity is threatened byseparation. (Gilligan 8)If women's developmental patterns do not include separatingfrom others to achieve the status of unique individuals,then neither would they seek separation from their cultureDefining Self 11in their fiction.6 The transcendence of the cultural momentthat contemporary critics of nineteenth-century fiction tendto value comes from this separation and would not generallybe an aim of women's fiction. While the accuracy of thisstatement depends on the validity of applying Gilligan'stheories with their contemporary subjects to nineteenth-century fictional characters, the rise of liberal theoriesof individualism in Victorian England suggests that theparallels I will draw are not misplaced. At any rate,Gilligan's theories suggest that the standards of criticalevaluations originate from within a masculine experience(see also Showalter, Tompkins, Frey).Much of this discussion has been culled from debatesover canon. I have repeated it here because of canon'scontinued effect on reading and writing about Victorianwomen's writing. Furthermore, the composition of the canonseems to change but the concept itself remains, as do theconsequences of its existence. Despite the amount of workdone on the importance of canon revision in the last twentyyears, affordable editions of marginalized writers are still6 The interaction between cultural rhetoric, ideals,and psychological development is extremely complex anddifficult to trace. That the interactions under discussionoccurred in the nineteenth century only increases thecomplexity. However, Gilligan's description of women'svaluation of attachment suggests that it could be aconsequence of the Victorian concept of separate spheresbased on gender. The community of domesticity would haveconnections among its members who shared similarexperiences.Defining Self 12hard to find as are critical evaluations of their work. Thiscritical marginality is one of the reasons I chose to writeon Anne Brontë and Margaret Oliphant. Both of them arecurrently in print but they are not widely read. This statusis changing, but courses on Victorian women concentrate onthe other two Brontës, on Eliot and on Gaskell, as do bookson the period. Other Victorian women writers have still notgained acceptance and I think that this might be because,while we have widened the range of canon, we have notsuccessfully questioned the assumptions that lie behind itsexistence.Those assumptions used to include the belief that menwere great artists; now they include a residual attachmenteither to the historical insight provided by the text or touniqueness of a work. The quality of uniqueness pervadescritical assessments. As I have suggested, individualism isa philosophy that had noticeably wide acceptance in thenineteenth century. It is also the philosophy thatunderwrites the split between masculine and femininespheres, just as male and female psycholpgical patterns canbe shown to develop respectively along lines ofindividuality and community. Psychological patterns andspheres of influence represent social developments andindividuality is cultural justification for the privilegingof socially-allotted masculine domains. This privilegingoccurs textually as well when critics prefer realism orDefining Self 13modernism to sentimentality or domesticity.Just as both Brontë and Oliphant use canonically under-represented genres, so, too, do they both create uncommonprotagonists through whom they address issues ofindividuality. Indeed, these protagonists provide my otherpoint of comparison between the two texts for, despitedifferences in situation, setting, temperament, and goals,Bronte's Helen Huntingdon and Oliphant's LucillaMarjoribanks are both strong and feminine. Although Bronte'sand Oliphant's approaches are very different, they bothcreate characters who conform psychologically to Gilligan'stheories. This conformity suggests how women's roles weredefined in the nineteenth century.The other aspect of character development that I wouldlike to trace through the novels illustrates another ofGilligan's ideas: that of integration. Gilligan postulatesthat in a mature stage of development, a person begins tohave a "more inclusive morality" (165). This "inclusivemorality" contains aspects of masculine and femininemorality; that is, maturity, like the morality whichaccompanies it, includes aspects of both spheres of life.Cultural privilege attached to gendered difference isameliorated in maturity; people recognize that each way oflife has benefits that can be incorporated into their ownlives. Oliphant and Brontë in The Tenant and Miss Marjoribanks seem to reach this recognition. The process ofDefining Self 14doing so involves, first, claiming that strong femalecharacters are a positive representation of femininity.Femininity must be valued before integration with masculinequalities is possible. To this end, both authors questionthe social rhetoric of individuality in their novels. That"real" power resides solely in a masculine sphere ofbusiness and politics must be questioned.' Once these textshave done that, their authors incorporate the masculinepresence in their female characters in such a way as toprivilege the connections between the spheres not thedifferences.8 Bronte's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall andOliphant's Miss Marjoribanks are "counterpoint[s] ofidentity and intimacy," according to Gilligan's definition,” . . . articulated through two different moralities whosecomplementarity is the discovery of maturity" (165). Thatthese texts can be seen to take a moderate position in thediscussion of women's role within culture makes theirauthors' interaction with their culture more apparent.Showalter's understanding of the absence of "history"in women's writing can be rewritten as the appearance, inThe Tenant of Wildfell Hall and Miss Marjoribanks, of apresent moment in which minor women writers are participants7 The distinction made during the nineteenth centurybetween women's influence and men's power suggests that thetwo were graded according to effectiveness and validity andthat the masculine version of power was more forceful.8 See Marilyn R. Farwell (1990) for a discussion of the"disruptive space of sameness" (93).Defining Self 15within their culture negotiating for their position. As theydo not need to understand their work in a "larger context,"their novels address ways of making their relationships withculture work:. . belief in the restorative activity ofcare, lead [them] to see the actors in [a] dilemmaarrayed not as opponents in a contest of rightsbut as members of a network of relationships onwhose continuation they all depend. (Gilligan 30)Culture relies on negotiation for its survival and womenenable that survival by concentrating on their positionwithin culture, not outside it. Juxtaposing Gilligan's"mistranslation" and "continuation" leads to anotherunderstanding of Showalter's "collective" that does not haveto result in "transcendence" of their lives. If "collective"refers to women's understanding of the social nature ofwriting, then their work does not seek to move away from itssocial nature. Characterization of fiction such as Bronte'sand Oliphant's as existing rooted in their culture does notdeny waren the ability to reflect: it merely defines women'sreflection, collectiveness, and location acoding to theirexperiences of those words. This paper seeks such definitionthrough close discussion of genre in each text and, moreparticularly, through studying the implications of Bronte'sand Oliphant's characterizations of women.Integrating Masculine and Feminine 16INTEGRATING MASCULINE AND FEMININE:THE TENANT OF WILDFELL HALL In Anne Bronte's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, a womanleaves her emotionally abusive husband and falls in lovewith another man. The novel's structure reflects this"tumultuous" plot: Brontë uses both sentimental and romancegenres in the novel. She does not combine elements of eachinto a unified text however, but instead divides the textinto different literary forms: writing to a friend to givehim the details of his courtship, Gilbert Markham includespages from a diary belonging to Helen Huntingdon. The diaryfollows generic conventions of the sentimental novel and theletters follow romance conventions. As a consequence, thegenres remain distinct and offer two perspectives on theevents of the story. These two perspectives are representednot only by genre but also by the narrator for each section:Helen Huntingdon and Gilbert Markham are sentimental andromantic heroes respectively. The relationship between thesetwo parallels the relationship between the two genres thatbecomes evident as the novel progresses: again, the readeris presented with two points of view, and as a result, arefined perspective. In the relationship of Huntingdon andMarkham, their characteristics, gendered feminine andmasculine, complement each other and that complementarityindicates the characters' moves to maturity; similarly, theconjunction of sentimental and romance genres develops anIntegrating Masculine and Feminine 17integrated, mature perspective on the central concerns ofThe Tenant of Wildfell Hall.Sentimental FictionWriting in the nineteenth century, Anne Brontë chose towrite a novel in which one of the "halves" uses manysentimental techniques and, thematically, takes manysentimental philosophical positions. Helen Huntingdon'sdiary develops a portrait of a young woman who, through herown admitted error, is trapped in an unhappy marriage. Sheis portrayed as a victim of Arthur Huntingdon's debaucheryand brutality. As Janet Todd says in her book, Sensibility: An Introduction (1986), two of the plots dominatingsentimental fiction about women in the late eighteenthcentury are those of the powerful virgin and the unhappywife (114). This novel has both, figured in one character:while she is unmarried, Helen is assertive and able tocontrol men; when she marries, her power to control herhusband, or, in the end, to escape him, is limited by legaland moral structures that define appropriate womanlybehaviour.Early in her narrative, Helen refuses a marriage thatshe knows would not be enjoyable or successful:"Firstly, he is, at least forty years old . .and . . . I have an aversion to his whole personthat I never can surmount." (156)Integrating Masculine and Feminine 18While she is flippant, the reader cannot help but agree withHelen: Mr Wilmot or Mr Boarham are hardly the types to wakethe kindly feelings of a young lady. One is an older versionof a young degenerate and the other is boring and pompous.Neither can compete with Arthur Huntingdon's charms.Presenting himself as a young, slightly mischievousman, Arthur rescues Helen from her two tormentors andflatters her by his attentions. The first characteristic shenotes is his "laughing blue eyes" (154); she is captivatedby his face which she keeps trying to paint. The problemwith trying to paint Arthur is that the ability to do sowould imply some knowledge and possession of the subject.Helen has neither; she is simply fascinated with hisappearance which convinces her that he can comply with herideas of a man's moral qualifications. She acknowledges thatArthur's conversation would be lacklustre ". . . without theadventitious aids of look, and tone, and gesture, and thatineffable but indefinite charm" (161). Earlier Helen doesnot scruple to label another young man "an empty-headedcoxcomb" (152). Now she notes that Huntingdon would havebeen "a delight" to speak to even "if he had been talkingpositive nonsense" and her recollections of his conversationsuggest that he is not an insightful conversationalist(161). Helen's diary shows us that her aunt's fears of herinfatuation are well-founded. But this infatuation does notreally impair Helen's judgement; she recognises Huntingdon'sIntegrating Masculine and Feminine 19flaws: "I cannot shut my eyes to Arthur's faults; and themore I love him the more they trouble me" (200). Her problemis that she has lost the ability to act on that judgement.She also assumes that he will be as captivated by herserious thoughtfulness as he is by her beauty. She thinksthat he will yield to her as she yields to him; she believeshim when he says "that a little daily talk with [her] wouldmake him quite a saint" (166). And she does yield toHuntingdon: "'I couldn't help it, aunt,' I cried, burstinginto tears. . . . the outbreak of the general tumultuousexcitement of my feelings" (185).Although distinct from other passive female charactersby virtue of her determination, Helen displays the samepowerlessness they do when she is in a difficult situation.Her inability to "help it" relieves her of responsibilityfor her attraction and her actions. She loses control as shebecomes emotionally involved with a man; perhaps herphysical attraction requires an emotional attachment tojustify it. That powerlessness becomes characteristic ofHelen's relationship with Huntingdon despite her strugglesto maintain a partnership with him. Helen is increasinglyemotionally abused in her relationship with Huntingdon. Herhelplessness in the face of this abuse is a characteristicof the sentimental which places the virtuous in distressing,undeserved "predicaments" (Todd 2-3). And, despite the factthat Helen should share a portion of the blame for the stateIntegrating Masculine and Feminine 20of her marriage, she does not deserve abuse.After they are married, Helen recognises that they arebadly matched. She wants to share her husband's life; hewants her to exist in only one half of that life. Initially,Arthur's mistreatment amounts to neglect, but, as hisdebauchery starts to affect him negatively, he starts tosubject her to its consequences: "though he is peevish andtesty . . . he is gentle and kind to me. What he would be,if I did not . . . so carefully avoid, or immediatelydesist from, doing anything that has a tendency to irritateor disturb him . . . I cannot tell" (237). Huntingdon'sbehaviour becomes progressively worse and, eventually, hedegenerates completely; he brings the two spheres he hascreated together in an attempt to humiliate Helen. He tellsher of his previous relationships; he subjects her to livingwith him during his current ones. He humiliates her sexuallyby flaunting his affair with Annabella Lowborough once shehas discovered it: "as the time of departure draws nigh, themore audacious and insolent she becomes.^. . And herewards her by such smiles and glances, such whisperedwords, or boldly spoken insinuations" (323). Helen growsproportionally powerless as this abuse grows. She cannotstop it, she cannot leave, she has only her diary towithdraw into, and, as she confides to her diary, she feelsherself degenerating morally (323).To counter the consequences of living with HuntingdonIntegrating Masculine and Feminine 21and to maintain her virtue, Helen concentrates her desirefor life on her role as mother: "I cannot wish to go andleave my darling in this dark and wicked world alone,without a friend to guide him through its weary mazes"(334). She feels responsible for her son and wants toprotect him from his father's influence. While her sonoffers her this comfort, he also shows the extent of herimpotence; as he grows older, she must watch him be temptedinto bad behaviour by the father's swearing and drinking.She is unable to fulfil her maternal function and only theman, Mr Hargrave, who insultingly suggests she have anillicit relationship with him, helps her:But on one occasion, when Arthur had been behavingparticularly ill, and Mr. Huntingdon and hisguests had been particularly provoking andinsulting to me in their encouragement of him, andI particularly anxious to get him out of the room,and on the very point of demeaning myself by aburst of uncontrollable passion--Mr Hargrave . .. lifted the child from his father's knee . .and . . . handed him out of the room. (357)Paradoxically, even though her role as mother reveals theextent to which she is disempowered in relation to herhusband, motherhood also empowers her when she is away fromhim. The social values embodied in motherhood are not thenIntegrating Masculine and Feminine 22compromised by Huntingdon's immorality.9Contradicting the image of the powerless woman, Helencontemplates, plans, and enacts her escape from heroppressor. She tells very few people of her plans and asksfor the minimum of assistance. Her brother is to preparerooms; her servant helps her pack. She takes her son andleaves, shutting "the bedroom door" not only on her husbandbut also on the ideal of the submissive sentimental heroine.Yet in this departure from the sentimental norms, the twopeople from whom Helen asks assistance are stillrepresentatives of further aspects of the sentimental. Asher brother, Mr. Lawrence is a familial male protector whoshelters her as required. His protection is, however, alwaystailored to suit Helen's desires. Rachel's loyaltyincorporates two elements of sentimental fiction. She isHelen's friend who replaces Milicent and Esther Hargrave--first when Helen is alone at Grass-dale, and later whenHelen lives in Wildfell Hall, apart from the fashionablecircles her wealth would give her access to. Rachel insistson accompanying Helen and Helen succumbs to her requestgratefully: "'Then you shan't [leave me], Rachel!' I cried,embracing my faithful friend" (390). This friendshipencapsulates sentimental attitudes towards the lower9 Valerie Sanders (1986) discusses theprofessionalization of mothers that occurs because of thevalue attached to the role. Janet Todd also discusses themother's power.Integrating Masculine and Feminine 23classes: "Like fiction depicting men of feeling, novels withwomen of sensibility encourage the social fantasy of loyalservice. Servants of the noble protagonists are familial andfeudal, tied to their masters [mistresses] throughsentiment, not money" (Todd 118). When Rachel requests thatshe be allowed to follow Helen to the desolate WildfellHall, she is hurt that Helen even thinks to resist her: "'Doyou think, ma'am, I can't bear what my missus can?--surelyI'm not so proud and so dainty as that comes to--'" (390).This theme of lower-class loyalty is repeated as Bensontearfully watches the three leave.Helen's attitude towards her servants and theirattitudes to her also illuminate the sentimental novel'sresponse to money. Because sentimental heroines are oftenwell-born, money floats along beside them, disassociatedfrom labour or the process of building capital. AlthoughTerry Eagleton says that "Helen's obscure social origins"render her status as traditional gentry problematic (128),she was born into class high enough to consort with lordsand with men whose wealth has been inherited. However, whenshe departs from Grass-dale, she leaves her money behind andworks, selling her art, in order to support her family. Asthere is. a movement away from her established socialposition to a much more tenuous position at Wildfell Hall,there is a movement towards a more realistic understandingof money as enabling survival. Eagleton suggests that "The Integrating Masculine and Feminine 24Tenant portrays a working world which is overbred and a non-working context (Wildfell Hall) which is steeped in grimnessand gloom" (131). On the contrary, Helen works despite hercontext and the "working" society around her spends a gooddeal of time visiting. Helen treats her work seriously andvisits from her curious neighbours provide undesirableinterruptions as Gilbert discovers when he drops byunexpectedly with his sister, Rose:. . she bid us be seated, and resumed her placebeside the easel--not facing it exactly, but nowand then glancing at the picture upon it while sheconversed, and giving it an occasional touch withher brush, as if she found it impossible to weanher attention entirely from her occupation to fixit upon her guests. (68)In escaping to Wildfell Hall and to the world of work, Helenseparates her character from that of a sentimental heroine.The Wildfell portions of Helen's story are told byGilbert Markham. That Gilbert replaces Helen as the narratormight suggest that Helen is not necessarily stronger atWildfell than she was at Grass-dale; nonetheless, she ismore effectively powerful. Her status as a widow means thateven though she has new social conventions to obey, she isfree. The autonomous control she has over her son'supbringing is evidence of Helen's power. People may arguewith her, but she does not have to follow their advice. HerIntegrating Masculine and Feminine 25position of stranger in the village isolates her and thevillage's opinion of her as eccentric enforces thatsolitude. Her seclusion, the physical and social spacebetween Helen and the community, acts as a buffer so that,for instance, when villagers comment on Helen's unusualbehaviour, she does not hear many of those comments. Onceshe is separated from her husband, Helen is no longer avictim. Her independence makes victimization impossible.Helen's escape from Arthur Huntingdon and her marriagemakes a statement about feminine equality but only withinthe context of female moral superiority. This moralsuperiority regulating women and separating them from men incarefully defined ways creates false images of both. Helen,in her economic and emotional independence, may stand apartfrom many societal conventions, but when malicious rumoursdevelop, she elects to leave Wildfell. The villagers call onthose moral standards of motherhood which have justified herdisobedience as a wife in order to judge her: "'Have younever observed,' said Eliza, 'what a striking likeness thereis between that child --)f hers and -- [Lawrence, whom thevillagers do not know is Helen's brother]'" (100). Althoughthose judgements are based on rumours that Jane Wilson andEliza Millward have spread, Helen submits to that judgement,perhaps because her developing feelings for Gilbert areadulterous and would be immoral if acted upon. Helen'ssubmission may be disappointing to twentieth-centuryIntegrating Masculine and Feminine 26readers, but her reaction to being described as immoral isan instance of the text negotiating cultural ideals.Nineteenth-century fiction seems to abound in such examplesof such negotiation of women's roles from within culturalnorms.Creating space for a woman's voice within theconstraints of domestic ideology is better than having nospace, and Bronte's heroine has a strong voice, emphasizedby the contrast with her friend, Milicent Hargrave. Milicentis confused and bullied into becoming Mrs Hattersley and,after much suffering, passively receives the happiness of agood marriage. Helen, on the other hand, wilfully assertsher preference and is punished because that wilfulness isyouthfully blind. The moral is that one's determination mustbe fuelled by morality. Helen is not punished for refusingthe suitors that her aunt approves of; she is punished foroverestimating her ability to reform the one she loves andfor not being able to examine his character more closely,for mistaking his physical beauty for potential goodness.Once experience has eradicated the temporality of herdesires, Helen's determination is focused on Christiangoals. In this case, the morality of her enterprise to bringMr. Hattersley to recognize his wife's sufferings and worthensures Helen's success which in turn grants Milicenthappiness.Brontë makes it very clear in The Tenant that the wayIntegrating Masculine and Feminine 27many of her characters use morality as a constraint isstultifying and inappropriate. Once Helen has givenpermission for her story to be told in order to refute theslur against her reputation, society forgives her. But whileHelen's peers no longer believe her relationship withLawrence to be immoral, they do not agree with the decisionshe has made: "for though now constrained to acknowledgehimself mistaken in his former judgment," Reverend Millwardstill believes "that she had done wrong to leave herhusband" (462). Undoubtedly, others would share his viewthat Helen has committed "a violation of her sacred dutiesas a wife" and that "nothing short of bodily ill usage (andthat of no trifling nature) could excuse such a step . . ."(462). Still, their failure to recognise or appreciateHelen's qualities gives credence to the view that Helen'sactions are right because it is her view that remainsunsullied by pettiness or malicious gossip: she is meant torectify her mistake through her personal determination. Herpunishment has not been for her determination but for herblindness. She remains determined throughout the novel andeventually earns the reward of persistence: a good marriage.In other words, Milicent's conventional passivity does notensure her happiness in marriage and Helen's efforts doeventually ensure hers.Early sentimental literature was intended to be morallyinstructive. Janet Todd paraphrases the eighteenth-centuryIntegrating Masculine and Feminine 28writer, John Dennis, who counselled that:art should never run 'counter to moral virtue'and, whatever its subject and genre, its purposeshould always be the reformation or improvement ofmanners. (29)One hundred and fifty years later, Brontë evidently acceptedthis:Let it not be imagined, however, that I considermyself competent to reform the errors and abusesof society, but only that I would fain contributemy humble quota toward so good an aim. . . . [A]ndwhen I feel it my duty to speak an unpalatabletruth, with the help of God, I will speak it.(Preface 29-30)Brontë wrote her fiction within the context of thisquotation, the context of a Christianity that accepted auniversal moral standard that favoured the rich,particularly if they were men. No debate exists in the textover that moral standard: "Anne Brontê's novels find theworld morally mixed, but they do not find morality in theleast problematical" (Eagleton 123). Huntingdon does notlive up to the moral standard and he is condemned; Markhamlearns to abide by it and he is rewarded. But the clarity ofthat standard does not make it comfortable: Brontë spoke"unpalatable truth[s]." Bronte's heroine is aware of herduty and such knowledge is communicated to Bronte's readers.Integrating Masculine and Feminine 29The duty that Brontë and Helen Huntingdon aredetermined to do, no matter how distressing it may be, isdiscussed in the rhetoric of maternal love and desire.Perhaps Hélène Cixous offers an insight into Bronte'smotivations, "a woman," she says:is never far from "mother" . . . There is alwayswithin her at least a little of that good mother'smilk. She writes in white ink. (Cixous, "Laugh"251)This novel expresses a socially determined position ofcaring and moral fortitude. Helen leaves her home and itscomforts ostensibly to protect her son from its corruption;Anne Brontë writes a novel that, according to her sister'saccount, threw her into depression: "She brooded over ittill she believed it to be a duty to reproduce every detail.. She hated her work, but would pursue it" (C. Brontë,"Biographical Notice" 55). These women make themselvesuncomfortable for the benefit of others. This self-sacrificecomes from a world view that privileges others and that hasbeen traced, in theories of psychosocial devclopment, toculturally-developed female ways of knowing.Carol Gilligan in her book, In a Different Voice,discusses the characteristics of masculinity and femininitywhich, by the end of the novel, Helen seems to haveintegrated into herself. She marries Huntingdon because shedesires him and because she desires to reform him. EvenIntegrating Masculine and Feminine 30inklings that this marriage might not be successful do notdeter her: "I don't much mind it now; but if it be alwaysso, what shall I do with the serious part of myself?" (214).She seeks his moral improvement and loses herself in theattempt. Gilligan's research shows that this self-sacrificeis a common desire for women: "[women's] insistence on careis at first self-critical rather than self-protective .[full of] self-destructive potential" (100). Moreover, thestrong need for attachment (as opposed to masculinedevelopment patterns of separation) keeps Helen attached tosomeone who affronts her. Despite Huntingdon's idiocy andabuse, Helen continually wishes him to be in contact withher. His company would prevent loneliness and she would havea chance to reform him. His reformation means her happiness.Helen's break with Huntingdon comes after she hasdeveloped an attachment with her son and after it is clearthat Huntingdon has developed an illicit attachment tosomeone else. The need for attachment and for self-sacrificeat any cost has caused a great deal of pain for Helen as thesentimental portion of the novel shows. But the diary alsoreveals Helen's growth. As she is continuously insulted byHuntingdon, Helen learns the value of a justice-basedsystem. She becomes able to rationalize and to removeherself from an unjust situation which is also potentiallyharmful to her son. Her physical removal from Grass-dale ispreceded by her emotional withdrawal from her marriage. SuchIntegrating Masculine and Feminine 31inclusion of her own needs is unusual for women in thisperiod and is typically associated with men. No surprise orupset accompanies the announcement of Lord Lowborough'sinitiation of a separation from Annabella because separationis a masculine prerogative (354). Helen demands thatprerogative for herself when she leaves Huntingdon andsupports herself. Brontë does not replace a feminine way ofinteracting with people with a masculine one however. Helenis helped by her female friends who maintain theirconnection with her throughout and despite her troubles:Milicent, Esther, and Rachel. Milicent's tears for Helen'spredicament enable Helen to release her own emotions.Wishing to help Esther avoid a similar situation gives Helensome purpose, while Esther's gaiety relieves her loneliness.Rachel brings the news that catalyzes Helen's action forfreedom and her support is both emotional and financial.Lawrence, as Helen's brother, also illustrates some femininecharacteristics: his emotional support is crucial to Helen.Far from introducing masculine modes of interaction, thiscommunity of, predominantly, women maintains "care andconcern for others" across strict class and gender lines(Gilligan 17) and supports Helen firmly in the standards shebelieves in.Helen's diary chronicles her integration of genderedideals and behaviours, her blend of justice and self-preservation, a state that Gilligan describes as "maturity"Integrating Masculine and Feminine 32(165). This integration or "maturity" is also reflected intwo key sentimental stylistic techniques that the diaryportion of The Tenant fulfils; repetition and fragmentation.The purpose of repetition is both to show the "proliferationof functions, so that every domestic and emotionalpossibility is manifest" and to allow the reader slowly toachieve a proper sentimental attitude (Todd 123; 124).Arthur Huntingdon is perpetually drunk and abusive. Hisfriends come to visit cyclically, provoking his worstbehaviour. Walter Hargrave tries regularly to corrupt Helen.Hargrave wears the reader down, his actions angering heralmost as much as they anger Helen. The growing weight ofthe abuse builds support for Helen's case as does itsseeming interminableness. Then the breaking of this abusivecycle is reflected by the fragmentation in the text. Acharacteristic of sentimental fiction, fragmentationconsistently occurs in moments which show Helen's control.The textual fragments also highlight positive aspects of therepetitions Helen experiences; friendship, familialrelationship, and support reoccur within the fragments,despite the chaotic nature of Helen's life. The journal formis inherently fragmented; Helen's journal is writtenirregularly, when she has time and for as long as she hastime. The torn pages at the end of the journal are the mostexplicit fragmentation in the text and signify Helen'scontrol over what she will share of her inner emotion with aIntegrating Masculine and Feminine 33particular audience. "Broken syntax and typographicalexuberance" (Todd 125) are rare in this novel, except formoments of high intensity, and, unlike those of othersentimental novels, they are rarely obtrusive. These smallerfragmentations of the text do exist though, and areimportant when seen in conjunction with Helen's actions ofripping pages from her journal and giving Markham her heartin a rose: "Since the lady of feeling must stress her non-verbal sensibility through emphasizing the limited nature ofverbal communication" (Todd 125), Helen must be content withsilent symbolism. Just as the maternal role empowers andalso restricts freedom, these silences free Helen from abinding patriarchal language and remove her from a sphere ofpolitical action.Helen's self-imposed exile at Wildfell Hall is anattempt to escape the immorality of her husband. His peersturn a blind eye to his immorality, yet the villagers atFerndale cannot ignore rumours of Helen's immorality.Helen's diary, by dwelling on the injustices done to her byHuntingdon, questions double moral standards. The latterhalf of the novel, however, seems to bring Helen back withina social milieu and to obscure the existence of suchquestions. Perhaps because of the disjunctive nature of thetext, critical judgement on Markham's frame varies. TerryEagleton considers that "what is literally and imaginativelycentral to the novel [Helen's diary] is formally decenteredIntegrating Masculine and Feminine 34by the novel's curious structure, which throws into formalpredominance the courtship: the stereotyped Romantic saga ofthe cold mistress and the baffled lover" (135). ForEagleton, the romance is the novel's failing. George Moore,however, celebrated "the atmosphere of a passionate andoriginal love story" (Moore quoted in Gerin 14). Gerin, in1979, supports his judgement, These critics, though, sharetheir evaluation of this section of the novel as romance.Romance FictionHolman and Harman define romance as referring to workswhich are "relatively free of the more restrictive aspectsof VERISIMILITUDE and expressive of profound, transcendent,or idealistic truths" (436). Many elements of sentimentalfiction fit closely within this broad definition of romance.Indeed, many links exist between the two genres. First,characterization is not the primary concern of the"romancer" or the writer of sentimental fiction (Frye 304;Todd 3). Women characters are defined according to adark/light dichotomy of those who represent pleasure andthose who represent duty. Both play curious roles asideological discourse:In every age the ruling social or intellectualclass tends to project its ideals in some form ofromance, where the virtuous heroes and beautifulheroines represent the ideals and the villains theIntegrating Masculine and Feminine 35threats to their ascendancy. . . . Yet there is agenuinely "proletarian" element in romance toowhich is never satisfied with its variousincarnations. (Frye 186)Sentimental fiction has, similarly, been shown to offeradvice to women on how to behave, but also, through theillustration of difficult situations women are placed in, toraise questions about the situations created.1° Todelineate sentimental and romance into separate genres maythus seem futile. However, a basic distinction between thetwo genres exists: the sentimental offers advice by exampleand romance chronicles a mythic cycle of life and death. Thedistinction between the two genres is meant to be arepresentation of Helen and Gilbert's relationship. Theswitch to romance reveals the placement of Helen's narration_to be a masculine attempt to control the untenable withinher story. In other words, in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall,Brontë makes a gender distinction between these two literarygenres: the sentimental uses a female narrator to reiteratea female experience, and the romance uses a male narrator tochart his response to that experience. This gendering withinthe text is an example of the negotiation between male and1° For example, Charlotte Temple (1794) by Susanna Rowsonplaces the female protagonist in a position that can only becorrected by her penitent death. The fact that she dies aspunishment for being seduced when she had no protection orsupport around her raises the question of social complicity inher seduction as well as in her death.Integrating Masculine and Feminine 36female roles and the ways these shape each other.The main effect of this gendering is not on the womencharacters who, in both sentimental and romance arepolarized into the moral and the hedonistic: Helen remainsthe "good" character and Eliza Millward and Jane Wilsonreplace Annabella Lowborough as the "bad" characters. Theprimary difference in characterization between thesentimental diary and the romance frame occurs in thedevelopment of Gilbert Markham, who is not "a man offeeling." Although he shares characteristics of asentimental character in that he is emotional andpassionate, his motive for those feelings is not tendernessbut jealousy. When Gilbert attacks Lawrence because hesuspects Lawrence's relationship with Helen is illicit, hisdescription of the scene suggests nervousness and lack ofself-control:. . impelled by some fiend at my elbow, I hadseized my whip by the small end, and--swift andsudden as flash of lightning--brought the otherdown upon his head. . . . not without a feeling ofsavage satisfaction. . . . [and] with a mutteredexecration, I left the fellow to his fate, andclapping spurs to my own horse, galloped away,excited by a combination of feelings. (134)"Savage" seems an appropriate adjective to describe thisscene of the hero vanquishing his foe. The hero of a romanceIntegrating Masculine and Feminine 37would feel this way, although his feelings would notnecessarily be so compromised by immaturity. The romancehero is associated with libido, the "desiring self" (Frye193). And, indeed, Gilbert's actions are motivated by theimpossibility of satisfying his desire. Those actions fitthe terms of the romance quest, which "is the search of thelibido or desiring self for a fulfilment that will deliverit from the anxieties of reality but will still contain thatreality" (Frye 193). While Gilbert's quest for Helen is notas filled with activity as romance quests normally are or,rather, is filled with the activity of reading, it followsthe romance pattern:First, the agon or conflict itself. Second, thepathos or death, often the mutual death of thehero and monster. Third, the disappearance of thehero. . . . Fourth, the reappearance orrecognition of the hero. .^.^(Frye 192)The conflict Gilbert must face in his section of The Tenant is over his love for Helen and his jealous belief in herimmoral love for Lawrence. His desire for hez., which isbuilt on the challenge she represents, is erased by his owndevaluation of the challenge; that is, he believes she iseasily won by men which both negates her value (based on herexclusivity) and his prowess in overcoming her prejudicesagainst him. His fight with Lawrence is symbolic of thisconflict within himself. The inner turmoil not often givenIntegrating Masculine and Feminine 38to romance heroes is externalised here and Gilbert almostkills Lawrence. Gilbert's error in believing Helen to be afallen woman and his disloyal behaviour disillusion thereader with the romance hero. Our disgust necessitatesGilbert's disappearance from the text during which hesupposedly learns his error and atones for his behaviour--atype of purgatory. Gilbert's disappearance occurs when thediary is inserted at the moment Helen's innocence is aboutto become apparent even to him. Helen's voice replaces onethat is shown to be immature.0 Helen further enforcesGilbert's absence from her by insisting that he leave heralone for six months:'Now Gilbert, you must leave me . . . and youmust never come again.'. . But . . . in six months you shall hearfrom Frederick precisely where I am; and if youstill retain your wish to write to me, and thinkyou can maintain a correspondence all thought, allspirit . . . disembodied . . . unimpassioned . .[then] write.^(405; 408-9)This edict is followed by Helen's return to her husband andher husband's death, both of which make Gilbert feel hecannot approach her. He does not disappear from the text (inu Furthermore, Gilbert's voice belongs to his later life--theoretically when he has matured--, while Helen's voice isthat of the young girl who is learning and formulating herself on the basis of her experience. Brontë exiles Gilbert forsome time.Integrating Masculine and Feminine 39fact, it is Helen who is mentioned less regularly); however,he cannot continue his quest, and he disappears from herlife. By causing Gilbert's removal from her life, Helen hasnot only exerted an influence and control over Gilbert thatenable him to grow morally but she has also asserted herprimacy in his life, re-casting herself as the goal of hisquest.Having recognized his disloyalty and done penance,Gilbert has only one obstacle to overcome before thefulfilment of his desire: her wealth. Only the rumour ofHelen's impending marriage spurs Markham to seek her out,long after the six months are up:And could I bear that she should think me capable• . . of presuming upon the acquaintance--the loveif you will--accidentally contracted, or ratherforced upon her against her will, when she was anunknown fugitive, toiling for her own support,apparently without fortune, family, or connections. [to] claim a share in her prosperity, which,• • would most certainly have kept her unknownto me for ever? (477)The problem Gilbert faces is that, as a romance hero, hemust act, but in order to achieve his goal he must departform romantic principles. Nobility requires him not toremind Helen of their connection because she would belowered in status by association with him.Integrating Masculine and Feminine 40Only an accident or, rather, Providence seems able toovercome the class structure in The Tenant. Gilbert is aboutto turn away from Staningley when Arthur, previously used byGilbert to draw himself more into Helen's society (93),recognizes him and brings them together once more. He is anappropriate instigator because he has been the means, therationale, by which Helen could leave his father and alsothe means by which Gilbert could approach his mother; heresides in both narratives easily. At Arthur's prompting,the marriage of the sentimental and the romance begins.Brontë has Helen teach Gilbert proper sentimental feelingwhen she says: "'I should not have offered myself to one tooproud to take me, or too indifferent to make his affectionoutweigh my worldly goods'" (485). Money and class are notissues for her (as her narrative has shown). Instead,Helen's sentimental motivations come from "right feeling":morality and a belief in human goodness.Gilbert learns to understand Helen's principles and toaccept a mingling of the romance tradition with sentimentalphilosophius. Helen combines those principles with actionand the action persuades Gilbert: she speaks to him of their"affection"; she picks a winter rose letting the symbolismof her action speak her proposal; she throws the rose outthe window when he seems to "misunderstand" or "despise" heroffer. These actions enable Gilbert:'You misunderstood me cruelly,' I replied andIntegrating Masculine and Feminine 41in a minute I had opened the window again, leapedout, picked up the flower, brought it in, andpresented it to her, imploring her to give it meagain, and I would keep it for ever for her sake,and prize it more highly than anything in theworld I possessed. (485)And he does. Helen is the rose Gilbert possesses throughmarriage.This conclusion satisfies both sentimental and romancefiction's expectations. The victim, Helen, has been rescuedfrom misery because potential human goodness is actualised.The hero receives his prize for successfully completing hisquest--his bride, who has even undergone the romance genre'sstandard "removal of some stigma" in the death of herprevious husband (Frye 193). Gilbert's letters to J. Halfordreassert the novel's compliance with societal expectationsof such fiction: that all will end in marriage. Helen'ssentimental diary has not had a chance to reabsorb theprotagonist into the existing social structure because thelast few pages are ripped out. The likelihood of suchreabsorption seems limited as the pages Gilbert does not seemost certainly record Helen's growing and adulterous lovefor him. The absence of these no doubt tumultuous pagesensures Bronte's movement of characters back into aconventional plot and aids in the integration of sentimentaland romance which is complete in this common goal.Integrating Masculine and Feminine 42Helen's refusal to share her interpretation of herrelationship with Gilbert leaves us with only Gilbert'sreading of it. After allowing Helen to tell her storypowerfully, Brontë takes her out of the role of protagonistand makes her responsible for the switch of narrators; if weare to reach completion, we must hear the male voice. Brontëtears away Helen's voice through the character's tearing ofthe diary. She replaces the woman's voice with Gilbert's. Heprovides the conventional framework of societal moralregeneration within which we read Helen's problems. He alsoprovides the resolution. This decision is jarring to atwentieth-century reader. Helen has a realistic voice andher self-silencing is not consistent with the reader'simpressions of the character. The lack of textual unityundermines a simple reading of the text as "conservative": awoman's voice is heard. At the same time, Helen's silencing,which is more of that "lack of textual unity," also signalsthe refusal to hear a woman's voice in a sphere other thanmoral. Helen's diary offers a moral interpretation ofmarriage up to the poilt where she begins to examine herrelationship with Gilbert, which is decidedly immoralalthough understandable. If Gilbert were to read Helen'scomments on the beginning of their relationship, he would befaced with the reminder of its immorality. His relationshipwith Helen, not Lawrence's, was scandalous and must causehim to think about the relativity of his moral standards.Integrating Masculine and Feminine 43Gilbert recognizes this when he comments:[at] any rate, I would have given much to haveseen it all -- . . . but no, I had no right to seeit: all this was too sacred for any eyes but herown, and she had done well to keep it from me.(401)Gilbert chooses "sacred" as his adjective because he electsto see their relationship as divinely sanctioned. However,his words actually encourage the effacement and theinvisibility of the female character. Is this a failing inthe novel? Does "the slamming of Helen's bedroom dooragainst her husband" actually involve her shutting that dooragainst herself?Placing the diary that records emotions as they areexperienced within the more conventional letters that recallthe since-resolved torment of the observer shuts the door onthe possibility of seeing Helen's plight as indicative ofthe way society treats women as if they were unequal.Nonetheless, Brontë retains, within her ideas of morality, amovement toward the articulation of women's concerns. Thedifference between the two genres illustrates the differencein gender construction—Brontë having split her narrators bygender. Helen's silence is a choice and actually preventseven a congenial male voice from appropriating an importantpart of her narration.The Tenant of Wildfell Hall splits the story intoIntegrating Masculine and Feminine 44halves of sentimental and romance fiction. The sentimentaldiary exposes the potential horrors of marriage while the"Romantic fable" offers its potential happiness. The veryconspicuousness of the split allows a rift of silence toenter an ideological discourse about the position of womenin the nineteenth century. The debate over whether silenceor politically explicit language is more effective in astruggle for sexual equality may never be resolved. Neithermay the question of the containing or liberating tendency ofwomen's sentimental fiction be answered. However, in The Tenant, Hrontd's stylistic "inconsistencies" allow her awide range of techniques with which to address her concernsabout the moral disintegration of society and women'sresponsibility for maintaining a proper environment fortheir families: that is, her concerns about women'sresponsibility for their own lives.Confronting Individualism 45CONFRONTING THEORIES OF INDIVIDUALISM:MISS MARJORIBANKS.IntroductionVictorian values for women such as domesticity, femalepurity, and continuity were expressed, debated, and formed,in part, through the forum of domestic fiction. As anexample of domestic fiction, Margaret Oliphant's Miss Marioribanks demonstrates the subtlety of that formation andexpression. The protagonist, Miss Lucilla Marjoribanks, is acomplete embodiment of domestic ideals and she powerfullydirects the social relationships in her community,Carlingford. We might expect such a character to espouse thedivision into separate spheres of women who provide caringand support and of men who provide rationality and alegalistic sense of justice. Lucilla does not disappoint us;she does support the ideal of separate spheres, althoughperhaps not as strongly as she undermines it.Her conservatism is subversive in several ways. Firstof all, this powerfully feminine character combinesmasculine and feminine characteristics. Secondly, shecarries her feminine practice into the masculine sphere anddemonstrates that femininity is useful there. But Lucillareally undermines ideas of separate spheres when shequestions the power of the individual. Theories ofindividualism have, as their goals, autonomy and separationfrom others. These theories began to gain prominence duringConfronting Individualism 46the Victorian period, one result being the privilege grantedto men's lives. Individualism, further, ignores the practiceof women's lives, which would instead offer ideals ofcommunity. Miss Marjoribanks values the feminine but, as heruse of masculine characteristics shows, she does not valueeither at the expense of the other. Through her domesticnovel, Miss Marjoribanks, Oliphant participates in thedebate over women's roles and definition of the self throughthe creation of a character for whom gender integration isbeneficial.Domestic FictionDomestic fiction provides a medium for discussion ofthe cultural issues of women's roles. As the genre wherefiction interacts with domesticity, its regular features canbe taken as illustrative of areas of cultural value andconcern. One such concern is the formation of womencharacters into representative domestic ideals: in otherwords, a type. As Ann Romines says of one of Harriet BeecherStowe's characters, ". . . even for the most sympatheticobserver, it is almost impossible to perceive a woman suchas Aunt Roxy as a distinguishable individual" (5). Thisblurring of individual personality occurs in Oliphant'scharacterization of Lucilla Marjoribanks as a moralexemplar. Other characteristics of the genre aid in thisblurring. They include "flat" characterization and plotsConfronting Individualism 47that generally culminate in marriage. Most scenes indomestic fiction connect with the home, while world events,economic crises, and philosophical issues barely figure. Asa consequence, reading domestic novels is comparable toreading for style or tone, rather than for plot, because theplot is already well-known. This blurring of potentiallyindividual characters and unique plots into repetitiverhythms need not, however, be considered an artisticfailing. Authors, like Oliphant, are "minor" because theyuse genres that we devalue. Oliphant's generic choices maynot answer twentieth-century concerns, but she surely chosea genre which was developed within the literary traditionfor important cultural reasons.Unoriginality is the major criticism of Oliphant'sprose which is full of "repetition, minor inaccuracies ofdetail, looseness and diffuseness of structure, clumsypadding and stretching" (Colby 44). But, just as Lucilla isnot as conventional as surfaces might indicate, so stylisticrepetition need not be merely an error. Repetition has acomedic effect in Miss Marjoribanks and it also produces arhythmic text. The repetition of Lucilla's pat phrases, suchas "'the grand object in my life is to be a comfort topapa,'" (Miss Marioribanks passim) focuses Mrs Woodburn'smimicry. Oliphant uses the comedic aspects of repetition aspart of the parody of domestic novels with which she beginsMiss Marjoribanks and which Mrs Woodburn's ironic sketchesConfronting Individualism 48highlight. Some writers have suggested that the parodicnature of the text eases as the novel progresses, indicatingthat "Oliphant feels some affection for her own creation"(0'Mealy 48). u Whatever the cause, the reduction ofsharply parodic elements in Miss Marjoribanks drawsattention to the other effect of repetition, the productionof a rhythmic text. That rhythm echoes the rhythms ofdomestic life and writers like Romines show how charactersentwined in housekeeping rhythms use those rhythms as ameans of "self-expression" (14).Romines' argument for the room for self-expressionwithin repetitive household tasks is an argument for theindividuality of tasks not normally granted that status.This argument rests on differences that spring up in eachrepeated action: one housekeeper always places red flowersin the kitchen; another uses yellow ones in the livingroom.Difference marks individuality, which gives the activityvalue despite the task's unpleasantness or monotony.Repetition in Oliphant's novels is not meant to represent orgive individuality to the world Oliphant is portraying andrepetition is more overt in Miss Marjoribanks than in theother novels in this series.12 See also Colby 44. Parody also ensures that feminineideals do not replace the masculine ideals at the top of thehierarchy. When re-asserting the value of a femininity thathas been neglected or marginalized, the feminine may be valuedin such a way as to denigrate masculinity. This approachcontinues to isolate men and women into separate spheres.Confronting Individualism 49Miss Marjoribanks provides the reader with a rhythm offamiliarity and within that familiarity provides adefinition of self that is different from individualistnotions. Many of Lucilla Marjoribanks' crises feel familiarand the result is generally the same: someone threatens thesocial balance of Carlingford, Lucilla rights thedifficulty, and her motives are misunderstood. With thisplot, Oliphant chooses to characterize her heroine bystrength of mind, by practicality, and by singlemindedness,and thus creates an unusual female protagonist for a novelwhose resolution is marriage.13Lucilla Marjoribanks' strategy is to deny any overtexpression of individuality, " and the repetition then maybe intended to obscure the "distinguishable individual"(Romines 5). The reccurring scenes of crisis management andthe characterization that consists of reccurring phrasesobscure the character and the life that one would think thetext intended to illustrate. This novel of an exceptionalwoman is, in fact, a novel of the rhythms of Victorian life.13See Siefert, Dilemma of the Talented Heroine (1977) fora discussion of the talented heroine whose ambitions arecompromised by social duty and who suffers conflict over thoseambitions (1-19). Singlemindedness may well be Lucilla's mostunusual characteristic.14 Individuality for a woman character involves a stateddifference from societal norms, as defined by the criticaltradition. When a woman is an individual, she is not valued assuch. Instead, her individuality marks her as eccentric. Womenwriters and reformers suffered from this inconsistency (Warhol163).Confronting Individualism 50Oliphant has Lucilla self-consciously create her persona onthe basis of models she finds in domestic fiction, inpolitical economy, and in the Bible. The presence of thosemodels creates a rhythm of tradition. As Oliphant's novelcomplies with domestic fiction's generic constraints, itbecomes one among others like it. Furthermore, reading suchfiction is itself a repetitive act, even a ritual, sodomestic fiction is a rhythm even as it encompasses certainrhythms.The rituals of domestic fiction provide a sense ofcontinuity and security: "these strategies . . . [are] aneffort to respond to, replicate, continue, interrogate, andextend the repetitive rhythms of domestic life, whichemphasize continuance over triumphant climax" (Romines 293).This process often demands that the "vaunted individual" be"subordinate" (Romines 293). The genre, in other words,echoes Lucilla's concerns: continuity of community andrelationship.A Cross-Gendered Definition of SelfMiss Lucilla Marjoribanks' preeminence in the novelnamed after her suggests that her characterization bestdemonstrates how Oliphant defines self. And from thebeginning of the novel, Lucilla's characterization certainlyoffers a striking definition. Before her arrival home fromschool, no one had managed to take all the promisingConfronting Individualism 51elements of Carlingford and create a community: "you mighthave gone over Grange Lane," says the narrator, ". .without encountering a single individual capable of makinganything out of it. Such was the lamentable condition . .of society in Carlingford" (43). Within weeks of her return,the community revolves around Lucilla. She has Eveningswhich, though not parties (100), bring Carlingford societytogether in her home once a week. Most of what occurs in thetown's social life happens in Miss Marjoribanks'drawingroom. Her drawingroom is the physical representationof her sphere of influence and is therefore ingeniouslydecorated to suit her colouring (68). Lucilla's influence inthe community increases as the evenings become "aninstitution" (124), particularly because "the matrons"recognize that "it was not for Them [the men], but for thegood of the community in general that Lucilla exertedherself" (126). Just as her influence emanates from theseEvenings in her home, so Miss Marjoribanks' self-presentation reflects her awareness of the importance offemininity to the mailtenance of this domestic force: shedresses chastely (100), utters social truths (82), and does"her best to please Them" (125). The delicate green ofLucilla's parlour, her propriety, and her awareness of hercommunity all point out the character's femininity as anessential aspect of her representation.Clothing and social etiquette, however, are not theConfronting Individualism 52only representative features of femininity. Domesticheroines also tend to have delicate features and health.15But, curiously enough, Lucilla is "a large girl"; she doesnot conform to this expectation of a heroine:She was not to be described as a tall girl--which conveys an altogether different idea--butshe was large in all particulars, full and well-developed, with somewhat large features, not atall pretty as yet. (26)An anonymous person even suggests that Miss Marjoribanks mayone day be "grandiose." Remaining always in control of thesituation, Lucilla does not faint, sicken, or even neglecther food: "Lucilla," Mrs. Chiley notices, ". . . hadstrength of mind to eat her dinner" (118). Lucilla's healthconfronts notions that feminine weakness is attractive asdoes Oliphant's scornful representation of Mrs Mortimer'snerves: "Mrs Mortimer . . . now that she had done with15 Elizabeth Gaskell's Wives and Daughters (1866)demonstrates the normative state in fiction of women's ill-health and, indeed, its beautifying effect. The protagonistof that novel, Molly, is considered more beautiful after anear-fatal illness: "'I was so sorry to hear how ill you hadbeen! You are looking but delicate' . . . [but he thoughtthat she] 'had grown into delicate fragrant beauty'" (624-25). In Miss Marjoribanks, Mrs Chiley, Mrs Mortimer, thelate Mrs Marjoribanks, and Lucilla's aunt all suffer from"nerves," all are or have been married, and all aregenteelly helpless. Through them, Oliphant parodies theirfictive role and the assumptions of those who find illnessattractive.Confronting Individualism 53fainting, manifested an inclination to cry" (88). 16Why not small and delicate? or at least "tall"? Why isLucilla so unusually healthy? Integrating masculinedescriptions of her feminine body, Miss Marjoribanks crossesboundaries of gendered physicality. Hélène Cixous' theoriesoffer a parallel to Lucilla's boundary crossing.17 She isone of those "women, who more or less strongly, inscribetheir masculinity" (Cixous, "Sorties" 81). This physicaldifference emphasizes Lucilla's emotional fortitude whichbecomes, in turn, the most important signifier of herdifference from social conceptions of domestic behaviour.When Mr Cavendish, the most eligible Carlingford bachelor,is interrupted when attempting to propose to Lucilla, sheonly regrets that she does not get to hear him say the wordsand that she does not get to refuse him (186). She haswanted explicit control over the conclusion of her story;the interruption has prevented her demonstration of thatcontrol. Mrs Chiley's consternation over having intruded onCavendish accentuates Lucilla's unemotional response.Lucilla's size, practicalfty, and imposing presencecontradict her feminine surroundings and goals. They call tomind Victorian definitions of unwomanliness. Whereas women16 See Bram Dijkstra, Idols of Perversity: Fantasies ofFeminine Evil in Fin-de-Siècle Culture (1986) for adiscussion of the cult of the invalid.17 Christine Stewart pointed out Cixous' theories to meduring conversations we had in and after seminar meetingsfrom Sept.-Dec. 1992.Confronting Individualism 54in the theatre were considered to manifest female sexuality--Vashti of Charlotte Bronte's Villette (1853), for example--researchers such as Robin Warhol (1989) have shown thatwomen who publicly sought reform were taunted with beingunwomanly (163) because their activities moved them into themasculine sphere of politics. That Lucilla, even at aphysical level, is considered unfeminine connects her withthese masculinized women. It also raises questions about heraspirations for the power to affect her society and abouther femininity's impact on that goal of social change.Domestic Politics Lucilla has certainly achieved power in her community.Carlingford is run within a domestic social sphere. Lucillais a force in this domestic sphere and, without a husband tolimit the range of her command, she becomes a potentiallyradical figure. Oliphant is careful, however, to contain theradical within the conservative. Her inclusion of bothmasculine and feminine physical and emotionalcharacteristics within the female protagonist mitigates Miss Marjoribanks' directly revolutionary potential because theact of inclusion works silently within the system instead ofovertly against it. Similarly, Lucilla mouths overtlyconservative sentiments but her movement towards socialpoer contradicts the implications of her conservativism.Oliphant's representation of that social power as effectiveConfronting Individualism 55even within a political sphere offers the twentieth-centuryreader, at least, a complex picture of the interactionbetween Victorians, their society, and their sociallanguage. Textual representations of Lucilla's interactionsin that political sphere mirror her integration of masculineand feminine characteristics; she demurely denies andaccepts the power of her social influence:"but I have no vote, and what can a girl do? I amso sorry I don't understand politics. If we weregoing in for that sort of thing, I don't know whatthere would be left for the gentlemen to do."(373)But Miss Marjoribanks does understand and any ideologicalinnovations this text makes originate from her knowledge.Lucilla's type of knowledge is displayed in an articleOliphant wrote three months after the last instalment ofMiss Marjoribanks in Blackwood's. Mrs Oliphant published,also in Blackwood's, what amounts to an book review of JohnStuart Mill's On the Subjection of Women (1866). Thisarticle addresses one of the issues Oliphant addresses inMiss Marjoribanks, namely women's negotiations for powerwithin their conservative culture's definition of power. In"The Great Unrepresented," she both critiques and reacts tohis suggestion of the vote for female householders. As shesays, this group "is not the most interesting section ofwomankind" being made up of individuals who "are old enoughConfronting Individualism 56and stout-hearted enough to take care of themselves" (369).The irony throughout the opening pages of this article makesit quite clear that Oliphant is not overly impressed withMill's argument that enfranchisement should not be universalbut should be relayed to those women who are most like men:"Mr Mill's pity, nay, rather his sympathy and sense ofjustice beams upon us. We are not, as other women, cared forand ministered to. It is, then, only justice thatcompensation should be given us, and that we should be asother men" (370).Mill is suggesting, according to Oliphant, that thevote is one indication of one's societal worth. Women who donot have the vote are therefore not worthy. On Liberty,while not mentioning women per se, draws attentions toarguments that Mill makes which do not take into account thesituation of women and the working-classes, most notably, inhis ideal of the individual's range of authority: "[o]verhimself, over his own body and mind, the individual issovereign" (Mill 69). As Oliphant's article makes perfectlyclear and as domestic novels show, only female homeownershave the privilege of being sovereign within the class ofwomen. Women with families, particularly with husbands, arenot sovereign: Mrs Woodburn contemplates the amount of workshe has to do to help her brother win the election "all withthe horrid sense upon her mind that if at any time thedinner should be a little less cared for than usual, or theConfronting Individualism 57children more noisy, Woodburn would go on like a savage"(374); she may control the house but she answers to him.Similarly, Mill argues that only behaviour that affectssociety should be subjected to societal scrutiny; this toolacks validity when seen in context: women, indeed mostpeople, cannot generally pursue actions that do not affectthe people around them. Unlike most people, women rarelyhave the luxury of even pretending otherwise. VirginiaWoolf's later exclamation of the need for privacy in orderto create comes after a period in which women did not haveprivacy and created anyway. Oliphant notes that Millconsiders a woman has "been deeply, fundamentally injured bynot being made a man"; perusal of On Liberty supports herobservation. Her response to this consideration--"the mostunqualified contradiction" (376)--and her assertion that"[o]ur ambition is not of so small a character as to besatisfied with the privilege of voting for members ofParliament" (379) speak in a voice similar to the oneLucilla Marjoribanks uses. Lucilla goes further than thisarticle of Oliphant's by procuring the election for hercandidate despite her lack of desire for the vote.During the campaign to elect Mr. Ashburton, Lucillademonstrates an understanding of this male sphere ofpolitical life. Somehow she manages to convince her fatherand other leading men of the community, committedconservatives, to sit on Mr. Ashburton's committee. SheConfronting Individualism 58achieves this surprising victory in two steps. First, sheconvinces Mr. Ashburton not to discuss his economic andpolitical principles. Then, she talks about him as the rightman for Carlingford and convinces many men that Mr.Ashburton "'is not going to be Prime Minister; and I havealways heard you say . . . that it was not opinions, youknow, but a good man that people wanted'" (369). Lucilla haspractically forced Colonel Chiley, the gentleman sheaddresses here, to think seriously about her candidate.She plans a campaign aware of the fact that the unusualcan be presented as usual by manipulating persona, diction,and personal associations. She converts her father in thismanner. When he first tells Lucilla that Cavendish hasreturned to run for Parliament, Lucilla's completeconviction that her candidate is the right one convinces himto look more closely at Ashburton: "Lucilla, though takenunawares, had not given in, or shown any signs of weakness.And the effect . . . was such that he took up the paperagain" (359). The re-examination leads Dr Marjoribanks tothe conclusion that the right man cannot be the wrong man ifhe leaves you no opinions to attack: "when a man does notstate any very distinct principles, it is difficult for anyone . . . to disagree with him" (377). Mr Ashburton's steadyquietness only supports Lucilla's confidence and strengthensthe effect of that confidence within the community: "MrAshburton was a more satisfactory sort of person . . . a manConfronting Individualism 59whom people knew everything about" (358). No wonder DrMarjoribanks ends up "in a kind of odd incipient agreementwith Lucilla" (358) and Colonel Chiley feels "that thesentiment which she had quoted from himself was a very justsentiment" (370). Lucilla advocates nothing radical and soachieves results that are radical indeed. They arerevolutionary because they indicate change from habits of alifetime. The knowledge acquired from within her domesticlife enables her to understand the way people will react andrespond to politicians. This type of understanding has beendescribed as feminine because it emanates from experienceswomen are generally in a position to have. The connectionbetween politics and social interactions, between masculineand feminine, is not a mystery for Miss Marjoribanks."[N]onexclusion" and the Practical Self Lucilla Marjoribanks' ability to act effectively inboth political and social settings comes from the inclusionin her behaviours of various characteristics despite theirgendered significance. She is politically powerful becauseshe understands how feminine and masculine spheres border oneach other. She can enter both spheres because she knowsthat the differences between them are socially determined.Implied in her "'there would be nothing left for the men todo" is her consciousness that if women did have the vote,the world's power structure would change. Lucilla'sConfronting Individualism 60knowledge makes her an effective "presence" because shepractises "the nonexclusion of difference or of a sex"(Cixous, "Sorties" 85 [my emphasis]). This ability toincorporate behaviours despite ways in which they aregendered is not an essential ability, but rather a socialone that women can give themselves "permission" to exercise(Cixous, "Sorties" 85). Lucilla gives herself thispermission to integrate masculine qualities when she ignoresthe fact that difference might prevent her from behaving asshe wants, even though she implies that it does. Sheincorporates male or female qualities on the basis of theirusefulness to her, not on the basis of their gender, andthereby creates a practical self.But beyond being aware of the practical benefits ofcross-gendered behaviours, Lucilla gives permission toherself--that is, to incorporate her into the behaviours shechooses. Lucilla starts, as Cixous suggests, "with thepermission one gives oneself" ("Sorties" 85); that is,Lucilla recognises her need to maintain her social standingin Carlingford because that standing provides her power. Shefurther realizes that the best way to maintain this standingis to be indispensable to all aspects of life in GrangeLane. She makes her life provide her with what she wants andher insistence benefits everyone around her. Carlingford isbetter off for Lucilla's organization and her position, asindispensable social leader, pleases Lucilla.Confronting Individualism 61Domestic Values Lucilla's organizational skills are successful becauseher integration of male and female "ways of knowing" appealsto both men and women and so enlists their support. WhetherLucilla's motives are manipulative or not, she is a personwho practises "nonexclusion." She recognizes relationshipwith the other; she recognizes interconnectedness andinterdependence; she realizes that others "are members of anetwork of relationships on whose continuation they alldepend" (Gilligan 30). Realization of a social network ofrelationships upon which the community depends for itscontinuous survival is a realization that people mustinteract despite their differences. In a world thatrhetorically suggests that men and women inhabit differentspheres, Lucilla recognizes that some differences aregendered and that community must interact despite them. Shesees the worlds of business and of home as mutuallydependent as are people within each of those worlds; sheunderstands that men and women are mutually supporting.Since interconnection und mutual support are domesticvalues, Mrs Woodburn recognizes them when she thinks toherself that if she and Lucilla were united "they wouldcarry all before them" (372). Mrs Woodburn's recognitionthat her support or opposition would affect the strength ofLucilla's position comes rather late in the plot. Until thispoint, Mrs Woodburn, isolated in unhappy domesticity andConfronting Individualism 62lacking community, has been a disruptive force inCarlingford. Her mimicry, based in her unhappiness, makesher peers fearful of her and prevents the growth of asupport system that would ease her unhappiness. Lucilla, onthe other hand, recognizes very early on that her presencein Carlingford's social network is crucial to themaintenance of that network. She also recognizes thatostensible infallibility is the necessary condition for thesuccess of her "social mission." If she is shown to bewrong, her influence in Carlingford will fade and the townwill be left without proper society. While the definition ofproper society may seem, from the regularity of Lucilla's"Evenings," to be quantitative, a matter of enough socialoccasions, the lack of social gatherings indicates adifferent social problem. Despite a good deal of irony inthe narrator's earlier lament about this lack, socialgatherings, by this point in the text, create a networkamong the women who do not seem to have many otheropportunities to develop connections. "Selfish husbands,"social decorum, and familial commitments keep these womenrelatively isolated in their homes, unable to give orreceive support."Society," in other words, becomes synonymous with"community." Lucilla's mission is more significant thannumerous parties given for the elite because those occasionsgive people a chance to interact and to form a network ofConfronting Individualism 63community support. Consequently, when she knows Cavendish isin danger of being exposed as a fraud, Lucilla does notrejoice or further his downfall despite having cause to doso; instead, she rescues him without letting anyone elserealize what she is doing:If it should really come to pass that anadventurer had been received into the best societyof Carlingford. . . . the judgment which mightovertake the careless shepherds who had admittedthe wolf into the fold was much more in MissMarjoribanks's mind than any question of abstractjustice. (172)Societal concerns as well as maintenance of her own powercontextualize Lucilla's manoeuverings: relationships must bemaintained.As we have seen in the discussion of Helen Huntingdon,Carol Gilligan's research into the psychological developmentof men and women indicates that men, generally, valueseparation (or individuation) and women value connection.The consequence of this difference is that men concentrateon justice and women concentrate on caring for others(Gilligan 50 ff). Behaviours that develop from these goalsare both beneficial in that they offer autonomy andsupportive environments respectively; they may also havedrawbacks--namely aggressive behaviour and self-destructiveself-sacrifice. Although the application of these valuesConfronting Individualism 64tends to be gendered, the values are not intrinsicallymasculine and feminine. Instead, they are complementary andconcentration on either value, to the exclusion of theother, only accentuates the negative results of that value.Gilligan describes the third stage of development as the onein which integration of those values occurs. Integration, aswe have seen with Helen Huntingdon, is Gilligan's definitionof maturity: "starting from . . . the different ideologiesof justice and care, the men and women in the study come, inthe course of becoming adult, to a greater understanding ofboth points of view and thus to a greater convergence injudgment" (167). Caring and practical justice are concernsLucilla incorporates. Her sense of justice as practical, not"abstract," means she will not entertain Cavendish's futureproposal because of his deceptions, but her sense ofconnection means that she will help him avoid detection. Theresult is not the characterization of a woman who is purelyvirtuous or purely mercenary. In this context, Lucilla'sintegration of qualities that enable her to maintainrelationship cross gender boundaries just as the descriptionof Lucilla's body as both masculine and feminine does.Lucilla's relationship with her father displays hernegotiation of cultural stereotypes which define femininity,any female desire to be powerful, and female caring. Sherepeatedly avows that "the grand object in [her] life is tobe a comfort to papa," which is as it should be for aConfronting Individualism 65daughter in domestic fiction (56). Yet, the object ofLucilla's life cannot be only to look after her fatherbecause she does a great deal more which might not beconsidered looking after him. The "Evenings," for example,are a revision of Dr Marjoribanks' dinners, but they are nowLucilla's. Dr Marjoribanks has been known to leave the partyquietly: "The Doctor . . . had gradually veered into acorner, and from thence had finally managed to escapedownstairs to his beloved library" (124). 18 Her duty to herfather, instead of limiting Lucilla as one might suppose,gives her the freedom to influence a large social circlebecause his presence legitimizes her refusal of marriage andprovides her with a chaperon who does not interfere with herplans, who even takes pleasure in her success.Nonetheless, Lucilla's concern for his well-being andher grief over his death show that she does not consider herfather a pawn in her social campaign either. As she growsolder and further away from the girl who alarmed her fatherwith "her sobs of . . . emotion" (31), she becomes solidlyconnected to the genre of domestic goodness. She does care18 While Lucilla's father muses that it would have been"a much more sensible arrangement . . . if he had had [Tom],instead of his sister . . . who no doubt would have knownhow to manage [Lucilla]" (63-64), his influence no doubtcontributes to her adeptness. In school Lucilla switchesfrom fiction to political economy in an attempt to interactwith him better: "'Papa thought me too young . . . but, dearMiss Martha, you will let me learn all about politicaleconomy and things, to help me manage everything'" (33). Sherealizes that her romantic imaginings are not suited to herfather's temperament and adjusts.Confronting Individualism 66for her father, but her concern for him gives her room tomanoeuvre socially and she sees no difficulty in combiningboth goals. Although a critic might not describe LucillaMarjoribanks as a realistically drawn character, she couldnot be described as simplistic. Lucilla incorporates herneeds with others': she acknowledges that the justice thatwould condemn Cavendish, for example, is ineffectual unlessplaced in the context of social needs. Like HelenHuntingdon, she integrates qualities often seen as opposedto each other:While an ethic of justice [masculine] proceedsfrom the premise of equality . . . an ethic ofcare [feminine] rests on the premise ofnonviolence. . . . In the representation ofmaturity, both perspectives converge . .(Gilligan 174)Convergent perspectives mean that autonomy is possible butseparation is not. Brontë in The Tenant portrays convergencewhich rests on the complementarity of men and women. As theparallels between Helen Huntingdon and Lucilla Marjoribankssuggest, Oliphant follows Bronte's psychological portrait inMiss Marjoribanks as Lucilla's self develops as a result ofconvergence. That these two women writers share a particularpsychological understanding implies its currency for theirculture. If so, this patern of development provides analternative to an individualism that constructs an atomisticConfronting Individualism 67self--that is, a person whose responsibilities are self-oriented instead of other-oriented.Individualism and CommunityIn Lucilla's self-construction, personal rights andsocial responsibility co-exist, then, in an understanding ofself that avoids the negative aspects of atomism such asseparation. Lucilla Marjoribanks "exists," in her mind aswell as in ours, as a social creation; she is aware ofsocial models and follows them. Oliphant draws her reader'sattention to the books Lucilla is reading to highlight thisawareness. As a result, Lucilla does not understand how tobe an atomistic individual, although the concept is centralto her society's liberalism. Mr Cavendish behavesatomistically. He flirts with Barbara Lake without anythought for the consequences. He runs away from Carlingfordwhen difficulties arise, not worrying that he leaves behindhis sister, Mrs Woodburn, to answer for him. But hissister's reaction to him counteracts his supposition that hehas no effect on others: "'If you were to let things besaid, and give people an advantage, think what would becomeof me'" (191). Cavendish's dependence on Lucilla'sgenerosity further illustrates his mistake in believinghimself separate from his peers. Lucilla is generous to himbecause she believes he is connected to his peers. Learningto "rule" Carlingford from her books of political economy,Confronting Individualism 68Lucilla is aware of social forces shaping her life and thatof her society. Similarly, she is a character about whom weread to see how she shapes and is shaped by socialconstraints.Other female characters in Miss Marjoribanks alsointeract in complex ways with the constraints they liveunder but have a very different experience from Lucilla's.Their difficulties originate in society's devaluation oftheir supporting roles even while it demands that theseroles be performed. This novel demands its readers recognizethat women are expected to conform to two ideals, that ofindividualism and that of community, but these two idealsare constructed in such a way that they cannot both beachieved by any one person. Further, achievement patternsare gendered. Cavendish expects his sister to act as hedoes, as an individual; she should not hold him responsiblefor their difficulties, nor should she expect him to helpher. She, however, cannot act as irresponsibly as he does.She is mired in domesticity. Domesticity may lead to adefinition of community wherein the practice of women'slives translates into a privileging of social interaction.Individualism, on the other hand, fuels an understanding ofself as developing apart from other people. Related to theidea of male and female spheres, a separation exists betweenindividualism and community which leads to that conflictbetween valuing one's self and valuing others' selves.Confronting Individualism 69All too easily this dualistic view which separatescommunity and individuality acquires hierarchical overtoneswhen it is represented and one view is privileged over theother. It is women like Mrs Woodburn who are left out. She,the mimic who keeps Carlingford in fear of her accurate andunkind portrayals, thinks of Lucilla as particularlyprivileged:it would be very foolish of [her] to marry, andforfeit all her advantages, and take somebodyelse's anxieties upon her shoulders, and neverhave any money except what she asked from herhusband. (374)Mrs Woodburn's cynical comment not only indicates the stateof her married life but also suggests that marriage is notas idyllic as conventionally presented. Her sourness remindsthe reader that the community sees Lucilla's social power,however strong, as tied to her singleness; people assumethat that power will change or diminish once she marries.Now that Lucilla has not married despite numerouspredictions that she will, Mrs Woodburn is no longer certainof the inevitablity of Lucilla's being caught in thatsmaller network of connection.Since the smaller community of husband and childrenregulates Mrs Woodburn's life to an abusive extent, it isnot surprising that she sees Lucilla as living outside ofcommunity. But, like all who indulge in social guessworkConfronting Individualism 70about Lucilla's psychic make-up, she is wrong. Lucilla hasformed an autonomous self without seeing the need to removeit from domestic principles of community. Oliphant mocksself-gratifying presentations of domesticity, but sheendorses the principles behind domesticity. As Oliphantsupports domesticity, her character, Miss Marjoribanks cantake on everyone's anxieties without internalizing them. Sheis able, accordingly, to help Mrs Mortimer marry ArchbishopBeverley even though she has expected his proposal herself,which was "enough to have driven a young woman of ordinarymind half out of her senses with disgust and indignation"(216). But, as she says, "'. . . it is not [Mrs Mortimer's]fault if she knew him before, or if he was in love withher,'. . . And . . . the crisis was at an end" (216). Asthis sacrifice shows, marriage will not be Lucilla's firstexperience of living in community. Marriage for MissMarjoribanks can only be a sharpening of focus, not a changeof direction. She will therefore be unlikely to forfeit heradvantages; she has too much experience.Lucilla wishes to cont/ol Carlingford because of herinterest in maintaining community. To do so, she ignores thesocial rhetoric that refuses to acknowledge the genderdifferences it has constructed in its separation of thetheory of individualism from the practice of community.19Although individualism and community consist of boththeory and practice, individualism is represented more astheory and community as practice.Confronting Individualism 71The division of women and men into different spheres resultsin a privileging of one way of living over another. Lucillarefuses to acknowledge the validity of that privileging andfulfils her "woman's" role as if it were valued. Lucillaprivileges others, however complex her motivations for doingso might be.2° Her choice to do so involves ignoring theideal of the individual: she separates individualisticmotivations completely from her own. She does nothing andsays nothing that would place her in a male world of overtpolitical action, a world of individuals.IntegrationIndeed, Lucilla's marriage to Tom Marjoribanks may beconstrued as a further act of integration. The littledescription we have of Tom before his abrupt departure forIndia and after his precipitous return indicates that he hasmatured in the ten years in between the two events andbecome an interesting match for Lucilla. Initially, however,Tom seems the least likely candidate. In the beginning ofthe novel, she greets news of his arrival with: "'TomMarjoribanks! . . . Of all people in the world, and at thismoment!'" (51). Her anxiety proves well-founded; he is20 Sections of the text demonstrate the irony directed atthe heroine's inability to see anything but her grand designat the expense of others (Blackwood's 688). Excerpts in theBlackwood's edition, which do not appear in the Viragoedition, are particularly ironic. Unfortunately, I do not yetknow Oliphant's level of involvement in these revisions.Confronting Individualism 72physically and socially clumsy and he nearly causes Lucillato fumble at the beginning of her social mission. Moreimportantly though, her consent to his proposal of marriagewould involve the end of Lucilla's plans. "'I am called tothe bar, and I can work for you, and make a reputation'"(95). Miss Marjoribanks hardly wants someone to work forher; she prefers to work for her father and for Carlingfordand, through them, for her own reputation. Tom sees neitherLucilla's genius nor its transformative potential. He wantsLucilla to be responsible for what happens inside the homehis work will have provided and then to play thestereotypical female role by acting as his moral guardian:"'and if you will not have me, I will not answer for theconsequences. If I go off to India, or if I go to the bad ---'" (96). Tom, having received Lucilla's firm "no," ignoresher advice about packing and creates "a succession ofdreadful thumps" jumping on his trunk (97). Even hisinarticulate anger is a sign of his immaturity whichcontrasts clearly and ironically with Lucilla's calmmagnanimity.Tom's removal to India and immersion in the differenceof that exotic land 21 seems to have a beneficial effect onhim. Although he is quite as clumsy as ever, he is morearticulate, a symptom of his "unlooked-for perspicuity"21 The construction of India as exotic "other" and evenas a container for English impulses towards nonconformitycomes from Christine Stewart's presentation on Dec. 2, 1992.Confronting Individualism 73(474) which is so surprising as to cause Lucilla to sit down"in consternation." Tom has become "clear-sighted" enough tounderstand a social situation and decisive enough tomanoeuvre through it. Although these developedcharacteristics indicate Tom's refinement over the past tenyears, they do not necessarily distinguish him fromLucilla's other suitors. His similarity to the other suitorsis especially clear when he misunderstands Lucilla's plansand, consequently, tries to offer her a patriarchalalternative: "now you are in my hands I mean to take care ofyou, Lucilla" (484). He soon realizes his mistake and thatrecognition distinguishes him. Furthermore, his ability tobe emotional sets him apart from Mr Cavendish and MrAshburton. Tom cries when Lucilla indirectly agrees to marryhim: "and though he had such a beard, and was twice as bigand strong as he used to be, there were big tears in thegreat fellow's eyes" (476). He has brought the feminine intohis life. This integration of feminine and masculinecharacteristics makes him an acceptable complement to thecontrolled, but not unemotional, Lucilla.Theory and Practice Lucilla's marriage to Tom is useful to her in a waythat conventional marriages are not. His feminization andher retention of name and power both underline theintegration of qualities by which Lucilla is defined. ThisConfronting Individualism 74integration is complex and puzzles her friends. Lucillamoves so completely within a domestic ideal and yet is suchan unusual person that other characters do not believe hersayings because they contradict her personality. Herpersonality is distinctive but each of her pronouncementsindicates a lack of self. Her peers and her readers havedifficulty believing her because we conflate eccentricitywith individuality and maintenance of social relationshipswith self-sacrifice. Lucilla does not see the conflict: shefinds her self in her connections with others. She theorizesan ideal of community out of her lived and read experienceand then intensifies those experiences further, practisingher theory. Her success at manoeuvring Carlingford societyinto alignment with her plans only reinforces her beliefsthat social interactions prevent social calamities. Tenyears after she has saved Mr Cavendish from exposure as afraud by bringing him face to face with his enemies, Lucilladoes not need to resort to such dramatic strategy to helpher independent candidate face her conservative friends. Nowher network has been built and prevents crises fromdeveloping beyond her control. The success of one venturegives Lucilla the experience to refine her strategies.This characterization of Lucilla Marjoribanks creates aparadox. Living community thoroughly makes Miss Marjoribanksan individual, a "woman of genius." She reverses thetheory/practice alignment: here, practice leads to theConfronting Individualism 75articulation of a theory which is further practised. Bytheorising about the community aspects of her life she, oneof the few people in the novel who does reflect (hooks 80),makes that desired "individuality" a by-product, not a goal,of her own communally based theory. Lucilla truly lives incommunity and acknowledges that fact: and thatacknowledgement of community makes her unique. Lucilla takesindividualism to its logical extreme of separation fromlived experience by ignoring it in her lived experience and,thus, she deconstructs it. Individualism is proven a myth.People are never pure individuals; they always shape and areshaped by the people they live with and read about. 22 MrsWoodburn and Miss Marjoribanks have an impact on each other;each is shaped by the experiences the other subjects her to.The existence of community may be made rhetoricallyinvisible, but this discursive absence does not preventcommunity from exerting influence.In domestic fiction and in Miss Marjoribanks, thearticulation of moral understanding as a complex,interconuected negotiation of relationship is also anarticulation of a theory of community. Further, a theory ofcommunity and moral understanding both derive from practice,from lived experience, whereas individualist practicederives from a commitment to the theory. Practice comesbefore theory in community, theory before practice in22 See Karen Burke LeFevre, Invention As A Social Act (1987).Confronting Individualism 76individualism, bell hooks (1992) speaks of "our livedexperience of theorizing" and the possibility of practising"theorizing without ever possessing the term" (hooks 80).hooks' commonsense conception of theory links it toresponsibility:[the] privileged act of naming often affords thosein power access to modes of communication thatenable them to project a definition of theiractions that may obscure what is really takingplace. (80)In the nineteenth century (and now) a privileging of thewords "unique" and "individual" obscures the communalcontext for individuality. Oliphant depicts the reality ofindividual women's lives as she understood it. She showswomen characters in half-antagonistic meetings in the snowas they seek to do what is right for the community and fortheir families (373-5). She creates scenes in which womenshare silent moments of acquiescence to plans that will keepcommunity intact and their place in it continuous: "Lucilla,with an intonation that was not intended for Mrs Chiley[said], 'and I always stand by my friends.' . . . And shehad her reward." For on this night, Mrs Woodburn rises tothe occasion, helps Lucilla keep her "Evening" on track and,in the process, parodies the Archdeacon who threatens thecohesiveness of their community: "Whether it was that littlespeech of hers which touched the mimic's heart, or [not] . .Confronting Individualism 77. [s]he shook off her languor as by a sudden inspiration,and gave such a sketch of the Archdeacon as up to this dayis remembered more clearly in Carlingford than the manhimself" (173-74). When Mrs Woodburn uses her talents, likeLucilla, in the service of her community, the result isspectacular.But Oliphant does not assert the superiority offeminine domesticity over masculine individuality. Despiteproviding a space for women to practise power, domesticityis oppressive. It demands women's compliance and theirsubservience. Women are not given much freedom to choose toincorporate masculine behaviours into their lives. Becauseindividualism is associated with a male sphere, women havevery little autonomy and this lack disables women as much asseparation disables men. When Miss Marjoribanks reverses thepractice and theory of society, therefore, this negativeaspect of domestic ideology is denied. Her autonomy lies inher commitment to domestic principles; the act of commitmentis enabling.Because a margil of resistance exists within anyideological structure,23 Lucilla's commitment todomesticity further undermines domesticity. Lucilla's totalcompliance is surprising and ends up jolting the reader's23 Christine Stewart and Jenny Lawn in a presentation onDec. 2, 1992 highlight this aspect of ideology. RaymondWilliams also points this out when he talks about dominant,residual, and emergent aspects of ideology.Confronting Individualism 78expectations more than any incident of resistance that mightend with the heroine's repentance. If we compare, forinstance, Lucilla Marjoribanks with Elizabeth Bennet, werecognize that the discontent with the system that Elizabethfeels does not prevent her marriage to Darcy. She adjustsherself to extract the best from the system, but she doesnot challenge it. She matures and, consequently, becomes amoral leader in her society. Lucilla does not need to maturein the same way. She never deviates from her plan to livewith her father and to marry ten years later. She alwayssays the correct thing. The only discontent she articulatesis only that her peers do not live up to her standards,though those standards might be difficult to uphold: "shehad found out that the most powerful exertions in behalf offriends not only fail to procure their gratitude, butsometimes convert them into enemies" (338). Lucilla'sperfect decorum and her refusal to articulate any discontentor to complain of any difficulties act like silence. Herrefusal to speak becomes a place in which women's potentialis protected from patriarchal interpretations. When DrMarjoribanks tells Lucilla that Cavendish is coming home tocompete in the election, for example, he expects her torealize that she deserves this setback, not having "'kept[her] own place'" (357). Even though all her plans arethreatened by this news, Lucilla reveals very little of herturmoil. Her refusal to acknowledge upset or defeatConfronting Individualism 79confounds her father who sees her strength as a reason toconsider supporting her candidate. She does not share herproblems with him, so he cannot interpret her difficultiesto be the weakness that should have confined her to herplace.Miss Marjoribanks, in other words, achieves power andsubversion by ignoring possible techniques of power andsubversion. Her explicit compliance with all the rules ofpatriarchy makes both the rules and the system lookridiculous at the same time as it confirms her as anautonomous person. Oliphant denies external and internalpower structures when she has her protagonist use phrasesthat are seemingly devoid of any meaning but are nonethelesssocially sanctioned. The articulation of such phrasesobscures Lucilla, just as Oliphant obscures herself in herAutobiography where she says, in regard to her decision tomarry her cousin: "It is not a matter into which I can enterhere" (Autobiography 28). Certainly Oliphant's reticencecomes from her belief that it would not be proper to discusssomething so personal nor to sell memories, but in addition,her refusal to speak about this issue, her silence, leavesan aspect of her life untouched by ideological meaning. Sheremoves her life from the interpretation created by thereader's ability or need to construct meaning from her wordswithin ideological constraints. She may not escape her ownconstruction of those words, nor may she escape her reader'sConfronting Individualism 80construction of what she does or does not say, but she issafe from our divining her intent. Reading Lucilla as anembodiment of subversion rests on this understanding ofmanipulation of language. Lucilla may not offer her peers,nor Oliphant her readers, a clear sense of what lies behindthe persona, but in Miss Marjoribanks someone clearly doesexist who has goals larger than running Carlingford's socialscene: "[she] was a Power in Carlingford . . . but there islittle good in the existence of a Power unless it can bemade use of for some worthy end" (395). Short glimpses ofthat complex self leave aspects of her characterinaccessible, irresolvable, and "free."Oliphant's characterizations of women question thevalidity of feminine stereotypes while upholding theauthority which invests women with those stereotypes.Oliphant's Lucilla Marjoribanks is powerful because she isstereotypical. While Miss Marjoribanks' silence is not aviable strategy for modern-day negotiators of women's roles,the challenge of the text resides in the spaces it obscures.Nancy Armstrong talks about domestic fiction as the genremiddle-class women used to address those challenges in theirquest for power:domestic fiction actively sought to disentanglethe language of sexual relations from the languageof politics and, in so doing, to introduce a newform of political power. This power emerged withConfronting Individualism 81the rise of the domestic woman and establishedits hold over British culture through herdominance over all those objects and practices weassociate with private life. (3)In this fashion, Armstrong grants women a great deal ofagency for the separation of the domestic sphere from thebusiness or public sphere. While I would not go so far as tosuggest that women engineered domestic ideals, they probablyrecognized that some power could be achieved by complyingwith their new roles. Domestic fiction communicates thoseroles; the genre becomes authoritative, just as LucillaMarjoribanks does, by obscuring the gaps between reality androle models: they "seized the authority to say what wasfemale," or at least to refine the definition (Armstrong 5).That type of power and that redefinition of self is a matterof negotiation; it belongs to and differs from the placethat gives rise to it. Any theory of the power inherent incommunity must take into account the rigid definition ofcommunity. The limitations of the domestic sphere aresimultaneously mocked and upheld in Oliphant's work: anotherexample of negotiating cultural ideology. These negotiationsresemble our own negotiations in this century even with ourown theories."[Theory] is not inherently healing, liberatory, orrevolutionary" (hooks 80), not even feminist theory. Theorycan have such effects, however, when it is based in women'sConfronting Individualism 82lives and pain, when women create their own theory. In theprocess of reading many women who write about ideology asbeing influenced by and influencing domestic novels, I havecome to realize that Oliphant, that other women writers, andincreasingly, that women critics write theory. All thesewomen write their lives even when they aren't writingautobiography and all--consciously or not--seek to discovera woman's voice to write in. The theoretical debate aboutthe power structure that informs domestic novels andcharacters is a necessary part of any feminist critique,with or without any resolution,24 because it is acommitment to multiple readings. Feminist critics commit topossibility, not to definition, of the selves we encounterin reading the text. Miss Marjoribanks is named for acharacter who has feminine and masculine characteristics,who silences personal motivation in her community-basedactions, and who refuses to separate herself from hercommunity. Such characterization reflects the social natureof women's writing, of Oliphant's writing, which resistsdefinition of self. Instead, Oliphant's novel is theory--theory about women and their place within culture--; Miss Marjoribanks is potential and possibility articulatedsomewhere in the silence.24 See Judith Lauder Newton, Women, Power, Subversion(1981) and Nancy Armstrong, Desire and Domestic Fiction (1987).Conclusion 83CONCLUSIONIn her 1992 Ms. Article, bell hooks talks about theorythat is not named:When our lived experience of theorizing isfundamentally linked to processes of self-recovery, of collective liberation, no gap existsbetween theory and practice. .^. Yet . . . thepossession of a term does not bring a process orpractice into being; concurrently one may practicetheorizing without ever possessing the term.(hooks 80)hooks neatly deflates any ideas that being able to theorizeconveys superiority. Her discussion questions theappropriateness of forming canons based on new theories letalone on theories that have survived the old canon. Theprocess involved in unnamed theorising--hooks' "reflecting"--describes The Tenant and Miss Marjoribanks; in thesenovels, women characters are depicted thinking about howthey can manipulate the structures that define their dailyschedule in order to serve themselves and their communitybest. Titles like mother, wife, and single social leaderboth constrain and enhance women's freedom. Consistently,Helen and Lucilla engage in a continuous series of complexnegotiations with their culture, particularly with culturaldefinitions of their role.In both The Tenant and Miss Marioribanks, domesticityConclusion 84is held in high esteem. The texts suggest that domesticvalues are not just for women but also for men. Brontërepresents men as suffering great temptations due toexposure to degenerate behaviour but she does not suggestthat men are inherently bad; rather she suggests thatenvironmental pressures outside the home are difficult toovercome. When challenged about the extent she protects herson from the temptations that are considered a man's dutyto overcome, Helen replies:"as for my son--if I thought he would grow up tobe what you call a man of the world . . . eventhough he should so far profit by it, as to soberdown, at length, into a useful and respectedmember of society--I would rather that he died."(57)To make her point stronger, Helen compares the upbringinggiven to girls and boys. She criticizes the assumption thatboys are more able to avoid temptation than girls (57). Shethus notes that even though society prepares a space forwomen that is more conducive to their moral development thanthe space assigned to boys, this generosity is due to abelief in inherent female inferiority.Oliphant, in Miss Marjoribanks, follows Bran-16'sconception of the domestic sphere as moral but alsoconcentrates on the practical benefits men can derive fromsuch a conception. Domesticity involves daily interactionsConclusion 85with people and sees attachment to those people as necessaryfor the maintenance of society. Oliphant manufactures eventsin which the men of the town rely on Miss Marjoribanks'judgement for social and political matters. Lucillaempathizes with people; she learns what they want bylistening to them. That knowledge is invaluable inmaintaining Mr Cavendish's social standing and for runningMr Ashburton's successful political campaign. Herexperiences benefit these men, and her studies of theirexperiences--reading political economy--are partlyresponsible for her strategies for the maintenance of poweramong Carlingford's women.Domestic ideology emphasizes connection, while thephilosophy that fuels the masculine sphere emphasizesautonomy signified by expressions of individuality. NeitherBrontë nor Oliphant privileges one goal over another. Infact, they reveal the potential pettiness and maliciousnessof domestic life; Ferndale and Carlingford are full ofrumours and gossip. Women spread slander and pass incorrectmoral judgements. These texts do not gloss over theshortsightedness that may exist in communities of women, butaim instead for a combination of masculine and femininequalities.Marriage represents the complementarity of feminine andmasculine in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Bronte'sdeployment of narrative genders two distinct genres; HelenConclusion 86Huntingdon's diary follows sentimental ideals, while GilbertMarkham's letters follow the conventions of romance. Themarriage of Helen and Gilbert symbolizes a marriage of thegenres and produces realist fiction. Similarly, thismarriage represents the integration of feminine andmasculine spheres. This integration can only happen becausethe individual characters have recognized the potentialbenefits of integrating their complementary characteristics.Yet the marriage, the time at which this integration isachieved, also signals the removal of Helen's voice. Despitethe recognition that people benefit from both masculine andfeminine characteristics, the woman's voice is the one whichdisappears into the man's home life. This contradictionexemplifies the complexity of social interactions; spacesfor women that are radical exist inside spaces that areconservative.The presence of silence in Miss Marioribanks onlyconfirms the intricacy of women's negotiations. Here,silence is not so much an absence of words as an absence ofa fuller sense of the character. Oliphant seems to deny thereader access to Lucilla's analyzes of the people sheencounters, her thoughts, her emotions, and her motivations.All the information we have about Lucilla fuels a belief inher characterization as stereotypical. But that typicalityenhances the experience of community because reading thenovel means participating in the community of readers andConclusion 87recognizing the characteristics of domestic fiction thatthis novel adheres to. Here silence seems to protectthe character from interpretation; Lucilla's freedom restsin not having her thoughts judged.In Miss Marjoribanks, Oliphant places Lucilla in aseamless framework of domesticity protecting her character'sthoughts from ideological interpretation even while heractions comply with domestic ideals. That Lucilla isindispensable to Carlingford clearly confirms theeffectiveness of domestic power; even within domesticity andfemininity, Lucilla is powerful across lines of genderedbehaviour. At the same time as it is depicted as beneficialand positive, Lucilla's femininity is depicted as acombination of masculine and feminine characteristics. Onphysical and emotional levels, Lucilla incorporatesmasculinity into her persona. Her integration of thesecharacteristics enables her effectiveness.Oliphant's characterization of Lucilla directlychallenges the philosophy of individualism. Inindividualism, autonomous personhood is the goal ofdevelopment. Individualism provides the rhetoric thatjustifies the division of masculine and feminine spheres.These spheres, as we have seen, really break down into oneplace for men's individual achievement and another place inwhich women support men in their struggle for individualachievement. Clearly, individualism supports the idea of aConclusion 88masculine sphere; it articulates and grants validity to whatis already happening. The challenge to the philosophycentres in Lucilla's achievement of individuality. She is anindividual, however, because she is immersed in community.The concept becomes ridiculous when its successfulattainment clearly depends on dependency and connectionamong members of the community. Yet the presence in Miss Marjoribanks of women characters who suffer in a way Lucilladoes not means that femininity is not expected to replacemasculinity as the most viable social rhetoric. Lucilla hastwo benefits they do not: she is single, and sheincorporates masculine autonomy into her personality. Beingsingle allows her to develop over a period of time in whichshe is not subject to her husband's desires. Autonomy meansthat Lucilla will never be completely dependent andconsequently her relationships with men will be based onmutual dependence.The characters and genres used in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and in Miss Marjoribanks interact with theirauthors' nineteenth-century contexts and, consequently,produce fiction that is overtly located in its world.Critics and readers, aware of new historicism and aware oftheir own personality present in reading, articulate thisinteraction regularly. And yet, the difficulty of findingcopies of these books--or, indeed, critical responses tothem--suggests that critics must continue to pay attentionConclusion 89to the contexts of marginal writing. We need also, ofcourse, to recognize that the philosophies that underpinVictorian fiction are forces in our own. Men and women livein different, socially-constructed spheres. Men's lives arestill more highly valued on the basis of theirindividuality. Women's lives, as Nadya Aisenberg and MonaHarrington discuss in Women in Academe (1988), are stillcharacterized as existing apart from men's world of actionalthough supporting it, even when they hold professionalpositions within that world: "Around this central theme ofsupport for men or male-run institutions, any number ofsubplots are possible, but not another major plot. Themarriage plot preempts alternatives." This subordinationcontinues to be the case "even among women who have come ofage after the advent of the woman's movement" (Aisenberg 6-7). Brontë and Oliphant are clear that women are notinnately domestic or supportive and that social expectationsform the women characters and the plots we read. Asnovelists, they are aware of both masculine and femininetraditions of writing and also of the ways those traditionscan complement each other; they interact with their culturethrough their novels. Bronte's and Oliphant's complexnegotiations with cultural definitions of women offers anunderstanding of female self-definition to readers of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and Miss Marjoribanks.Works Cited 90WORKS CITED AND CONSULTEDAisenberg, Nadya and Mona Harrington. Women of Academe: Outsiders in the Sacred Grove. Amherst: U ofMassachusetts P, 1988.Armstrong, Frances. Dickens and the Concept of Home. AnnArbour: U.M.I. Research Press, 1990.Armstrong, Nancy. Desire and Domestic Fiction: A Political History of the Novel. New York: Oxford UP, 1987.Auerbach, Nina. Communities of Women: An Idea in Fiction.Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard UP, 1978.Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. Ed. Frank W. Bradbrook.London: Oxford UP, 1970.Berg, Margaret Mary. "The Tenant of Wildfell Hall: AnneBronte's Jane Eyre." The Victorian Newsletter 71(Spring 1987): 10-16.Blake, Andrew. Reading Victorian Fiction: The Cultural Context and Ideological Content of the Nineteenth-Century Novel. New York: St Martin's, 1989.Brontë, Anne. Agnes Grey. 1847. London: Penguin, 1988.---. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. 1848. Ed. G.D. Hargreaves.London: Penguin, 1979.---. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Ed. Herbert Rosengarten.Clarendon Editions of the Novels of the Brontës.Oxford: Clarendon, 1992.Brontë, Charlotte. "Biographical Notice of Ellis and ActonBell." Agnes Grey. London: Penguin, 1988. 51-58.Works Cited 91Villette. Ed. Margaret Smith and Herbert Rosengarten.The World's Classics. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1990.Brown, Gillian. Domestic Individualism: Imagining Self inNineteenth-Century America. The New Historicism:Studies in Cultural Poetics 14. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt.Berkeley: U of California P, 1990.Cixous, Helêne. "The Laugh of the Medusa." New French Feminisms: An Anthology. Eds. Elaine Marks and Isabellede Courtivron. Amherst: U of Massachusetts P, 1980.245-264.. "Sorties." Newly Born Woman. Helêne Cixous andCatherine Clement. Trans. Betsy Wing. Theory andHistory of Literature, Vol. 24. Minneapolis: U ofMinnesota P, 1986.Colby, Vineta and Robert A. The Equivocal Virtue: Mrs. Oliphant and the Victorian Literary Marketplace. ?:Archon, 1966.Coultrap-McQuin, Susan. Doing Literary Business: American Women in the Nineteenth-Century. Chapel Hill: U ofNorth Carolina P. 1990.Craik, W.A. "The Tenant of Wildfell Hall." The Brontës.Ed. Harold Bloom. Modern Critical Views. New York:Chelsea House, 1987. 37-56.Dijkstra, Bram. Idols of Perversity: Fantasies of Feminine Evil in Fin-de-Siècle Culture. New York: Oxford UP,1986.Works Cited 92Eagleton, Terry. Myths of Power: A Marxist Study of the Brontës. London: Macmillan, 1975.Edmund, Rod. Affairs of the Hearth: Victorian Poetry and Domestic Narrative. London: Routledge, 1988.Ewbank, Inga-Stina. Their Proper Sphere: A Study of the Brontë Sisters as Early-Victorian Female Novelists.London: Edward Arnold, 1966.Farwell, Marilyn R. "Heterosexual Plots and LesbianSubtexts: Toward a Theory of Lesbian Narrative Space."Lesbian Texts and Contexts: Radical Revisions. Ed.Karla Jay and Joanne Glasgow. Feminist Crosscurrents.Ed. Kathleen Barry. New York: New York UP, 1990. 91-103.Figes, Eva. Sex and Subterfuge: Women Writers to 1850. NewYork: Persea, 1982.Foster, Shirley. Victorian Women's Fiction: Marriage, Freedom and the Individual. London: Croom Helm, 1985.Frey, Olivia. "Beyond Literary Darwinism: Women's Voices andCritical Discourse." College English 52 (1990): 507-526.Frye, Northrop. Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays.Princeton: Princeton UP, 1957.Fulweiler, Howard. "'Here a Captive Heart Busted': FromVictorian Sentimentality to Modern Sexuality."Sexuality and Victorian Literature. Ed. Don RichardCox. Tennessee Studies in Victorian Literature 27.Works Cited 93Knoxville, Tennessee: U of Tennessee P, 1987. 234-250.Gaskell, Elizabeth. Wives and Daughters. Ed. Angus Easson.The World's Classics. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1987.Gerin, Winifred. "Introduction." The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Anne Brontë. London: Penguin, 1979. 7-18.Gilligan, Carol. In A Different Voice: Psychological Theoryand Women's Development. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard UP,1982.Gordon, Felicia. A Preface to the Brontës. London: Longman,1989.Goreau, Angeline. "Introduction." Agnes Grey. Anne Brontë.London: Penguin, 1988. 7-47.Holman, C. Hugh and William Harman. A Handbook to Literature. Fifth edition. New York: Macmillan, 1986.hooks, bell. "Out of the Academy and into the Streets." Ms. 3 (July/August 1992): 80-82.Kelley, Mary. Private Woman, Public Stage: LiteraryDomesticity in Nineteenth-Century America.  New York:Oxford UP, 1984.Langland, Elizabeth. Anne Brontë: The Other One. WomenWriters. Eds. Eva Figes and Adele King. Totowa, NJ:Barnes and Noble, 1989.LeFevre, Karen Burke. Invention as a Social Act. Studies inWriting and Rhetoric. Carbondale, Illinois: SouthernIllinois UP, 1987.McMaster, Juliet. "'Imbecile Laughter' and 'DesperateWorks Cited 94Earnest' in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall." Modern Language Quarterly 43.4 (December 1982): 352-368.McNall, Sally Allen. Who Is In The House? A Psychological Study of Two Centuries of Women's Fiction in America, 1795 to the Present. New York: Elsevier, 1981.Meier, T.K. "The Tenant of Wildfell Hall: Morality as Art."Revue des Langues Vivantes 39 (1973): 59-62.Mendus, Susan and Jane Rendall. Introduction. Sexuality and Subordination: Interdisciplinary Studies of Gender in the Nineteenth Century. Eds. Susan Mendus and JaneRendall. London: Routledge, 1989. 1-17.Mill, John Stuart. On Liberty. 1859. Ed. GertrudeHimmelfarb. Penguin Classics. Harmondsworth: Penguin,1987.Newton, Judith Lauder. Women, Power, Subversion: Social Strategies in British Fiction, 1778-1860. Athens,Georgia: U of Georgia P, 1981.Oliphant, Margaret. Autobiography and Letters of Mrs Margaret Oliphant. Ed. Mrs Harry Coghill. Leicester:Leicester UP, 1974.---. Chronicles of Carlingford: Miss Marioribanks. ViragoClassics 300. London: Virago, 1988.- . "The Great Unrepresented." Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine 100 (September 1866): 367-379.- . "Miss Marjoribanks. -- Part V." Blackwood's EdinburghMagazine 97 (June 1865): 675-696.Works Cited 95---. Phoebe Junior. Virago Classics 310. London: Virago,1989.O'Mealy, Joseph H. "Mrs. Oliphant, Miss Marjoribanks, andthe Victorian Canon." The Victorian Newletter 82 (Fall1992): 44-49.Poovey, Mary. Uneven Developments: The Ideological Work of Gender In Mid-Victorian England. Women in Culture andSociety. Ed. Catherine Stimpson. Chicago: U of ChicagoP, 1988.Raoul, Valerie. "Habeas Corpus: Anatomy/Autonomy in Relationto Narcissism." Anatomy of Gender: Women's Struggle forthe Body. Eds. Valerie Raoul and Dawn Currie. Ottawa:Carleton UP, 1992. 259-271.Reimer, Gail Twersky. "Revisions of labor in MargaretOliphant's Autobiography." Life/Lines: Theorising Women's Autobiography. Eds. Bella Brodzki and CelesteSchenck. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1988. 203-220.Romines, Ann. Te Home Plot: Women, Writing, and Domestic Ritual. Amherst: U of Massachusetts P, 1992.Sabiston, Elizabeth Jean. The Prison of Womanhood: Four Provincial Heroines in Nineteenth-Century Fiction.London: Macmillan, 1987.Sanders, Valerie. "'Absolutely an act of duty': Choice ofProfession in Autobiographies by Victorian Women."Prose Studies 9 (December 1986): 54-70.Senf, Carol A. "The Tenant of Wildfell Hall: NarrativeWorks Cited 96Silences and Questions of Gender." College English 52(April 1990): 446-456.Siefert, Susan. The Dilemma of the Talented Heroine: A Studyin Nineteenth-Century Fiction. Monographs in Women'sStudies. Ed. Sherri Clarkson. Montreal: Eden, 1977.Showalter, Elaine. "Feminist Criticism in the Wilderness."Contemporary Literary Criticism: Literary and Cultural Studies. Ed. Robert Con Davis and Ronald Schleiffer.New York: Longman, 1989. 457-474.---. A Literature of Their Own: British Women Novelists from Brontë to Lessing. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1977.Todd, Janet. Sensibility: An Introduction. London: Methuen,1986.Tompkins, Jane. "Sentimental Power: Uncle Tom's Cabin andthe Politics of Literary History." Sentimental Designs: The Cultural Work of American Fiction 1790 -1860.  NewYork: Oxford UP, 1985. 122-146.Warhol, Robyn R. Gendered Interventions: Narrative Discourse in the Victorian Novel. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers UP,1989.Williams, Merryn. Margaret Oliphant: A Critical Biography.London: Macmillan, 1986.Winnett, Susan. "Coming Unstrung: Women, Men, Narrative, andPrinciples of Pleasure." PMLA 105 (1990): 505-518.

Cite

Citation Scheme:

        

Citations by CSL (citeproc-js)

Usage Statistics

Share

Embed

Customize your widget with the following options, then copy and paste the code below into the HTML of your page to embed this item in your website.
                        
                            <div id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidgetDisplay">
                            <script id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidget"
                            src="{[{embed.src}]}"
                            data-item="{[{embed.item}]}"
                            data-collection="{[{embed.collection}]}"
                            data-metadata="{[{embed.showMetadata}]}"
                            data-width="{[{embed.width}]}"
                            async >
                            </script>
                            </div>
                        
                    
IIIF logo Our image viewer uses the IIIF 2.0 standard. To load this item in other compatible viewers, use this url:
http://iiif.library.ubc.ca/presentation/dsp.831.1-0098790/manifest

Comment

Related Items