Plots and Proposals American Women's Fiction, 1850-90
- List Price: $45.00
- Binding: Hardcover
- Publisher: Univ of Illinois Pr
- Publish date: 03/01/2000
- ISBN: 9780252025235
- ISBN10: 0252025237
This provocative scenario provides the frame for a significant countertradition in popular nineteenth-century women's novels: the double-proposal plot, in which the heroine rejects and later accepts proposals from the same suitor.
Pioneered in Britain by Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the double-proposal plot dislodges the myth of Mr. Right and questions the all-powerful notions of true love and happily ever after. When the heroine rejects her suitor's initial proposal, she opens up the possibility of renegotiating the terms of the relationship and exploring alternative roles, even questioning the efficacy of marriage itself.
Exploring the American wing of this movement through the novels of Carolyn Hentz, Augusta Evans, Laura J. Curtis Bullard, E.D.E.N. Southworth, and Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, Karen Tracey investigates how each of these writers is constrained by her historical circumstances and how she uses her fiction to critique those conditions. Tracey also reconstructs some of the cultural conditions that would have influenced the writing, publishing, and reading of this renegade fiction.