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History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

2005

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Full-Text Articles in History

Life After Death: Widows And The English Novel, Defoe To Austen, Karen Gevirtz Dec 2004

Life After Death: Widows And The English Novel, Defoe To Austen, Karen Gevirtz

Karen Bloom Gevirtz

This monograph argues that images of the widow in the early novel served to express, explore, and construct concepts of appropriate female activity in emerging capitalism during the eighteenth century in England. Drawing on novels published between 1719 and 1818, this study investigates how different classes of widows (affluent, working class, impoverished, and criminal) functioned to challenge and affirm emerging economic values. A concluding chapter on widows in Jane Austen's work shows how changing notions of appropriate female economic activity had settled by the establishment of both the capitalist economy and the novel in the early nineteenth century.