Chapter

A Group of Noble Dames

Sophie Gilmartin and Rod Mengham

in Thomas Hardy's Shorter Fiction

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print December 2007 | ISBN: 9780748632657
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748651641 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748632657.003.0002
A Group of Noble Dames

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This chapter examines A Group of Noble Dames, a collection of stories that mostly feature cross-class relationships or marriages. It shows several ‘noble dames’ who marry men from lower classes, as well as the complications that arise over whom they have married. This can serve as an introduction to some of the confusions and detailed circumstances that appear to exercise every change of adultery, marriage, and widowhood. The chapter presents the different phases of womanhood and the performative language of the marriage vow. It notes Hardy's use of strained and complicated events that put pressure on the marriage contract, pushing it to the point of breakage or exhaustion. The chapter also considers illegitimacy, secrets of women, and how pain in these stories is expressed through dialogue.

Keywords: cross-class relationships; noble dames; adultery; widowhood; womanhood; marriage vow; marriage contract; illegitimacy; pain; secrets

Chapter.  18881 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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