Chapter

<i>Sylvia's Lovers</i> (1863)

Patsy Stoneman

in Elizabeth Gaskell

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print September 2006 | ISBN: 9780719074479
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781701188 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7228/manchester/9780719074479.003.0008
Sylvia's Lovers (1863)

Show Summary Details

Preview

Like Mary Barton and Ruth, Sylvia's Lovers has its source in George Crabbe's tales of tragedy among the poor. Because the striking public events in Sylvia's Lovers seem incongruous in a ‘pastoral love-story’, they have been criticised, like many of the short stories of this period, as melodramatic. Sylvia's Lovers is not framed as a purely private story but deals explicitly with the interaction of public and private events. In particular, like North and South, it investigates the relation between aggression on a public scale and ideologies of masculinity as manifested in courtship and the family. The industrial novels traced working-class violence to frustrated parental love, and in Sylvia's Lovers, this process is ritually enacted. The novel is the third of Elizabeth Gaskell's novels to hinge around a lie, and each lie derives from a denial of female sexuality. It also appears to represent opposed ethics, but shows that each is motivated by self-interest, which is the ‘law of the market’ as well as the ‘law of the jungle’.

Keywords: Sylvia's Lovers; Elizabeth Gaskell; George Crabbe; public; private; aggression; masculinity; parental love; ethics; female sexuality

Chapter.  5864 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.