By Kay Heath
Getting older through the ebook deals an leading edge examine the ways that heart age, which for hundreds of years were thought of the major of existence, used to be reworked in the course of the Victorian period right into a interval of decline. unmarried ladies have been nearing heart age at thirty, and moms of their forties have been anticipated to turn into sexless; in the meantime, fortyish males anguished over even if their “time for romance had long gone by.” taking a look at famous novels of the interval, in addition to ads, cartoons, and scientific and recommendation manuals, Kay Heath uncovers how this ideology of decline permeated a altering tradition. getting older by way of the booklet unmasks and confronts midlife nervousness by means of interpreting its origins, demonstrating that our present unfavourable perspective towards midlife springs from Victorian roots, and arguing that merely once we comprehend the culturally developed nature of age will we reveal its ubiquitous and stealthy impact.
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Additional resources for Aging by the Book: The Emergence of Midlife in Victorian Britain
R. ” expresses a deep fear of the “hundreds of thousands of women” in all social classes “who have to earn their own living, instead of spending and husbanding the earnings of men” (436). While he ﬁnds that the problem of “redundant women” is most severe among the educated and upper classes, he also suggests that 32 Aging by the Book female labor, though often preferable because cheaper, must be monitored to prevent depletion of male jobs: “If, indeed, there were only a certain ﬁxed and unaugmentable quality of work to be done, and too many hands to do it .
For this study, I have chosen novels that represent midlife aging as an essential aspect of a character’s subjectivity, even if only in subplots. Though I frequently turn to Dickens in these pages, and other novelists also play a part, as I’ve searched for nineteenth-century plots that feature middleaged characters who struggle with the repercussions of age, I’ve returned again and again to the works of Anthony Trollope, both those that have received wide critical attention as well as one that has remained relatively unknown.
This model appears in several Dickens novels of the 1830s to 1860s in which midlife mothers are satirized as inappropriate love objects when they attempt to ﬂirt and develop their own romantic possibilities instead of subsuming themselves in their children’s marriage market quests. Charlotte Brontë valorizes a widowed mother who orients her life around her daughter’s marital fortunes, but she protests against spinsters being obliged to practice the same self-sacriﬁcing behavior. Elizabeth Gaskell upholds the sexless Introduction 21 service paradigm for single women when she requires two elderly sisters to serve the next generation’s mating while denigrating the marriage of a middle-aged widow.