‘I’d sell my spouse if anyone would purchase her’: spouse product product sales in England

‘I’d sell my spouse if anyone would purchase her’: spouse product product sales in England

‘For my component we don’t realise why men who ‘ve got wives and don’t aim ‘em, should not get rid of ‘em since these gipsy fellows do their old horses…Why shouldn’t they place ‘em up and offer ‘em by auction to males who will be looking for such articles? Hey? Why, begad, I’d sell mine this full moment if anyone would purchase her!’

So claims the young farm labourer Michael Henchard, in just one of probably the most arresting passages in Thomas Hardy’s 1886 novel The Mayor of Casterbridge. Close to the start of the written guide, Michael gets drunk on rum-laced furmity (frumenty), and contains a disagreement together with spouse, Susan. He chooses to sell Susan and their infant child, who will be purchased with a sailor for five guineas. Whenever christiancupid Michael sobers up, the enormity of exactly just exactly what he’s done hits house; he realises he cannot get their spouse and child straight right back, and swears down alcohol for the following 21 years because of this.

The scene is shocking, no question, exactly just exactly what with Michael’s casual brutality, Susan’s misery, while the pervasive misogyny. Yet whenever it emerges that Susan normally quite keen to part methods with Michael, i will be struck by there being something oddly modern with what is actually a no-fault divorce that is quick. Michael describes to your onlookers that:

‘It’s an agreement to component. She shall simply take the baby|Thebaby shall be taken by her if she really wants to, and get her means. I’ll just simply just take my tools, and get my means. ‘Tis simple as Scripture history.’

This brilliant scene raised a wide range of concerns for me personally, that we attempt to investigate. (more…)

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