By Mary McCartin Wearn
Returning to a foundational second within the background of the yankee kin, Negotiating Motherhood in Nineteenth-Century American Literature explores how numerous authors of the interval represented the maternal function – an place of work that got here to a brand new, social prominence on the finish of the eighteenth century. by way of analyzing maternal figures within the works of various authors resembling Harriet Beecher Stowe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, and Sarah Piatt, this e-book exposes the contentious yet fruitful negotiations that came about within the center of the yank sentimental period – negotiations in regards to the cultural meanings of kin, womanhood, and motherhood. This e-book, then, demanding situations severe structures that determine American sentimentalism as a coherent, monolithic undertaking, tied strictly to the forces of cultural conservatism. moreover, by means of exploring nineteenth-century demanding situations to traditional maternal ideology and through exposing gaps within the mythology of ''ideal'' motherhood, Negotiating Motherhood demonstrates that the icon of an American Madonna – a determine that also haunts America’s mind's eye – by no means had an uncontested reign. Transcending the limits of literary feedback, this paintings could be beneficial to feminist students and to people who have an interest within the background of women’s tradition, the yankee mythology of family members lifestyles, or the cultural development of motherhood.
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Extra resources for Negotiating Motherhood in Nineteenth-Century American Literature
When Emmeline asks Cassy to help her escape from Legree’s plantation, to help her “get somewhere away,” the slave mother employs the contrary forces of maternal salvation and maternal damnation to complete the task (325). Intuiting that redeeming her surrogate daughter will require Legree’s death, Cassy first imagines achieving this end in conventional terms, and she solicits Uncle Tom’s aid to kill her master with an ax. Ultimately, though, Cassy’s weapon of choice takes a uniquely maternal shape.
To make the time pass imperceptibly” (49). Using their sanctioned feminine roles, Mrs. Shelby and Aunt Chloe thus partner to thwart the technically legal justice of Eliza’s recapture. Although geographically and culturally separated from Mrs. Shelby and Aunt Chloe by the American Jordan of the Ohio River, Mrs. Bird, the wife of a Northern senator, nonetheless shares the same maternal sensibilities and joins the Kentucky women in facilitating Eliza’s escape to the free North. Through Mrs. Bird, Stowe specifically elaborates how women’s private, domestic, and essentially maternal values can and should be brought to bear in the traditionally masculine, public realm.
This is evident not only in the case of Senator Bird who is tutored by his wife and the mother of his children in “right” feeling, but also in other male characters such as Augustine St. 3 Even the hyper-masculine George Harris is converted to motherly motivations by novel’s end. As he plans an exodus to Africa, he declares, “My sympathies are not for my father’s race, but for my mother’s” (374). However, maternal influence is neither the only nor the most effective means by which individuals are trained to feel like mothers in Uncle Tom’s “Stronger Than All Was Maternal Love” 29 Cabin; Stowe’s novel suggests an even more dramatic means of transformation.