Elizabeth Gaskell's "Wives and Daughters"


Elizabeth Gaskell, author of Wives and Daughters, wrote a best seller during the Victorian reign. Although she started her writing career in her late thirties, she managed to impress her critics with her unique style. She managed to branch away from writing novels to write a biography about her friend Charlotte Bronte, which almost resulted in a lawsuit. Even though critics embarked harshness on her writing about the plight of the working class, yet they viewed her work as a skillful.

Brief Summary of Wives and Daughters

Wives and Daughters is centered on its main character Molly Gibson. She’s the daughter of the local town doctor Dr. Gibson. The premature death of Molly’s mother forced the father to be both parents to the girl. Over the years, the father and daughter duo managed to build a bond that was strong, loving and caring.

Just a few miles up the road was the Hamley estate. The Hamley family developed a close connection with the Gibson family. Squire Hamley and Lady Hamley have two sons Osborne and Roger. With both sons are attending Cambridge University to become scholar’s in their field of poetry and science. Occasionally, Squire Hamley would ask Dr. Gibson if Molly could come by for a visit because his wife has asked about her. Both husband and wife embrace Molly as if she was a child of their own. The Hamley’s have an interesting relationship with their sons. For some reason, both parents will dote on Osborne because they believed he’s a genius whereas Roger’s intelligence was seen as mediocre. Roger returning home was a joyous one, but they would have preferred the presence of Osborne instead. He returned home to announced that Osborne has failed his exams, which placed his scholarship in jeopardy ...

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...riod. Molly’s character tries to control her temper and loose lips, while trying to accept and overlook people’s moral flaws, but her strong thirst for an independent voice was considered a sin.

A woman’s reputation is regarded as a holiness attribute that is far more important than her social status in society. A tarnished reputation is considered by some elders as an abomination to one’s self image. In the novel, Gaskell puts Molly’s reputation as a respectable young woman on the line by insinuating that she was behaving unfashionably with Mr. Preston.

The society of women complied with replicated this God-like figure, which is impossible to achieve since no living human can reach this supreme stature. The novel manages to offer insight into the different characters while still addressing critical and social roles in a male oriented society.
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