By Wilkie Collins
In Basil's mystery and unconsummated marriage to Margaret Sherwin, and the resultant horrors of betrayal, madness, and demise, Collins finds the bustling, advertisement London of the 1st half the 19th century.
Collins' therapy of adultery surprised modern reviewers, or even at the present time the passionate and lurid surroundings he created has the ability to disturb the fashionable reader.
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Why, in Bamford’s memoir, does Hunt’s speech devolve into a ‘‘curse of indignation’’ and merge with the angry noise of a mob? Answers to such questions may be sought in the contradictions inherent in Victorian attitudes toward popular education. In the first half of the nineteenth century, mass literacy was understood both as a means of instilling middle-class values in the working class and of handing the discontented members of that class a means of resistance. Historians agree that literacy rates in England began to rise sharply at the end of the eighteenth century and continued to do so through the nineteenth century, long before the Education Act of 1870 mandated popular education.
Bronte¨ defies this convention by suggesting how female authors are ultimately short-changed by the assumption that contemporary writing derives from the historically obsolete speech of folk ballads, governesses’ tales, and mothers’ voices. Both Jane Eyre and Villette offer testimony to the effect that women can only attain professional success by turning away from speech to a new form of writing that simulates withheld, denied, or unuttered speech. Of all the authors I examine in this book, Bronte¨ is perhaps the most shrewdly aware of the mythological status of the storyteller.
205) Dickens hauls Stephen out of the grave alive simply in order that his death may save the community. As the rope that draws Stephen to the surface reveals ‘‘the figure of a poor, crushed, human creature,’’ Mythologies of the storyteller 27 A low murmur of pity went round the throng, and the women wept aloud, as this form, almost without form, was moved very slowly from its iron deliverance, and laid upon the bed of straw. At first, none but the surgeon went close to it. He did what he could in its adjustment on the couch, but the best that he could do was to cover it.