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1 LIVING LABOR: MOTHERHOOD AS EXCHANGE IN THE VICTOR IAN NOVEL By FRANCESCA M. MARINARO A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
2 2014 Francesca M. Marinaro
3 To my family, whose love and support made this possible
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I wish to thank my director, Pamela Gilbert, for her patient guidance and encouragement. I would also like to thank Judy Page, Chris Snodgrass, and Trysh Travis for generously volunteering their time, expertise, and support. I am forever indebted to Kayley Thomas and Anastasia Ulanowicz, for laughing with me, crying with me, and never letting me quit. Finally, I would be remiss if I did not thank my beloved "Peanuts" for being a constant source of encouragement, not to mention midnight editors.
5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 6 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 8 2 MAKI NG A MODEL FAMILY: COMPANIONATE PARENTING IN THE TENANT OF WILDFELL HALL ................................ ................................ .............................. 28 3 CONSUMING THE CHILD: THE FEMALE MONSTER AND THE MOTHER FIGURE ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 64 The Disempowered Daughter: Cathy Earnshaw and Maternal Abandonment ........ 68 Mother Most Monstrous: Lucy Westenra as Victorian Anti Mother ......................... 75 Carmilla the Creator: Lesbianism and Procreative Power ................................ ....... 81 "Let her go back to her mother": Good Lady Ducayne and Maternal Compensation ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 87 Mother Mina and the Family as Community ................................ ............................ 96 4 "AN EXTRAORDINARILY WELL MADE BABY": MOTHER AS ARTIST IN OUIDA'S MOTHS ................................ ................................ ................................ 106 5 I COME TO DEFEND MY STORY: NARRATIVE AND MATERNAL AGENCY IN GEORGE MOORE'S ESTHER WATERS ................................ ............................. 141 6 CONFRONTING THE FACE OF RACE: PROGRESSIVE MOTHERING AND THE FAMILY AS RACIAL UNIFIER ................................ ................................ ...... 176 Anna Lomba rd ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 181 The Yellow Face ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 202 7 CONCLUSION ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 217 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................. 227 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ .......................... 233
6 Abstract of Dissertation Presented t o the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy LIVING LABOR: MOTHERHOOD AS EXCHANGE IN THE VICTORIAN NOVEL By Francesca M. Marinaro May 2014 Chair: Pamela K. Gilbert Major: English This study combines feminist theory with exchange and gift theory to analyze Victorian texts that map the cultural construction of the figure of the Victorian mother through the language of production and consumption. My work joins feminist scholarship on the maternal body with Viviana A. Zelizer's work on child value in the nineteenth century and Jill Rappoport's study of Victorian women's relationship to gift economy, introducing what I term the regressive versus progres sive maternal narrative to reveal the impact of nineteenth century practices of production and consumption on constructing the figure of the Victorian mother. I define the regressive maternal narrative as one in which motherhood operates as compensatory ex change the "later return," in Rappoport's terms, for a husband's "initial outlay" of offering a woman security and stability in marriage. Conversely, in the progressive maternal narrative, woman appropriates her motherhood not as mere remuneration, but as a vehicle of empowerment which she directs onto her community whether family, nation, or race. I argue that examining this shift from the regressive to the progressive maternal narrative through the language of exchange allows us to consider how viewing mo thers
7 alternately as producers and commodities impacted the ways that Victorian women influenced networks of family, industry, and empire.
8 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION This dissertation combines feminist scholarship on the maternal body with exchange and gift theory to analyze Victorian texts that map the cultural construction of the figure of the Victorian mother through the language of production and consumption. A con siderable body of nineteenth century scholarship links the concept of the Victorian woman as mother and center of the family with England's changing industrial and imperial landscape, constructing the home as both the source from which the nation's captain s of industry and leaders of empire arose and a sanctuary from such labors. Anna Davin, for instance, in an essay on motherhood and imperialism in Victorian England, writes that during this period, "infant life and child health took on a new importance in public discussion, reinforced by the notion of a healthy and numerous soldiers and laborers), then mothers must improve" (10; 13). I argue that, set against the backdro p of this construct of family as national resource, the literature of the period often appropriated the language of production and consumption to galvanize discussions that packaged the work of motherhood within nationalist rhetoric to extend (and sometime s to control) women's active participation in England's growth as a nation. In Maternal Impressions: Pregnancy and Childbirth in Literature and Theory Cristina Mazzoni undertakes an examination of the meaning of pregnancy in which she argues that the act of conceiving a child carries with it an implication of choice what she terms "an active undertaking on the mother's part" (185). Yet historically the maternal body has been a site of contradiction a conundrum of choice and
9 responsibility, of freedom and regulation. Feminist scholars have commented extensively on the conflicting representations to which the maternal body has been subject throughout history. In Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution Adrienne Rich argues that "there is an i nescapable correlation between the motherhood as "the situation in which [woman] is soc ially authorized and culturally empowered to activate her body, its drives, and can exercise an active part in social relations" (6). Thus even if physiologically possessing the capacity to bear children, the woman nonetheless, according to this interpreta tion, maintains a degree of agency over the processes of pregnancy and childbirth because those processes are localized within her own body. Conversely, Lauren Berlant argues that the moment a child's sex is determined to be female a moment that occurs eve n before she has left the womb she is immediately located within a predetermined, "natural narrative of the movement of the body," a narrative that signifies "her inscription in public heterosexuality, her ascension into reproduction, and her commitment to performing the abstract values of instrumental empathy and service that have characterized norms of female fulfillment" (99). Each of these scholars points to a crucial element in the process of becoming a mother that of the distinction between physiologi cal predestination for motherhood and the ability to choose whether or not to act upon that capacity. Scholars have often gestured toward the extent to which notions of production and "sourcing" the nation with children informed Victorian ideas about moth erhood; Ruth Perry, for instance, argues that "the invention of childhood and the invention of
10 motherhood can be seen as adaptations of an existing social system to the new political and economic imperatives of an expanding English empire" (205). Prior to this historical moment, Perry observes, "childhood was not recognized as a stage of life distinct and separable from the rest of life. Children rather were assumed to be, and were treated as miniature adults" (204). Viviana A. Zelizer's work on the evolvin g definition of childhood during the nineteenth century reveals the extent to which such shifts demanded a reevaluation of the role of the mother. The newly emerging concept of childhood as a separate life stage what Zelizer terms the "sentimentalization o f childhood" evolved largely in response to the changing roles of women in particular the rising cult of domesticity and the doctrine of separate spheres (9). As men's professional pursuits increasingly carried them outside the home, women's responsibiliti es became ever more focused on family, especially the raising of children. A greater emphasis on childhood, observes Zelizer, "served women's interests," offering them a form of useful work (9). The cult of domesticity thus cast motherhood in terms of uti lity as "woman's work." Indeed, Sarah Stickney Elis's well known treatise on motherhood, "The Mothers of England," proclaimed that "all the statesmen of the rising generation, all the ministers of religion, all public and private gentlemen, as well as all men of business, mechanics, and laborers of every description, will have received, as regards intellectual and moral character, their first bias, and often their strongest and their last from the training and influence of a mother" (17). Ruth Perry's use of the term "invention" to describe the shifting conceptualization of motherhood in nineteenth Century England proves particularly suggestive within the context of England's rising imperial and commercial stronghold on much of the world
11 throughout this per iod. To term this emergent definition of motherhood as woman's work an "invention" locates it within the language of production and commerce; thus motherhood becomes a productive as well as a reproductive mechanism a natural (and social) machinery for the creation and maintenance of children as products. Indeed, Anna Davin discusses the value that the Victorians placed on children in terms of "a national asset, the capital of the country" (9). Upon England's children, writes Davin, "depended the future of t he country and of the empire" (9). Further drawing a link between Victorian motherhood and production, Jill Rappoport's 2011 study of Victorian women and gift giving briefly examines motherhood within the language of exchange, pointing to the representatio n of women in Victorian literature and culture as "selfless givers" and arguing that the literature of the period placed particular emphasis on the value of women in terms of their "Reproductive output" (141). Rappoport devotes only a portion of her work to the relationship between motherhood and exchange; yet her definition of gift exchange amongst Victorians lends itself well to a discussion of the concept of motherhood as a form of production that I address throughout this project. According to Rappopor t, "gift circulation that finds its way back to an original source resembles market ideas of credit by ensuring a later return on an initial outlay" (6). This definition of gift giving, I suggest, speaks directly to the Victorian woman's role as wife mothe r; within the context of the family, we can identify the husband f ather as this "original source," and in return for providing for his wife in marriage, the children she bears him operate as a form of compensation: whether as a legacy to carry on the family name and fortune or, in the case of the working class family, a further means of financially sup porting the household as well as
12 providing a source of emotional support and comfort. This view of child as compensation speaks directly to Zelizer's work on child value in particular the distinction between what she terms the child as "object of sentiment versus the child as "object of utility" (7). Zelizer ascribes the term "object of sentiment" primarily to the middle or upper class child, sheltered and well cared for within the confines of home and school. Alternatively, the child as "object of utility refers to the working class child, whether as wage earner or, in the case of the wet nursing and baby farming industries that emerged during the latter half of the nineteenth century, as the byproducts of a system of exchange that commercialized motherho od. Zelizer confines her study primarily to the American child, but her discussion of childhood in terms of market versus intangible value neatly dovetails with my examination of motherhood as both a form of reproductive labor and a labor of love. For the purposes of my discussion, viewing the mother in terms of utility refers to the mechanistic construction of the maternal body as either a social or natural machinery for the creation and maintenance of children as products; this model measures successful mothering in terms of the utility of producing future citizens and laborers. If we define this concept of the mother in terms of economic and social utility, the sentimentalized model of mothering, I suggest, is founded on a form of attachment whether thro ugh love of the child or viewing the child as an object of indulgence as Rich terms it, a "symbolic credential" that marks woman as being in a position of privilege to own/possess a child (XVII). Rich's discussion of motherhood as status symbol offers a ca veat against over sentimentalizing motherhood, for this construct defines the child within material culture as a sign of affluence. Considering
13 what Rich terms the transformative power of the mother in dialogue with Zelizer's and Rappoport's work on the va lue of childhood and female forms of giving respectively gestures toward an important distinction between producing and creating (Rich 101). In identifying the mother as "more than a mere stabilizer of life" that is, more than a body providing physical sus tenance Rich distinguishes between producing (motherhood as labor) and creating (motherhood as an act of cultivation) (101). To be more than a producer or "stabilizer" as Rich terms it, conjoins the concepts of utilitarian and sentimental motherhood, inves ting both physical and emotional energy in the life of the child. This concept of the mother as transformer also invites us to consider the mother as she herself is transformed, or even produced. By locating discussions of motherhood within the language o f exchange and gift economy, Zelizer and Rappoport primarily address the mother in terms of output as a producer. Yet motherhood is, to an extent, also a product. On the most basic level, the physiological state of pregnancy is, first and foremost, the pro duct or result of sex, though medical advancements in reproductive technology have greatly extended the means through which reproduction occurs today. Yet the concept of motherhood and, more specifically, the romanticization of the ideal mother as angelic nurturer and selfless giver, is culturally produced one of the most popularly cited examples of Western culture being the Virgin Mother of Christianity, who is paradoxically maternal and non sexual. In particular, the contemporary scrutiny of motherhood i n so called "hen lit" a popularly dubbed mature counterpart of chick lit that often addresses the challenges of twenty first century wives and mothers invites us to revisit this Victorian
14 construct of motherhood to assess the ways that we continue to "pack age" motherhood as labor within the language of exchange. This dissertation examines Victorian texts through the language of exchange to address the ways that Victorians both produced and consumed the concept of the maternal ideal through what I term the regressive versus the progressive maternal narrative. In the regressive maternal narrative, motherhood operates as a form of compensatory exchange the male heir, for instance, who serves as a woman's form of payment to her husband for his investment in her as wife and mother. I term such a narrative as regressive because the exchange serves primarily as a form of remuneration to one individual. Conversely, in the progressive maternal narrative, the mother, rather than appropriating motherhood as a form of r eturn/repayment, utilizes her maternal role as a vehicle of social and cultural change by empowering the communities in which she participates be it family, nation, or race. In setting up this distinction between the regressive and the progressive mother, I do not wish to suggest that the progressive mother cannot derive personal fulfillment from her children; rather, this project looks closely at the ways that the construct of motherhood as exchange problematizes female identity through a one dimensional c onstruct that often overlooks the fluidity of her role. There does, of course, exist a universal acknowledgement of the multidimensional nature of the maternal figure: she often serves alternately as nurse, teacher, house keeper, confidant, spiritual ment or, etc. Yet if she can be any or all of these things, she seemingly cannot be so without in some way being associated with motherhood; every gesture, every thought, every decision she makes, whether for her
15 children or for herself, society somehow defines as possessing or lacking maternal characteristics. As Adrienne Rich has so aptly observed, even terms such as barren and nonmaternal or the concept of reproductive rights still restrictively define women in relation to motherhood, locating her at either e nd of a continuum that "negate[s] any further identity" (12). Either she is a mother, or she is not; if she is not, her personhood is, suggestively, somehow negated. Lauren Berlant's consideration of the maternal body within the rhetoric of enslavement sp eaks directly to this problem of the one dimensionality of female identity, for she argues that the slave woman occupies a space of "nothingness" a space in which she lacks an identity and from which she can emerge only through motherhood because her value is measured exclusively through her ability to produce something (or someone) for someone else, in this instance the nation (85). It is important to note that Berlant's discussion of the link between motherhood and enslavement focuses on the slave woman i n Antebellum America. In drawing upon her discussion of the rhetoric of slavery for my own study of motherhood, I do not wish to overlook any distinction between the condition of actual slave women and women for whom the term "maternal enslavement" refers to undertaking motherhood not as an act of personal choice, but in response to a societal expectation of her womanhood. Nonetheless, the connections Berlant draws between maternal enslavement and service to the nation prove useful in considering the relati onship between motherhood and national responsibility that I touch upon in this project. Reexamining the ways that nineteenth century literature interrogates the cultural conceptualization of motherhood against the backdrop of social, political, and econo mic
16 advancement has particular currency in a moment when heated debates over healthcare legislation and reproductive rights have caught woman's body in the crosshairs of politics and personal choice, for as Cristina Mazzoni argues, revisiting such texts al lows us to consider how they "both reproduce the stereotypes of womanhood and/as motherhood begotten by patriarchal discourse and conceive of alternative constructions" (36). The work of scholars such as Adrienne Rich and Lauren Berlant inform this project through their discussions of the ways that politicizing/nationalizing motherhood both protects her body and rights and complicates her personhood as an individual independent of her reproductive capacity. Rich's work in particular, as well as that of femi nist embodiment scholars like Janet Price and Margrit Shildrick speak to my discussion of the role of female choice in the maternal narrative, for the emphasis that such work places on the woman's physical experiences of pregnancy sensations that occur wit hin the woman's body can aid us in considering the level of agency that women exercise over this so called prescribed narrative. On the one hand, the sensation of fetal movement, or "quickening" as it is sometimes termed, locates the maternal experience wi thin the woman's body; modern medical technology notwithstanding, the woman still often remains the first to become aware of her pregnancy. Conversely, while descriptions of pregnancy often romanticize the experience of fetal movement, the physical changes the woman's body undergoes in response to pregnancy the swollen abdomen and breasts and the symptomatic morning sickness arguably enact a reaction to something foreign within the body. The pregnant body and the contrast between the romanticizing of fetal movement and the emphasis on the basic physiological workings of the maternal body, I suggest,
17 effectively encapsulate the pull between the utilitarian and sentimental concepts of motherhood and child rearing as Zelizer terms them, informing the extent to which we can perceive motherhood as either an act of production or one of creation. Like the romanticizing of quickening versus the body's attempt to regulate itself in response to a foreign entity a physiological response that occurs independent of emoti on or conscious thought on the woman's part the sentimental and the utilitarian models of mothering seem at times diametrically opposed concepts. If woman is defined in maternal terms solely through the act of giving birth and if the act of giving birth is the rite of passage through which she achieves social status what of the mother who, like Emily Bronte's Cathy Earnshaw, rejects her maternal identity through the determinate self starvation that brings about her death and, in doing so, willingly abandons her child? What of the wet nurse or governess who, particularly in fashionable society, saw to the physical and emotional needs of the children they tended far more than their biological mothers who, for convenience and fashion, delegated the care of thei r children to another? Thus examining this shift from the regressive to the progressive narrative through the language of exchange invites us to think about how viewing mothers alternately as producers and commodities impacted the ways that Victorian women influenced networks of family, industry, and empire I begin in chapter one with a discussion of Anne Bronte's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848). Opening my study with this text serves to define the distinction between the regressive and progressive mater nal narrative as the novel is set during a period that witnessed significant reform in childcare and the legal status of motherhood. This shift in the legal understanding of parenthood and more specifically parental rights creates
18 an appropriate backdrop f or examining the apparent split between the utility and sentimentality of motherhood that I address throughout the dissertation. Scholars like Laura C. Berry and Danaya C. Wright have pointed out that prior to significant reform in custody law beginning wi th the Infant Custody Act of 1839, fathers held sole rights to the legal guardianship of their children, while mothers were seen to hold only an emotional attachment. Children, and especially sons, were a form of family property and, through primogeniture, the means of carrying on the family's wealth and prestige. The child's function as heir to the father and object of affection for the mother epitomizes the distinction between the child as object of utility and object of sentiment as Zelizer defines them. In this chapter, I consider Anne Bronte's commentary on the ways that such custodial issues problematized the roles and responsibilities of mothering through an examination of the disconnect between the legal status of motherhood and her prescribed respo nsibilities as emotional caregiver. I argue that Bronte's scrutiny of the legal system's treatment of parenting calls for a reconceptualization of motherhood and fatherhood that balances legal rights with the responsibilities and emotional investment of ra ising a family. The notion of regressive versus progressive parenting lends itself well to a reading of this novel as much of the text addresses the contrast between the degeneration of the English aristocracy and the rise of the middle class gentleman; mo re specifically, it deals with the heroine Helen Huntington's decision to remove her son from the idle lifestyle into which he has been born and offer him a more structured and disciplined upbringing. I suggest that through Helen Huntington's critical asse ssment of potential father figures for her son, Bronte points to a form of
19 "companionate parenting" as a means of striking a balance between rearing the child as object of sentiment and object of utility, creating a family whose combined notions of sentime nt and utility effectively served as the mechanism for preparing children to enter the world as productive members of society. In considering the notion of the Victorian family as the ideal context for effective child rearing, the first chapter deals larg ely with the ways that the progressive mother seeks to work against locating motherhood and child rearing within the context of the legal and sexual exchange. In chapter two I turn my attention to considering the ways that women worked within and manipulat ed such exchanges in an endeavor to claim agency over their own narratives. The chapter focuses on the vampiric/cannibalistic mother to consider the maternal body as a site of both production and consumption within the context of the sexual and marital exc hange. The figure of the female vampire can serve as an effective mechanism for analyzing motherhood as a form of exchange. The exchange of bodily fluids and consumption of flesh enacted between monster and victim grotesquely epitomizes the physiological r elationship between mother and child through such acts as breast feeding and the passage of nourishment from mother to fetus in utero acts that construct a relationship dependent upon the production and consumption of resources. I draw heavily upon existin g feminist and embodiment scholarship in particular the work of Janet Price and Margrit Shildrick who observe that such functions as lactation and menstruation and the ability to carry another body "unseen within their own" marks women's bodies as unstabl e and in need of regulation (3). For the Victorians, such regulation occurred through "confinement" a euphemism adopted to describe the expecting mother's approaching childbirth as well as the
20 practice of keeping her concealed from public view during her p regnancy. The concealment of the visibly pregnant woman sought to desexualize the maternal body, directing the focus away from evidence of the woman as sexually active being and emphasizing instead her serviceable role as child bearer. The female vampire crystalizes Victorian anxieties about the unstable, maternal body, for in feasting upon rather than nourishing her children/victims, she subverts the mother/child dynamic. The reaction against motherhood that the female vampire symbolizes serves the dual p urpose of rejecting her prescribed narrative within the patriarchal family and severing ties not simply with her child, but with the body that marks her as destined to act out this predetermined narrative. Yet to situate the figure of the female vampire wi thin the context of the regressive versus progressive maternal narrative, we must look beyond her as a mere anti mother in her rebellion against a prescribed role. In this chapter, then, I address the figure of the vampire as mother as it relates to the la nguage of consumption and exchange to reevaluate the concept of female value in terms of what Rappoport refers to as her "reproductive output" (141). My discussion focuses on the monstrous female characters in three novels: Cathy Earnshaw of Emily Bronte' s Wuthering Heights (1846), Carmilla of J. Sheridan Le Fanu's Carmilla (1872), and Lucy Westenra and Mina Harker of Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897), as well as Mary Elizabeth Braddon's short story "Good Lady Ducayne" (1896). Each maternal figure I discuss, wi th the exception of Stoker's Mina Harker, enacts a regressive narrative intended to achieve personal and or sexual liberation that nonetheless relies on consuming (whether literally or symbolically) the lives of others, namely her children; Cathy Earnshaw, for instance, can gain access to Heathcliff only
21 through a regressive narrative in which she manipulates her daughter as a means of restoring herself to a form of her own child self. Conversely, it is Mina Harker who embodies the progressive mother Mina w hose desire to nurture and serve those she cares for informed by her self sufficient, new woman work ethic creates a fusion of utility and sentimentality that neither reduces motherhood to reproductive labor nor insists that the strong willed, independent woman is one dimensionally nonmaternal. In chapter three, I look more closely at the ways in which the utility and sentimentality of motherhood can inform one another to embody the progressive mother as discussed in chapter two. In particular, I analyze Ouida's Moths (1880) to interrogate how Ouida places the principle of art as moral pursuit against the language of exchange to create a concept of artist as mother/motherhood as art. I argue that Moths undertakes a critical examination of the utilitarian a nd sentimental meanings of motherhood through its criticism of late nineteenth century commodity culture in particular the objectification of women on the marriage market. I address Ouida's usage of the language of prostitution and economic exchange to cri ticize the operation of the marriage market and the match making mother's role in that market as a system that reduces young women to objects of consumption as wives and mothers. The chapter draws further on Rappoport's discussion of gift exchange to cons ider the relationship between the marriage market, motherhood, and commodity culture, for as she observes, "gifts throughout nineteenth century British Literature and culture set the terms for kinship" and "threaten heroines with obligations they cannot re pay" (3). Marriage and parenthood, I suggest, often operated along such lines. In exchange for being provided with a comfortable home, a woman's compensation to her
22 husband came in the form of providing him with a family especially sons who might carry on the family name and fortune. Thus marriage functioned as a form of exchange not unlike gift circulation in terms of the notion of return for an "initial outlay." Yet husbands were not the only beneficiaries of such investments. Since the task of negotiati ng such marriages usually fell to a girl's mother, mothers held a uniquely powerful position in this economic exchange, sometimes seeking to reap the benefits of their labor and their daughters' successful marriages. In this chapter, I examine the extent t o which the marriage market incorporated motherhood into commodity culture, considering the ways that women turned their motherhood to their own advantage by appropriating their daughter's bodies as commodities on the marriage market to seek financial comp ensation. Considering Lady Dolly's excuse of supposed exorbitant debt to arrange Vere's marriage to the Russian Prince Zouroff and Vere's subsequent inability to fulfill her own utility to her husband as a producer of male heirs, I look at the ways in whic h defining maternal value in exclusively economic terms problematizes and even inhibits female agency over the maternal narrative. Moreover, I suggest that Ouida offers a progressive maternal alternative through the construct of motherhood as art that she creates in Vere one who sees motherhood as a form of cultivation to counterbalance the commodified view of mothers and children as producers and products. In chapter four, I address the extent to which the commodification of the maternal body complicates the progressive maternal narrative within the context of another system of exchange the wet nursing industry through a reading of George Moore's 1894 novel Esther Waters I look here at the ways in which the construction of
23 motherhood varied across class l ines in particular the association of successful motherhood with having access to the financial resources to offer children a proper upbringing. I draw heavily upon Zelizer's work to consider how the figure of the wet nurse embodies motherhood as both prod uctive and reproductive labor and child rearing as both public service and economic investment. More specifically, I argue that Moore's criticism of the wet nursing and baby farming industries interrogates the value (both utilitarian and sentimental) of th e child in particular the value of the middle and upper class child over the working class child. As both wet nurse and mother, Esther embodies the struggle to negotiate the roles of working mother and motherhood as work. Pressed into service to support he r child, the wet nurse often resorted to giving the care of that child over to another woman as the duties of motherhood interfered with her employment. Thus the wet nursing and baby farming industries appropriated the working class child as a mere source of income. Moreover, placing Moore's criticism of such practices in dialogue with the silencing of the maternal experience through the mother's objectification in the lying in hospital, I look at the struggle of the mother with an illegitimate child to tel l her story as a means of challenging the upper class notion of working class, illicit motherhood as valueless. 1 In Moore's consideration of the wet nurse in terms of the marketing of mothers as products, he gestures briefly toward the linkage between th e maternal body and colonial service through the use of Esther's wet nursing wages to finance her family's emigration to Australia; yet the novel largely addresses safeguarding the respectable, Victorian family home against the contamination whether physic al or moral of the wet 1 In this chapter, I use the term "illicit motherhood" to refer to the social stigma associated with a woman who has had a child out of wedlock
24 nurse/single mother. Conversely, when we look at the Victorian family in the colonies, the source of this threat shifts from that of policing the boundaries of home against the "other" to that of maintaining English purity while loca ted within the "other's" (that is, the colonized) space. Thus chapter five examines the notion of motherhood not merely as a matter of colonial service, but of English (that is, racial) purity. The chapter looks at two texts Victoria Crosses 1901 novel Ann a Lombard and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 1893 short story "The Yellow Face" to establish a linkage between progressive motherhood and the family of mixed race specifically the relationship between the English mother and the child of mixed race. In particular I argue that the progressive mother, in using her maternal body as a site of racial fusion, seeks to utilize her love and the unity of family to serve as a mechanism of social change to redefine relations between colonizer and colonized. The racialized m aternal body can serve as an appropriate medium for examining the regressive versus progressive construct of Victorian motherhood as exchange, for it addresses both restrictive taboos concerning racial mixing and sexual purity and the idea of the mother a s providing reproductive labor through her role in advancing the race. If the "private" meaning of motherhood referred to woman's role as ministering angel to her family, the "public" duty of motherhood that is, that which extended beyond the intimate circ le of home and hearth tasked women with bringing up a strong, healthy family with an eye toward creating the "citizens of tomorrow" (Rappoport 141; Davin 10). This chapter draws upon Damon Ieremia Salesa's work on racial amalgamation and intermarriage in the British Empire during the nineteenth century as well as Ann Laura Stoler's study of the ways that nineteenth century relationships between colonizer
25 and col onized were codified along gendered lines, for their work challenges us to consider the ways in which the increasing consciousness of racial difference impacted the discourse surrounding the Victorian construction of motherhood. Amidst insistence that misc egenation could serve as a mechanism for colonial advancement, there still existed a notion that such mixing posed a threat to the purity of the English race. Ideally, miscegenation was viewed as a "fusion of races," though in actuality, it operated more a s a form of racial erasure the dominance of one, superior race over another. I look here at the notion of motherhood as civic duty and woman's task of advancing and safeguarding the race in particular the ways in which women appropriated motherhood as a me ans of influencing race relations. I place Salesa's and Stoler's work in dialogue with my reading of Anna Lombard and "The Yellow Face" to explore how the racial makeup of a child determined its value whether utilitarian or sentimental and that value's im pact on the extent to which motherhood was viewed as a valuable contribution to the race. Both of these texts, I argue, critically explore nineteenth century anxieties about racial difference through the character of an English mother who endeavors to cons truct a unified family by bringing a mixed race child into her marriage with an Englishman following her first husband's death. By examining Cross's and Conan Doyle's treatment of the mixed race family, I address the ways that the family unit, through mat ernal influence, can offer a means of challenging and dissolving the boundaries of racial difference. What links the texts addressed throughout this project is the extent to which the women in each story choose to participate in or challenge the prescribe d narrative laid out for them. Lauren Berlant argues that we have, as a society, traditionally perceived
26 this in terms of the body's "natural narrative," but this bodily narrative has also been appropriated as a socially prescribed, largely patriarchal nar rative rather than a female centered narrative; as Adrienne Rich writes, "the experience of maternity and the experience of sexuality have both been channeled to service male interests" (42). It is due to this seemingly restrictive bodily narrative that Mi chelle Boulous Walker suggests that "women are silenced most effectively by their association with maternity" (1). Feminist scholarship and medico historical work on the evolution of motherhood and childbirth practices agree that this silencing finds its s ource in masculinist hegemonic discourse. Medical historians like Amanda Carson Banks and Donald Caton have suggested that nineteenth century advancements in medicine specifically the introduction of obstetric anesthesia that served as the impetus for the rise of male obstetrics over female midwifery contributed largely to such a male constructed definition of motherhood. 2 Each of these chapters addresses, in its own way, the largely masculinist construction of woman as mother that inflicts such silence. E sther Waters for instance, addresses the ways in which the largely male privileged realm of knowledge into which childbirth evolved through the rise of male obstetrics problematized woman's agency over her maternal experiences and silenced the voice throu gh which she could narrate those experiences. For characters like Emily Bronte's Cathy Earnshaw, death at once silences the maternal narrative and appropriates it as a means through which to act out her own love story with Heathcliff that the restrictions imposed by rank and the 2 See Banks, Amanda Carson. Birth Chairs, Midwives and Medicine University Press of Mississippi: Jackson, 1999; Caton, Donald. What a Blessing She had Chloroform: the Medical and Social Response to the Pain of Childbirth, 1800 to the Present Yale University Press: New Haven, 1999.
27 maintenance of the patriarchal family forbid her to live out. In The Tenant of Wildfell Hall seeking to establish a new understanding of family through a call for a more active model of fatherhood challenges the male constructed ro le of woman as mother that overlooks the father's responsibility in the investment of childhood. Ultimately, as characters like Stoker's Mina Harker and Conan Doyle's Effy Monroe suggest, the truly progressive mother seeks to join the self fulfillment of h er love for husband and children with the desire to use her maternal influence as a vehicle for social change. IT is the notion of selflessness and self discipline in motherhood the emphasis on serving the interests of others that directs the focus of the maternal narrative away from that of woman the arguably principal participant in that narrative. Thus In examining these maternal narratives in terms of the ability to find balance between service and personal fulfillment, we can better understand the ways that nineteenth century women sought to construct a more multidimensional understanding of female identity that establishes their choices with respect to motherhood as a truly "active undertaking" in the progress of their life narratives.
28 CHAPTER 2 MAKING A MODEL FAMILY: COMPANIONATE PARENTING IN THE TENANT OF WILDFELL HALL In "Acts of Custody and incarceration," Laura C. Berry reads Anne Bronte's 1848 novel The Tenant of Wildfell Hall against the backdrop of the changing laws respecting the custody of children. As I noted at the beginning of this project, up until the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, children were often viewed as "miniature adults" a form of property and a part of the family's wealth (Berry 34). Given the i nterest of primogeniture, the child and in particular the son as a means of safeguarding and continuing a family's wealth and lineage gave fathers a strong financial interest in their children and made them important stakeholders in the successful producin g of heirs. As Danaya C. Wright observes, prior to the custody of Infants Act of 1839: Fathers were held to have the absolute legal rights to custody of their legitimate children so long as they had not forfeited their rights through physical violence. Th e King's Bench would not appoint a child to the custody of her or his mother unless the child was illegitimate, and it would not remove the child from the custody of her or his legal guardian unless that person has forfeited his rights through physical end jeopardized the child's estate. What was best for the child was irrelevant so long as the child's person or estate was not being harmed. (para 1) Indeed, as William Blackstone expressed it, "a mother, as such, is entitled to no power, but on ly reverence and respect" (QTD in Berry 34). Only the Custody of Infants Act signaled a marked shift in the legal status of motherhood as it granted mother's legal access to their children; the act stipulated that a woman who had separated from her husband could "petition the court and, provided she was of good character, gain access to her young children and, potentially (though it was unlikely) custody of those children still under seven years of age" (Berry 36). Even such reform, however, did not
29 "transf er the right of custody" (that is, absolute legal guardianship) to the mother (Berry 36). Only with the Guardianship of Infants Act in 1886 could a mother be granted legal guardianship of her children, and this only in the instance of the father's death (B erry 36). Berry argues that Arthur Huntington fights for custody of his son for the sake of form and primogeniture, while Helen does so because she views the boy as "a priceless possession" (40). The child, Berry suggests, "Thus serves to define a categor y that directly opposes property" (40). Yet while Helen's declaration that she would never "sell [her] son for gold" renders him as possessing an intangible value beyond that of legal or monetary property, the language of possession describing him as a "tr easure" nevertheless stakes a claim of ownership on the child that marks him as an object, even if an object of sentiment (Bronte 44;24). Drawing upon this discourse of possession to which Berry gestures, I suggest that the pull between the idea of the chi ld as legal property and the child as priceless object of affection as played out in a custody concern points to the disconnect between constructing the child as object of sentiment versus object of utility that complicates progressive mothering because in each construct, the child operates as possession or object of exchange rather than as individual. The distinction between the child as object in terms of legal property versus the child as sentimental object lies in the power of the law over the intangibl e claims of affection and attachment. In "The Pregnant Imagination," Julia Ebstein points to this disconnect between the privately versus legally defined status of motherhood in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, noting that until the moment of birth, "women were the
30 became officially and publicly pregnant when she felt her fe tus quicken, or move inside her, and she alone could ascertain and report the occurrence of quickening" (112). However, once a child left the womb the space over which woman exercised sole control control over that narrative, as discussed above, was reloca ted under patriarchal law. I therefore begin the dissertation with a discussion of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall because the custodial issues surrounding the so called ownership of Helen and Arthur's son offer historical insight into the catalysts that thre w the legal definition of motherhood into question. Shortly after the marriage of Helen and Arthur Huntington, Helen records a journal entry recalling a conversation with her husband in which he counsels her: ow, depends the health, if not the life, of our future hope" (212). Though couched in the language of Victorian propriety and observance of pregnancy and sex taboos, Arthur's observation encapsulates the dominant discourse of domestic ideology that equated womanhood with motherhood. Arthur makes no direct reference to Helen's pregnancy, but the birth eight months later of their son confirms his intended meaning. Helen does not, at the time of this conversation, suspect that she is pregnant; in fact, not lon g afterward, she casually writes about the prospect of raising a child in hypothetical terms the phrase "if ever I am a mother" suggesting that she has not as yet begun to define her womanhood primarily or exclusively in terms of motherhood (Bronte 211). S uch guarded language certainly reflects the uncertainty and risks surrounding pregnancy and childbirth during this period for both mother and infant. Yet strong willed and somewhat
31 Wollstonecraftian in her thinking 1 Helen's hypothetical contemplation of m otherhood as a potential, though not a certain undertaking also suggestively defies the one dimensional role of wife mother to which she is expected to subscribe. Arthur, however, in the interest of siring a male heir, has already located Helen within a do mestic narrative in which he constructs her not as the companion of his life, but as the mother of his children. The proverbial tug of war over Little Arthur between Helen and her estranged husband the pull between the notions of the child as object of se ntiment and object of utility points to a disconnect between the respective attitudes that fathers and mothers held toward their children. Arthur's relationship with his son alternating between playmate and interest in him as an heir is indicative of Victo rian attitudes toward the rights and responsibilities of fatherhood. As John Tosh observes in his study of mas culinity in Victorian culture, f atherhood was largely viewed as a rite of passage a confirmation of full masculinity; the day to day duties of par adult femi ninity, m The c onstruction of the womb as a site of reproductive labor for producing heirs, though lending a purposeful utility to motherhood, problematized the level of agency that 1 I draw here upon Rachel Carnell's reading of Helen's character as "dangerously Wollstonecraftian" with respect to her views regarding equal access to education for boys and girls. I further suggest th at Bronte offers a critical assessment of the ways that Wollstonecraft feminism at once informs and complicates progressive mothering, a point I will address in greater detail later in the chapter.
32 women wielded over their bodies and their sexual and reproductive capacities as well as t he identity around which they created a life narrative for themselves. Though published in 1848, most of the events in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall occur during the 1820s, before the previously mentioned custody law reform took effect, and it deals extensi vely with the challenges mothers faced as a result of the slippage between the legal status of motherhood and its prescribed responsibilities. Specifically, it considers how the disconnect between maternal rights and responsibilities problematized the moth er attend to the needs of her children without the parental rights such guardianship often entailed. Berry's reading of the novel within the context of such reform and the long standing custod y laws of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries uncovers the extent to which these issues problematized the emerging construction of motherhood in Victorian England, but I wish to focus my discussion more specifically on this shift in relation to the emphasis on producing sons as heirs and the ways that endeavors for his welfare (and sometimes at his expense) to negotiate and challenge a system of parenting that favored fathers without acknowledging their responsibilities as parents while burdening mothers with the duties of parenting without recognizing either their individual o r parental rights. Witnessing the gradual degeneration of the landed gentry (embodied by Arthur Huntington) Helen faces the challenge of raising a son who is the heir to and product of the aristocracy with the values of the rising middle class (embodied by Gilbert Markham). Through an exploration of the plight of the single
33 mother in nineteenth century England its legal and financial difficulties and social stigmas and Helen's task of constructing an ideal middle class family from aristocratic roots, I argu e that Bronte offers up a critical commentary of parenting within the so called stability of the Victorian family and the family's suitability to serve as the "proper context" for the growing child (Davin 13). The novel tells the story of Helen Huntington 's disastrous marriage to and eventual flight from her husband Arthur, to protect her small son from his father's profligate ways he is both an adulterer and an alcoholic. The tale opens on her arrival with her son at Wildfell Hall (the abandoned estate of her family) under the assumed name of Helen Graham, where she meets and becomes intimately acquainted with the gentleman farmer Gilbert Markham. Gilbert, unaware of her marital status, gradually falls in love with her. Similarly inclined toward Gilbert, H elen insists that they no longer see each other and offers him, by way of explanation, the pages from her diary that detail the events of her marriage. When Huntington falls ill, Helen returns to nurse him and, following his death, eventually marries Gilbe rt. In order to examine Helen's negotiation of her custodial rights within the language of exchange, we must consider how her difficulties arise from the break up of her marriage (and with it the family unit). During much of the nineteenth century, concer ns regarding parental rights would most likely have been called into question only in a case of divorce or separation a situation largely complicated by the difficulty of obtaining a divorce, especially for a woman. As Joan Perkin observes in her study of women and marriage in the nineteenth century, the courts "could not give an absolute
34 for the purpose" (22). Moreover, a man who wished to divorce his wife need only prove infidelity, while a woman must prove "aggravated enormity, such as physical cruelty, bigamy, or incest" (22). As Bronte suggests through Helen and Arthur's custody battle, divor ce negotiations in marriages with children had the potential to reduce the child to legal property, rendering him a pawn in such negotiations. After Helen flees her husband to protect her son against following his profligate example, she learns that Arthur would be willing to live separately and even grant her a liberal allowance if she will relinquish the child. When Helen returns to Grassdale Manor to nurse Arthur on his deathbed, she requires him to sign a written promise in the presence of her servant R achel acting as witness that will leave Little Arthur "entirely under my care and protection, and to let me take him away, whenever and wherever I please, if I hereafter judge it necessary to remove him again" (Bronte 396). Berry argues that in this writt en agreement, "it is almost as if maternal custody is an established, even legal fact" (44). On the contrary, I suggest that it underscores the tenuous position Helen holds as wife and mother and Bronte's consideration of how women might manipulate such a position to obtain custodial rights. Even as she desires to protect her son, Helen recognizes and utilizes his role as pawn in this negotiation, dangling him in front of Arthur and refusing him access to the boy until he has granted her request. According to English common law of the period, fathers were not only granted sole custody of their children, but also possessed "the sole right to determine their guardianship in the event of his death" (Greenfield 2). It is thus imperative that Helen receive Arthur 's written consent to grant her custody of the boy before his death.
35 Without such an agreement, Arthur would, under the terms of custody law, be well within his legal rights to remove his son from Helen's care, regardless of his unsuitability as a father. Here Bronte suggests that this appropriation of a child as a term of bartering in marital separation complicates the child's worth as individual, designating him as property within the marriage. The custody battle over Little Arthur in effect models the r egressive construct of parenting because it reduces the child to a mere object of exchange. By allowing Helen to remain at Grassdale to nurse him in his illness, Arthur retains access to his son; the boy is essentially offered to him as a reward in exchang e for a promise that he will mend his ways. That Arthur, to the moment of his death, shows no inclination to uphold his end of this bargain by mending his ways effectively depreciates Little Arthur's sentimental value as a son. Helen's appropriation of Lit tle Arthur as legal property is arguably enacted with the best of intentions given her concern that her husband's influence might have a detrimental impact on their son's well being. Yet she overlooks any lingering paternal affection Arthur might have for his son, assuming that he values the boy only as his heir, nor does she take into account Little Arthur's attachment to his father. Bronte thus calls into question a legal system in which the battle over claim to ownership of a child compromises his welfar e in favor of his property value. It is Helen and Arthur's marital status that largely complicates the custody battle over their son; as a fugitive who has not been granted a legal separation from her husband, Helen's return to Grassdale would render it f ar more difficult for her to obtain one in the event of Arthur's recovery because in the eyes of the law, a wife's return to
36 her husband's home and protection would be viewed as "condon[ing] his cruelty" (Perkin 26). hardly surprising; his interest in his son arguably springs as much from the interest in safeguarding the family name and estates as from familial attachment. Though this in terest in Little Arthur for "form's sake" as Berry terms it does not directly indicate emotional indifference toward the child, Arthur's interactions with the boy only to teach him his own habits of drinking and swearing lack a balance between play and dis cipline, pointing to a disconnect between the notions of paternal and maternal responsibility. Arthur, in short, founds his attachment to his son on Little Arthur as a miniature extension of himself; this interaction, though seen to establish the bond of t he father son relationship, fails to look beyond this one to one relationship and focus on cultivating the child's individual potential. The task of supplementing this playful relationship with structure and discipline thus falls to the mother; as Rachel C arnell observes, it is Helen, The almost absolute delegation of parental responsibility to the mother during a ohn Tosh notes, fathers took virtually no and self with his son models this port rait of fatherhood; when Little Arthur grows old enough to While Arthur's desire to interact with his son appears to express an interest in taking a
37 more active rol e in the boy's growth and development, their companionship, I argue, enacts a utilitarian exchange in which the focus lies on the child's function as an object of amusement for the father reflected in the extent to which Arthur's interest in the boy shows itself only when Little Arthur reaches an age at which he is capable of interacting and playing with his father. Arthur's lessons to his son include teaching him "to tipple wine like Papa, to swear like Mr. Hattersly, and to have his own way like a man" (B ronte 321). On the one hand, as Gwen Hyman points out, such acts as gentlemanly drinking at that time operated as "a sign of fellowship, part of the social contract," and Little Arthur's exposure to such habits teaches him to engage in male homosocial bond ing (451). Yet Arthur's so called teaching also reflects the extent to which fathers' involvement in the more formal aspects of their sons' upbringing namely education was largely hands off desirous that their learning should be properly superintended whil e expecting mothers (and later school masters, governesses, and tutors) to shoulder the responsibility. At most, a father would assume the responsibility of hiring the boy's tutor or governess or deciding where to send him to school. Such abstract involvem ent locates children within a construct in which the father, having produced an heir, reaps the benefits of the finished product (the well educated son) with little to no investment in the process. On the surface, Arthur's intention to hire a governess f or his son fulfills his responsibility as father educator. However, in the same way that Little Arthur operates as a pawn in his parents' later negotiations for separation, he functions here as the means through which his father can manipulate Helen's leve l of parental agency under the auspices of taking a more active interest in his son's education. At the time he
38 decides to remove his son's education from Helen's superintendence, Little Arthur is still between four and five years old, several years younge r than the traditional age at which Victorian boys left the nursery; private schooling typically commenced for boys at around age ten. Arthur's observation that Helen is "not fit to teach children" both criticizes Helen's parenting and calls into question a mother's qualifications as educator when her own education would more than likely have been limited to obtaining a smattering of accomplishments. Helen does not entirely disagree with this assessment of her qualifications, but I will address this point i n greater detail shortly. Through Arthur's relationship with his son's governess, Bronte explores the regressive exchange in the father son relationship in which the child operates as a means to an end; Miss Myers, the supposed governess, is in fact a mis tress of Arthur's whom he hires to teach his son so he might have her conveniently at hand while publicly legitimating her residence in his home. When Miss Myers arrives, Helen observes that Arthur "frequently looked into the school room to see how Little Arthur got on with his new companion," and she readily becomes aware that her husband has appropriated this paternal role to ostensibly desexualize his interactions with the governess (Bronte 345). In addition to the fact that "her attainments [are] limite d, her intellect noways above mediocrity," and that she cannot give a verifiable account of her previous employers, Helen observes her over attentiveness to Arthur's wants rather than their son's and her constant desire to be on hand for his amusement (Bro nte 345). Arthur's neglect of his son's care in favor of his own amusement creates a self interested appropriation of paternal authority that in no way serves the child's welfare. Not only does Little Arthur act as the unwitting instrument in his father's pursuit of his
39 own pleasures, but he stands to gain nothing from the exchange, as his own education is presumably neglected given Miss Myers poor qualifications to serve in the position of governess. As previously noted, Arthur's enactment of the role of father educator in hirin g a governess for his son ostensibly stems from his claim that Helen is unfit to superintend the boy's education. This opinion expresses a fear that a mother's affection and tenderness might soften the boy's so called manly instruct ion. Indeed, scholars like Rachel Carnell have argued that Bronte's exploration of the task of raising and educating sons considers the extent to which the limitations of female education restricted mothers' active participation in teaching their sons. I f urther argue that Bronte employs Helen's active endeavors to educate Little Arthur to point to female education as the means through which mothers might build relationships with their sons beyond that of the child's role as object of affection. Bronte's vi ews on female education inform her exploration of the language of exchange in the parent child relationship to suggest that mothers as well as fathers can be active stakeholders in shaping their children into future citizens beyond their reproductive labor Early in the novel, Bronte employs which a mother stands when faced with the prospect of raising a son; charged with his care on the one hand, and on the other often ill equip ped to provide him with a well rounded upbringing due to her own sheltered existence. The argument between these two mothers, I suggest, reveals Bronte's criticism of a regressive model of mothering that stifles rather than cultivates child growth through affectionate overindulgence.
40 When Helen expresses her belief that sending Little Arthur to school would teach him to "despise his mother's authority," Mrs. Markham cautions Helen that it is not school that would produce this effect, but keeping him "tied to [her] apron Helen's constant anxiety over having illegally fled her home with her son notwithstanding, her covetousness of him as a "treasure" makes of him an obje ct of affection on which she can l avish her love. Mrs. Markham's w arning reflects a commonly held notion that as Tosh observes school mitigated the problem of threatening the developing gender identity of boys with maternal attention (7). This is, however, precisely the way Mrs. Markham treats her own sons enacting a regressive form of mothering by nearly spoiling them into idleness; we rarely see Fergus doing anything other than lounging about with his hands in his pockets, and Rose remarks to Gilbert earl the boys'll be hungry" (Bronte 47 48). Yet while Helen objects that "nothing can be further from [her] principles," so far are her principles from those of the overindulgent mother that her own method of upbringing of keeping Little Arthur always with her and taking the responsibility of educating him entirely upon herself is equally regressive i n the extent to which over sheltering him for fear of losing him inhibits his growth into the strong, independent man she envisions raising (Bronte 24). Helen's necessity to conceal the whereabouts of herself and her son after fleeing Grassdale and the fi nancial situation to which she has been reduced by fleeing her husband would arguably render it difficult for her to hire a tutor or governess to oversee
41 his education. Her insistence upon always keeping Little Arthur at her side is, if over protective, n ot altogether unreasonable given her fear that her husband might enforce his right to retain the child. Yet in addition to the fact that she has taken her son illegally and deprived her husband of his heir, she intentionally lowers Little Arthur's position in life, depriving him of his rights as first born son and sole heir. She claims, of course, that "it would be better that he should die with [her] than that he should live with his father," even to save him from starvation (Bronte 360). Here it is the in tangible value of Little Arthur's soul and his salvation from the fate to which his father ultimately succumbs that Helen places above that of his material value as heir and the wealth and comfort he would receive in exchange for remaining at Grassdale. Th e written negotiation between Helen and Arthur respecting the custody of their son is followed by Arthur's prolonged deathbed scene with its graphic depictions of hellfire and brimstone, whereby Arthur's soul must presumably answer to a power higher than t hat of the law and be judged, so to speak, in accordance with his actions. Thus in setting Helen's actions against the law that sanctions Arthur's guardianship of his son despite his unsuitability for fatherhood and invoking a supposed eternal judgment hi gher than that of the law, Bronte casts judgment upon a construct of parental attachment primarily founded upon ties of utility. or at least denying him his inheritance would be indis putable in the eyes of the law calls into question not only maternal agency in the eyes of the law, but paternal
42 culpability as well. One would not immediately characterize a life of comfort and idleness such as Arthur leads as a miserable one though his life does e nd in misery, if self poverty if he remained at Grassdale, he would suffer the greater impoverishment of being possibly denied a long and healthy adult life. If Bronte employs the custody battle over Little Arthur to reveal the extent to which the loveless marriage reduces the child to a form of property resulting from the marital exchange, she suggests that the key to counterbalancing this construct lies in the ability to create a unified family founded on ties of affection rather than of mere ownership or possession. However, Bronte concerns herself not only with the problem of the child as legal property, but also with how the self interested parent can manipulate the child as object in the sexual exchange. She gestures toward the detrimental impact of such self interested manipulation on the child in Arthur's utilization of his son to manipulate both his wife and his mistress. Conversely, through Helen's relationships with key male characters namely Arthur, Walter Hargrave, and Gilbert Markham Bronte argues that motherhood challenges women to frame their assessment of men as companions not only in terms of their desirability as husbands and sexual partners, but as pote ntial father figures as well. With the necessity of counterbalancing Arthur's poor paternal example uppermost in Helen's mind, Little Arthur acts as an intermediary screening mechanism between Helen and any potential husband father candidates. The most ob vious of these potential father substitutes is Walter Hargrave. First and foremost, he is Little Arthur's godfather and, in addition to his legal responsibility should the child require a guardian,
43 he is charged with the task of ensuring that Arthur acts a s a positive moral role model for his son. Though Walter is a member of Arthur's circle of companions, he does not appear to engage in the overindulgent and often rowdy behavior of the others. Indeed, Helen observes that he neither laughs at Little Arthur' s mimicry of his father's behavior nor "utter[s] a word of encouragement to his aspirations after manly accomplishments" the art of tippling wine, swearing, and having his way in all things (Bronte 320). During one incident when Little Arthur displays part icularly vulgar behavior in response to the encouraging laughter of his father and friends, Walter goes so far as to remove the child from his father's knee and deliver him into Helen's care. This open is son and the "high words" Helen later overhears between the two men regarding the incident suggests that at least in her presence Walter takes seriously his duty as godfather (Bronte 321). While he does not reprimand Little Arthur, physically taking the boy from his father in the presence of his own home. Yet while Helen observes that she never witnesses Walter encouraging at it is only her presence that inspires such a reaction. Moreover, Helen rejects Walter as a suitable adult male companion for her son and a means of reconstructing the family because his role as godfather reveals a regressive relationship with his godson a self serving interest in which he appropriates his role as godfather in exchange for gaining access to Helen, whom he desires. Not altogether unlike Arthur's appropriation of his role as father educator to conduct an illicit affair with Miss Myers, Wal ter's regressive utilization of a legal and ostensibly emotional interest in his godson to initiate a relationship with Helen reduces
44 the boy to a dispensable object in the pursuit of a sexual relationship rather than an integral part of constructing a fam Helen and Little Arthur while they play out of doors together; after observing them for and interrupt you, nor to with draw from the contemplation of such a scene. How more than the child that captivates him; Little Arthur serves only to heighten his er maternal role. Yet Walter approaches on the pretext of observing the boy in a pointed endeavor to desexualize the conversation. As though his gaze is on the boy, his thoughts are on her and her marital distress (Bronte 231). For Helen, Little Arthur unwittingly acts as a shield against Walter, yet it is she who shields her son against contact with him. Aside from the fact that her mar riage alone, even without the child, would render a relationship with Walter inappropriate, she refuses to enter into a relationship with a man who views her son as a mere pawn an object of utility that can be dispensed with once he has performed his funct ion (that of serving as an access point to the mother). Bronte places Little Arthur at the center of this exchange to underscore the importance of judging the adult male's suitability to serve as father. True, Helen arguably invokes her son's utility as a screening mechanism, but Bronte employs this appropriation to gesture toward a progressive model of parenting as it is arguably Helen's devotion to Little Arthur more than her own desires that prompts her to utilize him in her endeavor to reconstruct the family unit. Bronte uses Little Arthur as screening
45 mechanism here to distinguish between the child as embodiment of parental love and the child as objectified go between in a sexual exchange. For Walter, Little Arthur operates as a go between in the rel ationship he wishes to establish with Helen. Here the mother (Helen) acts as the third party through whom Walter feels any interest (however pretended) in the child. When he learns of her intended flight from Grassdale, the wish he expresses to act as her companion and protector concerns only his own desire; in his passionate declarations of love for Helen and his desire to be united with her as "one flesh," there is no place for Little Arthur no wish to form a family unit (Bronte 327). Having provided him a convenient access point to Helen, Little Arthur is now an inhibitor to Walter's relationship with her. Walter's insistence that Arthur will not allow Helen to remove her son from his custody is certainly true in light of the legal restraints on mothers, but Walter is secretly aware of how the law might work in his favor. Any affection he might have had for his godson whether genuine or pretended is cast aside at the realization that the law which denies Helen full custody of her son might grant him exclu sive access to her could she be persuaded to leave the boy with his profligate father. Through Helen, however, Bronte suggests that sexual desire in and of itself potentially complicates the parental relationship with the possibility of its interfering wi th and taking precedence over love for the child. If Little Arthur's upbringing must include an adult male figure that is, if Helen is to reconstruct a family within which to raise him through a relationship with a father substitute that male must love the child for his own sake and not merely as an extension of herself, although one can argue that Helen loves her son because he is both connected to and distinguished from his father the
46 only vestige of good that remains in Arthur for Helen to love. Were Wal her (like that of her husband) to wane, his relationship with the child could potentially Helen exists largely, if not entirely, with respect to Litt estate. Through Helen's screening of surrogate father candidates, then, Bronte suggests that the selection of a husband father must therefore be based not merely upon his desirability as a sexual partner, but on a more p rogressive notion of his ability to form a paternal attachment to his children as individuals independent of his love for (or legal attachment to) their mother. Scholars such as Gwen Hyman have read Arthur and his companions as representing the decline o criticism of male behavior is not a sweeping generalization, but rather an observation of her own experiences, s he nevertheless views her son as the raw material for a new model of masculinity (451). Indeed, the model of the middle class, hard working gentleman who began to displace the landed gentleman had only truly begun to emerge at the time Bronte was writing t evil and choose the good, and require[s] no experimental proofs to teach [him] the evil exhibits several of the characteristics that have the potential of rendering him a suitable father figure: namely hone sty and industriousness characteristics that combine a
47 strong moral character with hard work and ambition in a model of masculinity that can counterbalance the gentlemanly idleness Helen wishes her son to avoid (Bronte 4). Yet while scholars such as Priti Joshi and Gwen Hyman have commented upon Gilbert's role of gentleman farmer as the embodiment of the rising middleclass gentleman, he is, to an extent, a product of the very system of regressive maternal overindulgence that Bronte suggests mothers must wo rk to destabilize if they are to have dependable fathers for their children. Priti Joshi's reading of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall speaks to this idea of the middle class gentleman's values helping to restructure the aristocratic familial relationship that Bronte perceives here as founded on ties of the exchange and maintenance of wealth; Joshi argues that the novel presents "an incisive critique of old forms of masculinity and a clear eyed vision of the pain of birthing new forms" (907). I suggest that for Bronte, this task of birthing new forms of masculinity necessitates that women seeking to create this new generation of men act to an extent as mothers to their husbands as well as to their children in order to raise, so to speak, an ideal model of father hood and a family conducive to the raising of well cared for children. As Arthur's son and, more importantly, his heir, Little Arthur is to an extent a product of his form of masculinity embodied in his striking physical resemblance to his father. The port rait Helen paints of her husband and her later reflection on its striking likeness to her son reflects a desire to reconstruct Arthur as a better man and, implicitly, a better father. Her desire to carefully reconstruct Little Arthur's living environment a nd restrict his
48 interaction with Arthur and even with her brother Frederic (Mr. Lawrence) 2 suggests a fear that such exposure will awaken a tendency in Little Arthur toward the self destructive habits that had led to her own father's death (and eventually cause Arthur's toward self destructive habits is as previously noted that she sets up Arthur as the model after which the child must not follow without providing a posit ive model to counterbalance it. Bronte's usage of art specifically Helen's portrait of Arthur to consider the idea of how best to construct a positive parental model is particularly suggestive here, for it points to parenting as a molding or type of arti stic cultivation of character. Helen's rendering of her husband in art is a labor of love, both romantic and parental. What she captures on canvass is Arthur not perhaps as he is, but as he might be as she envisions him. In taking his likeness thus, Helen undertakes a study of Arthur, creating through her art the model of an ideal man. This artistic exercise foreshadows the realistic molding of a man for fatherhood that Helen must later undertake and which, as I will argue shortly, Bronte suggests is necess ary in the formation of the family unit. If, as scholarship about Victorian parenthood has shown, child bearing and child lls upon women to respond to serve as effective fathers. Both Arthur and Gilbert exhibit childlike characteristics that 2 Early in the novel, it is revealed that Helen's father h ad also been an alcoholic and her restriction of Little Arthur's contact with Mr. Lawrence (who we later learn is her brother) arguably springs from her fear that he has inherited his father's propensity for drink.
49 require a degree of maternal attention to keep in check 3 This notion of "mothering" the husband to cultivate paternal potential emerges markedly as band's traces the shifting construction of her own identity as wife and mother. Bronte lays the groundwork for this construction of a maternal identity through the advice that Helen's aunt relays to her on the subject of choosing a husband: [W]hen the cit adel of the heart is fairly besieged it is apt to surrender sooner than the owner is aware of, and often against her better be watchful and circumspect from the very commencement of your career, and not to suffer your heart to be stolen from you by the first foolish or the handsomest, and most accomplished and superficially agreeable man in the world, you little know the misery that would overwhelm you, if, after all, you should find him to be a worthless reprobate, or even an impracticable fool. (Bronte 116) With this reference to Helen's potential courtship and marriage as a "career," Bronte firmly situates thes e remarks within the discourse of the cult of domesticity that cast wifehood and motherhood as "woman's work." Helen's response, though offered in opposition to her aunt's advice, equally echoes this view: "But what are all the poor fools and reprobates to do, aunt? If everybody followed your advice, the world would soon come to an end" (Bronte 116). This suggestion that some women must make it their mission to wed the "poor fools and reprobates" gestures toward her progressive approach to parenthood that e merges much later in the novel the idea that men can only become suitable husbands and (implicitly) fathers if properly cultivated. Yet Helen's 3 Despite his otherwise industrious natu re, Gilbert finds himself unable to attend to the business of He is often short tempered with his family and even knocks Frederick from his horse, severe ly injuring him.
50 life with Arthur bears all of the hallmarks of the sort of marriage into which her aunt cautions her against ent ering a relationship that seeks marital companionship first and foremost for the fulfillment of personal and sexual desire. Bronte, then, offers, first through the cautionary tale of Helen's failed marriage to Arthur and later through her happier marriage to Gilbert, a didactic model for how woman might envision her role as wife and mother as the builder of the family unit. She creates in these marriages a distinction between marital union as sexual partnership or exchange and marital union as the foundati on for forming the family as moral institution a distinction she points to as essential in woman's self identification as mother. When Helen marries Arthur, she chooses him because she loves and desires him, and in spite of her aunt's caution and the one d imensional nineteenth century construction of woman as wife mother, the notion of creating a family centered life narrative does not initially appear to enter her mind. Even after her marriage, until the urgeoning maternal philosophy only 212). Given that the identity she constructs for herself seems largely infused with Wollstonecraft ian feminism (her belief in equal education for boys and girls and her ability to capitalize on her talent as an artist in a decade when wives could not earn an independent income) it is not surprising that she doe s not at first seem to incorporate motherhood into her construction of womanhood. In their study of feminism and family planning during the Victorian period, J.A. and Olive Banks have argued that with the exception of asserting that women would be better s uited for motherhood if properly educated and theorizing
51 briefly about the benefits of breast 4 discussion of motherhood within the context of feminism is largely implicit; they suggest that in her criticism of R oversight on Wolls submitting to the one dimensionality of the wife mother role. For Helen to define herself primarily in maternal terms even before having a family to raise would be to situate herself wit hin a largely masculinist construction of womanhood. Bronte, however, while not entirely dismissing Wollstonecraft ian feminism, cautions against its potential to create a disconnect in the relationship between marital union and the stability of the family unit. In neglecting to consider how she might prepare herself for the responsibility of motherhood, Helen overlooks the equally vital importance of Arthur's readiness for fatherhood. In fact, rather than endeavoring to cure Arthur of his habitual idleness what she attributes to his own "badly indulgent mother" she treats him with the same overindulgence that she hopes to avoid as a mother (Bronte 211). While she does not condone her husband's drunken debauchery, she also does little to correct his behavior aside from her spiritual remonstrations, endeavoring to "shame him into virtue" by showering him with kindness he does not deserve (Bronte 211). Though she acknowledges him to be "reckless" and as "hard to amuse as a spoiled child," she evidently feels no responsibility to reverse the damage 4 In A Vindication of the Rights of Women Wollstonecraft advocates mothers breast feeding their own suckle their children, they wou ld preserve their own health, and there would be such an interval between
52 inflicted on his character by his own upbringing (Bronte 211). On the contrary, her dutiful attendance on him perpetuates it: "He lies on the sofa nearly all day long, and I play and sing to him for hours together. I w rite his letters for him, and get him everything he wants; and sometimes I read to him, and sometimes I talk, and sometimes only sit by him with silent caresses" (Bronte 212). In doing so, she fulfills her role as the ideal wife and ministering angel of th e house. Yet her love for Arthur and her desire to please him problematize both her views respecting female independence and her later approach to parenting. In the same way that Helen only associates herself with motherhood with she becomes a mother herse lf, she views Arthur only as her husband with no apparent consideration of his being the potential father of her children. Thus Bronte traces the development of Helen's maternal philosophy prior to and after Little Arthur's birth to consider the extent to which children alter the marital dynamic, the maintenance of which, she ultimately suggests, lies at the center of a stable familial construct. Only after Helen becomes a mother and begins to witness the extent to which Arthur's behavior negatively impact s her son's growth does she recognize both the sexual and parental agency that she might exercise by considering the paternal potential of her husband beyond that of romantic companion and sexual tion as a widow, he excess of affection for her late husband, or because she had had enough of him and the ur are still legally married during the early days of her acquaintance with Gilbert, Gilbert's remark nevertheless comments upon the somewhat tenuous position in which Helen stands as
53 a widow with a young, fatherless son to raise. Bronte thus employs Helen 's use of Little Arthur as screening mechanism in her relationship with Gilbert to construct a progressive family model that shifts its focus onto fulfilling the needs of the child rather than simply gratifying the desires of the parent. The emotional res erve that Helen exhibits toward Gilbert, though largely a result of her marital status at the beginning of their acquaintance, also springs from her maternal obligations. Given a choice between Walter Hargrave and Gilbert, Gilbert seems the more likely of Markham has spoiled her son, Gilbert's father has at least instilled him with a sense of duty and self in law that frames the narrati continued in the family occupation of farming (Bronte 4). As yet another link in a long legacy of hard work (his own father and grandfather were farmers before him) old Mr., Markham fe the idleness and self degeneration that Arthur Huntington embodies (Bronte 4). If Mrs. Markham, in her role as the regressive, doting mother, overcompensates for h values the character building nature of industrious labor; as Gwen Hyman points out, we frequently find Gilbert engaging in some form of physical or mental productivity relat no easy business that
54 farme r offers a sharp contrast to Arthur as the idle gentleman; diligently working his land to its full profit not only provides for him and his family, but for those who purchase the products of the farm for sustenance. Bronte here envisions the farmer as the antidote to the idle gentleman the man who works for and earns the fruits of his labor while providing service to the community versus the man who merely consumes the luxury produced by the labor of others. Bronte envisions the industrious Gilbert as the m odel of masculinity that can aid in raising sons who can take their places as productive members of society. True, Gilbert might express an unwillingness to take up the occupation of farming, but he by no means fears hard work. Old Mr. Markham's desire tha t Gilbert should "let [his] highest ambition be to walk honestly through the world, looking neither to the right nor to the left" echoes Helen's intention for the path she wishes to carve out for her own son in life (Bronte 4). If the mold Mr. Markham cast s for his son is somewhat confining, it nevertheless reveals that the blueprint for the virtuous, hard working man into which Helen wishes to shape her son does in fact exist. Scholars reading Gilbert as the up and coming middle class gentleman have inevi tably commented on the fact that Gilbert's marriage to Helen ultimately transforms him into the very idle gentleman with whom Helen desires to disassociate herself and her son; Gwen Hyman, for instance, argues that in his leisurely existence, seated by the fire writing letters to his brother in what he has worked for, it seems, is precisely the sort of idle gentlemanliness that he I suggest that while Gilbert might not fully realize his father's ambitions or his own, he recognizes and cultivates such potential in others signified by his bequest of the family farm to Fergus
55 upon his marriage to Helen. While Gilbert, as the eldest son inherits the farm, it is Fergus who eventually takes a genuine interest in agriculture, and this occupation serves as an antidote for his idleness. The fact that Gilbert's bequest accompanies Fergus's own interest in courting a young lady implicitly sets him on the path toward fatherhood as it provides him with the motivation and resources to support a family. This transference of property and power to the second son at once ensures the preservation of the family farm and expresses a view that each man sh ould carve his own path in life. In this respect, Gilbert differentiates himself as a father figure not only from his own father, but more importantly from Arthur, who makes no endeavor to cultivate his son's individual potential and endeavors to shape him into a replica of the idle gentleman. It is this potential that marks Gilbert as a progressive father figure in Helen's view, for unlike Arthur and Walter Hargrave, his relationship with Little Arthur initially springs from his interest in the child for his own sake rather than purely for his affiliation with Helen. While his friendship with the child ultimately leads to a romantic attachment to Helen, his initial desire to befriend Little Arthur is in no way motivated by self interest. He sees only a gro wing, fatherless boy in want of a companion other than his mother. True, like Walter, Gilbert is not unaware of Little Arthur's ability to function as an access point to Helen; when he begins to express his interest in her, he remarks, "In love affairs, th ere is no mediator like a merry, simple hearted child" and endeavors to access to her (Bronte 60; 63). Significant in this emotional exchange between Gilbert, Little Arthur, and later Helen, is Little Arthur's active participation in the relationship as "mediator" rather than instrument in another man's pursuit of his mother's attention.
56 Rather than serving as a mere go between who can be dispensed with after bridging the gap between Helen and gilbert, Little Arthur actively engages in a relationship from which each individual derives enjoyment and which offers him the benefit of an adult male companion who takes interest in him as a growing boy. It is Little Arthur's fondness for Gilbert as much as Gilbert's interest in him and his mother that ultimately unites Gilbert and Helen, making him an agent rather than a mere tool in their relationship. For Bronte, then, in the ideal familial construct, the child serves as th e embodiment and the means of deepening marital love as husband and wife unite in a shared goal beyond the intimacy of their own relationship. Indeed, Gilbert's respect for the maternal boundaries Helen sets in place and his acknowledgement of her agency o ver her child an agency that both her own husband and the law deny her leads Helen to consider him as a potential father. Despite their initial disagreement about endeavors to und erstand, or at the very least respect her desire to take an active hand another around the subject of Little Arthur's education to set up Gilbert as the father figure whose guidance can transform Helen's somewhat restraining rearing of Little Arthur into a progressive parenting approach. Protesting to Helen's insistence on always keeping her son by her side and guarding him against exposure to any vice or temptation, Gilbert argues that Little Arthur would not benefit from such overprotective parenting if Helen Wishes to raise him to be a virtuous man: [b]y such means, you will never render him virtuous. What is it that constitutes virtue, Mrs. Graham? Is it the circumstance of being able and willing to resist temptation; or that of having no temptations to resist?...If you would have your son to walk ho norably through the world, you must
57 not attempt to clear the stones from his path, but teach him to walk firmly over them not insist upon leading him by the hand, but let him learn to go temptation, not to remove it out of his way. (Bronte 24 25) In thus pointing to the flaw in Helen's parenting, Gilbert seeks not to challenge her maternal affection, but rather to suggest that truly progressive parenting seeks unity between tenderness and strength of character. If Helen wishes to raise her son in a manner that seeks such a balance, her protective instinct and her treatment of him as a fragile object of sentiment arguably interfere with his growth. Indeed, her reference to him as "my only treasure" speaks more of the covetousness than of the cultivation of companion, it is not male companionship itself she fears, but rather the presence of a male autho rity that would displace her own. By utilizing Gilbert as the mouthpiece for outlining a model of progressive child such as reading, Bronte points to the balance betw een structure and play that characterizes this philosophy. After their initial meeting (when Gilbert rescues the child from a near fall from a tree branch) the first activity in which we witness them engaging together is that of reading; on his first vis ow Little Arthur to remain with Gilbert undoubtedly springs however mild that the boy be permitted to sit with him ini
58 prove to her that he wishes to be not merely a playmate, but a positive male role model providing the bo y with structure as well as amusement. In addition to giving the child a puppy and romping out of doors with him, Gilbert offers Little Arthur a book that, for her a reading, Bronte distinguishes Gilbert from the less active model of Victorian fatherhood that Arthur embodies in several significant ways: firstly, he exercises an active a not. Secondly, by first submitting the book to Helen, he acknowledges her capability to a recognition that acknowledges the importance of h er maternal role beyond her sentimental attachment to Little Arthur as treasured possession. Thirdly and perhaps most importantly by introducing and engaging in the act of reading with Little Arthur, Gilbert takes a far more active role in laying the found do little more than put his head in at the nursery from time to time, play with his children, and offer the occasional pat on the head or stern lecture as the circumstan ce calls for. Unlike Arthur's supposed interest in his son's education for the pursuit of his own pleasures, here the boy's enjoyment and edification, not the father's, is the primary focus of the relationship. Bronte, I suggest, draws upon the emerging p Victorian period and their function as a pedagogical tool to affix Gilbert i n the role of father educator. I n his interactions with Little Arthur, Gilbert invests structured time and
59 energy into a relationship that, in addition to bringing mutual enjoyment to man and boy, instructs Little Arthur in the importance of work and study. Claudia Nelson's observation in her study of Victorian children's fiction that "children's books in England came into being less to delight t han to instruct" speaks to this reading of the children's book in Bronte's novel as emblematic of the linkage between utility and sentimentality that characterizes progressive parenting (2). Moments after Helen and Gilbert have settled the matter of their engagement, Little Arthur enters the room with a natural history book he has just received, and Gilbert once again takes the boy on his knee so the pair can study it together (Bronte 453). Most significant about this exchange is that Helen has particularly asked Little Arthur to fetch his new book for Gilbert. Though she does so on the pretext of sending him from the room so that she and Gilbert can speak privately, the book serves both as an acknowledgement of her willingness to allow Gilbert's participati on in her son's upbringing and emblematic of the position she expects her husband to occupy as father. In directing her son to share a book rather than a toy or other object of amusement with his soon to be father, Helen transmits a clear message to Gilber t that his relationship with the child must not be merely that of playmate. If the fraudulent Miss Myers's presence sets Helen and Arthur against one another in their battle over the care of their son, here the book unites mother and father in the shared c ommon goal of raising their son. Bronte invokes the instructional purpose of children's books to emphasize Helen's construction of Gilbert's relationship to Little Arthur as what John Tosh terms the "intimate father" a role in which "easy familiarity [is] balanced by a respect for discipline and routine" (99). The book that Little Arthur presents to Gilbert, like the copy
60 of The Farmer's Magazine that first serves as a means of initiating their interaction, is not only a piece of instructional literature ( a natural history book), but he exclaims when he presents it that the reading is "as nice as the pictures" (Bronte 453). Striking a balance between discipline and delight, the book embodies the characteristics of progressive parenting. This intellectual ex change between man and boy reflects both Gilbert's fatherly interest in Little Arthur's development and his acknowledgement of Little Arthur as a growing individual with his own interests and abilities. Gilbert does not, like Walter Hargrave, view the boy merely as an instrument for gaining access to Helen that can now be dispensed with after serving its purpose; true, he remarks that had Little Arthur entered the room before the engagement was settled, Gilbert "should've received him less graciously" (Bron te 453). While this confession admits to considering the child as an interference in this circumstance, once his relationship to Helen is a certainty, he willingly accepts his role as father as he declares, "He was my own Helen's son, and therefore mine; a nd as such I have ever since regarded him" (Bronte 453). Though Bronte again employs the language of ownership in this scene to establish Gilbert's relationship to Little Arthur as that of father and son, the emphasis here is on the shared responsibility a nd ownership earned through affection rather than the mere parental rights founded on ties of blood and law. Having earned the affection and respect of mother and child, Gilbert must accept the responsibility of heading his new family. That he accepts his paternal role as social responsibility and eagerly takes up the work of raising a son points to the ways that a middle class work ethic can inform the order and function of the family. True, Little Arthur's eventual inheritance of his father's land and for tune affixes him in the role of the landed gentleman, but he can,
61 presumably, inform this aristocratic lifestyle with a sense of moral and social responsibility being a kind and fair master to his servants and tenants and living perhaps less extravagantly than his father before him. Helen ultimately chooses Gilbert because he has no intention of utilizing his paternal authority to negate hers, rather respecting her maternal agency and crediting ith a reference to Little maternal authority (453). hi Helen possesses more than the mere right to affection that English common law stipulates. She can, in fact, accept significant (if not a bsolute) credit for the son she has raised. More importantly, this philosophy of parenting as shared responsibility extends to the relationship that Gilbert and Helen share with the children they sire together, for on that they have produced a family of their own. As Gilbert brings the narrative to a close, he comments upon how blessed he and This shared joy denotes an equal pleasure and pride in the children they have brought into the world and are raising together.
62 In the conclusion of this novel, Anne Bronte presents a somewhat more balanced Jane Eyre where the child born at t 5 Wuthering Heights in which I address in the next chapter. Bronte scholars have often read The Tenant of Wildfell Hall romantic utopia that allows Jane and Rochester to escape the outside world as they immerse themselves in their overwhelming love for each other. In the Tenant of Wil dfell Hall Anne Bronte questions whether this type of romantic love is sufficient, widening the responsibility is fulfilled in the image of the unified and flourishing famil y with which Gilbert leaves the reader. Like the companionate marriage, Helen and Gilbert have established a form of companionate parenting. The fact that Helen procreates with Gilbert identifies him both as the man whom she can love and who possesses the qualities of a good father. Her second marriage is founded both on love and the principle that the family is the primary mechanism for producing well rounded, healthy children who can grow to live honest, respectable adult lives. If she will not choose a h usband based purely on sexual attraction, neither must she choose him based solely on his paternal qualities; to do so would potentially lead to a second loveless marriage that might compromise the well balanced raising of children. 5 brief mention of the child, Jane never once re fers to him as hers, or more importantly theirs, emphasizing the maternal condition as existing purely for the service of the patriarchy.
63 Through Helen's marria ge to Gilbert, Bronte anticipates what eugenic feminists later termed "eugenic love" a marriage that struck a balance between passion (sexual love) and Darwin's theory of sexual selection ("the rational selection of reproductive partners on grounds of thei r fitness to be parents" ) (Richardson 80). By considering child rearing within the context of the family, Bronte does more than reaffirm the traditional construction of woman as wife mother. Drawing upon the emerging concept of the companionate marriage, reassessment of paternal as well as maternal responsibility. As she considers the ways in which limited maternal rights problematized the Victorian construction of motherhood, she also points out that, conv ersely, the legal recognition of fatherhood must be matched with equal paternal involvement, calling for a form of parenting that balances the rights and responsibilities of husband father with those of wife mother.
64 CHAPTER 3 CONSUMING THE CHILD : THE FEMALE MONSTER AND THE MOTHER FIGURE Anne Bronte's examination of motherhood within the context of the legal and sexual exchange addresses the extent to which such a construct jeopardized the health and stability of the family by locating the child w ithin a system of property and ownership. Women, she argues, in selecting husbands with an eye toward family planning rather than mere sexual partnership, could thus become arbiters in their relationships rather than mere providers of wifely and maternal s ervice. Yet examining motherhood as a form of exchange more often reveals the ways that the sexual possession of the woman's body sought to regulate her degree of agency over her sexuality. Feminist scholars have frequently drawn attention to the fact that historically, the reproductive processes of women have largely contributed to the oppression of the female body because, as Janet Price and Margrit Shildrick note, "the fact that women in general are able to menstruate, to develop another body unseen with in their own, to give birth, and to lactate is enough to suggest a potentially dangerous volatility that regulation" (3). In Victorian Literature, such "dangerous volatility" is rendered most threateningly in the figure of the female vampire a figure whose enactment of the exchange of bodily fluids at once associates her with the reproductive processes of menstruation and lactation and represents a reappropriation of such processe s to satiate her own desires. Scholars such as Nina Auerbach and Joseph Adriano have devoted extensive attention to interrogating how, by consuming the blood and flesh of another body particularly the male body the female vampire crystalizes male anxiety a bout the dangerous potential of female empowerment. Of particular interest is the
65 extent to which the vampiric female body serves as a means through which to consider the inherent link between woman's body and her reproductive capacity and the perceived da nger of that capacity. The "regulation" which the female body was thought to demand surfaced in the form of men's appropriation of the female's reproductive capacity for their own purposes that is, as a service to the patriarchy an appropriation emblematiz ed in the figures of male vampires like Bram Stoker's Dracula, whose victimization of females symbolically birthed vampiric offspring. Casting motherhood as a form of service reducing woman, as Michelle Boulous Walker argues, "to the mute passivity of he r reproductive role" sought to direct control over the mysterious processes of the female body away from the woman herself. For the Victorians, this "muteness" of the maternal body showed itself most literally in the rigorous policing of the topics of preg nancy and childbirth within public discourse. An extensive body of scholarship addresses Victorian anxiety about the maternal body as grotesque and inappropriate. As Leigh Summers observes, "pregnancy was, of course, the most obvious demonstration of women 's carnal womanly innocence was maintained despite evidence of sexual experience" (38 39). To that end, Victorians adopted terms like "confinement" to describe the expecting mo ther as a means through which to physically and metaphorically conceal her from view specifically from the male gaze. In addition to the fact that the visibly pregnant body presented an overt display of sexual activity, the pregnant mother's voracious appe tite primarily to meet the demands of the developing fetus challenged the Victorian associations of a woman's dainty eating habits with sexual purity or restraint. Thus the
66 confinement of the pregnant woman's body better served endeavors within nineteenth century discourse to stress the passivity of female sexuality. The association of the female vampire with out of control sexuality offers a useful mechanism for exploring motherhood within the discourse of production and consumption in the extent to whic h it depicts women reacting against the utilitarian role of the serviceable body. Feeding off of rather than nourishing her "children" (the victims she transforms into vampires), she effectively turns the mother/child dynamic on its head. The rebellion aga inst the maternal role that the female vampire symbolizes serves the dual purpose of rejecting her prescribed position in the patriarchal family and severing ties with the body. Within the framework of regressive versus progressive mothering, the vampiric mother is not unlike Karl Marx's oft cited comparison of capitalism to the vampire in her literal "sucking of living labor" a regressive usurping of the child's existence for personal gain (qtd in Goodlad 211). The child is, of course, the product of the mother's labor, and by consuming that which she has produced, the vampiric mother rejects he r own utility as "living labor." Yet merely rejecting motherhood provides woman with a simplified form of female rebellion that serves no greater purpose than that of making a bold statement against traditional womanhood. In Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre for instance, the mad, monstrous Bertha Mason commits suicide without leaving Rochester a male heir, but her bloody demise ultimately achieves nothing in the way of female liberation from the patriarchy. On the contrary, she indirectly participates in its preservation by enabling Jane to marry Rochester and produce a son. Moreover, rejection of motherhood is not Bertha's aim in committing suicide, but rather an unanti cipated outcome.
67 In this chapter, then, I address the regressive versus progressive maternal narrative through the trope of the female vampire as a site of production and consumption to consider the progressive maternal narrative as one in which woman, ra ther than rejecting her maternal body as "Living labor," can transform it into a vehicle of social and sexual agency. My discussion will address the women of four texts: Cathy Earnshaw of Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights (1846), Lucy Westenra and Mina Harker of Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897), Carmilla of Joseph Sheriden Le Fanu's Carmilla (1872), and Lady Ducayne of Mary Elizabeth Braddon's "Good Lady Ducayne" (1896). Though spanning a considerable time period, these texts, when read together, reveal the extent to which the regressive and progressive maternal narratives both operate within and challenge the consumer/producer binary within the language of exchange. The vampiric mother, both producing and consuming life, occup ies a liminal space between production and consumption. She at once draws empowerment from her child victims and passes on a legacy of empowerment through the vampiric life with which she imbues them. Adrienne Rich's discussion of the mother as transformer works well here in considering the liminality of the mother as producer and consumer through the figure of the female vampire. A mother, Rich argues, does more than "simply give birth. She [makes] it possible for the child to go on living. Her breasts [fu rnish] the first food, but her concern for the child [leads] her beyond that one to one relationship" (101). For Cathy, Lucy, and Lady Ducayne, what agency they gain through their manipulation of motherhood is directed toward rather than away from self; t hat is, in appropriating motherhood for their individual gain, they become consumers rather than producers of life. Such a narrative is regressive in its reversal of the mother/child
68 dynamic, relying upon rather than bestowing life to the child. Le Fanu's Carmilla arguably offers a somewhat more progressive model of motherhood because she seeks to extend her vampiric power beyond herself, imbuing her female victims with the inheritance of sexual liberation through lesbianism. Yet her overt lesbianism and di slocation of male authority or participation in her new order of sexual freedom does little to dispel male anxiety about the dangerous potentiality of untrammeled female sexuality. As I shall attempt to demonstrate, the answer to resolving such anxiety l ies in the woman who resists the one dimensionality of either producer or consumer, enacting a progressive maternal narrative through her ability to balance agency over her own body and desires with the task of directing that agency away from mere self ful fillment alone and onto the advancement of her community be it family, nation, or race. This answer, as I will ultimately argue, comes in the figure of Stoker's Mina Harker, who achieves through her supposedly monstrous motherhood and the birth of her son a human/monster, male female hybridity that simultaneously challenges male fear of the out of control, deviant female and woman's fear of submissive femininity. The Disempowered Daughter: Cathy Earnshaw and Maternal Abandonment Several scholars have read Wuthering Heights within the discourse of consumption, commenting upon the cannibalistic characteristics of its characters namely Heathcliff, whose barbaric otherness, Matthew Beaumont suggests, can be linked to Marx's criticism of British colonialism and the rise of capitalism as well as the African slave trade. 1 Readings of Cathy in relation to the monstrous focus largely on her demonic haunting of the Heights, though Heathcliff's drastic emaciation toward the 1 See "Heathcliff's Great Hunger: the Cannibal Other in Wuthering Heights ." Journal of Victorian Culture 9 (2004): 137 163.
69 novel's end also points to an overtly canniba listic monstrosity. Though scholars have commented exhaustively on Cathy's symbolic consumption of Heathcliff through their sexual and spiritual connection, Little has been said about the relationship between Cathy and her daughter in this respect, possibl y, as I will argue, because of Cathy's physical absence from the second half of the novel. While Cathy's manipulation of her daughter is arguably not overtly vampiric, she operates as a kind of "psychic vampire" to use Nina Auerbach's term as she manipulat es the child's life to achieve her own end that of reuniting with Heathcliff ( Our Vampires 101). Cathy's relationship with her daughter enacts a symbolic consumption that characterizes the regressive mother in the extent to which the child exists for the s ole purpose of fulfilling the desires of the mother. Through this relationship, Emily Bronte utilizes the concepts of exchange and consumption to create a cautionary tale about the danger of harnessing female sexuality through motherhood. Considerable sch olarly attention has been devoted to reading the character of Cathy's daughter 2 as the reincarnation of her mother and the means of healing the rift between the Linton and Earnshaw families positive readings that imbue her with a power the first Cathy lack s. 3 I suggest, however, that the relationship between the two enacts a story not so much of healing as of vengeful self fulfillment. Cathy's relationship with her daughter is, upon first consideration, entirely nonexistent as she dies only hours after givi ng birth, therefore severing all physical ties with the child and her own maternal body. Bronte pointedly avoids constraining her heroine to the one 2 For purposes of clarity, I will hereafter refer to Cathy Earnshaw as Cathy and her daughter as Cathy II 3 See for instance Linda Gold, "Catherine Earnshaw: Mother and Daughter." English Journal 74 (1985): 68 73.
70 dimensionality of the maternal role through the fact that until the moment of Cathy II's birth, there appea rs no textual evidence of Cathy's pregnancy not even a telltale reference to her "confinement." Such an omission locates woman outside the restrictive construct of a sexual identity associated with her reproductive function. Cathy's overindulgence in her s exual appetite through her simultaneous relationships with Heathcliff and her husband Edgar gestures to the before mentioned anxieties about the dangerous potential of the exercise of female sexuality for her own personal desire rather than to fulfill patr iarchal needs and desires. Even as Cathy's pregnant body stands as a reminder of her sexuality, it inhibits her identity as an independent sexual being because the birth of a child reinforces her marital bond to Edgar. The child here becomes the unwanted usurper of the woman's affections, preventing her from pursuing relationships in which she stands to gain. Indeed, Cathy sacrifices a life of poverty with Heathcliff (whom she loves) for the material wealth and comfort of marriage to Edgar; in response to Nelly's observation that Edgar may not always be either handsome or rich, Cathy declares, "he is now; and I have only to do with the present" (Bronte 74). If The Tenant of Wildfell Hall employs the rhetoric of exchange to show the long term reward of makin g family motivated sexual choices and raising a child to be a model citizen, Wuthering Heights uses it to illustrate the destructive outcome of restrictive female sexuality both on women and ultimately on the family. Cathy's suicide through self starvation acts as the means of casting off the burden of her maternal body so as to use that body to attain self gratification. If she loves Heathcliff, it is nonetheless a selfish love a love that thrives for her on what he can offer her rather than on what they m ight offer each other. Focused entirely on her
7 1 desire for Heathcliff, Cathy neglects the physical demands of both her own body and the developing body of her daughter within her womb. Carolyn Dever's discussion of psychoanalytic cannibalism can work to si tuate the mother/child relationship within the rhetoric of consumption and exchange; Dever describes the infant as "a little cannibal, oriented to and dependent on the mother's breast for survival" (56). If we consider the relationship between mother and c hild as one of consumer and producer, Cathy's unborn child is similarly cannibalistic in her relationship to her mother as she consumes her mother from within and threatens to monopolize her body and affections. Here Bronte constructs motherhood within the confines of the loveless marriage as an unequal exchange that usurps woman's body for the service of bearing children. Cathy's suicide weakens her daughter through the destruction of her own body; while the act of giving birth physically detaches her bod y from her daughter's, her suicide carries this detachment a critical step further. The destruction of her maternal body frees her from the responsibility of providing the child with continued protection and nourishment through the physical contact of hold ing, breast feeding, ETC. that is, the continuation of ensuring the life of the child that forms the distinction between merely producing life and creating it. Cathy II's premature birth thus takes on especial significance within this context; Nelly Dean d escribes her at birth as "a puny, seven months child" seemingly incapable of survival without her mother (Bronte 150). In purely medical terms, Cathy II is born prematurely because her mother's body is too weak to sustain a developing fetus. However, her b irth before she is physically capable of survival outside the womb is purposefully brought upon by her mother's self starvation
72 that releases Cathy's spirit from a body bound in marriage and motherhood to a man she does not love. Through her death and the birth of/detachment from her daughter, Cathy reclaims agency over her own body an agency of which her unborn child threatens to deprive her. What I suggest through my reading of this relationship is that ultimately the self interested motherhood that turns the construction of the mother as producer on its head is ultimately regressive both as a means of challenging patriarchal notions of motherhood and as an act of female liberation because it seeks to benefit no one beyond the individual who enacts it. To frame a reading of Cathy's motherhood within the context of the regressive exchange necessitates examining her pervasive spiritual presence in the second half of the novel and the way that, as I will argue, she manipulates her daughter's body as an instru ment of her own agency, using it as the access point through which she reunites with Heathcliff and obtains spiritual and sexual release. I refer here to what I read as a connection that Cathy's spirit establishes with her daughter after nearly twenty year s, when Cathy II is approximately the same age her mother had been at her death. Her ghostly confrontation with Lockwood at the beginning of the novel illustrates the extent to which she deprives her daughter of any agency over her own narrative. When Lock wood first becomes acquainted with the inhabitants of Wuthering Heights, he openly admits to finding Cathy II attractive and later admits to Nelly that "it might be very possible that I should love her" (Bronte 234). While he never pursues the intimacy, h is doing so would prevent any attachment between Cathy II and Hareton the attachment traditionally interpreted as the means of resolving the long standing rift between the Linton and Earnshaw families. If Cathy II and Lockwood were to marry, she would
73 inev itably leave Wuthering Heights, where she must remain to enable her mother to reinter that realm and reunite with Heathcliff. As seemingly the only regular visitor to the Heights, Lockwood arguably offers Cathy II little if any agency as he is her only pot ential suitor. Yet even as he confesses his attraction, his doubt as to whether or not she would care for him implicitly offers her a choice as to whether or not to accept or reject his contemplated advances (Bronte 234). Thus by removing Lockwood, Cathy r eappropriates her daughter the inhibiter of her unrestricted relationship with Heathcliff as an instrument in pursuing that relationship. Through Cathy II's marriage to Hareton and her adoption of the name Catherine Earnshaw, the first Cathy is reincarnat ed and restored to an independent identity free from the bonds of marriage and motherhood, effectively exchanging her daughter for herself to live out that narrative. By installing Cathy II as Catherine Earnshaw in the Linton home, Cathy achieves the split ting of her identity between the financially secure, respectable realm of the Grange and the wild, ungoverned freedom of the Heights. Yet in Cathy's attainment of this freedom, she ultimately imprisons her daughter in the same way she had been imprisoned p rior to and even during her marriage to Edgar Linton. trapped as she is at Wuthering Heights Heathcliff having seized control of her land and fortune following the death of her first husband (her cousin Linton) Cathy II's only hope of escape lies in marryi ng a second time, and Lockwood is, as Edgar had been for her mother, the only respectable man available to her with Hareton's position as a servant in his own house being not unlike Heathcliff's had been. While Heathcliff's death enables Hareton to reclaim his position as "the first gentleman of the neighborhood" and escape Wuthering Heights with his wife, they move only as far as Thrushcross Grange,
74 and no further than Cathy had escaped by marrying Edgar (Bronte 171). Moreover, having been the home of Cath y II's girlhood, Thrushcross Grange represents for her not upward or outward mobility, but rather a return to her original position of respectability. By marrying Hareton and returning to the Grange, she becomes again the same girl who had never strayed al one "beyond the range of the park" and her father's protection (Bronte 172). The establishment of Hareton as gentleman and his wife in the wealthiest house in the neighborhood effectively locates Cathy II within a normative patriarchal narrative of marriag e and family, while the spirits of Cathy and Heathcliff remain free to pursue their passion in the boundlessness of the wild moors. Ultimately, then, Cathy's maternal manipulation of her daughter limits the reach of her agency over her own life narrative in restricting that of her daughter; while she gains sexual liberation, her actions bear no greater implication for the future beca use Cathy II representing the next generation of women is unable to participate in that liberation. Cathy's motherhood, then, fulfills its patriarchal purpose of carrying on the tradition of marriage and family; yet it is in no way progressive because it s eeks revenge upon rather than advances the life of the child. Here Bronte concludes that a social system that mortgages a woman's life in marriage for the sake of her family's reputation offers her little choice for active participation in her fate other t han seeking personal gain where she can. Given the gradual degeneration of the Earnshaw family with the profligate Hindley at its head following his father's death, their strongest hope of regaining any respectability is for Cathy to contract a lucrative m arriage. That Cathy's motherhood is a duty rather than a choice triggers her rejection of that role; through Cathy's manipulation of her motherhood for a selfish advantage,
75 Bronte challenges readers to evaluate the regressive consequences of motherhood wi thout choice regressive in the sense that such narratives enact erasure rather than continuation. Mothers are, in fact, scarce throughout the text of Wuthering Heights ; aside from Cathy, both Frances Earnshaw (Hareton's mother) and Isabella Linton (Linton' s mother) die shortly after giving birth to their respective sons a fate that seems to render them no more than heir producing bodies, dispensable after they have performed their required function. That Cathy dies without leaving her husband a male heir is suggestive of a refusal to perpetuate the cycle of patriarchal power. Yet if she manages to turn her maternal body against the patriarchy, she does so at the expense of her daughter. In choosing to end Cathy II's story on the brink of her marriage to Hare ton, Bronte emphasizes that Cathy II's life narrative is not her own, but rather exists as an instrument of her mother's agency. Cathy II might certainly act as the intermediary that heals the long standing rift between the Heights and the Grange, but her ending as Cathy Earnshaw the final link that establishes her as merely an extension of her mother offers us a regressive rather than a progressive narrative. In fact, as Cathy Earnshaw (her mother's maiden and thu s pre maternal name), Cathy II e ffects her own erasure. For Bronte, then, choice is the key to motherhood as more than mere exchange motherhood that ensures the continuance of a long living, healthy family rather than the dysfunctional and degenerate models of Wuthering Heights There can, she sugg ests, be no future no legacy of choice born of unwilling maternal service. Mother Most Monstrous: Lucy Westenra as Victorian Anti Mother To identify Lucy Westenra's vampirism as an act of maternal manipulation within the language of exchange demands situ ating it within the long standing interpretation of
76 the vampiric initiation as sexual intercourse. 4 Through Lucy's intercourse with Dracula, her blood and his comingle, and when Lucy in turn "baptizes" the children she attacks, she symbolically gives birth to Dracula's children. Van Helsing uses the term "baptism" to refer to the vampiric initiation, but it takes on far greater significance when linked to Lucy's vampiric motherhood (Stoker 351). Disguised as the non threatening "bloofer lady," Lucy's missio n is not to safeguard her "children" against spiritual impurity, but rather to infect them with it (Stoker 192). With Dracula's oft cited resemblance to a satanic being, his offspring might be said to operate as the future expanders of his empire of evil i n a manner that both appropriates and subverts Victorian imperialist ideology. 5 Given the woman's role within the patriarchy of bearing children and the fact that the task of child rearing is traditionally delegated to the moth er, Lucy's vampiric attacks on c hildren are directed not only at her victims, but more importantly, as Alan Johnson argues, at "motherhood itself" (128). Indeed, Lucy' s desire to lie with her f ianc Arthur Holmwood in death when she opens her arms to him with the invitation, "Come to me, my husband," offers no indication of a desire to embrace the traditional female narrative of marriage and family as heir producing mother. In fact, the illusion far more resembles that of Cathy and Heathcliff, who likewise remain unmarried and whose e xclusively self fulfilling relationship in no way contributes to upholding the social institutions of marriage 4 The use of blood mingling as sym bolic sexual intercourse has a long history in English Literature, dating as far back as John Donne's seventeenth century poem "The Flee," in which Donne employs the symbolism of a flee sucking the blood of a pair of lovers to join them sexually: "It suck' d me first, and now 4; 9 10). 5 Several scholars have drawn attention to Dracula's satanic characteristics as they relate to and challenge British imperia lism. See for instance Joseph Mendes, "Droch Fhola: Sexuality, Blood, Imperialism, and the Mytho Celtic Origins of Dracula." Diss. Boston College: 2005; Stephan Schafrath, "Order Versus Chaos Dichotomy in Bram Stoker's Dracula ." Extrapolation 43 (2002): 98 112.
77 and family. As Lucy moves freely through the streets of London, she embodies the out of control female body that masculinist hegemony sought to regulate. If the woman who appropriates motherhood exclusively for the purpose of transforming her own condition (embodied by Cathy Earnshaw) cannot be termed progressive, the woman who fails to recognize the progressive power of her motherhood risks havi ng it repossessed and regulated under patriarchal control. It is Lucy's inability to direct her vampirism into a progressive channel that is, the directing of one's agency away from mere self gratification that enables Dracula to appropriate her maternal b ody for his own purposes. Within a normative construct, this channel would follow the traditional trajectory of marriage and family which, as previously noted, Lucy's vampirism rejects. Here again, as seen in Wuthering Heights the responsibilities of marr iage and motherhood restrict woman's self identification as independent sexual being. Yet in her desire for the freedom of uninhibited sexuality, 6 the self gratification of Lucy's non reproductive promiscuity, ineffectually regulated as it is, ultimately e ntraps her within the masculinist narrative she seeks to escape. By symbolically procreating with Dracula in her vampiric form, Lucy allows Dracula to claim ownership of her in a relationship similar to the sexual exchange through which man and wife produc e children. If Lucy does not succeed entirely in escaping a restrictive, monogamous end, her story nonetheless challenges us to question the consequences of enacting the enforced maternal narrative. To illustrate this point, I wish to turn briefly to Lucy 's relationship to her own mother who, I suggest, Stoker offers as a reluctant representative of the 6 Early in the novel, Lucy remarks in a letter to Mina Harker, "Why can't they let a girl marry three men, or as many as want her, and save all this trouble?" (Stoker 63).
78 prescribed narrative of the adult female. Mrs. Westenra's reluctance to fulfill the role of the mother is evidenced by the fact that she appears strangely lacking in maternal affection. Her only attempt at nursing Lucy during her illness to open the windows and remove the garlic from the room in direct defiance of Van Helsing's instruction does Lucy more harm than good. While her mistake is due in part to he r ignorance of the true nature of Lucy's vampiric complaint, the pride with which she boasts to Van Helsing that Lucy's supposed recovery is due in part to her seems more motivated by the desire to prove herself to have fulfilled her maternal role rather t han by a desire to act as nurse to her child. Driven by the desire to prove that she has made some attempt at nursing rather than out of any real necessity, Mrs. Westenra's nursing is regressively focused on self rather than on her child in her endeavor to outwardly legitimate her maternal identity (Stoker 145). When Lucy seeks the comfort of close physical proximity to her mother's body by asking to share her bed during the night, Mrs. Westenra is reluctant to allow it. Having fulfilled the procreative uti lity of giving birth, Mrs. Westenra's rejection of further contact with her daughter suggests a definition of motherhood that, confined as it is to the biological, points again to the utilitarian construct of the mother as physical laboring body. When Lucy at last convinces her mother to spend the night in her room, Mrs. Westenra, far from protecting her daughter, points frantically at the wolfish form of Dracula in the window, shrieks inarticulately, and dies of heart failure. She leaves behind no spiritua l guardian, but rather the cold shell of her corpse, providing neither physical nor emotional warmth. Her death becomes the ultimate form of abandonment, and Lucy, with no maternal talisman against the vampire's curse, falls prey to Dracula and dies within days of her mother.
79 Viewed within this context, then, the mode in which Lucy later attacks her child victims operates as a reaction to her own neglect and the means through which Stoker challenges the enforced maternal narrative. As the abandoned child t hat Van Helsing and Dr. Seward discover in the graveyard suggests, Lucy fulfills her obligation to Dracula's empire as the mother of his "children" purely in the physical sense. In return for her body and blood, she receives the seemingly limitless possibi lities of vampiric immortality, free from the restraints of marital and maternal monogamy. Yet the exclusive intent of satiating her own desires prevents her awareness of the fact that she has subjected her body to patriarchal ownership in exchange for sup posed sexual independence. For the woman to seek rather than bestow sexual gratification arguably turns the normative nineteenth century male/female power dynamic on its head. Yet Stoker uses this exchange to suggest that the woman who focuses entirely on self gain in an endeavor to exercise sexual agency ultimately entraps herself in a relationship that is far more restrictive than empowering. Lucy's rejection of the maternal narrative, however rebellious, ultimately relocates her within the very patriarc hal system she threatens to undermine because it serves no purpose beyond that of her own liberation. Lucy's children, like Cathy II, exist solely so that Lucy can manipulate their bodies to strengthen her own as she feeds on their blood in an act that tur ns the mother child dynamic of the breast feeding ritual on its head. Yet her relationship to Dracula normalizes her deviant sexuality because their "children" ensure the preservation of patriarchal order with the birth of sons a fact underscored by Stoker in the attention devoted to a male victim. While the newspaper stories detailing the attacks of the "bloofer lady" report that she preys on children in general
80 implying no gender specificity the only one of her victims given a voice in the text (the child that Van Helsing and Dr. Seward visit in the hospital) is male. By providing Dracula rather than Arthur with male heirs, Lucy binds herself to him socially and sexually, forced to bear out the narrative she endeavors to escape in life. Situated in relati on to Price and Shildrick's argument that the dangerous volatility of the female body demands regulation, I suggest that Lucy's vampiric motherhood is not as much an act of female agency as it is an endeavor on the part of the men in the text the controlle rs of this patriarchal narrative to redirect female sexuality back toward themselves. Stephanie Dematrakopoulos points out that both Lucy and the vampire women of Castle Dracula who seduce Jonathan Harker feed on a restricted diet consisting solely of chil dren. Upon discovering his brides with Harker, Dracula commands them to let him alone and "gives them a child to sate their hunger" (Dematrakopoulos 107). Lucy's diet of children is similarly limited; she, like Dracula's brides, never feeds on an adult mal e. If this diet of children positions the woman as consumer rather than producer, it nevertheless seeks to desexualize the exchange, curbing rather than indulging her desire. Moreover, by victimizing children, the woman can in no way subvert the power dyna mic of the male/female sexual exchange, preying on one already weaker than herself rather than overpowering her victimizer. The phallic staking ritual in which Arthur reclaims Lucy's body further problematizes the interpretation of her vampiric immortalit y as liberating. Lucy ultimately depends upon a man first Dracula and then Arthur to act as her supposed freeing agent. Van Helsing's words prior to the ritual that "it was the hand [Arthur's hand] that of all she would have chosen, had it been to her to c hoose" serves only to remind us
81 that Lucy cannot in fact choose unable as she is to recognize her so called vampiric liberty as possession (Stoker 234). The staking ritual, performed "in God's name" through the reading of the prayer for the dead, inescapab ly delivers Lucy into the hands of a patriarchal God and restores her to the one dimensional, angelic image she has endeavored to transcend. With her soul among the stars, she is forever cast as the maternal figure watching over and guiding her beloved. C armilla the Creator: Lesbianism and Procreative Power In her discussion of female created networks of giving, Jill Rappoport suggests that "giving can establish female community as an alternative or supplement to the patriarchal family" an argument that re adily lends itself to a reading of Carmilla within the framework of exchange in the extent to which it points to female giving as empowered choice rather than service (10). If Cathy's motherhood is classified as regressive because she manipulates her daugh ter for self gain, and Lucy's because it still locates her within a heteronormative framework through male appropriation of her sexuality, Carmilla's lesbianism offers a more progressive form of motherhood through its redefinition of sexual partnership and procreative sex. Carmilla tells the story of Laura, an English girl living with her widower father on a remote estate in the village of Styria. One evening, a carriage accident not far from their home leaves the mysterious and beautiful Carmilla to recove r at the invitation of Laura's father. Her arrival is accompanied by a strange affliction that spreads through the village, killing young women. Unaware that her new companion is a vampire and the cause of the mysterious outbreak, Laura develops a strong a ttachment to Carmilla and is eventually bitten herself.
82 It is important to note that Laura is both a motherless child and biologically related to Carmilla through her maternal bloodline: Laura's mother is a descendent of the noble Karnstein family Carmill a's royal bloodline. At the beginning of the story, Laura relates a childhood memory of awakening one night to find a strange woman (who it later transpires is Carmilla) kneeling beside the bed who lies down beside her, caressing and drawing the girl to he r breast (Le Fanu 4). Particularly significant is the fact that Laura and Carmilla, like Cathy and Heathcliff, form this attachment to one another as children, for Carmilla later confesses to having seen Laura in a similar dream as a child. 7 In addition to the fact that their childhood relationship is not regulated by sexual propriety, this meeting is significant because while each girl is a child in her own dream, the other appears to her as a grown woman, underscoring the egalitarian nature of the lesbian relationship in the ability of partners to alternate between the roles of penetrator and penetrated, or giver and receiver. 8 In the same way that Lucy's white clad figure emblematizes the angel of the house, the figure of Carmilla kneeling beside Laura's bed evokes the trope of mother as caregiver and nurturer as she prays with her child and offers nourishment at her breast. Scholars have frequently argued that Carmilla's act of drinking blood from her victims' breasts inverts the breast feeding ritual, w eakening the victim and, as Elizabeth Signorotti suggests, possessing "homoerotic overtones" that construct the exchange as 7 The dream referred to hear occurs when both girls are approximately six ye ars old, and their actual face to face meeting does not take place until twelve years later, when Carmilla is a guest in the home of Laura's father. 8 In a discussion of gender role reversal as symbolized by the vampiric mouth, Christopher Craft posits th at "with its soft flesh barred by hard bone, its red crossed by white, this mouth compels opposites and contrasts into a frightening unity" and is both "penetrator" and "orifice" (108). I will return to this concept in my discussion of Mina Harker's relati onship with Dracula later in the chapter.
83 one focused on taking and receiving pleasure (612). Alternatively, I suggest that Carmilla's blood drinking ritual, rather than a pe rverse subversion of breast feeding, is in fact a life giving ritual that enacts a form of progressive mothering. When Carmilla "attacks" Laura, she awakens Laura's sexual awareness as Laura's vampiric initiation awakens her desire for Carmilla a point to which I will return later in the chapter. Carmilla's motherhood gestures toward the construct of the progressive mother as giver of life when she invokes the power of nature the archetypal mother: "Creator! Nature!...All things proceed from nature don't th ey? All things in the heaven, in the earth, and under the earth, act and live as nature ordained? I think so" (Le Fanu 38 39). The invocation of a matriarchal goddess rather than a patriarchal god relocates female fertility and reproductivity within her ow n agency. Nina Auerbach's analysis of the pervasive presence of maternal power in the story offers a reading that speaks directly to the relationship between networks of female giving and progressive mothering that my discussion addresses; according to Aue rbach, "Carmilla is not the product of a only women perceive" ( Our Vampires 40). This reclamation of female reproductive power sets up a counter narrative to that of the patriarchal appropriation of motherhood one in which female productivity is defined in terms of its ability to operate independently of males. As if to relocate this female power within a heteronormative framework wherein the reproductive capacity of women exists to serve the patriarchy, Laura's father endeavors to dispel any fears about the mysterious plague sweeping the village by calling upon God the Father: "W e are in God's hands. He is our faithful creator; he has made us all, and will take care of us" (Le Fanu 38). Carmilla's invocation
84 of mother nature both rejects the patriarchal Christian god that Laura's father calls upon and places above all things inclu ding mother nature and serves as a reminder that all sources of life are born from the female body. In Carmilla's reappropriation of the discourse of Christianity and its patriarchal God as well as the duties of the angelic mother by terming the vampiric ritual a "baptism," Le Fanu appears to gesture toward a male acknowledgement of maternal agency that enables women to reclaim their procreative power (52). We see this idea operating markedly through the way that Carmilla unites with the spirit of Laura's own dead mother to bring Laura into her female centered community. Having passed into the next life, Laura's mother epitomizes the trope of mother as angel. Though not physically present, she still provides Laura with spiritual protection as indicated by t he message she transmits to her daughter in a dream: "Your mother warns you to beware of the assassin" (Le Fanu 63). On the surface, Laura's continued intimacy with Carmilla despite her mother's warning suggests that she has strayed far enough beyond the p ath of purity to be beyond her mother's reach. However, textual evidence also suggests that Carmilla utilizes Laura's mother as the mouthpiece for her own message of empowerment. Immediately upon hearing the voice in her dream, Laura sees an image of Carmi lla at the foot of the bed, bathed in blood. While this blood would seem at first to belong to one of Carmilla's victims, when Laura sees the apparition, she leaps at once to the conclusion that Carmilla has been murdered, identifying Carmilla as the victi m rather than the assassin. Thus interpreted, the "assassin" against which Laura's mother warns is not Carmilla, but the patriarchal order embodied by Laura's father and his friend General Spielsdorf, to whom he hopes to offer Laura in marriage. His hope t hat
85 General Spielsdorf will "claim the [Karnstein] title and estates" serves as an attempt to open such negotiations (Le Fanu 78). Laura's intimacy with Carmilla presents her with an alternative to the heteronormative marriage and grants her the agency to control or even deny male access to her body. Her attachment to Carmilla effectively locates her outside the traditional construct. Even after Carmilla's destruction, the subject of marriage to the general is never again raised, implying the inability of the masculinist hegemonic narrative to operate within this female centered network. The marital negotiations that Laura's father endeavors to open, however coyly, occur after Laura's prophetic dream of her mother's warning, and her ability to wriggle out o f marriage might arguably result from that warning, especially if Laura's mother is acting as Carmilla's messenger. If Carmilla suspects her own impending assassination, she can at least warn her vampire daughter against being impaled by the phallic sword. It is essential to note that if Laura's failed marriage arrangement is the result of General Spielsdorf's rejection of Laura as "diseased," unwilling or unable to contribute reproductive labor by providing him with an heir, Le Fanu, even in gesturing tow ard a male acknowledgement of female reproductive agency, nonetheless raises a question about the utility of this exclusively female operated and female centered motherhood. On the one hand, whereas the regressive mother such as Cathy or Lucy seeks to deta ch herself from the maternal body, Carmilla embraces the transformative power of that body. By referring to the disease plaguing the village as "natural," Carmilla legitimates her lesbianism, imbuing it with procreative power as she "gives birth" to other vampires who will in turn continue the cycle of life: "As I draw near to you, you will
86 in turn draw near to others," she declares to Laura (Le Fanu 29; 38). Here we see progressive motherhood operating according to Rich's definition of transformative mothe ring the creation of new life that is both an extension of and a movement beyond the maternal body. This creation of new life through vampirism is not altogether unlike that which occurs in Dracula ; yet here the sexual exchange that produces life is neithe r dependent upon nor services male interests. Rather, this network of female exchange seeks both to grant empowerment and attain self fulfillment. True, to associate lesbian sex with procreation arguably still suggestively locates it within a heteronormat ive framework. Yet, to merely reject procreative sex would adopt the simplest form of female rebellion; to appropriate procreative sex as a vehicle of rebellion against the heteronormative status quo serves as a far greater threat as it effectively turns t he traditional narrative of motherhood as service to the patriarchy on its head. Viewed within this context, Carmilla's motherhood is neither definitively progressive nor regressive. On the one hand, utilizing her vampirism as a form of procreative sex tra nsfers agency to her vampiric daughters, granting them a liberatory legacy that the self interested, regressive mother does not. Though the phallic staking ritual ultimately destroys her body, her death lacks the finality of Lucy's transformation from vamp iric fallen woman to virginal angel. The story's conclusion eclipses that of Carmilla's bloody demise, replacing it with her lingering spirit: "to this hour," Laura reflects, "the image of Carmilla returns with ambiguous alternations sometimes the playful, languid, beautiful girl; sometimes the writhing fiend I saw in the ruined church; and often from a reverie I have started, fancying that I heard the light step of Carmilla at the drawing room door" (Le Fanu 112). Carmilla's death has not eradicated the va mpiric
87 "disease" of sexual deviance here as it does in the case of Lucy Westenra. Though dead, Carmilla's spirit lingers in her vampiric daughter, and Laura remains, if implicitly, the agent of her own destiny as indicated by her marital freedom. On the o ther hand, Carmilla's form of procreation operates entirely outside the bounds of normative sexuality, servicing only a select group of women and focused exclusively on attaining personal and sexual freedom. To the males located outside this female matrix, this form of motherhood remains regressive because it neither preserves the patriarchy nor allows men to participate in the creation and continuation of this new order. More importantly, though Laura achieves sexual liberation, her death several years aft er Carmilla's leaves no legacy. Laura makes no mention of continuing the life into which Carmilla has led her, but only of longing for Carmilla. In this fixation on the fulfillment of sexual desire without the realization of the progressive potential of fe male sexuality beyond that of mere self gratification, Laura's body, like Lucy's, cannot bear the responsibility of mothering a new race of women, and so she dies as a result. Thus her death without leaving an heir, so to speak, still carries the implicat ion that female productivity in society even in an alternative, non heteronormative construct is inextricably linked to motherhood. Laura's refusal to redirect her freedom of movement into a progressive channel that moves beyond self gratification renders her ultimately dispensable. "Let her go back to her mother": Good Lady Ducayne and Maternal Compensation If the fates of Lucy and Laura challenge us to consider the pitfalls of undirected, regressive female sexuality, Mary Elizabeth Braddon's "Good Lady Ducayne" challenges us to assess the regressive restrictions of directing female sexuality toward
88 motherhood as a form of compensatory labor. Braddon adopts the language of exchange to link the late nineteenth century problem of female redundancy to the co nstruction of motherhood as the production of daughters as future mothers. Lady Ducayne, with no daughters of her own, appropriates the role of mother for her own purposes of empowerment. A rich and eccentric centenarian, she hires a string of young female companions and instructs her private physician to extract blood from them in the dead of night. Yet while she takes the blood of these girls into her own body ostensibly to "prolong" her life, her insistence upon having a "strong girl whose health will g ive [her] no trouble," like Carmilla's blood drinking ritual, hints not at the possibility of consuming the child, but rather of facilitating growth (Braddon 143;158). We know very little about Lady Ducayne aside from her age, wealth, and the fact that she was "once a famous beauty" (Braddon 157). It is never revealed whether or not Lady Ducayne has ever been married, though her spinster condition in the story suggests that she has in fact managed to escape the clutches of marriage. Indeed, her dismissal of Bella Rolleston her companion in the story with the words, "Go and marry your doctor" implicitly expresses disdain for the institution of marriage and more specifically the extent to which marriage inhibits female self sufficiency (Braddon 161). Thus, as with Carmilla, Lady Ducayne's adoption of young female companions seeks to create a network of strong, capable women who can thrive outside the boundaries of the patriarchal order of marriage and family. Key to the success of such a community is woman's c hoice her active participation in the progress of her life narrative. Lady Ducayne's relationship to her girls differs markedly from that of Lucy and Carmilla to their victims in that she does not
89 remove them from their own mothers as children or against t heir will. Having offered their services as paid companions, these girls willingly enter Lady Ducayne's employ. If this exchange of services for cash places an economic value on these girls, the freedom and travel afforded them in their position and their desire to seek their own fortunes in the world defines female value not merely in terms of her ability to provide for others, but in terms of her ability to provide for herself. While discussing Bella's weakening state of health (symptomatic of her blood l oss) with Dr. Stafford, lady Ducayne insists that "there is absolutely nothing the matter with the girl except girlish nonsense," by which she means Bella's obvious romantic attachment to Dr. Stafford (Braddon 151). Here the patriarchal dictates of marriag e are what depreciate female value if that value is defined in terms of self sufficiency. To better articulate the ways in which Braddon employs the mother/daughter relationship to explore the concept of motherhood as regressive, compensatory exchange, I wish to draw attention to the womb like imagery with which the text is inundated. The location of Bella's bedroom a dressing room inside Lady Ducayne's own room suggests an image of the fetus in utero. Conversely, the manner in which Lady Ducayne extracts blood from her companions similarly inverts the mother/child relationship, though in this instance it is not the breast feeding ritual, but the function of the umbilical cord that these transfusions mimic in the transference of nourishment from one body to another. Lady Ducayne, then, symbolically redefines motherhood as a service for which, like other forms of labor such as wet nursing, woman receives compensation. In the same way that Carolyn Dever's psychoanalysis of the child as cannibalistic consumer of maternal resources can shed light upon the regressive
90 parental relationships of Wuthering Heights, here psychoanalysis can grant us an access point into examining the reversal of this exchange in which the child seeks to offer repayment for that consum ption. Melanie Klein's discussion of the mother/daughter relationship proves useful in considering this relationship within the context of exchange. Klein argues that during the early stages of the oedipal conflict, the daughter experiences the desire to rob the mother's body of its contents" (217). As Dever suggests, a child can enact a monstrous consumption that "robs" the mother's body of its contents, first as a developing fetus and later by absorbing, throughout its life, the physical and emotional no urishment that the maternal breast symbolizes. What Klein views as the daughter's desire to "restore her mother and make her new" arises from the conscious guilt she experiences over this draining of maternal resources physical, emotional, and, in Bella's case, financial. Situated within the context of the rise of the New W oman in the latter half of the century and the increasing presence of women in the workforce in which this story has been read, Lady Ducayne's reappropriation of motherhood as labor that finds its way back to an original source challenges us to consider the ways that viewing motherhood as work (that is, paid labor) while seeming to redefine its value, in fact renders the mother regressive. To better situate Klein's theory of the daughter' s guilt within the context of the mother/child relationship as exchange, it is necessary to consider the condition in which we find Bella and her mother at the beginning of the story. Mrs. Rolleston is described as "that worst of widows, a woman whose husb and had deserted her" and has had to earn a living for herself and her daughter as a seamstress (Braddon 141). It is Bella's guilt over the consumption of her mother's resources that leads her to
91 seek a position as a paid companion. Ancient and decrepit, L ady Ducayne embodies Bella's mother as Bella envisions her haggard and drained of her physical, emotional, and financial resources. Bella's utility as a daughter here is twofold: firstly, the physical and financial independence she gains through her positi on with Lady Ducayne detaches her from her mother's body, relieving Mrs. Rolleston of her maternal burden. Secondly and more importantly the giving of a portion of her earnings to her mother offers remuneration for her years of maternal service. By orchest rating (even if indirectly) Bella's marriage to Dr. Stafford, Lady Ducayne offers the means through which Mrs. Rolleston reaps the return for her lifelong investment in her child. On the surface, the marriage occurs merely as a direct result of Bella's dis missal from Lady Ducayne's service; unwilling to keep a girl weakened by romantic sensibilities and unable to stand on her own, Lady Ducayne dismisses her into the strong, supportive arms of the good doctor. Yet Lady Ducayne explicitly tells Dr. Stafford t o "let [Bella] go back to her mother" a seeming return to the womb that marks Bella as dependent on the labor of others to survive. If Lady Ducayne's act of dismissal appears to again burden Mrs. Rolleston with maternal responsibility, her hand in orchest rating Bella's marriage ensures that this mother/daughter relationship becomes one of exchange rather than sacrifice. Following Bella's dismissal, Lady Ducayne sends her a note instructing her to "go and marry your doctor" along with a gift of a thousand p ounds intended for her trousseau (Braddon 161). Bella does not, however, apply this gift to her trousseau, but rather invests it in her mother's name as "her very own income and principal for the rest of her life" (Braddon 161). This gift and Bella's marri age serve the dual purpose of offering Mrs. Rolleston
92 financial independence for the rest of her life and, more importantly, offering compensation for her maternal investment in Bella. Yet what renders this exchange problematic is that Bella's marriage, li ke Cathy II's, operates primarily as a debt of guilt rather than to achieve social mobility. If, as I have suggested previously, Braddon's story considers the measuring of maternal value in terms of creating self sufficient women, she suggests that the da ughter who marries for the comfort and financial stability her husband can provide becomes a kind of redundant woman in the restrictive conventionality of this outcome. Dr. Stafford, Lauren Goodlad argues, "fails to provide a lasting resolution to the soci al discussion of Dr. St afford's treatment of Bella neatly dovetails with my reading of "Good Lady Ducayne" as a story that considers the relationship between the regressive exchange of the mother/child relationship and the female redundancy that results from such an exchange. Tr eating her as if she were "constitutionally feeble and mentally childlike constructs [her] as (to borrow a term popularized by the New Poor law) 'nonable' capable neither of creating nor managing 'use,' but only of consuming it" (Goodlad 221). It is this n on ability, this intake without output, that the female vampire embodies. In usurping Bella's youth to replenish her own strength, lady Ducayne taps into Bella's guilt over the monstrous consumption of her mother, and this guilt, I suggest, prevents Bella from being the arbiter of her own destiny and renders her an instrument
93 of labor through which she might earn, if retroactively, the resources she has consumed. Viewed within this context, the daughter's guilt, rather than promoting self sufficiency, merely perpetuates a regressive cycle of dependent consumption. The manner in which Bella informs Mrs. Rolleston of her engagement suggests that she has chosen a husb and as much for her mother as for herself: "I know you will love him as much as I do" (Braddon 162). This form of compensation for maternal labor, as we shall see in greater detail in chapter three, makes of the child a mere commodity in a market exchange. The comfort and stability that Bella "earns" and that enables her to provide for Mrs. Rolleston is not the direct result of her own labor, but rather of her husband's; true, she invests the thousand pounds from Lady Ducayne in her mother's name, but this money, given to her after leaving her employer's service, is not earned wages, but a gift or more importantly an investment in her marriage. Though female redundancy during the latter half of the century referred to the vast number of unmarried women, here Braddon suggests that such mercenary marriages created rather than solved the problem of the redundant woman. Bella's marriage enables her to take her mother into her home an act that reverses the womb/fetus trope invoked earlier in the text through the c onfiguration of Bella's room inside Lady Ducayne's. Yet this taking of the mother into the daughter's body restricts the benefit of the exchange exclusively to this single relationship. If the exclusively female network that Carmilla's vampirism creates l acks progressiveness in its gendered limitations, it at least represents a system of giving that endeavors to extend beyond the boundaries of one intimate relationship, thus turning
94 the focus of motherhood away from the exclusive desires of self. In the sa me way that Cathy Earnshaw appropriates her daughter's life to achieve her own liberation, so Bella's existence becomes one of mere compensation for maternal service. To examine Mrs. Rolleston's maternal service within this context, it is necessary to cons ider Braddon's identification of the qualities of progressive mothering through her character: "[S]he was courageous, industrious, and a clever needle woman," and despite their how to be happy" (Braddon 141). Here Braddon considers the linkage between the utility of motherhood as work in terms of labor and the sentimentality of mother's work as a labor of love. What Mrs. Rolleston cannot offer in creature comforts, she balances w ith loving devotion. Yet while Bella benefits from her mother's homely yet practical provision, she fails fully to realize the progressive power of her mother's influence. Bella's primary objective in seeking a position as a paid companion that of "earning her bread and helping her mother to an occasional crumb" seems hardly more promising than the meager subsistence they have endured for most of their lives (Braddon 139). Bella's desire to aid her mother and, in doing so, offer compensation for years of w ork and sacrifice is not in and of itself problematic; rather it is her inability to look beyond that immediate realm that restricts her self sufficiency. When applying to the agency that services Lady Ducayne with her companions, Bella explains that she s eeks a salary she can "share" with her mother (Braddon 140). If the desire to assist her mother financially is admirable, Bella's unwillingness to detach herself physically from Mrs. Rolleston prevents her fully realizing her own independence. Indeed, her declaration that she "should be anxious to oblige anyone who paid for [her] services"
95 reduces her to a mere instrument of utility a functional object viewed exclusively in terms of market value rather than a woman who views her work as a form of self suffi ciency (Braddon 139). I suggest that this notion of the child's indebtedness reduces Bella to a kind of redundancy. If Mrs. Rolleston imbues Bella with the empowerment of self sufficiency, Bella, in making her life one of indebtedness and compensation, fai ls to utilize and carry on that legacy. If Mrs. Rolleston embodies the progressive mother, Lady Ducayne represents the mother as usurper and, ultimately, the regressive result of viewing the work of motherhood within the capitalist terms of labor. This is particularly evident at the story's conclusion in the monetary gift that Lady Ducayne offers Bella upon her engagement. The greatest obstacle to Bella's marriage to Dr. Stafford is her poverty: as his sister Lotta points out, he "couldn't marry a girl who se mother makes mantels" an observation that speaks to the measurement of female value in terms of what resources and property she can bring to a marriage (Braddon 161). Lady Ducayne's gift both enables Bella to marry and to support her mother in comfort, but generous as her gift is, it nonetheless leaves Bella permanently in her debt. Lauren Goodlad argues that "Lady Ducayne's 'goodness,' her conclusive providence of the necessary sum is the ineradicable relic of what remains, despite pretense to the contr ary, a commodifying capitalist exchange" (225). This is true not only in terms of the extent to which Lady Ducayne's "Investment" in Bella's marriage perpetuates female dependence on the patriarchal system, but also in its reduction of the mother/child rel ationship to one of vampiric consumption. Existing scholarship on vampire literature frequently cites Karl Marx's likening of the capitalist system to a vampire: "Capital is dead labor which,
96 vampirelike, lives only by sucking living labor, and lives the m ore, the more labor it sucks" (qtd in Goodlad 211). As scholars like Franco Moretti have done with the figure of Count Dracula, Lauren Goodlad has applied this description of capitalism to her reading of Lady Ducayne's character. Drawing upon this reading, I further suggest that Bella too functions as a sort of vampire in the consumption first of her mother's resources, then Lady Ducayne's, and finally her husband's. As previously noted, Bella uses Lady Ducayne's gift to invest for her mother's use rather t han for her trousseau an investment which, while it enables her to compensate her mother, leaves her with nothing to bring into her marriage. Moreover, as we see with Cathy II's engagement to Hareton in Wuthering Heights there is no suggestion of continua tion or progression, but rather of regression; concluding before Bella's marriage, the narrative offers no glimpse of her own future with her husband and family no suggestion that she too will wield the progressive power of the mother. By siphoning her res ources (her wages and gift from Lady Ducayne) back to her own mother, we are left with the perpetuation of a cycle of codependence that fulfills no purpose beyond that of servicing the immediate needs of the individuals who participate in the exchange. Mo ther Mina and the Family as Community In "Kiss Me with Those Red Lips," Christopher Craft posits that the child born at the end of Dracula is conceived by Lucy and is transferred to Mina's body after her death (129). While there exists no concrete textual evidence to support this reading, it nevertheless substantiates the claim that the no vel maps the ascendancy of the New W oman through the maternal body. By achieving, through vampirism, release from her restrictive body and Arthur's sexual possession of he r, Lucy opens a space in which women can exercise their freedom. Yet like Laura and Bella Rolleston, her inability to
97 transform that freedom of movement into a vehicle of agency renders her unsuitable as a bearer of the new order of sexual freedom: her bo dy cannot support "the blood of four strong men" that she has received (Stoker 166). Her body lacks maternal utility both in terms of her physical frailty and the fact that unlike Mina she never physically bears children. Intent upon fulfilling her own des ires, Lucy is both unwilling and unable to serve as a life giving agent to a new generation. Mina, alternatively, stands as a far more progressive model for the bearer of a new order of sexual liberation that she ushers in with the birth of her child. Whil e Dracula victimizes both Mina and Lucy, only Mina survives and, more importantly, proceeds to bear a son at the end of the novel. She names her son after all of the men in Dracula's hunting party, implying that she has "had" each of them sexually. Though there exists no textual evidence that Mina has undergone the same blood transfusion treatment as Lucy, the conflation of all five men in her son's name suggests that she has had the blood of each man. Yet even if she has not had symbolic intercourse with Q uincy Morris, Dr. Seward, Arthur Holmwood, or Van Helsing through the exchange of blood, her child is still the product of a promiscuous relationship because she has drunk Dracula's blood while married to Jonathan Harker. I suggest that Stoker uses these exchanges to point to the dissolution of the sexual status quo of marital monogamy through the fact that all of the patriarchs of the elder generation either die during the course of the story or are already dead when it opens: the fathers of Lucy, Jonatha n, Mina, and Arthur, Peter Hawkins (Jonathan's law partner and surrogate father), and of course Dracula. Van Helsing remains, but only because he accepts this new order of sexual equality and racial mixing ushered in by
98 Mina an acceptance he embraces early in the text through his own participation in Lucy's blood transfusion. Yet what most clearly differentiates Mina's character from Lucy's and marks her as a progressive maternal agent is the fact that she appropriat es her identification with the New Woman not merely through her sexuality, but more importantly, as Alan Johnson argues, through her "practical competence" (26). She supports herself as a school teacher before her marriage, "keep[s] up with Jonathan's studies," learns shorthand to aid him in his work, and meticulously organizes and types all of the information gathered about Dracula to assist the men in their pursuit of him (Stoker 57). Moreover, unlike Lucy, who is ultimately enslaved by Dracula, Mina utilizes her knowledge of him through their b lood connection to entrap and destroy him; her telepathic glimpses into his mind that reveal his movements eventually result in his capture. Mina appropriates this telepathic ability as an undetectable form of penetration, entering and withdrawing from the space of Dracula's mind without his awareness of her presence. True, Van Helsing initiates the trance that enables Mina to enter Dracula's mind, but the idea to transform her bondage to him into a weapon through her telepathy is entirely Mina's. Traditio nal interpretations of Dracula have read it as a direct response to Le Fanu's Carmilla that relocates its characters within a monogamous, heteronormative framework, for not only does Mina give birth to a son, but Arthur Holmwood and Dr. Seward also marry. Arthur's marriage in particular suggests the restoration of patriarchal order; having lost the ability to produce an heir through Lucy, he simply replaces her an act that views woman's body in purely mechanistic terms through her reproductive capacity. Yet as previously noted, both men have arguably produced that heir through
99 Mina, and in fact neither of their wives receives more than a casual mention; they have neither names nor voices in the text. The only woman the woman who stands at the center of this group and from whom is born the child who serves as their collective heir is Mina. That these men rally around the maternal Mina suggests, on the one hand, that she has attained this position of reverence only because she has fulfilled her womanly duty. Y et here again, we must consider the contrast between Mina and Lucy in their maternal roles. While Lucy succumbs to Dracula's power and is ultimately reduced to a tool for the production of his vampiric offspring, Mina's intelligence enables her to appropri ate her motherhood as a talisman against Dracula. Scholarship on the novel that situates it within Marxist discourse can lend itself well to a reading of Mina Harker's character as progressive mother within the language of exchange, particularly as it rel ates to Mina's influence in bringing about the marriages of Arthur and Dr. Seward. Drawing upon Franco Moretti's Marxist reading of Dracula Eric Yu, for instance, discusses the work of the vampire hunters as labor, observing that, in Arthur's case at leas t, his commitment to destroying Dracula is perhaps the only form of labor he has ever been called upon to do; as a member of the aristocracy, he has never had to work to earn his wealth (145). Yu's reading invites us to consider how Mina's maternal influen ce enables Arthur's work to serve a progressive purpose. Franco Moretti, in discussing the function of money within the novel, considers the ways in which Arthur uses his title and wealth to aid in the destruction of Dracula, pointing particularly to Mina' s observation about the use of his money: "[I]t made me think of the wonderful power of money! What can it not do when basely used. I felt so thankful that Lord Godalming is rich, and both he and Mr. Morris, who also has plenty of money, are
100 willing to spe nd it so freely. For if they did not, our little expedition could not start, either so promptly or so well equipped" (Stoker 388). In his reading of this passage, Moretti argues that "money should be used according to justice; money must not have its end i n itself, in its continuous accumulation. It must have, rather, a moral, anti economic end" (43). In Arthur's work with the others against Dracula, he abandons his life of aristocratic idleness for one of economic justice that is, the use of his wealth and prestige for the good of his fellow man. Moretti's interpretation of the above passage unites economic utility with serving the greater good. Building upon this reading, I further suggest that Mina directs not only Arthur's money, but his masculinity towa rd achieving a higher purpose that of saving his friends, his country, and (implicitly) mankind through the eradication of Dracula. As both his comforter following Lucy's death and the driving force behind the men's efforts, Mina enables Arthur to detach h imself from his lingering grief and desire for Lucy a detachment that enables him to eventually marry and, presumably, have a family. Mina's progressive maternal influence works in a similar way with respect to Dr. Seward. Seward, of course, unlike Arthur is a professional and, in fact, seeks solace in his medical practice to assuage his grief over the loss of Lucy, both in betrothal and in death: "Unable to win Lucy's hand," argues Yu, "Seward sublimates his sexual desire, turning it into excessive indus try" (145). Having redirected his energies away from self and onto the pursuit of science to better mankind, Seward must now balance his industriousness with the nurturing influence of a family. This family first takes the form of the band of vampire hunte rs, at the center of which is mina who, with her combined tenderness and strength binds this band of men together in their sacred mission. As I
101 have argued, Lucy's untrammeled sexuality would render her a regressive mother because, in the same way that the useless accumulated wealth of the aristocrat serves no greater purpose beyond securing the comfort of the individual, Lucy's sexual desire exclusively seeks self gratification; thus by aiding Dr. Seward and Arthur in redirecting their desire away from Luc y, Mina enables them to take their places as husbands and fathers within families of their own. Yu suggests that Dr. Seward's work ethic "foreshadows the psychological mechanisms later found at work in the entire crew of light, involving vigilant self cont goal" (145). It is this idea of the "Lofty goal," the greater good of mankind which, in echoing Moretti's claim that money must achieve an end beyond the mere economic, that I suggest characterizes the pro gressive narrative. Resourceful and work oriented as Mina is, she prevents Arthur and Dr. Seward from becoming consumed by the powerful influences at work on them not merely their desire for Lucy, but the comfort of idleness in Arthur's case and the all co nsuming drudgery of work in Dr. Seward's. Yet she does not entirely reject Arthur's wealth or Dr. Seward's desire to assuage his grief in work as entirely useless and self serving. Rather she enables them to direct their resources beyond self service. Dis cussing the "instability invoked and embodied by fluids" in the novel, Jules Law argues that "For all its hystericization of bodily incontinence, Dracula concentrates on the management and the itinerary of circulating fluids" (145). Ultimately it is Mina w ho oversees the management and circulation of resources within the crew of light Mina, with her man brain and woman heart, who embodies the fusion of the utility of serving others with the self fulfilling, sentimental love that binds communities together.
102 Of course, if Mina channels these resources both capital and fluid through the community of the family, and if what Law terms the "bodily incontinence" of the novel is thus contained, we are seemingly left with a traditional interpretation of the novel's c onclusion that aligns it in direct response to works like Le Fanu's Carmilla relocating woman within her proper sphere. I suggest, however, that through Mina, Stoker seeks to redefine the dynamic of the family unit and parenthood. If the child to whom Min a gives birth is indeed the son of multiple fathers, his paternity must be attributed as much to Dracula as the other men. If we consider the fact that Dracula's union with Mina radically subverts the breast feeding ritual as Mina drinks blood from his bre ast, his son can also be a life giving source. By giving birth to him, Mina not only imbues him with life, but also makes him a life giving agent as he will presumably continue this cycle with his own children. While there is the suggestion that, as Dracul a's heir, Mina's son can potentially grow to claim Dracula's title as the "king vampire," there also remains the possibility that, just as Mina has directed her own agency into a progressive channel, so she can, with her "sweetness and loving care," teach her son to use his power as a positive life force (Stoker 404; 414). This differentiates her motherhood from the regressive model embodied by Cathy Earnshaw and Lady Ducayne, who appropriate motherhood for self interest or personal gain, or Lucy Westenra w ho, focused entirely upon attaining sexual freedom, tacitly enables Dracula to appropriate her body in maternal service to his vampiric empire. Dracula, of course, not only usurps motherhood through Lucy, but through his own body as well as he creates new vampires an inversion mirrored by the fact that he "gives birth" only to daughters: Mina, Lucy, and the three women of Castle Dracula.
103 Though Dracula usurps this procreative power solely for self gain, the alternation between the roles of mother and fathe r points to the ability of both man and woman to act as life giving agents. Mina neatly complements this oscillation; as Dracula becomes the lactating father when he opens his breast, Mina, with her vampiric teeth, becomes the phallic mother. That it takes Mina (the mother) to redirect Dracula's (the father) procreative power for good epitomizes this duality. The vampiric body crystalizes this procreative gender hybridity, for as previously noted male and female are conflated in the vampire's mouth. Van Hel sing famously proclaims this fusion in Mina with his description of her "man's brain" and "woman's heart" (Stoker 251). The union that occurs between Mina and her men (including her son) gives her maternal influence a far greater reach than that of the oth er mothers discussed here, for she is, as Nina Auerbach claims, simultaneously "the source of her own and her world's change" ( Woman and the Demon 187). Le Fanu's Carmilla, as we have seen, similarly extends the reach of her influence beyond the individual though by excluding males from this inheritance, she restricts the boundaries of that agency. Conversely, Mina neither submits to nor rejects patriarchal authority. Rather, through embracing her connection to Dracula, she seeks to unify man and woman in a relationship that cultivates the progressive potential of the sexual exchange in the creation of the family as community. While her intercourse with both Dracula and her husband (and implicitly the other men) renders her supposedly "unclean," it is thr ough this blood mingling that she bears a child who will serve as the representative of a new generation of mankind (Stoker 310). Stoker, then, I suggest, offers Mina Harker as the true embodiment of the progressive mother a woman whose awareness of and c ontrol over her role as mother
104 render her an active participant in the maternal narrative rather than a body upon which others (namely males) enact that narrative. Moreover, the imperialistic implications of Dracula's destruction and Mina's mixed blood chi ld as a symbol of racial as well as gender unification points to progressive motherhood as influencing more than the immediate realm of her own family. At the novel's conclusion, the band of vampire hunters form a kind of family unit, at the center of whic h is Mina. Not only has Mina ensured the health and continuation of her own family, but, as the marriages of Arthur and Dr. Seward suggest, she has contributed to that of other families as well. Indeed, as Van Helsing sits with the child on his knee, refle cting upon the journey this group has taken together, it is Mina's participation in the narrative that takes precedence: "We want no proof. We ask none to believe us. This boy will some day know what a brave tand how some men so loved her that they did dare much for her sake" (Stoker 413). It is Mina, the sacred mother, whom these men seek to cherish and protect because she has proven, through her self sufficiency, her value as woman and as mother. Each of th e women discussed in this chapter seeks in some way to gain a degree of agency over the progress of her narrative by means of motherhood; by placing these texts in dialogue with one another, I have attempted to demonstrate how the reach of each woman's app ropriation of her maternal agency echoes the distinction between the regressive and the progressive narrative. With the exception of Mina Harker and to some extent Carmilla each of the female characters discussed here enact a narrative that, though intende d as a means of gaining sexual liberation, cannot be achieved without relying in some measure on the lives of others. It is the figure of
105 Mina Harker who resolves the disconnect between submissive and rebellious femininity. Modeled after the "new woman," M ina joins a strong work ethic with a tender and loving heart in a fusion of utility and sentimentality that neither restricts motherhood to reproductive service nor demands that the independent woman be by definition nonmaternal. If, as Law suggests, the b attle played out in Dracula is one between managing and being managed, the progressive mother achieves balance between the two; that is, she neither allows herself to be reduced to the passivity of the laboring body nor seeks to reclaim agency over that b ody by usurping motherhood for self gain. Rather she both recognizes her motherhood as service to others and as power to bestow and create life.
106 CHAPTER 4 "AN EXTRAORDINARILY WELL MADE BABY": MOTHER AS ARTIST IN OUIDA'S MOTHS The previous chap ter addressed the trope of vampirism within the language of production and consumption to link motherhood as exchange with the construct of the regressive versus progressive maternal narrative in the extent to which women are active participants in the exc hanges for which their maternal bodies are being used. This chapter reads Ouida's Moths (1880) to further extend an examination of this relationship through a discussion of the marriage market as a social machinery for supplying men with w ives and mothers. I touched upon this idea in chapter two with my discussion of characters like Cathy and Lucy endeavoring to escape marital monogamy because of its association with the maternal identity as sexually restrictive. The chapter also explores the extent to which this mechanistic constru ction of marriage problematized progressive motherhood by treating it as a product of commodity culture. In chapter two of Moths an argument occurs between Lady Dolly and her daughter Vere over appropriate bathing costumes that establishes a link between commodity culture and the female body as decorative sex object: "Vere looked at the brilliant knees. 'But what covers ones legs and arms?' 'Nothing!...I suppose you have n othing were thought an extraordinarily well made baby" (II). Determined to arrange an advantageous marriage for Vere, Lady Dolly seeks to display Vere to her best advant age as a commodity for male purchase. Ouida furthers this linkage with her
107 description of the marriage market as a form of legal prostitution following Vere's marriage to the wealthy Russian Prince Zouroff: Year after year, one on another, the pretty, ros y, golden curled daughters of fair mothers were carefully tended and cultured and reared up to grace the proud races from which they sprung, and were brought out into the of their liv Prostitution? Society would have closed its ears to such words. (XIII) Existing scholarship on Ouida's fiction often reads it against the backdrop of consumer culture and commodity fetishism of the late n ineteenth century. Yet while scholars like Talia Schaffer, Natalie Schroeder, and Shari Hodges Holt address Ouida's critical comparison of marriage to a business like transaction that commodified women, such work leaves room to consider the powerful role t hat mothers played in operating the marriage market and perpetuating such commodification. Schroeder and Holt point to Ouida's distinction between what they term "art and artifice" as a means of criticizing the objectification of woman as commodity; art, t hey argue, is "a means through which the patriarchy objectifies and subjugates females, and the female artist, in particular, experiences the chauvinistic society's stifling impact on self expression" (22). Moreover, they posit that Ouida's work represents the struggle "to negotiate between popular art and art of moral significance" (22). While Schroeder and Holt explore this aspect of Ouida's fiction published in the 1870's, Moths lends itself well to such a reading in Ouida's construction of Lady Dolly's relationship with Vere as an exchange that embodies the pull between the moral purpose and commodity value of art. Lady Dolly's reference to Vere as "an extraordinarily well made baby" points to a notion of the child as product; alternatively, Ouida's desc ription of Vere as having been "cast in the mold to be a noble mother" invokes the language of art to connect child rearing with the shaping
108 of human character (VIII). Thus Ouida sets the language of commodity against the language of art to offer an altern ative to the raising of daughters as marriageable commodities with the idea of motherhood as moral art work. Nineteenth century scholarship in general has devoted considerable attention to the discourse of exchange as it relates to the marriage market and more specifically, the power that women namely mothers wielded in orchestrating such economic exchanges. Joan Perkin, for instance, writes that despite being regarded as "physically oriente d system of property and social structure was that marriage was the fulcrum on which its whole world turned, and women, as the chief instruments and match makers, held the levers which turned it" (6). Perkin's description of marriage in these mechanistic t erms speaks to Jill Rappoport's assertion that the exchange of gifts in Victorian culture "set the terms for kinship" to the extent that such things as dowries, land, and the promise of heirs formed the basis of these established relationships(3). As I hav e argued, we can similarly view parenthood within this discourse of exchange. In the previous chapter, for instance, I considered the way that the child can act as compensation for the labor of motherhood in my reading of "Good Lady Ducayne." Moths' Lady D olly similarly appropriates motherhood for personal gain in a manner that proliferates a form of female redundancy through the marriage market. Invariably well made up and expensively attired, Lady Dolly alternates between acting as consumer of luxury an d an object of consumption, objectifying herself as sexual commodity to service her own desires (the desires of her many lovers being secondary). What return she receives for her output (that is, her efforts in making
109 herself desirable) takes the form of m ale attention/consumption. So too, motherhood is a form of production, the value of which is measured by the return it brings in the case of the mother/daughter relationship, a wealthy marriage. To consider the relationship between this form of regressive mothering and the marriage market, I draw loosely upon Lynda Nead's study of female sexuality in Victorian England in particular her discussion of the role of the prostitute. According to Nead, the connotations of prostitution were activated through a particular language" that of economics (95). "The term 'prostitute," she continues, "connoted a public practice, the regular exchange of sex for money" (91). As the passage quoted at the opening of this chapter indicates, the language of prostitution lends itself well to a critical consideration of the marriage market, and Nead's and Perkin's work together point to the power that mothers wielded in marital negotiations. I place this scholarship in di alogue with Rappoport's work to explore Ouida's use of the language of commodity culture to challenge such a commodified construct of motherhood. The idea that a girl's future and often that of her family depended on contracting a successful (in other word s financially lucrative) marriage has received considerable attention in nineteenth century literature and scholarship. Since mothers often undertook the task of negotiating these lucrative marriages, they held a uniquely powerful position in this negotiat ion of the exchange of sex for money. What Ouida undertakes to examine in this novel and specifically through the relationship between Vere and her mother is the extent to which appropriating daughters as compensation for motherhood problematized both the mother/child and the marital relationship because the sole purpose of the daughter's existence becomes one of regressive remuneration; that is, in existing solely to give
110 back to her mother, her market value compromises her individual worth as a woman in h er own right. By offering Vere in marriage to Prince Zouroff in order to reap the benefits of having a well married, wealthy daughter, Lady Dolly seeks to turn her motherhood to a personal advantage; however, in subjecting Vere to a life of misery and mari tal abuse, she ultimately creates an exchange that lacks both market and intangible value because the marriage neither produces the heir that would be Zouroff's remuneration for "purchasing" Vere in marriage nor enables Vere to be the agent of her own futu re. As nineteenth century scholarship has continually shown, the health and longevity of marriage and family, both as a household and as moral institutions, depended largely on successful motherhood. As Nead points out, "According to domestic ideology, wo man's moral purity maintained the home as a spiritual haven for her husband and children," and thus any act of sexual deviance had serious social consequences not only in terms of the woman's own social position, but more importantly "in terms of its [the act of deviancy] effect on husband, children, and home" (48). As a perfectly legal and socially sanctioned practice, the so called "selling" of young women on the marriage market is not in and of itself a form of sexual deviance, though it is worth noting that the countless loveless alliances formed between couples were often blamed for being at the root of the all too frequent adultery acknowledged to have occurred within society. Though Nead primarily discusses the prostitute in terms of emerging medical discourse about female sexuality during the nineteenth century, her observations about the supposed impact of prostitution on the family unit invite us to consider the ways in which the marriage market, operating as a legal form of prostitution, impacted p rogressive mothering. Nead's discussion of prostitution
111 addresses the Victorian association of the prostitute not merely with sexual disorder, but more importantly with domestic disorder because, "having lost her feminine purity, she was unable to establis h or maintain a home" (34). This theory lends itself well to an analysis of Vere's character, for even if she does not willingly prostitute herself and, in fact, remains virtuous throughout her marriage, she fails to fulfill society's expectations of woman ly utility as she is unable to provide her husband with a living heir and continuously berates herself for sacrificing her freedom and her dignity to satisfy her mother's whims. This chapter, then, argues that Ouida challenges the construct of motherhood as a market exchange and offers an alternative through the concept of motherhood as art rather than the production of a commodity. Here the distinction between art and commodity refers to the difference between the unique creation and the mass produced goo d. Talia Schaffer's discussion of the gendered construct of the male art connoisseur and the female as object of consumption lends itself well to a broader discussion of Ouida's usage of the language of art versus the language of exchange to create the fig ure of the mother as artist. For the male connoisseur, Schaffer argues, "beauty means the admiration of bodies and homes," while the female notion of beauty "may include love of children and nature" (4). To link love of children with love of nature (such a s the flower garden), both of which require nurturing to thrive, links mothering with cultivation rather than production. Ouida, I suggest, employs the relationship between new woman and male artist to challenge the power dynamic of the male connoisseur an d female object and explore the idea of mother as artist through their creative relationship. True, Vere's virtuousness makes her less of a stereotypical new woman
112 than a character like the bold, free spirited Fuschia Leach (the young American who eventual ly marries Vere's cousin Frank); nor is Vere ever a mother in the traditional sense, never having children of her own to raise. However, her strong will and sensitivity and the ways that she directs that sensitivity toward the care of those around her, in particular her desire to care for and teach children, point to motherhood not merely as childbearing, but as a kind of artistic nurturing of others. Ultimately Ouida challenges the relationship between male consumer and female commodity through the relatio nship between Vere and Correze (a famous opera singer who falls in love with her and whom she admires from a far until they eventually are united at the novel's end). Correze, as both a creator of beauty through his art and a product consumed for entertain ment, parallels Vere's desire to cultivate the world around her and the extent to which her own position as decorative object inhibits this ability. Thus Ouida uses their relationship to point to a merging of the commodified/popular and moral value of art that serve as the basis for the mother as artist. Moths tells the story of Lady Dolly's determination to arrange a rich and influential marriage for her daughter Vere (the unwanted child of an imprudent love match between lady Dolly and her cousin, a youn ger son of her uncle the Duke of Mull and Cantire). Following her husband's death only a year after Vere's birth, Lady Dolly sends the child to live with her grandmother and sees very little of her until Vere, at age sixteen, comes to stay with her mother. Despite Vere's protestations, Lady Dolly forces her into marriage with the wealthy Russian Prince Zouroff, claiming that the marriage will cancel an exorbitant debt she owes him when in fact she wants merely to keep an affair between herself and Zouroff a secret, knowing full well that he is in possession of
113 a series of revealing letters she had written to him during their association. Ouida sets up her criticism of the construct of mothers as producers and daughters as products with her description early in the novel of the raising of girls for the marriage market: The little children that are about us at afternoon tea and lawn tennis, that are petted by house parties and romped with at pidgin miniature women already; they know the meaning of many a dubious very thoroughly the shades of intimacy, the suggestion of a smile, the degrees of hot and cold that may be marked with a bow or emphasized with a 'good day'. All the s ubtle science of society is learned by them instinctively and unconsciously, as they learn French and German from their maids. (VIII) In casting these little girls as doll like "miniature women," Ouida challenges the construct of the child as product in t he extent to which marketing children as commodities depreciates their individuality. Cast in identical molds, these girls are mere manufactured objects a kind of mass produced popular art that showcases the maternal labor of bringing them up for the marke t. We see this markedly in Lady Dolly's attitude toward Vere following her eventual marriage to Prince Zouroff: "Vere was not one tithe so much her dead husband's child as she was the Princess Zouroff, and there were many times when Lady Dolly caught herse lf thinking of her only as the Princess Zouroff, as a social rival and a social superior, and, as such, hating her and forgetting, quite forgetting, that she had ever been a little flower like baby that had owed life to herself" (Ouida XXIV). In the contra st between the infant Vere as flower like and the adult Vere as "the princess Zouroff," Ouida both links nature to child rearing and illustrates the result of viewing the child as manufactured product rather than natural material. The detached language of Lady Dolly's reflection marks her body as that of producer rather than creator and Vere as the product of her maternal labor. This detachment this refusal to recognize Vere as living, growing individual produces the
114 decorative possession of the male consum er. Indeed, Zouroff's declaration that "I do not love my wife. One is not in love with marble" positions him as male connoisseur of female beauty and Vere as the prized piece of his collection of women (his various mistresses) (Ouida XXIV). Ouida distingu ishes between the mother as producer and the mother as artist in terms of the investment of economic versus emotional effort in raising a child. Lady Dolly's assessment of the cost of presenting Vere in society to find her a husband marks Vere as a time co nsuming investment, valuable only if she reaps sufficient gain. Considering the time and effort of having a daughter to chaperone, Lady Dolly thinks, "a him in the army" (Ou ida III). If Lady Dolly's attitude expresses a lack of affection for her daughter and a disinclination toward motherhood, it nonetheless speaks to the notion of motherhood as civic duty through the association of bearing sons with service to the empire. La dy Dolly is not unaware of the prestige that would be associated with being the mother of a soldier or a hero of war. Yet What Ouida emphasizes here is the comparatively little effort of t he mother in having born a son rather than a daughter. Within this c ontext, woman fulfills her maternal obligation merely through the act of reproductive labor. The son who was "always away" offered woman a convenient alternative to the responsibilities of mothering. With little output of labor on her part, the woman disin clined toward motherhood nonetheless received credit for having born a son. The more sheltered girl, however, even with the convenience of a governess, required more care and attention on the part of the mother the success of which in the eyes of society o ften depended on a single maneuver on the mother's part: the
115 arrangement of a good marriage. Sons are thus cast as sturdy, serviceable products that perform a function in society, while girls, like flowers, must be carefully tended to reach their potential that potential, in this instance, being the lucrative marriage. For Lady Dolly, whose expensive taste and string of lovers mark her both as consumer and object of consumption, to become a producer would be to direct her energy away from self maintenance and self gratification. For the woman who views motherhood as a burden or an inhibition of her self identification as sexual being, the necessity of arranging a suitable marriage is less a means of ensuring that her daughter would be well provided for tha n in seeking a means of reparation. For Lady Dolly, Vere's marriage to Prince Zouroff takes this form of exchange both in terms of the financial remuneration it offers and because it eliminates the daughter as a responsibility that restricts the mother's s exual liberty. This notion of the match making mother as alternately producer and consumer shows itself markedly in Ouida's treatment of the rich and idle lady's disinclination toward motherhood as embodied by Lady Dolly. When Vere first arrives in Trouvil le to stay with her mother, Correze, upon first glimpsing the girl, remarks on the stark contrast between Vere and Lady Dolly with the observation, "I thought Meladi [Lady Dolly] was made herself yesterday in Giroux's shop, and was kept in a wadded box whe n her mechanism was not wound up. Surely it is impossible Dolly can ever have stooped to such a homely unartificial thing as maternity" (Ouida II). To term motherhood "unartificial" suggests nature or natural material a comparison that suggestively links c hild rearing with tending and cultivation rather than the production of a commodity. In this idea of the fine lady "stooping" or degrading herself to perform the
116 work of motherhood, Ouida points to the distinction between producing and cultivating that set s motherhood as art apart from motherhood as production. Indeed, Lady Dolly's objectifying description of Vere as a "well made baby" suggests, in the detached language, manufacturing rather than crafting. To cast motherhood as a form of manufactory removes from the task any individuality that the sentimentality of maternal love would bring to child rearing. Throughout the text, Ouida adopts the discourse of economic exchange to address the idea of the child as commodity and self interested motherhood as b oth production and consumption. Upon first learning of Vere's imminent arrival, Lady Dolly continually asks herself, "What could she do with her?" (Ouida I). This problem of finding something "to do" with Vere marks the child as an object of utility in ser vice to the mother. The rich and idle lady Dolly, a woman whose days and nights are filled with flirting, gambling, and dancing, who "ha[s] as many lovers as she ha[s] pairs of shoes" has no foreseeable "use" for a child. True, lady Dolly effectively produ ces rather than purchases Vere, though she arguably becomes a consumer of Vere's assets through her association with Zouroff. For Ouida, utility and sentimentality merge in the self interested mother's child insofar as the child's utility is that of provid ing amusement. That lady Dolly places Vere on a level with her lovers and shoes marks the child as merely another object amidst one's accumulated possessions. Like the vampiric mother addressed in the previous chapter, the mother as producer views motherho od not as an act of giving, but rather of exchange a form of labor for which she receives compensation.
117 In her discussion of the power of the mother, Adrienne Rich argues that power lies in the ability to give or withhold life, but to associate motherhood with an act of giving necessitates considering the problem of debt and return often attached to the act of giving. If, as I have suggested, progressive mothering is defined in terms of directing one's resources away from the exclusive benefits of self, t hen to "give life" is in fact to give it away; that is, to bestow without expectation of return. This is, as Jacques Derrida points out, the true meaning of the gift: "For there to be gift," writes Derrida, "not only must the donor or donee not perceive or receive the gift as such, have no consciousness of it, no memory, no recognition, he or she must also forget it right reconstitute debt and exchange by putting in reserve, by keeping or saving up what is forgotten" (16) 1 If we consider motherhood according to this definition, it follows that the act of giving life is not to be confused with giving the gift of life, for to give the gift of life is to bestow it selflessly wi thout expectation of recompense. Yet it is important to point out that in the mother who seeks compensation for child bearing, the focus is less on the compensation she receives for her own maternal utility than on finding utility in the child's existence The fact that immediately after her husband's death, Lady Dolly "discard[s] her baby to the care of her aunt and mother in law" defines child value in terms of economic utility. Having been left with "a miserable ths old to plague her farther," Lady Dolly's 1 I draw here upon Derrida's Given Time because it forms the basis for much of Rappoport's work on Victorian gift giving. Derrida argues that when one gives something (or someone, as in marriage) to another person as a form of exchange, what is given is not a gift, but rather time time in which to make a return of payment or gift. Rappoport draws upon Derrida's definition of exchange as giving time when she defines Victorian gift giving in terms of a later return o n an initial outlay, which I further apply to the idea of the child as compensation for the protection and financial support that a woman receives in marriage.
118 decision to deliver Vere into the care of another woman, even a blood relative, links Vere's existence to the causing of her financial difficulties. If the anxiety of having to care for a child alone in and of i tself is not necessarily problematic, the mother's desire to turn the child's existence to her own economic advantage with little or no consideration for the welfare of the child is a regressive appropriation of motherhood which, as we have seen, fails to look beyond the personal benefits of the relationship. When Vere at first refuses to marry Zouroff, Lady Dolly's friend, Lady Stoat, endeavors to convince her to change her mind with the argument that "it is only right that [Lady Dolly] should find full co mpensation in you" (Ouida IX). Here Vere is little more than the means to an end; when she finally does consent to the marriage, it is Lady Dolly who receives the honor of it Lady Dolly who attains "the crown of maternity, as maternity is understood in soc iety" (Ouida X). If Lady Dolly's selling of her daughter to Prince Zouroff offers a view of marriage that likens it to the exchange of goods and services for cash, Vere's ultimate lack of utility that is, the fact that she does not fulfill her obligation to her husband by providing him with a male heir considers the detrimental effect of such a commodified construct both on the woman herself and on her role as mother. Ouida invokes metaphors of art to offer Vere's more creative approach to motherhood as a progressive alternative to the commodified construct of mother as producer. She describes Vere as having been "cast by nature in the mold to be a noble mother of children," with "sacred fancies that went with the name of mother. The mothers of the Gracchi, the mother of Bonaparte, the mother of Garibaldi, the many noble maternal figures of history and romance, were forever in her thoughts. The time honored word to her embodied all sacrifice, all nobility,
119 all holiness" (VIII). If these maternal figures reve red in the pages of history and romance offer Vere a somewhat idealistic view of motherhood, that view nonetheless constructs a model of motherhood in which love and devotion are matched with the desire to raise children who will grow into great individual s. In her invocation of the mothers of great political leaders and revolutionaries like Napoleon Bonaparte and Giuseppe Garibaldi, Ouida offers a marked contrast between Vere's and Lady Dolly's respective understanding of the notion of motherhood as nation al duty. To couch motherhood within the rhetoric of national duty by linking the birth of a son to military service offered the Victorian mother a means of extending the purpose of her role beyond the immediate realm of home and hearth. Yet Ouida questions the extent to which such an appropriation reduced motherhood to a form of serviceable exchange. If Lady Dolly's selfish desire to have had a boy recognizes the social capital of being distinguished as the mother of a soldier, the focus of that desire is o n self rather than nation on the convenience of having a boy who is "always away" and who would, through his own supposed greatness, make his mother's name great without her having actively done anything to merit the distinction. Alternatively, Vere's idea listic maternal ambition to raise a son in the mold of a great man focuses on cultivating the child's greatness rather than seeking her own. True, not every woman can be the mother of a Bonaparte or a Garibaldi; yet the model of motherhood to which Ouida p oints here, in its emphasis on sacrifice, defines motherhood as a long term labor of love rather than mere physical labor. Though Vere becomes the wife of a Russian prince, the nobility she associates with motherhood is not the nobility of rank, but rathe r that of moral character. IN short,
120 the mother as artist views motherhood as a moral pursuit, whereas the mother as producer views it as labor for which she receives remuneration. Shortly after Vere's engagement to Zouroff, Lady Stoat counsels her about how best to occupy her time in a manner that underscores this distinction; she advises Vere to find: cause to advance, a something besides the mere pleasure of showing oneself. You wi ll never have the lover I am sure, and you cannot have the daughter just yet, so if I were you, I would take the cause it does not you, and it will be a safeguard to you against t he dangers that beset every young wife in the world. (Ouida X) Within the context of Lady Stoat's observation, Motherhood is a "cause" something with which to occupy one's time. This comparison recalls Lady Dolly's association of motherhood with utility i n her desire to find something "to do" with Vere. If it offers, in theory, a more noble and respectable disposal of one's time than the distractions of a lover, in listing the duties of motherhood alongside the amusements of lovers, causes, and holding sal ons, Lady Stoat marks motherhood not as an "aim" in terms of committing oneself whole heartedly to the moral pursuit of raising a child, but rather as an activity that fills one's days and offers the illusion of purpose just as Lady Dolly's wish to have bo rn a son suggests credit for little output of labor. Ouida invokes the mother as artist as one who seeks to strike a balance between the ideas of motherhood as amusement and motherhood as labor. Frequently in the text, we see Vere Dwelling upon the dullne ss of her life and her marriage; thinking of the wealth with which her husband showers her ostensibly to keep her happy, she reflects, "It [spending money] is a mission that most women think the highest and most blessed on earth; but it did not satisfy Ver e. She seemed to herself so useless, so stupidly, vapidly, frivolously useless; and her nature was one to want work, and noble
121 work" (Ouida XXI). This "noble work" the role of motherhood to which Vere feels called counterbalances commodity fetishism in it s emphasis on tending others rather than self, as with Lady Dolly's lavish lifestyle with an aim to indulge her own desires. Here Ouida speaks to the sort of vampiric consumerism that can render wealth, power, and prestige ultimately regressive when those who possess it fail to apply it to some means beyond that of their own pleasure. For the progressive mother, wealth and prestige are not in and of themselves useless. Rather the possession of wealth and resources, without being put into practice is, like t he pile of dusty coins Jonathan Harker discovers at Castle Dracula, ultimately valueless because they have been invested in no purpose beyond that of self gratification. As Stoker does with Mina Harker, Ouida invokes Vere's character as a means through wh ich to counter the frivolity of society and bring progressive value to wealth through a kind of artistic molding of material wealth into enriching the lives of others rather than self. When no longer able to bear the thought of living under the same roof a s her husband and refusing to turn a blind eye to his sexual indiscretions, Vere approaches him with the suggestion that he allow her to take up residence on one of his estates in Poland where, she argues, "the people suffer more" and she "would educate th e children, and try and make [his] name beloved and honored on [his] land" (Ouida XXII). What Vere desires here is not power and recognition, but the opportunity to "do good" (Ouida xxii). It is her husband's name, not her own, that she would make beloved and respected a gesture that speaks to the cleverness and seriousness that Lady Stoat identifies in her as having the potential to make more of life in society than "the me re pleasure of showing oneself." In terms of the presentational utility of being the wife
122 of Zouroff, she would fulfill the role of the good wife and beneficent angel by promoting the honor and prestige of his name and title. To him comes the credit of being associated with benevolence to his people; to Vere comes the quiet satisfaction o f living in service to others not service in the sense of mere labor, but rather in the moral sense of selfless giving. Through Vere, Ouida relates the dedication of self in service to others directly to the care of children to link the notion of "doing g ood" to the care and cultivation that defines the mother as artist. Having given birth to several children either stillborn or who lived only a few hours, Vere nonetheless feels called to devote her life to the work of motherhood. In seeking to shape the f uture of children through education and relieving the suffering of the impoverished peasants on Zouroff's land, Vere seeks to convert her idleness and wealth into an investment that serves the greater good. Ouida similarly invokes teaching as art earlier i n the novel when Vere first refuses to marry Zouroff: "I am not made for your world, nor it for me," she tells her mother. "I have some synonymous with art in its purpose to mold yo ung minds. What ultimately stifles maternal artistic vision, Ouida suggests, is woman's reduction to a version of the mass produced decorative female object, represented in Vere's marriage to Zouroff. I return here to the discussion of companionate marria ge/parenting as ideas that work in tandem with progressive mothering that I addressed in chapter one. During Vere's conversation with Lady Stoat over her initial refusal to marry Prince Zouroff, she protests that she cannot marry for any reason but love an d rejects Lady Stoat's insistence that the marriage would be an advantageous one by exclaiming, "How can
123 you bid me take [Gods] name in vain, and marry Prince Zouroff?" (Ouida IX). A closer reading of this conversation illustrates the extent to which Ouida uses the concepts of the companionate marriage versus the marriage of convenience to criticize the marital relationship as one of market exchange. In response to Vere's insistence that one must marry only for love, Lady Stoat replies that "love is an id ea; it doesn't last you e not poetry" (Ouida IX). Here love, in all its poetic sentimentality, is dismissed as valueless because it reaps no tangible benefits those benefits b eing to achieve rank and wealth. Through Vere, however, Ouida offers love as a cultivating agent in which utility and sentimentality can merge to create a stable family. Were Vere to Love her husband, she might not view the task of bearing him children as an act of labor in exchange for being kept in luxury as his wife. That Vere's marriage to Prince Zouroff and her motherhood prove ultimately unfulfilling relate directly to what she views as the depreciated value of her self worth in having allowed hersel f to be sold into a loveless marriage: marriage could never bring her ought better than it had brought her already a luxurious, ornamented slavery; and maternity could bring her no consolation, for she knew very well that her children would be dealt with would be his; they would have his passions and his cruelties; they would be taken away from her, reared in creeds and in ways alien to her; they would be Zouroff princes whose baby tyrannies would find a hundred sycophants, not her simple little children to lead in her own hand up to God. (Ouida XVI; XXI) I draw particular attention here to the emphasis on Vere's prospective children as being "his," that is, Prince Zouroff's, rather than her o wn, or more importantly both of theirs. In chapter one I touched upon the extent to which the child can operate as go between in the relationship between mother and father; as a tangible embodiment of
124 what they feel toward each other, the child becomes an object onto which mother and father project those feelings, seeing in the child what each loves (or despises) in the other. Thus far I have considered this idea of the child as go between in relation to parental and marital love, as with Helen Huntington's marriage to Gilbert Markham, or as a tool appropriated for marital or sexual agency, seen in Arthur Huntington's relationship with his son. Here, however, I wish to consider the child as object of indifference the child who holds neither utilitarian nor s entimental value in the eyes of the parent and the extent to which this indifference equally inhibits progressive mothering. Vere expresses, even prior to her marriage, an intense aversion to Prince Zouroff, and if she does not despise the short lived and stillborn children to whom she gives birth, she looks upon them with a detachment that underscores their function as objects mere products of her alliance with her husband. This shows itself most markedly after the birth of the son who dies after only a fe w hours: "She had not as she had looked on its little body, lying lifeless; but it was neither maternal love nor maternal regret: it was rather remorse" (Ouida XIII). That Vere cannot think of the child she has carried in her womb as her own speaks to the lack of any emotional investment that either she or Zouroff puts into their marital relationship. Both Zouroff and Vere look upon their marriage as one of economic utility; Zouroff speaks often of having paid a price for her, and Vere frequently thinks of herself as having been sold. Here Ouida brings to light the extent to which viewing wife and children as part of a market exchange undermines the intangible worth o f human individuality.
125 While Zouroff places the responsibility of child bearing upon his wife, he nonetheless thinks of the children as "his," for as extensions of Vere, whose body he has purchased, the children she bears are likewise his property. He in no way considers any children she might bear as hers, because her body and life are not her own. Yet he in no way considers the level of investment, whether economic or emotional, that he must put into his children to cultivate their potential and, indeed, to rightfully claim them as his: "If you bear me living sons," he tells Vere, "you will do all a wife wants to do, and if I pay your bills and allow you to amuse yourself in your own way I do not see that you can complain of me" (Ouida XIV). Here we see a simple, market based model of marriage and parenthood the economic exchange of cash for products that makes Vere's wifehood and motherhood little more than paid labor. Ouida, then, employs the principle of art as moral pursuit to animate the manufactured family with life. If Vere cannot love her husband, she recognizes that to find some means of seeking to cultivate his potential as a man would turn their marriage into a relationship that might serve a progressive purpose. Three years into their marriage, following the deaths of several infant sons, Vere's realization of her failure to fulfill her utility as wife and mother leads her to seek some means of doing good by him. If she cannot love him, she can, perhaps, through her own goodness, bring honor and respectability to his name and, in doing so, make him more worthy of respect. In asking him to "help [her] a little to do what is right" in seeking his sympathy Vere seeks not only to lighten her own burden, but also, perhaps, to undertake him as a kind o f project to cultivate his potential to be a better and more honorable man (Ouida xvi). That as we shall see she ultimately directs this progressive effort away from Zouroff
126 and onto Correze suggests the extent to which the male consumer embodied by Zourof f can himself become mechanized by his consumption a product of consumer culture that is produced merely to consume luxury. We have already seen in chapter one the extent to which the act of mothering the husband father is an act of progressive motherhoo d in the extent to which it seeks to create something beyond that immediate relationship that is, the family. Ouida, like Bronte, invokes art to explore the idea of motherhood in terms of the malleability of human character in the quality, so to speak, of the material with which woman must work. Thus Ouida invokes the statuesque images of Vere's dead children to link the loveless marriage to the manufactory of children as products. By failing to provide her husband with living heirs, Vere offers him no hope of carrying on his lineage; simply put, in Rappoport's terms, Zouroff's initial investment has offered him no long term compensation. Here the loveless marriage produces children who are little more than inanimate objects. The lifeless bodies of Vere's children, cold and still as statues, are not unlike Vere herself, whose hardened beauty is often compared with that of a sculpture. Consider, for instance, Ouida's description of Ver e face upturned, her hands clenched, her shut lips blue as with great cold" (Ouida XIV). This resemblance of Vere to a statue foreshadows the countless comparisons to her as such by many of the characters throughout the novel, marking her as manufactured object rather than woman.
127 That Vere's body seems unable to bear healthy children points to a linkage between the physiological utility of the maternal body and the sentim entality of marital and maternal love rather than situating them as diametrically opposed. The linkage between physical health and the natural environment lends itself well to this chapter's discussion of the ways that the novel creates the figure of the m other as artist through woman's relationship to nature. The linkage between Vere as artistic mother and nature appears most markedly following her succession of unsuccessful childbirth experiences. In particular, the delivery of her stillborn son is preced ed by a dull description of her sojourn in Russia: "She remained in the vast, luxurious, carefully heated palace of the Zouroff princes, where never a breath of cold air penetrated. Her health suffered from that imprisonment in a hot house, which was as un natural to her as it would have been to one of the young oak trees of Bulmer Chase," and her stillborn infant is described as "a frail, pale little corpse, that never saw the light of the world" (Ouida XVII). Here the dead child is directly linked to the s tifling environment to which Vere is subjected compared to the fresh, natural air of her childhood home. This connection between nature and the physical health of the maternal body links motherhood with the cultivation of nature rather than with the artifi ce of the manufactory of producing a child an artifice emblematized by the comparison of Vere to an unnatural, produced, hothouse flower. The disconnect between the physiological and emotional aspects of motherhood as reflected in Zouroff's treatment of V ere speaks to the construct of male consumer and female object of consumption that this novel criticizes. From Zouroff's perspective, he has paid a price for Vere's services as wife and mother, and in the manner of an
128 investment, he expects her to "mature" as it were and pay his dividends with little to no effort on his part: "I am a rich man, and an indulgent one, and that must content you" he tells her during the conversation in which he tasks her with the sole duty of bearing him living sons (Ouida XIV). Here the woman's body is mechanized according to the discourse of exchange and input/output. The husband father, in effect, purchases a woman's maternal services and, so Ouida suggests here, purchases the child as product, for the children Vere ultimately gives him are just that. Little more than dolls in their inanimate coldness, these dead children are mere effigies of a family just as the trophy wife is a mere status symbol of marriage. Here the dead child, a body without a soul to animate its frame, be comes the emblem of motherhood as manufactory rather than as cultivation. I suggest, then, that Ouida employs the failure of Vere's marriage to challenge the commodified construct of marriage and family as partnerships for the exchange of products and ser vices. Following the death of her first child, Vere remarks to Madam Leigh', the woman loves the child that is born of her ruin: I am not like that" (Ouida XIII). Ouida's r eference to Elizabeth Barret Browning's poem and the character of Marian Erle in particular reminds the reader of the association between marriage and prostitution in the novel and further links that connection to motherhood as exchange. If we examine the commodification of the woman's body within the framework of prostit ution, it is worth noting that t he mothers of both Vere and Marian seek to sell their bodies into the service of men for profit; indeed, though the rape that leaves Marian pregnant is not t he direct
129 result of her mother's machinations, her mother attempts to sell her daughter into literal prostitution. Though Marian's child, unlike Vere's, is born of rape 2 her love for that child suggests progressive mothering in the extent to which the ch ild becomes the vehicle through which she can move beyond the tragedy of her rape. The fact that Marian's rape occurs in a brothel a space for the exchange of sex for money associates the child with the commodification of the female body that implicitly de preciates the sentimental value of the mother/child relationship. Moreover, Aurora's suggestion that Marian "steals" her child that she becomes pregnant by means of an illicit affair rather than legitimate marriage both locates Marian's motherhood within t he language of exchange and suggests that Marian has appropriated motherhood for personal gain: [I]f a woman steals (through god's own barrier hedges of true love, which fence out license in securing love) a child like this, that smiles so in her face, sh e is no mother but a kidnapper, and he's a dismal orphan, not a son; whom all her kisses cannot feed so full he will not miss her after a pure home to live in, a pure heart to lean against, a pure good mother's name and memory to hope by when the world gro ws thick and bad, and he feels out for virtue. (Browning VI, ll 640) Here the suggestion is that in allegedly appropriating motherhood as a means of legitimating an affair, Marian has appropriated the status of motherhood to which she has no claim, for mot herhood is not a thing to be bought or worse, stolen. In her reference to the child as an "orphan," Aurora implicitly erases the maternal transformation that Marian has undergone, however unwillingly (or illicitly as Aurora assumes). Yet Marian's reply rel ocates her child within the language of giving rather 2 In the poem, Marian, who is engaged to Aurora's cousin Romney, is convinced by Lady Waldemar (who wishes to marry Romney) that he does not love Marian; Lady Waldemar sends Marian to France with her lady's made, where Marian is left in a brothel and raped. Despite Marian's experience, she is overjoyed to be a mother and loves the child for his own sake.
130 than exchange, through which Browning suggests that motherhood in any form can offer solace and purpose in an otherwise downtrodden life: "I have as sure a right as any glad proud mother in the world, w ho sets her darling down to cut his teeth upon her church ring" (VI, ll. 670). Marian's reference to a wedding ring, the exchange of costly items that solemnizes and legitimates marriage and parenthood, suggests that even so called "pure" motherhood as Aur ora terms it can be purchased, perhaps by way of the loveless marriage. Her comparison of the child to a "coin" that God has "dropped" into her womb identifies the child not as purchase or illicitly obtained object, but as gift one that transforms the trag edy of Marian's rape into what she views as a purposeful life (Browning VI, ll 681). As Ouida does in Moths, Browning invokes the language of nature to link motherhood with cultivation; clutching the child to her breast, Marian refers to him as "my flower of earth, my only flower on earth, my sweet, my beauty!" (Browning VI, ll 660). Through this comparison of the child to a flower, Browning seeks to reconcile the problem of associating an act of rape with an act of procreation. Browning does not, I sugges t, disavow the tragedy of rape or its ability to inflict a maternal transformation on the woman's body against her will. Rather Marian's choice to pursue a maternal narrative through the raising of her son enables her to create a new life distinct and sepa rable from her tragic past. Through the child as flower, Marian is no longer victim, but an agent of her future narrative through her role as mother. Ouida's invocation of Browning at once aligns her with and moves her beyond this criticism of the female body as serviceable object for male consumption. If Marian's description of the marriage vow in terms of exchange points to the loveless marriage as
131 legalized prostitution, Ouida uses Vere's character as the mother as artist to offer an alternative to this construct. In having prostituted herself (or rather in allowing her mother to prostitute her) in a loveless but wealthy marriage, Vere marks herself as unworthy of the "noble" motherhood to which she feels she has been called that which is born of love r ather than purchased for personal gain, even if that gain be her mother's and not her own. As I argue throughout the dissertation, truly progressive mothering is defined in terms of the act of directing one's energies away from self. Thus through Vere's di sdain for her husband and his progeny, Ouida considers the extent to which a lack of sentimental attachment can problematize progressive mothering. In chapter one, I addressed Anne Bronte's use of art to explore the notion of the child as individual disti nct from the parent and the extent to which progressive mothering entails cultivating that individuality. When Helen Huntington speaks of the portrait she has painted of her husband, she emphasizes that she keeps it to compare its likeness to her growing s on not so that it may serve as a model by which to raise him, but rather as a reminder of little Arthur's distinctiveness from his father. In this comparison of the child to a work of art, Bronte anticipates the kind of artistic motherhood that Ouida invok es. Here the balance between sentimentality and utility resides in the ability to view the child as a blank canvass and value him for his individual human potential, not to regard him as a mere extension of his father. Vere, conversely, in viewing any chil dren she bears as exclusively Zouroff's, detaches herself from them physically and emotionally in a gesture that at once challenges the commodification of motherhood and fails to recognize its progressive potential. Fearing that she will grow to detest her children because of their association with their father, Vere's detachment
132 from them overlooks the potential of seeing them as individuals in which she might make an emotional investment. Yet if her seeming inability to harbor any love for her children ap pears selfish, it nonetheless offers a challenge to the construct of the mother as producer. However, as seen in the previous chapter, a mere refusal to participate in this prescribed model of motherhood is not in and of itself a vehicle of empowerment if it offers no progressive alternative to that narrative. Thus Ouida points to the idea of motherhood as art form as a means of reconciling the disconnect between the utility of motherhood as labor and the romanticized sentimentality of motherhood as moral p ursuit. It is useful to return here to the comparisons made throughout the novel of Vere to a work of art. On the one hand, the comparison of Vere's beauty to a statue and Zouroff's declaration that "one is not in love with marble" marks her as no more th an a decorative object; on the other, the description of her having been "cast in the mold to be a noble mother" suggests a beauty that blends form with functionality. Ouida connects motherhood to art through the art in which Vere invests her interest. Sig nificantly, Vere's morbid reflections about her "uselessness" come while she is visiting a quaint, Austrian church and attempting to sketch its altar. Midway through her endeavor, she pauses and reflects, "After all, what is the use of my copying it?...My husband would tell me, if I cared for such an old thing, to send some painter from Munich to do it for me" (Ouida XXI). The contrast between her nature's desire for "noble work" and the abandoned colors and oils lying untouched beside her emphasizes the mo notony of a life without purpose.
133 Ouida further links the idea of art with motherhood as work in this scene by offering a comparison between Vere and the elderly woman she converses with just before leaving the church. As the peasant woman tells of the de aths of both of her sons and of traveling alone to rescue her grandson after he'd broken his leg while working on the Danube on a timber raft, Vere contrasts the worthlessness of her own life compared with this tender hearted mother: "She had youth, she ha d beauty, she had her great position; yet, as she sat there, she herself envied the life of the poor. It was real. It was autumn rains, looked to her beside her own mother !" (Ouida XXI). In this contrast between the simple but rewarding life of the peasant and the idleness of the rich, Ouida distinguishes between the intangible value of the loved creation and the material worth of the manufactured product, measuring value i n terms of emotional investment as well as physical labor. Ultimately, however, it is through Vere's relationship to Correze that Ouida gestures toward a definition of motherhood that seeks to merge the two concepts. Correze's life, like Vere's, seeks, an d sometimes struggles to strike a balance between the life of commodified luxury and the life of service to others. A renowned opera singer with the world at his feet, Correze is also rumored to be and in fact is a marquis. We learn, however, that he has n ever laid claim to the title that in fact he spent his youth as a shepherd boy. The simple joy that the boy Correze finds in singing to his surroundings as he wanders the mountains brings greater value, if more intangible, than the gold, flowers, and prais e that rain in upon him from his admirers. Yet there exists within him a struggle to find a balance between moral art and art as
134 commodity in the life he leads as an entertainer. I suggest that ultimately it is through Vere, the mother as artist, that such balance is achieved. Upon first meeting Vere, Correze identifies in her this noble potential as he contrasts her with himself: "She will with a broken spring, lying in a dust of dried myrtles and musty morals" (Ouida III). In this comparison of Correze to a broken toy of sorts, Ouida uses the voice of the artist to criticize society's value of art merely for form rather than functionality for pleasure rather than purpose More importantly, that she uses Correze as the mouthpiece for this criticism challenges the artist to consider the extent to which his art proliferates commodity fetishism. This is not to suggest that the act of creating beauty for pleasure lacks purpose ; rather what Ouida challenges here is the pleasure of living for amusement alone. To read Moths as a novel that points to the linkage between art and progressive mothering demands a closer examination of the relationship between Vere and Correze as one o f cultivation, particularly with respect to the ways that Correze offers Vere an outlet for her maternal desire to create and the ways that Vere's nurturing disposition informs Correze' art. Throughout the novel, several characters comment upon the fact th at Correze never performs for his friends and acquaintances when he is a guest in their homes or at parties. In this delineation between work and pleasure, Ouida identifies in Correze a distinction between the commodified and moral value of art respectivel y. Correze will beguile hours of the evening singing to an old blind man and his peasant daughter 3 or to artists whose creations he admires as they work in their 3 We learn early in the novel that Correze provides financial support for and often visits a blind man named Auber, who had once played in the orchestra alongside Correze when he sang; when Auber loses
135 studios, but never does he accept monetary compensation for sharing his talents in this way. T he differentiation in the application of Correze art here lies in the purpose for which he applies it. In singing for fellow artists to inspire them, Correze enacts a form of cultivation not unlike parental nurturing as one art form begets another. Similar ly, in supporting Auber's daughter in the artificial flower factory, Correze applies the product of his own art (his money) to serving the good of another in a manner similar to Vere's ministering to the peasantry on her husband's estate. Moral art, then, Ouida suggests, works to better the livelihood of others rather than serving as mere idle entertainment. Correze's art is work insofar as he receives monetary compensation for performing. To perform, within this context, is to participate in a market exch ange to offer one's services or a product for payment until that service or product is no longer desired or can no longer fulfill its function. The mechanistic allusion to the singer as music box neatly encapsulates the function of performative art as comm odity that Ouida interrogates here. In a sense, Correze' performance as artist is not altogether different from the performance which Vere is forced to make of her marriage to Prince Zouroff. The element to which Ouida points that transforms art as commo dity into moral art is that of emotional investment. We see this markedly when, having been persuaded to be a guest at a dinner held by Zouroff, Correze sings a song for the assembled party that is a thinly veiled insult to Zouroff and a confession of love to Vere. To consider the value of art within the context of gift and exchange as Ouida does here necessitates his sight after an accident and can no longer s upport his young daughter, Correze pays an artificial flower manufacturer to hire the girl, though she has no talent for flower making, and he instructs the mistress to take the girl's wages from his own savings.
136 pointing out that Correze is a guest in the Zouroff home as an official expression of Zouroff's gratitude/payment for his having come to Vere's r escue in a storm while she had been out sailing. Yet Correze expects nothing in return for this act, nor for the gift of song he offers to Vere neither in payment from Zouroff or love from Vere. Talia Schaffer's discussion of the significance of the mement o in relation to commodity culture is useful in reading this exchange within the context of moral art versus art as to its possessor," and "its place in constituting the notion of the individual life" renders the memento "emblematic of the worth of that life and of the self's capacity to generate worthiness" (78). Correze's song here operates as a kind of memento to the extent that it is not a consumer product in the m anner of his stage performances produced again and again for payment; rather it is a gift bestowed on Vere that legitimates her as woman rather than as commodity. Knowing as he gives this gift that there can be no return, Correze song is a gift in the true st sense an act that directs his art into a progressive channel because that work is directed away from self. Zouroff's invitation of hospitality functions as a form of payment that redirects the beneficiary of Correze's service from Vere to Zouroff; in r escuing Zouroff's wife, Correze essentially rescues the prince's most costly asset. Thus for Correze to insult his host with the song he offers to pledge his devotion to Vere not only threatens Zouroff's masculinity, but rejects his hospitality as payment for services rendered and thus rejects Zouroff as Vere's owner. In the duel between the two men toward the novel's conclusion, Zouroff again fights not for Vere's honor, but for his ownership of her; in robbing Correze of his voice when he shoots the singe r in the throat, Zouroff seeks
137 reparation for what he believes Correze has stolen from him, for he mistakenly believes that Correze and Vere are involved in an illicit affair. Yet Correze expects no return of love from Vere for his devotion. Thus through C orreze again offering the tool of his art not to Zouroff as a form of payment but to Vere as a sacrificial act of love, the sacrifice of art for a moral purpose reaffirms Vere's worth as woman rather than commodity. Vere's ultimate return of love for Corr eze's sacrifice, rather than locating their relationship within the language of exchange, creates a progressive union in which art operates as a metaphor for the bearing of life, embodied in the opera that Correze composes with Vere's inspiration a point I will return to shortly. It is worth noting here that Ouida leaves the plot detail of Vere's marriage to Correze open to question, never definitively describing them as married as she does with Zouroff's remarriage to his mistress, Madam Jeanne De Sonnaz a fter granting Vere a divorce. On the one hand, Madam Nelaguine refers to Vere at the end of the novel as "the wife of Correze" (XXXI). ON the other, Lady Dolly remarks that she cannot see her daughter, suggesting that according to the dictates of propriety she cannot associate with Vere, "divorced and living out of the world with Correze," though scholars often suggest that this is due to the social scandal of a divorced woman's remarriage (Ouida XXXI). That Ouida pointedly encloses Zouroff within a second marriage to a glamorous French socialite while leaving Vere to live presumably unmarried with Correze underscores the position of male consumer and female object; in granting Vere her freedom and marrying Madam De Sonnaz, Zouroff simply exchanges one deco rative wife for another. Conversely, for Vere to flourish in a relationship, that relationship must be unrestricted by the conventions of marriage as an exchange bound by obligation. Natalie Schroeder
138 and Shari Hodges Holt point out that Ouida "openly avow ed a deep seated longing for romance and marriage" but that she expressed disdain for the commodification of marriage. "For Ouida's Angel," they argue, "woman's highest mission is obviously not marriage, but maintaining self respect. By equating marriage w ith slavery and prostitution, Ouida voices her earliest objections to the institution of marriage, which she sees as a business transaction devoid of religion and love" (37). Thus it is outside the "ornamented slavery" of this contractual construct that lo ve flourishes in its true form, being freely given rather than exchanged. Following Correze' recovery from the dual with Zouroff and Vere's divorce, Correze retreats from the world with her to live in the Alps. The picture offered of Vere in this conclusi on recalls her freshness and vigor; clad in white with a face that "has regained its early loveliness," she seems herself to have undergone a rebirth of sorts outside the captivity of Szarisla in the final chapters, the Polish estate to which Zouroff had b anished her 4 and whose cold, empty, gothic interior signifies the barren female body that Vere has become to her husband. Talia Schaffer argues that Szarisla "encodes what Victorian novels could not depict, the marital abuse and marital rape that constitut e Vere's relation to Zouroff. If the nineteenth century represented the ideal home as warm, well lit, and full of objects of sentimental value, we can see the full horror of Szarisla, enormous, unheated, and unfurnished" (130). In Szarisla, Ouida invokes t he gothic structure as metonymic not merely of the female body, but more specifically of the barren female body, rendered so by marital abuse. Conversely, as 4 When Vere informs Prince Zouroff that sh e is aware of his affair with Jeanne De Sonnaz, she refuses to receive the other woman in her home and is subsequently sent to Szarisla by her husband as punishment unless she relents.
139 with the trope of nature and flowers through which Ouida links progressive mothering to cultivatio n, Vere's rejuvenation in the fresh, open air of the Alps reminds us that the cultivation of others begins with the cultivation of self. I suggest that it is ultimately through Vere's cultivation of Correze' talent that Ouida joins utility and sentimental ity in a progressive art form. Following his injury, Correze can no longer sing, but we find him at the end of the novel channeling his musical talents into composing an opera: "A great genius," he reflects, "can never altogether rest without creation" (Ou ida XXXI). For Correze, as for Vere, to be useful is to offer one's abilities in service to others. What Correze misses in the loss of his voice is not the fame and fortune, but the simple joy of using his talent for the enjoyment of all who hear it. Ouida links his newfound creativity to a kind of maternal cultivation through Vere, for it is Vere whom Correze credits with inspiring this new channel for his talents. Appearing at his side in her white dress, with her "luminous" eyes, Vere's presence takes on that of a muse Ouida (XXXI). Here, ironically, Vere at once realizes and reappropriates Lady Dolly's sarcastic prediction about her ambition to teach music: "Is that your scheme? To teach music? And Correze to teach you, I suppose?" (Ouida IX). In the end Vere and Correze come together in an artistic union in which each cultivates one another's art; Correze offers Vere, by way of himself and his art, a means through which she can, like the teacher and mother she longs to be, guide and shape another's work In the same way that Correze's singing nurtures the talent of the artists for whom he sings, he and Vere together enact a symbolic bearing of life in the creation of a new form of expression for Correze's musical talent.
140 Yet if this bright, new beginnin g suggests rebirth, it is not wholly without the pain of loss. Vere remains, however unwillingly, a product of her mother's way of life a way of life that has rendered her unable to devote herself to the maternal life she once envisioned for herself: "On h er life there will be always the sadness of a noble nature reverence, the religious homage of a man's surpassing love can never wholly banish from her" (Ouida XXXI). This suggest ively casts Vere as a kind of damaged product, rendered useless by her rough handling and serving as a caveat against such commodification of woman. Talia Schaffer observes that Moths concludes "just as it began, with Dolly just as lovely, just as sexually voracious, and daringly dressed as ever" and that "the novel cannot destroy the monstrous mother, because the mother can live forever through fashion" (130). Yet in the end, it is Lady Dolly, the producer and consumer of commodity culture, not Vere, who i s marginalized; the wistful sadness with which she comments on her inability to see Vere suggests that it is Vere who will not receive her rather than the reverse. It is Vere, in the fresh, open air, who thrives. What binds Vere and Correze to one another is loss the loss of what they consider their life's work. Yet they find in one another both a source of happiness and a source of purpose. Thus through the union of man and woman as cultivators of art and by invoking the creation of art as new life, Ouida removes woman from the role of producer of children as commodities and imbues her with the transformative power of the mother as creator
141 CHAPTER 5 I COME TO DEFEND MY STORY: NARRATIVE AND MATERNAL AGENCY IN GEORGE MOORE'S ESTHER WATERS In a study of childbirth and child rearing practices in the British aristocracy during the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Judith Schneid Lewis writes that "childbearing would seem to fall equally on women of all classes. If indeed there is such an entity as women's history, then childbearing must be a unifying theme" (1). Yet it comes as little surprise that the maternal experience and attitudes toward motherhood were largely dictated by women's class distinction during this period. Aside from th e fact that middle and upper class mothers traditionally had greater access to sufficient medical care, as the doctrine of separate spheres established more clearly delineated boundaries between work and domesticity that sentimentalized family life, there emerged a persisting idea that child rearing more than child bearing constituted fulfilling the duties of motherhood. If child rearing occurred in the sanctity of the home, the figure of the working mother seemed incongruous with this construction of domes tic motherhood, not least because it usually required placing her children under the care of other women the so called "baby farmers" that emerged to fulfill this necessity. Even if the children of middle and upper class mothers were often cared for by ser vants or governesses, they nonetheless remained within the sanctity of the home the presumed sacred space best suited to their upbringing. Moreover, as Emma Lynn Liggins observes in her discussion of working class motherhood in the fiction of the 1890's, t he trend toward woman's inclusion in the work force during the latter half of the century and concerns about the decreasing birth rate "precipitated a moral panic about woman's ambivalent attitudes to childbearing and the responsibilities it entailed" (17) Such ambivalence on women's part points to the respective economic and social
142 pressures of choosing between two one dimensional identities mother or working woman: a split that challenged women to choose between the sentimental and the utilitarian constr uction of womanhood as diametrically opposed. This schism between mother and working woman, I suggest, defines motherhood not in terms of a universal female experience, but rather in terms of privilege; that is, the socioeconomic luxury of being able to a fford and devote oneself to the care of children. The previous chapter's discussion of Lady Dolly's relationship to Vere considered the child's fu nction as a product within commodity culture For Ouida, the upper class child's utility, far from fulfilling an economic need in the manner of the working class child does as wage earner, is, as we have seen, largely that of luxury object. The "Crown of maternity" that Lady Dolly attains in arrangi ng Vere's marriage to Prince Zouroff is just that a symbol of wealth and prestige. Here the upper class child operates to borrow a term from Adrienne Rich as a "symbolic credential" (xviii). Vere's sense of uselessness beyond that of mere decorative object in depreciating her own sense of self worth, compromises her ability to serve as a progressive mother. Yet if the rich and idle mother undermines her child's individual worth by usurping him or her for economic gain as Lady Dolly does, the working class mother who must either work to support her children or rely on their own wage earning as a source of income finds herself in the position of at once working within and against this economic objectification of the child. Nowhere is this struggle crystalize d more clearly than in the fictional representation of the wet nurse, whose story reveals the paradoxical exchange of selling one's services as mother to care for children not her own in order to support herself and, often, her own children. Moreover, the child, merely through his birth that
143 enables her to market herself as a wet nurse, unwittingly becomes both the root of her financial difficulties and the source of her income. In this chapter, then, I examine maternal and child value within the working cl ass through the figure of the wet nurse to consider how viewing mother and child exclusively in terms of economic utility undermines the progressive potential of the working class woman to live out a maternal narrative of her own. Emma Lynn Liggins sugges ts that the lives of working women's children "[were] threatened by [their mothers'] lack of financial resources, not by their lack of natural, maternal love" (17). She observes, moreover, that the images of dead babies that frequently appeared in late nin eteenth century fiction "reflect[ed] contemporary concerns about working mothers and the costs of bringing up children" (17). Such a view of motherhood seemed to recast it as less of a shared experience among women of all classes and more of a privilege gr anted only to such women who had the means to pursue it. Liggins's association of successful motherhood with financial resources commodifies childhood in the sense of the child as something to be possessed. Indeed, the very idea of the child as "object of sentiment" as Zelizer terms it the middle or upper class child who is comfortably cared for and need not earn his keep in the family through paid labor marks children as a type of luxury item. Such a construct, I suggest, casts motherhood not so much as a service to the public, but as an economic investment and suggests that, as Rich intimates, motherhood can be as much a sign of luxury as a form of work. George Moore's 1894 novel Esther Waters the story of a working class, single mother interrogates this conceptualization of motherhood and childhood and the
144 implications such a construct held for the social value of motherhood. Much of my discussion in this chapter will focus on Esther's work as a wet nurse and the extent to which that work challenges her o wn maternal identity, for the very liminality of the wet nurse's position embodies a kind of slippage between the ideas of the working mother and motherhood as work respectively. Employed by and taking up residence within a family to perform the paid labor of maternal service, the wet nurse strains the boundaries between the working and domestic spheres. Scholars such as Siobhan Chapman and Annette Federico read Esther Waters as a story of female narrative agency; for Federico, Esther's story is "a way to c laim the rights of an individual woman to make choices, to affirm the validity of her experiences" (115). Such a reading of the novel is useful when considering it as a maternal narrative as it situates Esther's story firmly within concerns respecting wome n's understanding of and attitudes toward the working mother and motherhood as work at the end of the century. Drawing upon Chapman's and Federico's readings, I argue that the most significant and identity defining experience for Esther is that of motherho od, yet the social prejudice she faces as an unwed, working class mother and her endeavor to defy the notion that she would do best to abandon her illegitimate child compromise that experience. Seduced and subsequently abandoned by William Latch a fellow s ervant at the home of the Barfields wher e Esther works as a kitchen maid Esther might not have initially intended or anticipated her maternal transformation. Yet even as William's seduction brings about this maternal transformation, Esther recognizes that agency over the direction of the narrative that is, the decision to accept the role of mother by choosing to keep and raise her son remains with her. Set against the backdrop of an
145 understanding of motherhood in which childbearing in and of itself does no t first and foremost constitute the fulfillment of that responsibility, Moore's novel suggests that the maternal narrative is one in which a woman chooses to make a long term, even life long investment in the creation of another human life. Published in 1 894, Esther Waters followed significant investigation and legislation protecting infants against widespread infanticide and the practice of baby farming by more than twenty years. 1 Yet Moore depicts a society where child neglect remains a pressing concern, operating as a mechanism through which he examines the value both utilitarian and sentimental of mother and child. The story of Esther's seduction, abandonment by her lover, and subsequent struggle to survive is unremarkable in and of itself. Indeed, her plight has frequently been compared to that of similar figures in late Victorian fiction such as Thomas Hardy's Tess. Both Esther Waters and Tess of the D'Urbervilles feature heroines forced to bear the stigma of having given birth to an illegitimate child but Tess, unlike Esther, actively rejects her inflicted maternal identity. Tess's delay in christening her child until moments before his death and the name of "Sorrow" that she gives it indicates that the child is to her more of a burden and a reminder of Alec D'Urberville's treatment of her than a source of hope. If Tess fears her baby's eternal damnation were it to die without having been christened, she equally fears her own as a result of her association with Alec D'Urberville. The christening of Sor row operates more as a means through which Tess 1 In 1872, the Infant Life Protection Act responded to reports of wides pread infanticide by requiring the registration of all baby farming establishments. The baby farm was established to take in for a small fee infants whose mothers had to work to provide for them and could not care for them at home. Since infants placed in such establishments were frequently subject to neglect, baby farms became notorious for providing working class mothers with a convenient means of disposing of unwanted and often illegitimate children.
146 can attain salvation rather than the child; through an endeavor to cleanse her soul combined with the child's death, Tess's story becomes one of the struggle to silence rather than to voice the unwed mother's narrative. In a novel that castigates middle and upper class society for its treatment of servants and of young girls in Esther's position, Moore distinguishes Esther's story from that of the typical servant girl turned fallen woman by utilizing her as t he mouthpiece through which to give voice to the narrative of the working, single mother's struggle to prove her value as an individual beyond that of the labor she provides. Moore undertakes this examination through his criticism of the systems of wet nur sing and baby farming that problematize the working woman's identification as mother by pressing her into maternal service while simultaneously undermining her maternal experience. If Esther's story works to shed light on the life of the servant, and if mo therhood constitutes a form of service to the family and to the nation at large we cannot consider her story without viewing it in the light of her maternal experiences. Yet as she offers herself in maternal service as a wet nurse and the milk she produces becomes commodified, the callous disregard that those who seek her services show toward her and her son denies her the privilege of motherhood through their refusal to acknowledge the necessary maternal transformation she has undergone to work as a wet nu rse. As not only a working class woman, but one who has had a child out of wedlock, Esther has not entered into motherhood through the so called legitimate, socially sanctioned channel of marriage, and she is thus denied the right to define herself in mate rnal terms and construct a maternal narrative for herself. Through Esther's struggle to defy the criticism she faces by choosing to raise her son on her
147 own, Moore constructs a narrative that challenges the societal perception of working class, illicit mot herhood as valueless. Molly Youngkin observes that "Esther is a successful heroine precisely because she speaks out in the same way that real life women were speaking out in the 1890s" (125). If the cult of domesticity revered motherhood as a means of at taching greater respectability to the work of home and hearth, the emergence of the "new woman" in the latter half of the century called for a reconceptualization of motherhood as a single aspect of rather than the entirety of woman's work that acknowledge d its contribution to society without retaining the one dimensionality of the role. As feminist novelist and essayist Mona Caird wrote at the end of the century, "We shall never have really good mothers until women cease to make motherhood the central idea of their existence" (qtd in Richardson 210). Caird's statement, I suggest, far from outright rejecting motherhood, claims that women would make better mothers if, rather than submitting to a socially prescribed role, they were given the choice as to wheth er or not to pursue that role. Esther, then, is not merely a successful heroine, but a successful maternal heroine because her maternal narrative is one of her own creation rather than one to which she is required to subscribe. On the one hand, she neither refuses to submit to the professionalization of motherhood that the wet nursing and baby farming market make of it; on the other, her strong work ethic and the task of raising a child who will grow to self sufficient manhood guards her against treating he r child as a pet amusement like indulgent mothers such as her mistress Mrs. Barfield seem to do. The description of Mrs. Barfield's preoccupation with gardening points to the subscription to a predetermined maternal role with neither the instinct nor the f ull understanding of what
148 progressive mothering demands. Mrs. Barfield is depicted "trot [ting] to and fro from her greenhouse to her potting shed, watering, pruning, and syringing her plants. These plants were dearer to her than all things except her chil dren; she seemed, indeed, to all the day long" (Moore IV). On the one hand, such attentiveness bespeaks of a nurturing disposition not incompatible with motherhood, and indeed, as indicated in the previous chapter, the well tended garden can signify progressive mothering. Yet if this care indicates nurturing, it also gestures toward the regressive overindulgence that inhibits rather than contributes to cultivation. As th e over watered plant dies, so too the spoiled child comes to ruin a result illustrated by the fate of the Barfield children at the novel's end, a point to which I will return at the end of the chapter. Esther Waters then, offers a critical indictment of indulgent, upper class motherhood and upper class attitudes toward the working class mother. In her discussion of working class motherhood in the 1890s, Emma Lynn Liggins cites the many instances of working class mothers who chose to take their own lives a long with those of their babies an act that she argues signifies "their inability to conceive of a life without maternal roles, or alternatively their attempts to rescue the family from poverty" (17). Esther in fact contemplates such an act herself not lon g after leaving the wet nursing position that both enables her to raise her son and prevents her doing so: "[s]he rolling, and the spectacle of the stars like a dream from wh ich she could not disentangle her individuality. Was she to die in the star Standing on the bridge, trapped between the prospects of death and the workhouse,
149 Esther's defining moment comes in the struggle to "dis entangle her individuality" to detach herself from the sea of nameless mothers who chose death for themselves and their children. Contemplating her own death and her son's as one, Esther seemingly cannot disentangle the notion of herself as woman from that of herself as mother or rather, she chooses not to do so. Molly Youngkin suggests that the strength of Esther's story relies on the fact that she not only thinks, but "speaks and acts out on her own" (126). For Esther, I suggest, acting on her own means r efusing to allow her choices to be dictated by a society that discriminates against working class single motherhood. She thus "disentangles her individuality" from the fates of countless other working class mothers and infants in her choice of a lived mate rnal experience. Moore underscores this notion of motherhood as choice by placing Esther's moment of self realization at the point of her potential death. To die, to become yet another anonymous dead mother and child would result in the death of the mater nal narrative an untold story that perpetuates rather than challenges perceptions of working class motherhood. If those mothers who chose death over an impossible motherhood chose to end their children's lives in unison, that choice enacted a final attempt to gain control over the outcome of their narratives. To end their children's lives, more than denying them any future existence, whether rich or poor, prevented the possibility of another woman stepping in to claim the maternal narrative they themselves could not fulfill; thus explains Esther's outrage when the baby farmer Mrs. Spires encourages Esther to pay her to find an adoptive mother for Jacky. True, Mrs. Spires's promise to "take the child off yer 'ands" is a thinly veiled suggestion that she will simply allow Jacky to die of neglect. Yet in the context of Esther's maternal narrative, whether
150 Jacky dies or is adopted, either outcome would effectively strip her of her maternal identity. The idea that motherhood could be thus commodified that Esther w ould effectively sell her maternal identity to Mrs. Spires situates the working class mother within a market that strips her motherhood of any sentimental value. While increased medical intervention in childbirth and childcare practices during the latter half of the century endeavored to address concerns about the market that sprang up around infanticide and child neglect through the baby farming industry, 2 such intervention also drew a clear distinction in child and maternal value based upon class status. The treatment of the wet nurse, as I argue throughout this chapter, epitomized this distinction, but the quality of medical care to which the single, working class mother had access also points to a discrepancy in the social investment in the working clas s child compared with the middle and upper class child. This discrepancy showed itself plainly in the charity lying in hospital with its limited supplies, poor sanitation, and high infant and maternal mortality rates. Such institutions primarily serviced p oor and destitute women; the privilege of giving birth in the privacy of one's home was typically reserved for the middle and upper class mother (Lewis 85). Giving birth in a domestic setting granted the mother a greater degree of agency over the birthing process than she would receive in the lying in hospital, where the charity she received was offered in exchange for the price of her body being put to service for medical study. In the privacy of the home and surrounded by female relatives, the mother wa s arguably less subject 2 The increasing medical intervention in childbirth a nd childcare practices during the latter half of the century with the rise of the male obstetrician triggered a rise in endeavors by physicians to raise public awareness about infant and childcare. In a study of infanticide and abortion in England during t he nineteenth century, Roger Sauer notes that amid the formation of groups such as the Ladies' Sanitary Association and the infant preservation society, medical publications such as The Lancet and The British Medical Journal frequently featured calls for l egislation that would result in better infant and childcare, the most notable of which being the Infant Life Protection Act previously mentioned (91).
151 to the scientific objectification of the male medical gaze. Such was not the luxury of the woman forced to seek the services of the charity hospital, where, Moore suggests, her status as fallen woman together with her poverty and in ability to pay for her medical care took precedence over her human dignity and that of her child. I do not suggest that novels like Esther Waters discounted the importance of such practical study in the advancing medical understanding of obstetrics; rathe r, as I will argue, Moore seeks to expose the dehumanization to which the women who received such care were subjected. Indeed, the work of advocates for better maternal care often addressed the stigma of giving birth under such conditions; Florence Nightin gale famously proclaimed in Introductory Notes on Lying in Institutions that children born in such establishments "appear to be admitted to life and to hospital together, as if life were synonymous with disease" (64). In an in depth study of the evolution of childbirth practices, Amanda Carson Banks notes that the classification of childbirth as pathological had largely to do with the fact that what obstetric training medical students received during the nineteenth century was largely obtained in lying in h ospitals where, due to unsuitable conditions, cases were often more severe (80). Yet as Moore illustrates, for the working class single mother, the pathologization of childbirth was as much concerned with sexual as with physical pathology. The illegitimate child, far from being the product of a so called socially and morally sanctioned union, was viewed as the progeny of sexual deviance and thus inherently diseased. As Tess O'Toole argues in her discussion of the servant's body in Moore's novel, the refusal Esther encounters in her endeavor to seek help before her
152 confinement serves as an attempt "to safeguard the institutions [Esther's body] might enter, be they charity hospitals or the family" (329). 3 Through Moore's depiction of Esther's experience givin g birth to her son in the charity hospital, he offers a story that acknowledges the value of the unwed mother's maternal experience. I argue that he employs the childbirth scene and specifically Esther's experience under the influence of obstetric anesthes ia to underscore this struggle to obtain agency in the maternal narrative. It is worth noting here that the necessity of altering the birth position from a seated posture to a recumbent one due to the effects of anesthesia largely co ntributed to the pathol ogizing of childbirth that problematized maternal agency in the act of giving birt h. Not only was the recumbent position on a bed or couch perceived as "the posture of ill health," but administering drugs that often produced absolute insensibility removed the woman from her own body and from a process in which she ought to have been the principal participant (Banks 87). Michelle Boulous Walker's philosophical study of the ways that masculinist hegemonic discourse can silence the maternal voice speaks to my reading of Esther Waters as a novel that seeks to give voice to the maternal narrative, specifically within the context of my reading of Esther's endeavor to attain control over the birthing process itself. Walker argues that "if women are located outside a privileged domain, they do not according to their status as either inside or outside a domain" (8). The privileged 3 Women who sought admittance to charity lying in hospitals typically applied to subscribers (or financ ial donors) to such institutions who were issued tickets or letters that they gave to women in need. Hospitals generally kept a list of subscribers to whom women could apply. When Esther approaches several subscribers, they turn her away because of her sta tus as an unwed mother; as one subscriber explains, "[I]t was her invariable practice to give letters only to married women" (Moore XV).
153 domain, in this instance, we can identify as the hospi tal and the center of male medical discourse. Moore's description of the birth of Esther's son lingers on the medical debate preceding the administration of chloroform to underscore her removal from participation in the maternal narrative. Despite the inc reasing intensity of Esther's pain, one of the medical students insists that "her time [has] not come"; to support his claim, he "expound[s] much medical and anatomical knowledge" while "the nurses [listen] with the usual deference" (Moore XVI). Here the a mbiguity with which Moore describes the student's technical explanation of Esther's condition critiques the efficacy of male medical obstetrics in the extent to which it re privileges knowledge about the pregnant body as male. The vagueness of the "medical and anatomical knowledge" classifies that knowledge as privileged; this is an essential point to acknowledge in a reading of Esther Waters as a novel of the struggle for agency in the maternal narrative. Narrating the event of her son's birth in medical d iscourse a discourse unintelligible to Esther signifies her removal from the story and the erasure of her maternal experience in favor of viewing her body as an object of medical study and practice. This erasure is epitomized through the administration of chloroform that follows shortly thereafter. While the text indicates that the severity of Esther's pain necessitates the use of anesthesia, Moore highlights the privileged, medical point of view over Esther's own awareness and comprehension of her conditi on to emphasize the extent to which the medical objectification of the woman's body silences female narrative agency in her rite of passage into motherhood. The fact that Esther's interruption in the debate over whether or not to administer chloroform is m erely a wordless cry of pain signifies
154 the silencing, or at least the incommunicability of her narrative (Moore XVI). There is no description of the birth itself; the drug the doctor administers, intended as relief from pain, becomes synonymous with male m edical control of the maternal narrative, suggestively depriving Esther of experiencing the rite of passage from expectant to official mother. In her discussion of point of view and narrative agency in the novel, Siobhan Chapman points out that "the narrat ive breaks off and resumes as Esther loses and regains consciousness, mirroring the way in which, in the novel in general, the narrative remains with events which Esther herself witnesses" (307). Chapman further argues that "Esther's seduction and her subs equent pregnancy and childbirth are central to her story, and as such they are described as she experiences them" (307). Yet while Chapman points to such passages as "She could hear the chatter of the nurses" and "At every moment she expected to lose consc iousness" as a means of providing the reader with "direct information about Esther's experiences," I would argue that Esther does not actively experience the birth of her son (307). The description of Esther's experience following the administration of chl oroform does indicate that the story is still being related through Esther's point of view, but Moore emphasizes her detachment from rather than her experiences within her maternal body. In fact, when Esther first regains consciousness, she does not at fir st recognize the "tiny cry" she hears as that of her son (Moore XVI). If Esther's loss of consciousness signifies her removal from the maternal narrative, Jacky's cry resituates her within that narrative, for it is Jacky who serves as the vehicle through which Esther finds the voice to legitimate her identity as mother. Not having been a fully active participant in the experience of giving birth, Esther's position
155 as mother is a tenuous one insofar as mother is identified as the giver of life. Moore interr ogates this tenuousness of the single mother's maternal identity and her struggle to legitimate that identity through the commodification of Esther's body as a wet nurse. While doctors sometimes decried the system of wet nursing as contributing in a large part to child neglect and infant mortality, 4 physicians like William Acton famously supported the practice as a means of restoring the fallen woman to the "path of purity" (183). If the fallen woman's motherhood is the result of an act of self gratificatio n or, in the case of the prostitute, an economic exchange, rather than a purposeful act of procreation, by performing maternal service in the home of another family for a legitimate child, she suggestively transforms her act of deviance into one of purpose that benefits the community. Yet while claiming that such a system would also enable the mother to provide her own child with adequate financial support, this opinion conveniently overlooked the neglect that might ultimately render such support unnecessar y. Tess O'Toole briefly touches upon this dismissal in her discussion of the appropriation of the wet nurse's body toward the advancement of colonialism a reading that points to the construction of motherhood as a national and imperial asset. Following th e death of Esther's mother, her step father plans to emigrate with the family to Australia, and her younger sister Jenny appeals to her for money, without which she cannot accompany the others. After considerable misgiving, Esther supplies Jenny with 4 In an article linking wet nursing to infant mortality and infanticide, the British Medical Journal claimed that "The re is another kind of child destruction, equally sure in its effects, though not so manifest and patent in the eye of the public and the police; and this fatal influence finds its origin in the system of wet nurs es while their mothers are suckling the offspring of other persons? Are not numbers of their lives yearly sacrificed as a direct result of wet nursing?" ("Child Murder: Its Relation to Wet Nursing" 68).
156 the t wo pounds she requests on condition of the hospital matron's promise that she will find Esther a well paying situation as a wet nurse. O'Toole argues that "this plot detail is suggestive, implying a link between wet nurses and populating the colonies as tw o uses to which otherwise superfluous working class bodies can be put" (329). Here Moore suggests that commodifying motherhood through the wet nursing industry often overlooks the fact that the position of wet nurse is inextricably linked to being a mother (or at the very least to having given birth). Through her position as wet nurse, Esther fulfills her civic duty as mother to nourish and strengthen the nation and its colonies, but at the cost of supporting her own child. To redeem herself and attain soci al respectability, Esther must deny her illicit maternal transformation the very transformation which, paradoxically, enables her to serve in the capacity of wet nurse. Moore considers this degree of maternal sacrifice to an even greater extent through Jac ky's eventual enlistment in the military, through which Esther ultimately fulfills her civic duty as mother a point I will address in greater detail later in the chapter. To better interrogate this paradox of maternal sacrifice, Moore intersperses Esther' s maternal narrative with glimpses of several upper class maternal narratives namely those of her two employers, Mrs. Rivers and Mrs. Barfield. Upon first introducing Mrs. Rivers, Moore immediately draws attention to the contrast between Esther and herself to consider the extent to which maternal inclination and capability factor into one's claim to a maternal identity. In contrast to Esther's combination of strength and tenderness, Mrs. Rivers' implied frailty with her thinness and her disagreeable voice t ogether with her dismissive attitude toward her daughter suggest that she is both unwilling and unable to bear the responsibilities of motherhood; she alternately refers to
157 her child as "it" and "the little thing" and complains that it "never ceases crying (Moore XVIII). Her references to the child as object rather than person underscores the function of the child as status symbol for the rich and idle mother, and Mrs. Rivers' child operates primarily as a symbol of luxury. Passing through the house with h er new employer, Esther glimpses the "soft hangings and bright porcelain" that signify comfort, and the child appears at the end of this tour, yet another of the "beautiful things" that Mrs. Rivers owns (Moore XVIII). Even her husband, the "tall, handsome gentleman" standing in the doorway of one of the beautifully decorated rooms, appears silent, as if on display (Moore XVIII). This showcase of luxury and comfort placed just prior to the introduction of the child certifies Mrs. Rivers' position as the priv ileged woman who can afford to own and maintain a child. The characteristic that Mrs. Rivers clearly lacks and which Moore points to as an essential element of motherhood is that of sacrifice. Privileged enough to pay for another woman to bring up her chil d, Mrs. Rivers uses wealth as a means of buying her way out of maternal sacrifice, and it is maternal sacrifice that Esther views as placing herself on an equal footing with her rich mistress. Both women, after all, arguably possess the shared experience o f having become mothers the experience that Lewis argues serves as a unifying characteristic of the female narrative, for while not all women are destined to become mothers, motherhood is an experience that rich and poor women alike share. Yet in this clas s hierarchy there exists the suggestion that the investment of raising a child is a luxury that the working class woman cannot afford because the so called "work" of motherhood, while offering the intangible reward of sentimental love, brings no tangible r eturn no economic benefit in exchange for that labor.
158 If the working class child has only economic value, Esther's sentimental attachment to her son compromises his worth in utilitarian terms; as Zelizer points out, "the price of a useful wage earning chi ld [is] directly counterposed to the moral value of an economically useless but emotionally priceless child" (57). In order for Jacky to fulfill his function as a "useful" child, he must serve as a means of contributing to Esther's income. While on the mos t basic level his birth renders him useful because it causes Esther to lactate, by suckling at Esther's breast, he becomes, physically and economically, a consumer a usurper of the commodity Esther must market with no lucrative return for his consumption. While Esther's maternal body renders her serviceable as a wet nurse, Moore represents characters like Mrs. Rivers and Mrs. Spires casting her in nonmaternal terms to underscore the economic impracticality of choosing to love her child. Endeavoring to convi nce Esther to abandon Jacky, Mrs. Spires explains that women like Mrs. Rivers "'ates their nurses to be a 'ankering after their own. They asks if the child is dead very often, and wont engage them if it isn't" (Moore XVII). The dead infant here signifies t he ultimate erasure of the wet nurse's motherhood, as its existence represents the single most tangible evidence of that rite of passage. Immediately after offering to "take the child off [Esther's] hands," Mrs. Spires informs her that "if you likes to go out as wet nurse again, I'll take the second off yer 'ands too" (Moore XIV). Thus through invoking the infant as a means of enabling the wet nurse to continue her employment, Esther's sentimental but valueless attachment to her son and her maternal identit y become reclassified as reproductive labor, likening the working class maternal body to a machine. Too young to earn its keep by contributing to the household income, the infant's role in the wet nursing system creates for it a niche
159 however small and dis pensable in the economic market. To keep the child alive through regular payments to the baby farmer would be economically counterproductive, draining the mother's financial resources with no return. Mrs. Rivers reminds Esther of the costliness of sentimen tal mothering when Esther desires to care for Jacky while he is ill, placing the sentimental value of her own child's life above the utilitarian value of her paid maternal service: "You forget that I'm paying you fifteen shillings a week. I'm paying you fo r nursing my baby; you take my money. That's sufficient" (Moore XVIII). Mrs. Rivers' comment hints at the impracticality of Esther's emotional investment in her son; as a wet nurse, Esther markets herself as a mother or as a woman who fulfills maternal res ponsibilities but a woman who must appropriate maternal service as a source of income cannot afford to desert her lucrative post for the more intangible one of mothering her own child. Thus having contributed however unwittingly to rendering its mother qua lified to market her wet nursing services, the infant has fulfilled its economic niche and is therefore dispensable. Moore underscores this commodification of the wet nurse's body as well as that of her infant through Mrs. Rivers' appraisal of Esther's ph ysical suitability upon hiring her: "Glancing suspiciously at Esther, whose breast was like a little cup, Mrs. Rivers said, 'I hope you have plenty of milk?'" (Moore XVIII). This observation serves first and foremost as a means of appraising Esther's body in terms of utility; Esther's breast, rather than representing maternal nourishment both physical and emotional becomes the source of a commodity. Despite the fact that sterilization and pasteurization saw a shift toward bottle feeding during the latter ha lf of the century, public discourse on infant care still occasionally idealized breast feeding; an article in
160 the British Medical Journal offering advice about the correct method of bottle feeding opens with the statement: "We are all agreed that the infa nt thrives best on its mother's milk. From various causes, into which we cannot now enter, mothers are prevented from nursing their children" (Law 130; "The Artificial Feeding of Infants" 118). This thinly veiled castigation of the system of artificial fee ding and practice of wet nursing makes no effort to distinguish between the aristocratic mother such as Mrs. Rivers who chooses for the sake of fashion and convenience to give her child over to the care of a nurse and the working mother in Esther's positio n who has no other means of supporting her children than to suckle those of another woman. Esther's attachment to her son sentimentalizes breast feeding as an act of maternal love and devotion; she in fact criticizes Mrs. Rivers for hiring another woman t o undertake that duty: "I suppose you weren't strong enough to nurse it yourself, though you looks healthy" (Moore XVIII). As Ouida does with her criticism of the marriage market, Moore suggests that the commodification of the wet nurse as a fashionable lu xury for the rich lady defines motherhood as paid labor rather than moral pursuit. For the rich lady to nurse her own child, essentially performing a service for which she could pay another woman, would implicitly degrade her status. The idealization of nu rsing one's own child and Esther's resentment toward her employer underscores the dissociation of the wet nurse's breast with maternal love through its commodification. True, Esther's position involves caring for Mrs. Rivers' child in a maternal capacity, but she is not that child's mother, nor does her work permit her to devote herself in her maternal capacity to her own son. Rather, as we have seen, the
161 continued suggestions that she allow Jacky to die of intentional neglect enact an attempt to render her nonmaternal. While this commodification of Esther's body contributes to the attempted erasure of Esther's maternal narrative, Moore points to her physical fitness for motherhood to call into question the devaluation of the wet nurse's experience as mothe r in her own right. When Mrs. Rivers questions her about the bountiful supply of her milk, Esther replies reassuringly, "They said at the hospital I could bring up twins" (Moore XVIII). More than the significance of Esther's maternal suitability by affirmi ng her physical ability to withstand the bearing and nursing of more than one child is the fact that she can nurse twins. This carries the implication that Esther could easily nurse Jacky without depleting her supply of marketable milk. Yet the suggestion of twins creates a linkage between rich and poor child through the maternal breast a dangerously sibling like closeness and level of equality that dissolves clearly delineated class boundaries: "Wherever milk was exchanged," argues Jules Law, "the fear of never far off" (148). Such contamination was both physical the transference of harmful substances such as alcohol from wet nurse to infant and cultural contamination. The detachment of Esther from her son operates here as both a literal and symbolic sterilization of her breast milk to render it fit for the upper class child's consumption. While Mrs. Rivers instructs Mrs. Spires to bring Jacky to see Esther every few weeks, we never see the child entering Mrs. Rivers' home, though Mrs. Spi res appears occasionally to give reports about Jacky. Moreover, when Mrs. Spires does visit, Mrs. Rivers restricts the baby farmer's access to Esther: "You must have my permission before you see my nurse" (Moore XVIII). This rigorous policing of class boun daries
162 serves the dual purpose of protecting the rich child from contact with the poor and removing Esther from Jacky's life narrative. Restricting contact between Mrs. Spires and Esther restricts the only residual contact Esther has with Jacky. Mrs. Spir es presence serves as a reminder of Esther's own motherhood; Mrs. Rivers' restriction of Esther's access to information about Jacky's progress his own narrative of growth denies Esther active participation in that narrative. Mrs. Rivers' restructuring of E sther's maternal narrative becomes most evident when she refuses to allow Esther to visit Jacky when he becomes ill. For Esther, it is not enough to receive controlled knowledge of her child; through her insistence that "I must see my baby," Moore defines motherhood in terms of active participation (Moore XIX). In other words, to "see" Jacky to have tangible proof of the child's existence certifies Esther's motherhood through her active involvement in his life. Mrs. Rivers' insistence that she would rather pay the expense of having Jacky seen by a doctor than allow Esther to attend to him, like the wages she pays Esther, functions as an investment in her own child that depreciates the value of Esther's relationship to her son and his need for maternal attent ion. If the claim to motherhood here is synonymous with active participation in the child's growth, to refuse Esther access to her son to delegate to someone else the task of caring for or disposing of him denies Esther the full experience of motherhood. To define motherhood in terms of active parental involvement speaks to the notion of motherhood as social responsibility, and indeed, Esther's vision for Jacky's future evidences the notion that, with the rise of the middle class gentleman and the idea of man as breadwinner, an emerging shift in the social construction of motherhood
163 tended toward a belief that "it was heroism and self sacrifice during the period of child rearing, and not merely at birth, that were now necessary to be a good mother" (Lewis 78). Considering Jacky's future, Esther imagines him "learning a trade, going to work in the morning and coming back to her in the evening, proud in the accomplishment of something done, of good money honestly earned" (Moore XIII). This dream suggests a de finition of motherhood that bears traces of both utility and sentimentality. Esther defines Jacky's success as a man in terms of honest work, suggesting both moral fortitude and a contribution to society through useful labor. More importantly, Esther envis ions him returning to her at the end of his work day, an image that signifies both her pride in having raised a strong son and the fact that she can, in fact, receive remuneration for the work of motherhood. Yet while Jacky's return to her at the end of hi s work day in this vision might arguably point to a regressive narrative that constructs the child's labor as repayment, Esther's dream focuses not first and foremost on the utility of Jacky's work, but on the progressive result of her maternal sacrifice h is ability to go out into the world and make his way as a man. His return to her operates less as an act of remuneration and more as a tangible reminder of her maternal success. Here Moore emphasizes the idea that the child's growth into successful manhoo d depends upon the mother's sentimental investment in him. This does not discount any emotional attachment that the wet nurse might form to her charge as well as her own child; in fact, Esther does care for and express sympathy toward Mrs. Rivers' child. Y et Mrs. Rivers' appropriation of Esther's maternal affection strips it of any sentimentality; her declaration that "Next time I engage a nurse I'll try to get one who has lost her baby, and then there'll be no bother" endeavors to redirect Esther's sentime ntal motherhood
164 into a more utilitarian channel (Moore XVIII). This appropriation of the maternal body is predicated upon the notion that presuming the mother had formed an emotional attachment to her own child the wet nurse who has lost her baby and desir es one to love can capitalize on her maternal affection by directing it toward a source of income. Such a view, however, casts sentimental motherhood as a luxury rather than as a common female experience. As with the application of Esther's proposed wet nu rsing wages to support colonialism by aiding her family's emigration to Australia, the commodification of maternal affection suggests that the woman forced to market her maternal services can experience motherhood only vicariously. More importantly, the re locating of the single mother in a middle or upper class family as a wet nurse renders her maternal transformation a socially legitimate purpose. Within the sanctity of the legitimate family, the wet nurse's illicit motherhood becomes, as William Acton int imated, a rite of purification a means of atoning for her presumed sexual deviance. Yet this redirecting of the wet nurse's maternal labor implicitly places greater sentimental value on the legitimate child and suggests that her vicarious maternal experien ce through wet nursing is the result of her own unworthiness for motherhood. This brings us yet again to Moore's insistence upon the value of the wet nurse's work as a mother in her own right through Esther's endeavor to give voice to her own maternal nar rative. Esther's vision of her grown son returning to her at the end of a day's work is significant here because it indicates her active participation in and influence over his growth. The wet nursing system is not, however, the only obstacle to the constr uction of the working class, single mother's construction of a successful maternal narrative. As discussed in chapter one, the paternal claim to a child can also
165 compromise maternal agency in the extent to which it can emphasize ownership of the child over jointly working toward the child's well being. In an examination of the structural development of Esther Waters from its original serialized version to the later novel, Christine Huguet observes that in the novel, Esther's male admirers "recede into the b ackground" an observation well worth considering if we read Esther's story primarily as a single mother's narrative (164). Though Esther becomes engaged for a brief period to a young man named Fred Parsons and eventually returns to and marries William Latc h Jacky's father neither man occupies a privileged position in Jacky's life or in the novel itself; indeed, William fades from the story completely through death of consumption before Jacky is fully grown. If novels like The Tenant of Wildfell Hall conside r the importance of companionate parenting in progressive motherhood within the framework of exchange and the child as property, Moore's novel utilizes the language of exchange with regard to parental ownership to address the extent to which paternal inter ference can challenge the single mother's maternal identity. Having deserted Esther and the child during her pregnancy, William forfeits his position in the parental narrative, and Esther constructs a life for Jacky and herself independent of paternal invo lvement. When William returns after the disintegration of his marriage to Peggy Barfield and expresses his intention to marry Esther, she at first denies his participation in the parental narrative through her refusal to acknowledge his involvement in the conception and birth of her son. By considering William's paternity "as little as if [Jacky] had fallen from Heaven into her arms," Esther denies William's claim to ownership of her and Jacky both sexually and legally (Moore XXV).
1 66 Here the claim to owners hip of the child becomes directly linked not to one's mere legal claim to possess or, in William's case, attempt to buy his son's affection, but rather to one's acceptance of the responsibility to actively raise the child. William's relationship to his son far from complementing Esther in well balanced parental influence, both problematizes Esther's parental agency and undermines Jacky's sentimental value. As a bookmaker and lover of luxury and comfort, William hardly represents the upright, hard working m odel of masculinity that Esther envisions Jacky becoming as an adult. If the wet nursing and baby farming systems assess child value in terms of a cost benefit analysis, the affluent father views the child as symbolic of his own economic standing. William' s interactions with his son occur almost exclusively outside the home; Jacky describes in great detail trips he's taken with his father to London, the zoological gardens, toy shops, and parks. More than the mere fact that Jacky's removal from the home sugg estively locates him beyond Esther's care and influence, such outings socially identify him as William's son and serve as a means of placing him on public display. By dressing Jacky in custom tailored clothes and purchasing toys for him that Esther cannot afford, William marks the boy not merely as a symbol of his adult masculinity, but as a sign of his affluence. Within this context, then, the child operates for the affluent father as a luxury object and the production of a son as a financial investment. This appropriation of the child as an investment or sign of affluence constructs a regressive parental narrative in which the focus lies on publicly certifying the father's identity rather than cultivating that of the child. Once William officially insert s himself into the family narrative as husband and father following his eventual marriage to Esther, he
167 limits his parental involvement primarily to providing Jacky with financial support feeding him, clothing him, and paying for his education the last of which underscores his consideration of his son as an economic investment. Jon Tosh's discussion of what he terms the "distant" model of fatherhood can illustrate the regressive construct of the child as investment as seen in William's relationship to Jacky On the one hand, Tosh argues, Victorian fathers often maintained a certain emotional distance from their sons, deeming it essential that "boys be prepared for the insecurities of adult life within the through their own conduct something of the harder world which their children would encounter later" (97 98). Yet William's relationship with his son appears less like that of the father who modulates his emotional attachment to strengthen his son to endure the "harder world" and more like the man of business assessing the child's investment worth. Indeed, he speaks to Esther of his "share" of Jacky as if placing a bet on which of them can produce the higher quality son. This construction of the child as in vestment reaffirms the notion of the child as luxury and seeks to undermine Esther's hard won claim to motherhood and a relationship with her son built upon a foundation of emotional as well as economic investment. If writers like Anne Bronte emphasize the importance of raising sons with father figures who can offer them positive models of adult masculinity, George Moore ultimately suggests that the single mother can just as successfully raise a son to adult manhood on her own, though not without cost both economically and emotionally. As the novel concludes, we find Jacky struggling to find work, and Esther must occasionally send him money from her wages. Far from the hard working man proudly presenting
168 himself and his earnings to his mother, the grown Jack y endeavoring to live on six shillings a week as a toymaker has despite his mother's ambitions failed to live up to his projected market value as Esther has envisioned. Herein lies an echoing reminder of the implication that the long term investment of chi ld rearing is one that the single, working class mother cannot afford to make. It is Jacky's struggle to find paying work that prompts him to join the military a service which, like his unwitting contribution to the wet nursing and baby farming industries, will potentially cost him his life. Ultimately, however, Moore seeks to defy the social prejudice that suggestively labels the working class child such as Jacky a failed man. Though the novel concludes with Esther's return to Woodview the home of her first situation where she and Mrs. Barfie ld live more as companions than as mistress and servant, the juxtaposition of rich and poor mother presents a cautionary tale against defining child value primarily along class delineated lines. To an extent, Esther's endeavor to view her son as both an ec onomic and an emotional investment brings her a greater, if more intangible maternal reward than Mrs. Barfield receives. The final image of Woodview that Moore paints offers a scene of financial and domestic ruin; Mrs. Barfield's husband and daughter have died, and the house and grounds have fallen into neglect and decay as a result of the family's gaming debts. Not having heard from her own son in months, Mrs. Barfield both esteems and envies Esther. Impoverished though Esther is, she has at least raised a son in whom she can, at least in her own view, take pride. Concluding the novel with Jacky's visit to Esther at Woodview the very place where he had been conceived and thus where Ester underwent her maternal transformation grounds her narrative within a m aternal context.
169 If Ouida invokes the figure of the brave son as soldier to question the notion of the mother receiving recognition or credit for little output of labor, Moore invokes the heroism of military service as the honorable (if potentially sacrif icial) reward for a mother's job well done. Jacky's enlistment in the military both fulfills an economic niche in society and proves him to have grown into the strong, productive citizen Esther envisioned him becoming a man, moreover, who has reached this point largely without the benefit of fatherly influence. Here raising a soldier is the ultimate act of the progressive mother, placing public service and national duty above personal gain. True, Jacky's career as a soldier arguably acts as a convenient mea ns of rendering him dispensable under the auspices of national duty. Esther's reflection that "any moment might declare him to be mere food for powder and shot" a description that obliterates his body and his identity suggestively links his military servic e as a man to his unwitting contribution to the wet nursing industry and the literal "food" with which his very existence services the upper class. Yet in the same way that Esther's determination to raise her son defies the supposed valuelessness of her so called illicit motherhood, Jacky's military service proves his worth not merely as a soldier and laborer, but as a man whose work extends beyond mere economic self sufficiency in service to the nation. Moore invokes the comparison of Jacky with Mrs. Barf ield's son to challenge the perception of child value in terms of class privilege rather than the ability to contribute meaningfully to society. On the very day that Esther expects Jacky to pay a visit to Woodview, Mrs. Barfield is fretting over the fact t hat her son is participating in a horse race the very pastime that has driven her family to financial ruin: "I never have an easy
170 moment when I hear he's going to ride in one of these races. Suppose one day I were to hear that he was carried back on a shut ter" (Moore XLVIII). Esther responds to her mistress's worries in a tone of implied resentment, "We mustn't let our minds run on such things, Mam. If a war was to break out tomorrow, what should I do? His [Jacky's] regiment would be ordered out" (Moore XLV III). Moore conveys his criticism of the refusal to acknowledge the maternal narrative of the working mother through the juxtaposition of the potential fate of Jacky and Mrs. Barfield's son respectively. The image of the broken body of Mrs. Barfield's son trampled in the horserace represents an unnecessary loss of young, strong life and, more importantly, a downfall brought about in part by the economic recklessness of gaming. In contrast, Jacky's potential death on the battlefield, though tragic, offers a selfless sacrifice of life in public service. Thus despite the suggested erasure of Esther's maternal narrative, it is Jacky the apparently dispensable son who ultimately legitimates the success of that narrative. If Esther acknowledges the societal refus al of her maternal experience and her son's value to society, she also challenges that refusal with her open maternal pride in the son she has raised. Presenting Jacky to Mrs. Barfield in the very place where he had been conceived serves as legitimate proo f that "she had accomplished her woman's work she had brought him up to man's estate; and that was her sufficient reward" (Moore XLI). Moore emphatically underscores the reversal of situation in this final scene; as the work worn mother presents her son to the well to do mother whose home and family have disintegrated, it is clear that Esther is the more successful of the two, for it is she who has worked for and reaped the benefit of maternal service. Mrs. Barfield's well tended flowers described at the be ginning of the novel certainly contrast
171 sharply with the landscape of domestic decay met with at its conclusion. The imagined scenario of her son's broken body here takes on an entirely different significance; the noble, upright, soldierly figure of Jacky compares favorably with the man who abandons himself to the profligacies of gaming. Flowers and children alike operate here as an occupation with which the rich and idle mother can fill her long days a luxurious indulgence that values form over functionali ty. While Ouida invokes the language of nature as art to counterbalance the commodified construct of the child as manufactured product, Moore employs the garden as a cautionary tale of regressive mothering. If Mrs. Barfield's children one dead, one threate ning self destruction are the delicate products of regressive, overindulgent mothering, Jacky, like the vegetable garden the two mothers tend for their own sustenance in the final chapter, is the sturdy, well tended product of loving dedication and hard wo rk. Moore invokes the language of cultivation through nature to define maternal purpose as work that conjoins utility and sentimentality. If the vegetable garden is not decoratively beautiful, it nonetheless requires care in order to be maintained; moreove r, it arguably creates its own form of beauty through the health and wholesomeness it provides with its sustenance. The purpose of Esther's story, then, is to expose the struggle of the working class, single mother to legitimate the value of her hard work and self sacrifice in the face of class prejudice. That Moore achieves this by linking the value of motherhood to national duty in the raising of a soldier ultimately renders woman an arbiter in the nation's future rather than a mere provider of service. More importantly, this woman centered novel tells the story of a mother who births and raises a child and a son no less in defiance of male narrative agency, both medical and paternal. True, Esther's
172 work as a wet nurse primarily serves the women who emplo y her, but the novel also seeks to defy the largely masculinist construct of the woman as serviceable body. Jacky's return to his mother and his birth place in the final chapter, an act that credits Esther with his growth to manhood, places the mother at t he center of the child's life narrative, for it is Esther's decision to undertake the life long work of motherhood that carries her son to this point. If the construction of motherhood as labor is, as I have discussed in previous chapters, largely a mascul inist one, Moore uses Esther Waters to call men to task for this from the obstetric objectification of women in the lying in hospital to his dismissal of William from the narrative. IN particular, William's short lived paternal "investment" in Jacky provid ing him with financial support and displaying the boy as a mark of his affluence underscores the perception of sons as a national asset. Yet he dies before this asset "matures" that is, before Jacky reaches manhood. That Moore removes William from the stor y before William has an opportunity to witness the fruits of his labor calls the distant father to task for seeking credit for labor he has not performed. Moore's use of the language of exchange to legitimate the economic and social value of the working c lass mother also invites us to think about how the male author writing this maternal narrative potentially complicates that narrative by locating it within the language of exchange as a product of male labor rather than a woman centered novel. Discussing t he profitability of woman centered fiction in the literary marketplace at the end of the century, Molly Youngkin argues that "male authors at the fin de ciecle participated in a literary market place where the terms 'feminine' and 'masculine' were central to authors' perceptions about their own work" (117). She suggests, moreover,
173 that male authors "attempt[ed] to write themselves into the canon with their woman centered novels" (117). Youngkin points to Moore's 1932 preface to Esther Waters as indicative o f this struggle to balance male authorial agency with female character agency in the woman centered novel. Within the framework of Esther's story as a maternal narrative, I would further argue that Moore uses this preface to direct the purpose of the novel 's message away from his canonical success and back onto the story he seeks to tell through his heroine. Moore constructs the preface as a dialogue between himself and his heroine in which Esther appears to the author in the form of a muse: "I heard the no iseless approach of a new thought. On velvet pads it moves out of subconsciousness; a moment more and it will begin to speak its message" (qtd in Youngkin 130). When Esther first speaks, she declares boldly: "I have come here to thing hath the right to defend the life given it to live" (qtd in Youngkin 130). If Esther's words here echo her ruthless defense of her son's life throughout the novel, they equally defend the importance of her story beyond its commodity value. The idea that the male author still wields discursive agency in penning this dialogue as he does in the text itself is questioned when Moore writes of being "amazed at hearing a book speak so clearly" (qtd in Youngkin 130). On the one hand, the fact that Esther's d ialogue is dictated by Moore's writing the fact that a male author must write the maternal narrative into existence complicates female agency in that narrative; on the other, Moore's construction of Esther as muse suggests that he is not fully agent of the story, merely its scribe. With the inclusion of this later preface, I suggest that Moore seeks to reconcile two motivating impulses to write Esther Waters that appear to run counter to one another: his desire, as he expressed it, to "represent a
174 woman living in the deepest human instincts" and that of capitalizing on the literary trend in woman centered fiction to achieve canonical success (QTD in Huguet 163). We can perhaps glean insight into Moore's endeavor to strike a balance between these tw o desires by examining the discussion of his extensive revisions to the novel that scholars like Huguet and Youngkin undertake, for Moore himself takes up a critical consideration of these revisions in the 1932 preface. Remarking on the appearance of Esthe r as muse, Moore declares to the apparition, "I have revised thee many times without protest," to which Esther replies, "Thy revisions were limited to the smoothing out of a rugged sentence, and not wishing to seem unfilial in thine eyes, I let thee have t Moore's heroine expresses no protest over cosmetic revisions to the narrative; comparing such touches to "the dandy [allowing] his valet to remove a speck from his embroi dered waistcoat," Esther as muse acknowledges them as artistic flourishes intended to enrich the story's presentation (qtd in Youngkin 130). Yet the novel had already undergone numerous major revisions between its original serialization and later version a nd was eventually adapted for the stage. Here again emerges an underlying artistic principle of the maternal narrative that, much earlier, Ouida introduces in her construction of mother as artist the need to balance the popular value of art as commodity wi th the greater moral value of arts function as a vehicle for social commentary. Like the overindulgent manner in which Mrs. Barfield tends her greenhouse flowers, the text a kind of intellectual offspring cannot convey its intended story if decorative flou rishes are not matched with functional purpose. The heroine here fears that the continued interference of male authorial agency particularly
175 in a narrative so singularly female will harm the integrity of the story. Moore's utilization of his heroine's voic e as the mouthpiece for his own interrogation of the male author's appropriation of the maternal narrative for commercial gain through the preface that affixes her at the forefront of the story thus becomes a gesture intended to make the mother the arbiter rather than the instrument of another in the narrative she undertakes to create.
176 CHAPTER 6 CONFRONTING THE FACE OF RACE: PROGRESSIVE MOTHERING AND THE FAMILY AS RACIAL UNIFIER In the previous chapter, I touched br iefly upon the relationship between motherhood and service to the empire through Esther Waters son Jacky's enlistment in the military and the investment of Esther's promised wet nursing wages to finance her family's emigration to Australia, both of which r eappropriate her so called illicit motherhood as useful labor. Yet with Victorian families living in the colonies as well as at home, the notion of woman as mother of the empire's citizens was a matter not merely of national responsibility, but of racial and, more specifically, English purity. Scholars like Angelique Richardson, Ann Laura Stoler, and Jill Rappoport have drawn attention to the ways that Victorians appropriated the racial and eugenic discourses of the latter half of the nineteenth century as a means of bolstering the argument of motherhood as national duty. Rappoport, for instance, briefly considers the relationship between eugenics and maternal value, observing that "women, in advancing the race, must be aggressively selective" (145). As Ang elique Richardson's work has shown and as I have discussed in chapter one the notion of sexual selection at once granted women a degree of agency over their choice in partners and tasked them with the responsibility of choosing partners with an eye toward procreating and establishing a strong, healthy family. To that end, the discourse surrounding motherhood and parenting, both at home and in the colonies, frequently addressed concerns about the fear of contamination, whether physical, moral, or cultural. In Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power: Race and Intimacy in Colonial Rule Ann Laura Stoler points out that "[e]eugenic discourse has traditionally been associated
177 contamination ru ns throughout the British, U.S, French, and Dutch eugenic traditions" (62). WE have already seen in the previous chapter how the Victorians sought to alleviate fears of cultural contamination through the policing of class boundaries as represented in Mrs. Rivers' implicit fear of Esther's breast milk being tainted by contact with her own son while simultaneously nursing her charge. Though Moore's novel gestures toward the link between motherhood and colonialism, the story's events, occurring entirely at hom e in England, primarily address the moral and cultural contamination to which the wet nurse suggestively exposed the respectable Victorian family. The middle or upper class mother who insisted on separating her wet nurse from her own child as Mrs. Rivers d oes in Esther Waters did so as a means of safeguarding her family against the moral impurity associated with the single mother's illicit sexuality. The perceived threat here lies in the contamination of the "other" (the wet nurse) entering the sanctified s pace of the Victorian home. However, shifting the focus to Victorian families in the colonies effectively turns this threat on its head. While for the colonized, the English pose a threat to native ways of life, for the English, the threat shifts from prev enting contamination from entering the home to living in and endeavoring to maintain their purity within the "other's" space. Through contact between races between colonizer and colonized it is not the tainting of milk, but rather of blood, the very biolog ical essence of one's identity, that poses a threat. In this chapter, I look at the progressive mother as one who, charged with the task of being the bearer of the race, seeks to appropriate that role as a means of redefining relations between colonizer a nd colonized through the family and, more specifically, the family of mixed race. The English mother in the colonies, I suggest,
178 ultimately finds herself caught between two maternal narratives: that of the mother whose focus remains concentrated on the uti lity of fulfilling her obligation to husband and race and maintains, through her carefully tended family, a means of policing racial boundaries, or that of the mother who recognizes in the mixing of races a means of pushing the envelope of such boundaries in a way that looks to the dissolution of racial difference as unifying rather than threatening. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak's theory of the "family/counter family dyad" lends itself well to examining the idea of the purity versus the contamination of the family (247). In "Three Women's Texts and a Critique of Imperialism," Spivak discusses the family/counter family dyad specifically with respect to her analysis of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre pointing to socially respectable families like the Reeds and th e Brocklehursts as "legal family" and families like Jane and her parents or Jane, Helen Berns, and Miss Temple as "counter family" or unconventional/non traditional family constructs (245). What labels such configurations as "counter family" is their heter ogeneity; that is, in their ability to dissolve boundaries of cast and class. Spivak's theory speaks to this chapter's examination of the progressive mother as racial unifier to the extent that the progressive mother seeks to appropriate the family as a me chanism of social change for dissolving the boundaries between colonizer and colonized. Stoler's study of the ways that relations between colonizer and colonized were codified along gendered lines similarly has profound implications for an understanding o f English motherhood in the extent to which rules and social codes governing procreation at once served to police and, as I will argue, to dissolve the boundaries of race. Damon Ieremia Salesa's recent work on racial amalgamation in the British Empire dur ing the nineteenth century explores Victorian attitudes toward and
179 theories regarding the subjects of racial mixing and interracial marriage in the colonies that inform my discussion of the English mother as racial intermediary. While Salesa's work focuses primarily on the colonization of New Zealand, it proves useful in considering the intersection between race and progressive versus regressive mothering within the language of exchange, specifically as it relates to the measurement of maternal utility base d on the child's race. As much of this chapter addresses issues concerning the mixed race family, I will first provide a brief overview of nineteenth century attitudes and laws respecting interracial marriage that, I suggest, form the basis for the safeg uarding of the English mother's purity addressed here. Salesa's work seeks both to explore the variant discourses about race that emerged throughout the century and to dispel myths about Victorian attitudes toward racial mixing. He writes that "despite exp ectations that everywhere there would be efforts to punish race crossing, to condemn it, to exorcise itish and their colonies were unconcerned with racial crossing. On the contrary, throughout the nineteenth century, race crossing was considered a serious and recurrent problem" (1). What complicated the practice of racial crossing was the differing assump tions about which races should or should not mix. In the mid nineteenth century, the rise of polygenist thought (the theory that human races were as different as animal species) maintained that racial mixing was "unnatural, degenerate, and unsustainable" ( Salesa 3). Such discourse invoked the example of the hybrid animal (a creature produced through the crossing of different species such as the horse and the donkey) as a caveat against racial mixing
180 because such creatures were "thought to be uniformly steri le" (Salesa 2). The appropriation of such theories of animal crossing to caution against racial mixing among humans showed itself markedly in terms such as "mulatto" taken from the Spanish word for mule to refer to an individual of both white and African d escent. Alternatively, scientists like Charles Darwin challenged the theory of infertility between species, arguing that such infertility resulted from "actual anatomical and physical differences in reproductive organs. Whatever their other differences, if there was sufficient systematic affinity between the two parents, they would reproduce" (Salesa 138). A more idealistic view of racial mixing one that spoke directly to strategies of colonial advancement cast it within a broad conception of a "fusion of r aces under a unified domain of sovereignty, government, and law" (Salesa 243). In reality, however, the practice of amalgamation had less to do with racial unification than with the dominance of one race over another. Indeed, as Stoler observes, the dissol ution of boundaries between colonizer and colonized represented in the joining of the white body with the native body through sex were thought to lead to "the sexual transmission of cultural contagions and to the political instability of imperial rule" (62 ). Placing Salesa's and Stoler's work in dialogue with Rappoport's observations regarding the responsibility of mothers in advancing the race, this chapter addresses the relationship between race and progressive mothering; in particular, I consider the fi gures of the English mother and the mixed race child as intermediaries in endeavors to achieve racial unity amidst the variant discourses that proliferated Victorian anxieties about racial mixing. My discussion will analyze two texts Victoria Cross's novel Anna Lombard (1901) and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's short story "The Yellow Face" (1893).
181 Both of these stories feature an English mother who brings a child of mixed blood into her marriage with an Englishman following the death of her first husband. In Cona n Doyle's story, the child Lucy Hebron is the result of Effy Monroe's marriage to an African American; in Cross's novel, Anna Lombard ma r ries one of her native servants and, shortly after his death, gives birth to his son while married to her English husba nd, Gerald Ethridge. Reading these texts in dialogue with one another reveals the ways that these authors adopt the language of exchange to look to the unity of the family as a mechanism for dissolving the barriers of racial difference. Moreover, both text s feature Englishmen who are tasked with the challenge of serving as a father substitute to the mixed race children born of their wives' previous marriages. Through an examination of the characters of Grant Monroe and Gerald Ethridge, this chapter interrog ates the role that white male subjectivity played in the construction of the maternal narrative as existing to ensure racial purity. More specifically, I consider how Cross and Conan Doyle each seek to reconcile the idealized view of racial mixing as unify ing with the notion of mixed race motherhood (that is, an English mother of a mixed race child) as a threat to racial purity in its creation of a "counter family" rather than a racially pure, "legal family." Anna Lombard In "Going Nautch Girl," Charn Jag pal examines late Victorian fiction that addresses the struggle of the English wives and daughters of military officers and civil servants between maintaining an image of colonial superiority and the liberating attraction of native culture a pull that, as Salesa's work illustrates, speaks directly to the conflicting attitudes that the English held concerning racial mixing. Jagpal writes of the burden placed upon English women in the colonies to "cultivate and guard English
182 civilization in British India," an d while her analysis of Cross's work in this context does not focus specifically on Anna Lombard, her discussion of the pull between the English and the native ways of life invites us to consider the extent to which the institutions of marriage and family play a role in either policing or dissolving the boundaries between English and native (252). Anna Lombard addresses the challenge of maintaining these boundaries through the configuration of the mixed race family. The novel tells the story of Gerald Ethri dge, an assistant commissioner stationed in India who, upon meeting Anna Lombard (a General's daughter) at a dance, falls instantly in love with her. When Ethridge unexpectedly receives word on the morning after they meet that he has been stationed in Burm a for a period of five years, he pens a goodbye letter to Anna and leaves it with his signet ring as a memento. Receiving a summons to return to India midway through his assignment, he seeks out Anna upon his return and proposes marriage, only to discover after she has accepted his proposal that during his absence, she has secretly married one of her native servants, Gaida Khan. Powerfully drawn to both men, Anna remains married to Gaida Khan while publicly maintaining her engagement to Ethridge, eventually marrying Ethridge when Gaida Khan dies of cholera. Shortly before her marriage to Ethridge, Anna discovers that she is carrying Gaida's child, whom she kills not long after giving birth for love of Ethridge. To read this story as a maternal narrative wit hin the framework of exchange necessitates considering the extent to which marriage and parenthood operated as mechanisms for servicing the colonies. I suggest that Cross juxtaposes the English commodification of native motherhood in the colonies with nati ve tradition to consider the extent to which English attitudes about racial mixing complicated the idealized
183 notion of the mixed race family as unifying agent. I wish to set up this consideration of family as unifying agent in the text with a brief discuss ion of Cross's reference to the Indian legend of Draupadi "the feminine character in their literature round which clings, perhaps, the most sacred reverence. She is the type of pure, trustful womanhood answering to the Greek conception and the British acce ptance of Penelope" (Cross V). Draupadi is revered as a key figure in The Mahabharata one of two sacred Sanskrit epics in India. The novel references her marriage to five brothers the five Pandava brothers and that, married to all five simultaneously, she eventually bears each h usband a son. On the one hand, t he description of these five brothers "shar[ing] her among them, as they share their common tent" depicts woman's body as a common utilitarian space; on the other, their devotion to "protect[ing] and d efend[ing] the chastity of the woman they revere and cherish" points to Draupadi as a sacred female figure the bearer of all life (Cross IV). I suggest that we can read Cross's interpretation of the relationship between Draupadi and her five husbands as on e in which the sentimental and utilitarian models of motherhood merge in the extent to which it joins functional reproductivity with an emotional investment in that reproductivity; as the brothers look to Draupadi to affirm their honor and adult masculinit y through the sons she bears each of them, so they also look to her as the source from which that honor is born. The familial configuration in the Mahabharata as described by Cross offers a marked contrast to that which we encounter early in the novel bet ween the English civil servants in Burma and the native women they take as wives. Immediately upon arriving in Burma, Ethridge learns of an arrangement wherein an Englishman can enter into an agreement with a Burmese girl to take her as his wife while he r emains in Burma. In
184 return for payment, she keeps his house, often bears him children, and returns to her own family following her term of employment. As seen in the previous chapter with such systems as the wet nursing industry, this exchange of the nativ e woman's body both to serve the English man's sexual needs and for the service of populating the colonies for monetary compensation locates motherhood within an economic system that rejects the sentimental value of family in favor of the utilitarian. Ethr idge observes as much while paying a visit to one of his fellow Englishmen, Mr. Knight. To Knight's lack of concern over the return of his wife and children to the woman's family when he leaves Burma, Ethridge reflects, "to me, all love, any sort of tie of that kind means responsibility" (Cross II). Here Cross suggests that a man, in his role as husband and father, is an active participant in the family narrative rather than the consumer of the domestic and sexual comforts of such an arrangement that Knight appears to be as he sits contentedly watching his children crawling about around his feet. Ethridge even goes as far as comparing the arrangement to prostitution, expressing dismay at "the modest, Anglo Indian government that will not have the word prosti tution printed in the newspapers, and yet countenances such things as these" (Cross II). It is worth noting that, as Stoler points out, the arrangement between native woman and English civil servant described above was often appropriated as a means of com batting the transmission of sexual diseases associated with prostitution and implicitly safeguarding English mothers and the purity of the race: "Unlike prostitution, which could and often did increase the number of syphilitic and therefore nonproductive E uropean men," the domestic arrangements between Englishmen and native women "kept men in their barracks or bungalows rather than in brothels or hospitals or, worse,
185 in unnatural liaisons with one another" (Stoler 48). If, as scholars like Stoler have point ed out, the presence of English women in the colonies was often governed in part by whether or not conditions were medically safe, guarding the reproductive health of English men was seen to with an eye toward ensuring the procreation of healthy English fa milies the future leaders of the empire. Yet in exposing such practices as legalized prostitution in a manner not unlike that seen in Ouida's work, Cross points to them as practices which, while implicitly intended to safeguard English sexual purity and En glish reproductivity, render sexual and familial relations mere economic and utilitarian exchanges. These transitory arrangements between Englishmen and native women, Cross suggests, both undermine the sentimental value of native motherhood and expose suc h family configurations as mere mechanisms to service needs rather than, as the idealized Victorian family was constructed, as a haven from the working sphere. The family here in particular the native woman in her role as servant and child bearer becomes a tool of work rather than a sanctuary from it. Ethridge's refusal to take a temporary Burmese wife thus calls into question the Englishman's participation in a practice that views the family, and more specifically motherhood, as a well oiled mechanism fo r the production and exchange of bodies. Just as the Englishmen stationed in Burma take native women into their homes as a temporary arrangement to service their domestic needs and desires, so too the children are little more than a mere byproduct of the a rrangement existing seemingly to serve as an amusement for the father rather than as members of a legitimate family in which he takes an emotional interest. The trope of contented domesticity that these men enact with their Burmese wives and children, I su ggest, operates as a mere mimicry of the
186 "legal family" one that apparently idealizes the western family as the picture of comfort and respectability. In the scenes of such arrangements that Cross offers readers, we find the man of the house "smoking peace fully in his dining room with his wife and family crawling about on the floor around his chair" (Cross II). While this image is not altogether removed from that of the English father in his home of an evening, surrounded by his wife and children at the hea rthside, here his elevated position with his wife and children crawling at his feet rather than hovering about him locates mother and family in a distinctively demeaning position of servility; this temporary family exists solely to service immediate practi cal and sexual needs rather than long term emotional ones. Anna Lombard then, reveals a problematic double standard about parental culpability and the responsibilities of English fathers and mothers respectively in preserving the purity of the race. As previously mentioned, the Englishman who took a native wife did so to serv ice his own needs, and any children born of that partnership were mere byproducts of the arrangement, as seen with Knight's dismissive attitude about his wife's return to her family "with the kids" following her term of employment (Cross II). Not having bo rn the children, he can more easily detach himself from his paternity. Such a double standard lent itself well to upholding practices such as the marital and familial arrangements described here. Given his physical detachment from the parental experience, the Englishman's paternity in relation to a mixed race child carried with it none of the racial tainting inscribed upon the English woman who bore a child with a native man. If English motherhood was held sacred at home, it was regarded as even more so in the colonies because issues such as interracial marriage
187 raised questions of both the child's racial and national status. As Stoler points out, "it was not the progeny of such unions who were problematic but the possibility that they might be recognized as heirs to a European inheritance" (39). For the English mother to fulfill her contribution to the race, her child must be unquestionably English; the makeup of the mixed race child blurred the boundaries between colonizer and colonized in a manner that cha llenged the definition of Englishness, both racially and as a citizen rather than a subject. For the Englishman who fathered children with a native woman, his physical detachment rendered this distinction relatively unproblematic; by sending "the kids" hom e with their mother by not bestowing upon them the coveted White European upbringing and education to which their paternity would seem to entitle them 1 the father refused to confer upon his children any claim to Englishness. The public assumption of Anna's child having been fathered by Ethridge and the claim to Englishness such an assumption would grant the child epitomizes this problem a point to which I will return later in the chapter. On the one hand, Ethridge's claim that the love he associates with m arriage and parenthood appears to exonerate him from the commodification of Burmese women. Yet his love, intangible though it might be, also operates as a term for bartering. In the triangular relationship established between Ethridge, Anna, and Gaida Khan love becomes a gift worthy of being exchanged only between the civilized English. Stoler argues that for the White European, "it was not interracial sexual contact that was seen as dangerous but its public legitimation in marriage" (39). This points to a distinction 1 Anne Stoler points out that in the colonies, nativ es often set much store by the European education and upbringing, noting that "[c]ultural literacy and cultural competence were the de facto criteria by which racial membership was assigned" (16). I will address this point in greater detail later in the c hapter with relation to Ethridge's treatment of Anna's son.
188 between marriage for life and the temporary marriage for payment arrangements existing between civil servants and native women. IF such arrangements were intended to safeguard English reproductivity by providing for men's domestic comforts and sexual needs in a controlled environment, a more permanent arrangement and more specifically a marriage of love rather than of convenience would suggestively equalize English and native legally, sexually, and, most importantly, racially. Viewed within thi s context, an English woman attaching herself to a native man would lack the utility of fulfilling her contribution to the race and, furthermore, would suggestively taint the purity of English motherhood that the policing of interracial sexual contact soug ht to preserve. Through Ethridge, Cross considers the ways that racial anxiety served as the means of legitimating the Englishman's jealousy and possession of the English woman not merely as a lover, but as a potential m other. W hen Ethridge first catches sight of Gaida, he beholds not an uncivilized native, but a graceful, dignified man with a face "full of fire, animation, and brilliance" and "eyes full of intellect and pride" (Cross IV). He witnesses, too, only expressions of tenderness between Gaida and Anna: chaste kisses, loving glances, and soft words. Such displays of affection create a jarring disruption from the reports of native savagery supposedly inflicted upon white women: "the daily, hourly danger from a native's insensate jealousy, unreasoni ng rage, and beyond recognition, flung out upon the meidon are but likely cause and probable result" (Cross IV). Love here operates as a coveted possession, the value of whi ch determines who is worthy of receiving it. Anna's relationship to Ethridge and Gaida Khan respectively and more importantly the child she bears embody what Spivak terms
189 the "family/counter family dyad" (247). Here the "legal" English family that Ethridge and Anna represent renders Anna a utilitarian value as wife and mother; conversely, Anna's clandestine marriage to Gaida and their child a construct that defies established boundaries of cast and class become the "counter family" counter to the racial and moral purity meant to be embodied by the English family. The mixed racial makeup of this family construct labels that family as "counter family" because Anna's union with Gaida, a union whose aim is to fulfill mutual love and desire, directs her motherhoo d away from the fulfillment of her responsibility to nation and race as Gaida cannot serve as the means through which she can produce an English child. I want to suggest here that through Gaida and later the child he sires with Anna, Cross interrogates En glish male culpability in the construction of these restricted, racialized family narratives. More specifically, through Anna, in her roles as lover and mother, Cross considers the potential of woman as unifying agent in the relationships between colonizer and colo nized. When Gaida falls ill of c holera and Ethridge offers, for love of Anna, to nurse him, Gaida remarks skeptically, "Men do not aid and cure their rivals" (Cross V). Notably, it is Anna rather than Ethridge who protests, "The English do" (Cross V). Nineteenth century scholars have commented frequently upon the sense of English superiority symptomatic of Britain's rise as a colonial stronghold; as Katherine Hall observes, the colonies "provided a way of measuring England against others, [and] the re was a deep doubt the greatest, the most advanced and the most civilized nation of all time" (8). IN the context of the novel and the construction of the progressive mother as racial inter mediary, this greatness of the Englishman that Anna seeks to cultivate in Ethridge
190 refers not to his position of power relative to others, but rather to his ability to transcend and reach across that hierarchical structure. In considering Anna as mother i n her role as unifying agent, it is useful to return to the legend of Draupadi to which Ethridge turns after learning of Anna's secret marriage to Gaida. What Cross identifies as problematic for the Englishman about this legend is the fact that it tells, a s Ethridge describes it, of "the subdivision of a woman's love" (Cross V). This subdivision suggests a kind of fragmentation of the woman's love and body that seems, in its distribution of fidelity, to compromise her purity. In loving Ethridge and Gaida re spectively, Anna becomes to Ethridge like the figure of Draupadi, epitomized in his description of her love as "like two streams, one muddy, the other clear, flowing side by side without mixing" (Cross V). If we read Ethridge's jealousy of Anna in terms of his covetousness of her body as potential mother, the two streams the clear and the muddy become the pure and the tainted bloodline respectively. That these two streams run alongside one another "without mixing" in Ethridge's mind stands as a reminder of the necessity of policing boundaries between colonizer and colonized. The fragmentation of Anna's body and love invokes the pull between English and native to which Jagpal points that fragmentation/division suggesting that the two cannot intermingle. Anna must choose, then, between the utility of her duty as English mother and the sentimental womanhood of her attraction, through Gaida, to the native way of life. In Ethridge's English interpretation of the legend, the idea that each of Draupadi's husbands possesses only a share of her love challenges the Western ideal of monogamy and the normative, "legal family." All of the five husbands unite around
191 Draupadi, the sacred mother figure who is the focus of their existence and the source of their love. Inscri bing an English narrative interpretation onto the legend, Ethridge reads the story as one that quantifies and divides love and, through that division, depreciates its value. Yet this story, I suggest, in fact operates within the paradigm of the mother as t he bestower of unconditional love. Dividing her affection and devotion amongst her husbands and sons, Draupadi embodies the ideal of maternal love and devotion. In drawing upon this legend, Cross identifies a commonality between the Indian and English trop es of motherhood in their roles as nurturer and unifying agent a commonality that might serve as the foundation for challenging the mixed race family construct as counter or non normative. Conflating Anna's character with the figure of Draupadi in Ethridge 's mind, Cross invokes the story as a mechanism through which to employ the maternal body a space that, like the "common tent" of Draupadi's body, becomes emblematic of land or territory as a site of unification rather than of division. The fact that the fusion of the English and Indian wife mother figures invoked through the trope of storytelling more specifically the telling of a family narrative occurs in the Englishman's mind suggests that key to the acceptance of a new narrative of racial coexistence is the Englishman's willingness to actively participate in dissolving established racial boundaries. Ethridge's ultimate resistance of this new narrative his refusal to accept Anna's child relocates Anna within his prescribed narrative of English superiori ty. Such a narrative was largely symptomatic of widely held beliefs about guarding English femininity in the colonies. When Ethridge rejects the notion of taking Anna with him to Burma, his reasoning that "the face of a white woman is never seen" there is interspersed with fears of disease a "tainted and suffocating" environment
192 (Cross I). The conflation of physical and racial contamination here identifies Burma as unfit for the English woman a potential threat not merely to her own health, but to the healt h of the English bloodline of which she is the guardian. Yet here Ethridge constructs a regressive parental narrative not altogether unlike that which he perceives in the legend of Draupadi. Here Anna exists purely as English wife and mother, and the idea that Anna might wish to accompany him cannot bear up against the possibility that she would, in Burma, be unable to fulfill that role in an environment unsuited to her function. The farewell letter that Ethridge leaves for Anna while she is asleep, in addi tion to serving as a means of distancing Ethridge from her when he departs for Burma, ultimately silences any agency she might have in the course of her future with him and, paradoxically, results in a marriage that brings with it the very perceived tainti ng of Anna's sexuality that Ethridge seeks to preserve. Through the revisions that Anna makes to her future (namely the murder of her child) based upon Ethridge's resistance of an alternative family narrative, Cross underscores the extent to which male co nstructed attitudes toward English femininity and English motherhood in the colonies reduced woman's role as mother to that of serviceable body and failed to recognize her progressive potential as racial unifier. When Anna gives birth to Gaida's child foll owing her marriage to Ethridge, Ethridge's own dark complexion leaves no doubt in the minds of their friends that he is the child's father. This enables Anna to construct a passing family narrative 2 so as to conceal the truth of her relationship with Gaida and avoid a scandal. Yet while Ethridge never 2 I draw this concept of "passing" from Jinny Huh's definition of the term as describing a person of color "passing" as White. Huh's discussion of the passing narrative relates specifically to Con an Doyle's "The Yellow Face," and I will return to this idea in my discussion of that text; however, it is useful to apply the term here as well in considering the legitimation of the mixed race family as normative, "legal" family through the act of passi ng.
193 openly denies the assumption that he is the child's father, he nevertheless refuses to actively participate in that narrative through his refusal to accept the child, for to do so would be to legitimate Anna's marriage to Gaida and to acknowledge the child's Englishness. As a child of mixed race, Anna's son has inherited, at least in part, a biological claim to Englishness through her. Yet here the woman's maternal utility is measured not merely in reproductive terms, but in relation to the racial purity of the child's paternity. Such maternal and child value is not altogether unlike that which the unwed mother received, as seen in the previous chapter; yet Anna's son is the progeny of a legitimate (in her estim ation at least) marriage, if not a legally sanctioned one. The fact that prior to Anna's impulsive decision to murder her son, it is Ethridge who takes steps to arrange to have the child sent away Ethridge who denies him any right to an English upbringing bears an implication that the mixed race family runs counter to established boundaries between colonizer and colonized. Operating within the confines of such boundaries, Ethridge's potential acceptance of Anna's child is problematic on two levels; firstly by publicly allowing the child to pass as his own, Ethridge is party to an untruthful narrative even if he and Anna alone know the secret of that untruth. Secondly, and more importantly, to suppress the child's actual paternity and acknowledge him as pur ely English would privilege the English over the Indian component of his racial inheritance. Thus Ethridge's public legitimation of Anna's motherhood would lend it the sham of utility in terms of the creation of a "legal family" if the child is perceived to be English. If Cross utilizes the family that Anna envisions as a space for dissolving tension between races, she equally reminds readers, through Ethridge's character, of the extent
194 to which the health and productivity of the family calls upon patern al as well as maternal responsibility. In Ethridge's jealousy of Gaida and his rejection of the child, he implicitly measures Anna's value as a woman in terms of her reproductive output as it relates to him as the beneficiary of her reproductivity, not in terms of a companionate vision of family. That Ethridge refuses, during his term in Burma, to employ a Burmese woman as his wife suggests both sexual and racial purity; whether Ethridge marry Anna or another woman following this period, both his racial and sexual purity remain intact. Conversely, the giving of herself in marriage to a native loses Anna both her sexual and racial purity and thus the value of her utility as an English mother. Thus the state of motherhood becomes, through the measuring of woma n's value in terms of her reproductive output, one of regressive indebtedness; indeed, while carrying Gaida's child, Anna acknowledges her outstanding debt to Ethridge when she remarks to him, "I am no good to you" (Cross X). Though Ethridge claims that lo ve demands nothing in return for its bestowal, the love of marriage asks even expects love in return. True, Anna does give Ethridge her love in return for his marital protection, but within the construct of the marital exchange, the intangible return of lo ve is insufficient without the promise of children that the husband anticipates as a familial and, in this instance, racial legacy. Indeed, to publicly and legally legitimate Gaida's son as his own would potentially displace any son Anna might bear him as first born and, implicitly, the heir to any of Ethridge's assets that might pass to him by rights. In giving his love to Anna, Ethridge offers her the security of being provided for in marriage as well as the companionship of love and the refuge from pub lic scandal that she can only avoid as his wife. Yet this love is not the love of self sacrifice, but rather of
195 self interest. In return for his protection and fidelity, Ethridge expects, not unnaturally, that Anna give herself fully to him. As with the st ory of Draupadi, Ethridge views Anna's attachment to himself and to her son the embodiment of the love shared between her and Gaida as respectively "the subdivision" of her love a fragmentation that renders her incomplete. If love in and of itself is intan gible, it is made quantifiable by the acts born of it specifically that of procreation. Motherhood, then, operates both as a gift of love the embodiment of the physical union between man and wife and a form of recompense the offering of a child to ensure a man's legacy in return for the security he offers his wife in marriage. The child, as discussed in previous chapters, is both a signifier and an object of love: on the one hand a living extension of the love between mother and father; on the other an emb odiment of what mother and father love in one another. Thus Gaida's child problematizes the marriage between Ethridge and Anna because, rather than serving as the "go between" a point of access to and connection with Anna he forms a barrier between them. H e acts, instead, as the go between for Anna and her memory of the deceased Gaida. More importantly, Anna's relationship to her son as an embodiment of her marriage to Gaida creates a regressive form of mothering in the extent to which she attaches herself to him as an object from which she receives love more than she gives it. We see this operating markedly during the scenes that depict Anna suckling the child: Within the room all sound had ceased; for the mother had gathered the child to her bosom and ope ned her breast to it, and the light fell now on her head drooping over it, and her face was rapt and dreaming as the and it drew life from hers, it seemed almost as if, in some subtle way, she
196 received back more than she gave; and her face grew more brilliant and her laughter lighter and stronger each day. (Cross XI) As we have seen, the female breast here acts as a source not merely of giving, but of mutual exchange whether of life an d love or, in the case of the wet nurse, the more tangible return of cash. Within this construct, motherhood is as mutually beneficial as it is sacrificial; if women offer their bodies in maternal service as a form of civic or imperial duty, the revered st atus bestowed on them in return (as well as familial love) is their reward for the appropriation of motherhood to offer them a sense of purpose. Yet viewing maternal love and the marital love that results in procreation in terms of utility in the sense of service problematizes this exchange with regard to the mixed race child born to the English mother. I suggest that Anna's relationship to her son and Ethridge respectively epitomizes the distinction between the "private meaning and public state of motherh ood" a distinction that problematizes progressive mothering because it delineates between rather than merges the utilitarian and sentimental models of family (Rappoport 145). The exchange that occurs between the English woman and the Indian man and that wh ich occurs between the English mother and the child of mixed race occurs entirely within a private/domestic construct because it exclusively benefits the individual rather than the entire English race. It is, in essence, a sentimental indulgence. If the re lationship between mother and child is, as depicted in Anna's case, a mutually beneficial exchange, it has no progressive purpose as it services no one beyond the immediate confines of that intimate relationship. Similarly, if Ethridge's outward acceptance of Gaida's child as his own would lend Anna's motherhood the public face of utility in its apparent contribution to the race, it fulfills none of the sentimental desires
197 of family if he cannot love the child. To render this form of motherhood progressive would call for a redefinition of maternal utility as it relates to race an acceptance of the mixed race family as both publicly contributive and personally fulfilling. Anna's motherhood is a sentimentalized form of parental love intensified by the child's embodiment of her deceased husband, exclusionary in the extent to which the relationship, like the flow of breast milk between mother and child, exists only between those who are physically as well as emotionally bound to one another. Dead though Gaida is, it is his bloodline and heritage, not Ethridge's, that is born into a new generation and preserved through Anna. Thus Ethridge's hereditary exclusion from this family narrative crystalizes the perceived threat of mixed race motherhood to the English famil y. That the relationship between Anna and her son fulfills no purpose within the English family narrative marks it as a kind of counter family, evidenced by the refusal of Ethridge the would be English patriarch who would legitimate it as "legal" family to participate in the relationship. It is worth noting that the narrative is largely Ethridge's told exclusively from his point of view. Thus explains his nondescript, often detached references to Anna's child. If the child has a name, we never learn what i t is, because Ethridge never speaks it. Here the refusal to name the child withholds from him a human identity. To name him is to affirm his existence and give him a place within the legal family; thus to withhold from him an identity serves as Ethridge's attempt to expunge him from the family narrative that he seeks to create for himself and Anna. We learn only that the child is a boy when Anna refers to him as such. On the occasions when Ethridge does not describe him as a mere "it" or, more inanimately, "the dark object on the bed," he refers to him always as
198 whether physically or emotionally in the child, Ethridge has no place in this new parental narrative: "[I]n that before which I and my life and my love and service were as nothing" (Cross XII). For Ethridge to define his love and his marriage to Anna in terms of service echoes the language of exchange. Expect ing Anna's undivided attention and affection in return for offering her the propriety of marriage, what he receives in return (Gaida's child) is nothing compared to the sacrifice he has made in his steadfast devotion to her even during her marriage to Gaid a. More importantly, his "service" can also be said to refer to his imperial service; having served his term in Burma and remained sexually and racially chaste for a potential English wife mother, he returns to claim Anna for that purpose only to receive t he mixed race son of his sexual rival rather than the prospect of a family of his own to offer him comfort and solace. Indeed, Anna acknowledges her valueless wifehood and motherhood when, in the moments before the birth, she declares, "Oh, if it were only something I was bearing for you; if it was only pain I was enduring for your sake, then I should delight in it" (Cross X). If Gaida's death of Cholera conveniently ends their relationship (not taking into consideration the child's existence), Anna's own d eath, for which she longs when she too contracts the disease, would essentially leave her debt of love to Ethridge unpaid. That Anna comes to Ethridge in part through a sense of obligation places conditions on their relationship conditions that Anna cannot meet without the erasure of her past identity. The repayment of her debt of love to Ethridge the murder of the child I will return to shortly.
199 One might argue that Ethridge seeks to establish himself as an active participant in this family narrative both through his willingness to take Anna as his wife with the knowledge that she is carrying Gaida's child and, more importantly, with his presence during the birth. Yet his presence works not to serve as a father substitute for the child in Gaida's stead, bu t rather to subvert the love narrative between Gaida and Anna with his own. In seeking to make himself the focal point of Anna's child bearing experience, Ethridge seeks to place himself between her and the embodiment of her passion for Gaida that threaten s her purity and respectability as English wife and mother. It is in this tenuous relationship between Ethridge, Anna, and the child that the maternal figure stands most markedly as a potential unifying agent; Anna's love for her son and, more importantly, her attempts to awaken feelings of love for him in Ethridge serves as an attempt to unite rather than to disconnect an attempt to construct a family unit founded on ties of love and uninhibited by racial taboos. In a scene in which Anna calls Ethridge in to admire the child in his new clothes, she declares, "Gerald, I never was so utterly, so perfectly happy as I am now" (Cross XII). Anna here envisions a moment of family unity joined with the two individuals she most loves. In this configuration, Anna, as the English mother of the mixed race child and wife of the Englishman, seeks to act as intermediary, endeavoring to turn her motherhood away from self in a gesture that endeavors to dissolve racial barriers. Yet, as previously mentioned, key to the succes sful formation of this new construct is the Englishman's willingness to confront his own active participation in its creation. It is worth recalling here the fact that the makeup of Ethridge's new family raises no suspicions among their friends and acquain tances; conveniently, Ethridge remarks upon his own dark complexion and the
200 apparent likeness to him that Gaida's child bears a likeness which would appear to legitimate this "counter family." Yet his silence and lack of affection toward the child create a sham not unlike that which he witnesses within the mixed race families of his fellow Englishmen in Burma. If Anna as wife mother is to serve as unifying agent, that unity cannot come without Ethridge's equal participation. Ethridge's desire to have Anna "entirely as his own without a shadow between [them]" speaks to the ways that miscegenation disrupted the purity of the English family narrative (Cross X). Even if Anna and Ethridge were to have children of their own, the implication of this "shadow" betwe en them gestures to both the racial and sexual contamination that suggestively taints woman's maternal utility, even if her future children are conceived as racially pure. With Anna's decision to murder the child, which effectively erases her mixed race ma ternal identity, she ultimately reduces her role in the family narrative to one of mere maternal utility; that is, while she recognizes the implications of the unified mixed race family's role in altering colonial relationships, she ultimately directs her motherhood no further beyond fulfilling her responsibility to her husband and to her own race. In doing so, she ultimately succumbs to the English masculinist construction of womanhood that safeguards her purity (racial and sexual) only to appropriate that purity for their own purposes. When Anna announces to Ethridge that she has killed the child, she does so with the declaration, "I have expiated my sins to you" an implication that this sacrificial gesture operates as payment for Ethridge's willingness to take her into his home as his wife, sexually and maternally tainted though she is (Cross XI). The child's murder is an act of penance both for her disloyalty to Ethridge and to the race that she, as a woman,
201 is charged with rearing and protecting. If marr iage to Gaida and the resulting child diminishes her utility to Ethridge as wife and mother, killing the child becomes a penitential act of erasure, restoring the English woman to her racial and sexual purity and rendering her fit to bear the children of h er race. Moreover, though Anna bears Ethridge no children in the novel, her act implicitly privileges the continuation of English over Indian lineage. In emphasizing male culpability in the manipulation of maternal identity, however, Cross does not entire ly exonerate woman from her actions; indeed, Anna acknowledges her own guilt in having carried out an act of murder against her will to satisfy Ethridge's desire. The act of sending Ethridge away for a year following the child's death challenges him and An na respectively to confront their own culpability. Yet Anna ultimately suffers no punishment for the crime of infanticide because she has implicitly committed that crime for the sake of the legitimate, English family narrative. The Anna to which Ethridge r eturns following his exile is "the same Anna Lombard [he] had left" years before her white clad figure implicitly pure, virginal and, most importantly, nonmaternal or rather restored to the physical fitness and purity of the potential English mother (Cross XII). Cleansed of all racial and sexual tainting that sullied her love for Ethridge, Anna's body becomes for him a blank canvass upon which he can inscribe their love story. That Anna defers to Ethridge in the commencement of this story with her query of "Do I please you?" indicates her submission to this masculinist construction of femininity (Cross XII). This apparent turning back of time to the beginning of their intimacy expunges Anna's prier identity and forges one dependent upon her relationship to her new
202 husband. It offers, in short, a narrative of regression rather than of progression one in which the woman's progressive endeavor reverts to utility both through man's refusal to participate in this alternative narrative and her own inability to rec oncile her reproductive responsibility as mother with the love of her child. Ethridge's renewed love for Anna comes not in response to her beauty, but her sacrificial offering of love in return for the love he has offered her. Read within the context of En glish anxiety about racial mixing as dissolving the power structure between colonizer and colonized, Anna's unblemished, nonmaternal body at the end of the novel returns her to the status of the English memsahib rather than the English Indian mother acting as racial intermediary. Even had Anna not killed the child, the element necessary to legitimate this counter family, Cross reminds us, is the presence of the English father. However, Ethridge's own resemblance to the child offers only a passing legitimacy That Anna is forced to choose between her English husband and her mixed race child implicitly privileges the narrative of the English family over that of the mixed race family. The death of the mixed race child here thus becomes equated with the rejectio n of an alternative narrative of interracial coexistence. The Yellow Face If Victoria Cross's novel considers the challenges of invoking the mixed race family as a potential mechanism for unifying race relations, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's short story offer s a picture of the achievement of that unity. Though preceding Anna Lombard in its publication by eight years, "The Yellow Face" boldly confronts and seeks to mitigate the problem of racial anxiety through the mixed race family. In "Decoding the Social Bod y," Rosemary Jann argues that in the Sherlock Holmes stories, "every body, criminal or client, unwittingly gives and receives marks that make its personality subject
203 to moral as well as physical appraisal" (685). Jann's essay examines the function of racia l and ethnic stereotyping in Conan Doyle's work as "prop[s] whereby deviance from the 'English' type invariably signals criminal propensity" (685). She further posits that "the crimes that Conan Doyle fears are less violations of the official law than chal lenges to the social and sexual institutions that ensured order in his world" (685). Jann's definition of crime in Conan Doyle's work as having more to do with social mores than with actual infringement of the law proves particularly useful when reading a story like "The Yellow Face." Henry Cuningham, for instance, suggests that in terms of detective fiction, this story "ranks among some of the poorer of the Sherlock Holmes canon," and indeed, the case that Holmes must solve concerns not so much a crime as a mysterious problem the strange behavior of the wife of Grant Monroe and the events surrounding her attempts to conceal her mixed race daughter by a previous marriage to an African American (113). The little scholarship that exists on this story not unna turally considers it through the lens of race specifically Victorian anxieties about the racial other. Cuningham, while criticizing the tale's shortcomings as a detective story, allows that it works well as "a vehicle for delivering a didactic message abou t racial attitudes that was half a century ahead of its time" (113). Jinny Huh situates the story within the framework of biological determinism and psychoanalysis to examine Conan Doyle's utilization of detective fiction to address his own struggle with r acial difference, and Owen Dudley Edwards praises "The Yellow Face" as "a wonderful defense of interracial marriage" (1). These readings, however, as well as endless popular speculation by Sherlock Holmes enthusiasts, primarily address the question of Cona n Doyle's attitudes toward race and
204 seek to clarify plot ambiguities such as the legality of Effy Monroe's marriage to an African American man in late nineteenth century North America. In focusing primarily on the character of Lucy (the mixed race child) a s the embodiment of Conan Doyle's racial anxiety and Grant Monroe as a kind of fictional representation of Conan Doyle himself, these readings inevitably remove Effy from the equation a problematic oversight since it is Effy's actions which bring this unad dressed racial anxiety to its head. Considering the extent to which the story operates as a mechanism through which Conan Doyle seeks to address the question of race is by no means unimportant. On the contrary, the fact that the mystery concerns a matter of interracial marriage makes dissociating "The Yellow Face" from the racial discourse in which scholars invariably situate it a challenge. Rather it is the focus on white male subjectivity by placing Monroe as Conan Doyle at the center of the narrative th at narrows the scope of these readings to an exercise in endeavoring to respond to the question of Conan Doyle as either racist or champion of racial equality. As I shall attempt to demonstrate, to undertake a reading of this story that highlights Effy's r ole that is, to read it within the context of motherhood as progressive exchange seeks to address Conan Doyle's treatment of race through the mechanism of the family. Through Effy's marriage to the African American John Hebron and later to Monroe as well a s the birth of her child by Hebron, Conan Doyle looks to the unity of the family as a means through which to dissolve the boundaries of racial difference. I suggest that we can read Conan Doyle's Grant Monroe in a similar manner to Cross's Gerald Ethridge as a means of interrogating how the White masculinist construction of the purity of the English mother limits the scope of progressive mothering. However, Conan Doyle moves a step beyond
205 Cross in challenging rather than privileging white male subjectivity; By demanding male culpability in the construction of the maternal narrative, he offers the mixed race family as a mechanism of progressive mothering through its ability to combat Victorian anxieties about racial difference. The countrified, domestic sett ing in which the story unfolds glorifies the sanctity of the English home and family. Grant Monroe opens his mysterious tale with the declaration to Holmes and Watson that his difficulty is one of "domestic affairs" a problem that both troubles him persona lly and challenges the paradigmatic picture of the idealized family to which he implicitly wishes to subscribe (Conan Doyle 301). In short, Effy Monroe is the widow of an African American Lawyer (John Hebron), whom she had married while living in America a nd with whom she bore a daughter (Lucy). Returning to England after Hebron's death of yellow fever, Effy meets and falls in love with Grant Monroe, telling him that both husband and child have died when in fact Lucy has been left behind in America under th e care of a servant who continues to keep Effy informed of the child's well being. Unbeknown to Monroe, Effy sends for Lucy and her nurse and conceals them in a neighboring cottage, disguising Lucy's dark skin with a yellow mask and white gloves. Her frequ ent trips to the cottage arouse Monroe's suspicions of infidelity, eventually leading him to seek the aid of the Baker Street detective. To read "The Yellow Face" as a story that looks to the family unit as the means of dissolving the boundaries of racial difference demands that we first consider how Conan Doyle invokes the trope of domestic felicity through the country cottage in which Effy conceals her daughter to examine the perceived threat that foreignness poses to
206 the sanctity and purity of the Engli sh family. Monroe presents his case to Holmes with the opening statement, "I am a married man, and have been so for three years. During that time my wife and I have loved each other as fondly, and lived as happily as any two that ever were joined" (Conan D oyle 301). He paints for Holmes a picture of idealized, domestic comfort a home in a quiet, Norbury neighborhood close enough to town to place him within easy distance of his business concerns as a hop merchant, yet charmingly situated amidst groves of tre es and fresh, country air a wholesome environment in which a family might flourish. When initially describing the cottage near their own to Holmes, Monroe notes it to be a "pretty, two story place, with an old fashion porch and honeysuckle about it," addin g that "I have stood many a time and thought what a neat little homestead it would make" (Conan Doyle 302). This picture, like the one of marital bliss he paints of his relationship with Effy up to this point suggests the vision of a respectable family per haps the family he hopes to have taking up residence there. The fact that he is barred from entering the cottage once it is inhabited together with Effy's unaccountable connection to their new neighbors sets up a counter narrative in which he cannot partic ipate and which threatens the one he has constructed in his own mind. Upon first discovering that the cottage is newly tenanted and unaware that its inhabitants are Lucy and her nurse, Monroe's endeavor to make an acquaintance with them is unceremoniously rebuffed by the nurse, whom Effy has instructed not to interact with Monroe lest he discover her secret. Unaware that the mysterious yellow face he glimpses at the window is that of Lucy, Monroe's discovery of Effy's frequent trips to the cottage leads him to suspect her involvement in deviant behavior that threatens to disrupt the domestic narrative.
207 Lesli Favor has observed that Conan Doyle's stories invariably feature female characters who are either paradigmatically helpless (such as Helen Stoner in "T he Adventure of the Speckled Band" and Mary Sutherland in "A Case of Identity") or whose sexual deviance translates to criminality (as with the infamous Irene Adler in "A Scandal in Bohemia"): "Conan Doyle devises plots that depend on women who, despite be ing vital to the narrative, are silent and, except for occasional scenes, are physically absent. Like colonized foreign subjects, females are controlled, contained, and marginalized" (399). Favor highlights Conan Doyle's treatment of marginalized female ch aracters by focusing upon women who either perpetrate the crimes Holmes investigates (Irene Adler's blackmail of the King of Bohemia) or who serve as the direct catalysts of male criminality (Sophi's elopement in "The Greek Interpreter"). While she passes over "The Yellow Face" in her discussion, her linkage between female sexuality and criminality and/or foreignness lends itself well to a reading of Effy Monroe's character within the context of race and motherhood, as her criminal/sexual deviance is direct ly linked to the foreign. As Ronald R. Thomas observes, Effy's marriage to Hebron implicates her in "the crime of transgressing racial barriers" (655). Effy's declaration at the end of the story that "I cut myself off from my race to wed [Hebron]" together with her life in North America suggestively banish her from nation and race in a gesture that marks interracial marriage as incapable of servicing the English family and therefore unacceptable. Thus upon meeting Monroe, Effy constructs an alternative vers ion of her past which, while not altogether false, erases those aspects which fail to conform to the prescribed family narrative in which she is expected to participate. While she truthfully tells Monroe that she is a widow, she not only invents a false st ory about her daughter's death, but omits
208 the detail about Hebron's race. The denial of Lucy's existence in particular in order for Effy to marry her white husband operates as an attempt to reassert her racial purity and disassociate herself with a suggest ively tainted maternal identity. By locating Effy's marriage and motherhood at the center of this mystery, Conan Doyle challenges readers to evaluate the view of interracial marriage as socially and sexually criminal by examining it alongside the construc tion of the mixed race family as a mechanism of progressive mothering. We learn from Monroe's version of Effy's history that she had returned to England following Hebron's death to live with a maiden aunt, seemingly resigned to a life of quiet seclusion un til, as she later explains it, "chance" brings her and Monroe together a chance of reclaiming her English identity through her remarriage(Conan Doyle 312). If marriage to Hebron and the resulting mixed race child taint Effy's maternal body, her marriage to Monroe and the prospect of a racially pure, English family can offer her a chance of redemption, implicitly in exchange for providing Monroe with the family that would offer him sanctuary from his professional pursuits. Yet Effy fears the perceived racial tainting that her past, "counter family" narrative has inscribed upon her body, and thus she invents a legitimate family narrative that would permit her to "pass" in society without suspicion. 3 The theory that Holmes puts forth about Effy's behavior that conflates interracial marriage and criminality is suggestive if we read the story as one that calls into question the measuring of maternal utility along racially constructed lines. When conjecturing about the identity of the inhabitants of the cottage, Ho lmes speculates that the yellow face at the window is that 3 According to Jinny Huh, in the "passing" narrative, lack of markers such as skin color can enable a light skinned Negro to pass for White. Though Effy is in fact White, I apply this term of the "passing narrative" to her story to consider the extent to which dissolving the barriers of race through marital and sexual union was thought to physically and morally taint the White body.
209 of a living Hebron, for as he argues, "how else can we explain [Effy's] frenzied anxiety that her second [husband] should not enter [the cottage]?" (Conan Doyle 309). While it transpires that Holme s puts forth an incorrect theory, his speculative description of loathsome disease, and became a leper or an imbecile" encapsulates the physical and moral degeneracy associated with t he mixing of the English and African races (Conan Doyle 309). Indeed, the fact that Holmes as well as Monroe suspects Effy of infidelity links racial and sexual tainting in the Victorian reader's imagination, suggesting that the English woman's sexual devi ance arises from contact with a supposedly uncivilized race. Conan Doyle thus uses Effy the supposedly tainted English woman as the mouthpiece for exposing and dispelling such myths. While Effy justifies her concealment of Lucy's features by claiming the fear that neighbors might "gossip at their being a black child in the neighborhood," her greatest fear is that Monroe's discovery of Lucy and Effy's relationship to her would bring an end to their marriage (Conan Doyle 312). The fear that her marriage to Hebron and their child would mark her as racially tainted and u nfit for the English motherhood that would implicitly follow her marriage to Monroe necessitates the suppression of this "counter family" narrative. Indeed, Conan Doyle offers this story as one that, from its outset, challenges the idealized domestic narra tive and the purity of the English home and family. Monroe's anxiety about "discuss[ing] the conduct of one's wife with two men whom I have never seen before" marks the extent to which he as well as Effy is implicated in this mystery (Conan Doyle 301). As with Gerald Ethridge, Monroe's desire to guard against what he views as a threat to his masculinity
210 conflicts with that of maintaining (or at least appearing to maintain) domestic order. Suspecting that Effy's frequent visits to the cottage offer evidence of her infidelity, he accuses her in the tale he presents to Holmes of neglecting "her husband and her duty" that duty being not only to oversee the day to day management of the household, but to fulfill her role as wife mother and provide him with the fa mily he presumably desires (Conan Doyle 301). Ultimately, however, it is the notion of family that elicits Monroe's decision to forgive Effy and, through this forgiveness, that Conan Doyle invokes the family as a means through which to dissolve the bounda ries of racial difference. If Effy's first marriage seeks to achieve this through the fusion of white and black identities in Lucy, the secluded, abandoned cottage in which Effy places Lucy located outside the boundaries of her home with Monroe still lends itself to an interpretation of that family narrative as foreign to the English family construct. Ultimately it is Monroe, the Englishman and would be patriarch who, like Ethridge, is called upon to act as the unifying agent through the acknowledgement of male culpability in the casting of mixed race motherhood as running counter to the traditional English family construct. Yet Ethridge's narrative carries with it the problem of viewing racial mixing not as an amalgamation, but rather as an act of racial an d colonial dominance. As Damon Salesa argues, "A proper amalgamation did not combine two races into a 'new race' that was substantially mixed or intermediate; rather the process of amalgamation projected, very boldly, the disappearing of one race into ano inclusion through which the other race would be consumed or absorbed" (243). Viewing the similarity in appearance between Anna's child and Ethridge aluminates this
211 perception; as previously noted, during the child's short li fe, his racial identity undergoes a convenient erasure both through his father's death and the assumption that he is Ethridge's child. This assumption that Ethridge maintains further underscores the extent to which the racial taboos explored in the novel operated largely to preserve colonial dominance. In publicly maintaining his relationship with Anna in part to shield her and Gaida (while he is alive) from public scandal, Ethridge simultaneously upholds both the legal and counter family narratives. To ex pose the truth of Anna's secret would not only implicate her, but himself as well, not just as an Englishman, but in terms of his imperial service. To condone rather than condemn such a union would undoubtedly be seen as dissolving rather than enforcing th e boundaries of Ethridge's governmental as well as his racial superiority. As we have seen, the end result of the inability to reconcile the "legal" and "counter family" narratives is the death of the mixed race child the very embodiment of this potential fusion. Thus Anna Lombard becomes a caveat against the oppression that such racial and colonial power structures perpetuate. Alternatively, Monroe not only accepts his wife's child a child whose complexion, unlike Anna and Gaida's child, renders a convenient passing impossible but does so openly with two Englishmen (Holmes and Watson) as witnesses to this acceptance, thus public ly legitimating this counter family as true "legal family." Upon revealing the truth about her past to Monroe, Effy, like Anna, defers to her husband as the one with the authority to determine the outcome of her narrative an act that appears to situate it within the same masculinist hegemonic framework that acts as the catalyst for her sacrificing a relationship with her child in exchange for the comfortable
212 respectability of a racially pure marriage and family: "[N]ow tonight you know all, and I ask you wh at is to become of us, my child and me?" (Conan Doyle 312). The deferment of narrative agency on Effy's part by directing this question to Monroe appears to support the claims of Favor and Jann regarding female helplessness in the Sherlock Holmes stories p articularly Jann's suggestion that for Conan Doyle, there is no more effective way to harness devious femininity than "not to acknowledge it at all" to relocate woman within a narrative construct "controlled by chivalric conventions" (685). Indeed, if "us" refers to Effy and Monroe, the distinction between "us" and "my child and me" suggests a moment of rupture in Monroe's domestic narrative and Effy's potential displacement from that narrative. Alternatively, I suggest that Effy's question operates not as a show of submission to patriarchal authority, but as a challenge to the Englishman to confront his racial anxiety. Both Effy and Anna, as English mothers of mixed race children, are presented with a choice between utility and sentimentality between woman' s duty to her husband and her race or her love for the mixed race child whose birth supposedly fails to fulfill that duty. The distinction between "us" and "my child and Me" in Effy's question to her husband points to the split between "legal family" and counter family" and the suggestion that English couple and mixed race family cannot form a single unit. Yet while Anna, in deference to Ethridge, ultimately chooses the privileged identity of the English memsahib over the mixed race family, Effy neither re jects her identity as English wife and mother nor abandons her child. The link established between "my child and me" suggests that, regardless of her husband's decision, Effy will live out this "counter family" narrative with her daughter in defiance of so cietal convention. If the mixed race child does not fulfill the maternal contribution to
213 the English race, she fulfills an even greater moral responsibility that transcends nation and race. As I noted earlier in the chapter, discussions of this story have often sought to expose Effy's marriage to John Hebron in late nineteenth century North America (especially in Atlanta, where the couple lived) as historically problematic, even after the abolition of slavery; then existing laws banning interracial marriag e would have rendered the union implausible, Henry Cuningham points out (115). Cuningham points to the fact that Hebron's resemblance to the Abolitionist Henry Highland Garnet, whom Conan Doyle met on an African voyage during the 1880s, to suggest Conan Do yle's support of abolition; yet scholarship also suggests that Conan Doyle "used the device of a grotesque face to make his didactic message more palatable to a largely prejudiced audience" (Cuningham 115). Alternatively, I suggest that his use of this mar riage and more specifically Effy's role as mother operates not merely as a platform for supporting the cause of the negro, but for a broader message for founding human relations based on an underlying principle of human equality and dignity. That he invoke s the mother to transmit this message of social and moral responsibility not only places her at the center of her family, but at the center of her larger community (her global human community as well as national or racial). It is the morally clear eyed vis ion of the mother, Conan Doyle suggests here, that can serve as the driving force for family as a microcosm of the community working for social justice. In seeking, through her question, to persuade Monroe to accept and participate in this narrative, Effy seeks to find unity between utility and sentimentality: remaining with Monroe would both offer the prospect of aiding him in living out his dreams of home and family and bring with it the
214 personal fulfillment of being in a loving marriage. To do so without sacrificing her love for her child places sentimental maternal love in equal standing with the utility of fulfilling her reproductive contribution to her English husband. In seeking, through her love of English husband and mixed race child, to join the tw o, Effy's love achieves a progressive purpose because this legitimation of the mixed race family offers personal fulfillment while extending beyond the intimacy of the family unit and even beyond the English race itself in its challenge to the taboos assoc iated with such mixing. Conan Doyle's consideration of the role of the family home as the space for diffusing racial tension shows itself most markedly in Monroe's moment of deliberation over how best to resolve the predicament in which he finds himself. If, as Ronald Thomas suggests, Lucy embodies "America, the lost colony of an earlier imperial moment, and Africa, the dark colony of the new imperialism," to reject mother and child and leave them to remain in the cottage a space tainted with the foreign w ould enact a gesture on Monroe's part that symbolically banishes Effy from nation and race (655). Aware that it lies within his grasp to salvage or destroy Effy's reputation, Monroe might easily revert to the regressive narrative in which keeping Effy und er his protection becomes an act for which she must ultimately repay him by sacrificing Lucy. In the same way that Ethridge arranges, before Anna murders her son, to send him away, it lies within Monroe's power to banish Lucy and her nurse back to America, the erasure of Effy's mixed race maternal identity being the price of Monroe's silence. Yet he ultimately chooses the progressive family narrative that progressiveness stemming from the fact that the focus of the couple's private, "domestic affairs" moves away from the immediacy of this household to become linked with the greater social concern of
215 combatting racial anxiety. Monroe forgives Effy's deception and accepts Lucy, embracing first the child and then his wife a gesture that, performed as it is in t he presence of Holmes and Watson, publicly legitimates this "counter family" as "legal family." Responding to Effy's question of what will become of her and Lucy as well as their marriage, Monroe declares, "I am not a very good man, Effy, but I think I am a better one than you have given me credit for being" (Conan Doyle 313). Ronald Thomas argues that in the story's conclusion, Monroe "exonerates himself at [Effy's] problem t hat the unscrupulous woman improperly projects upon English culture" (655). While I agree with Thomas's claim that "The Yellow Face" raises questions about racial prejudice and imperial guilt, I suggest that the story seeks to atone for rather than dismiss that guilt through the family of mixed race. Monroe's admission that he is "not a very good man" acknowledges English culpability in racial prejudice; moreover, if Effy's question challenges him to confront his guilt, his reply that "we can talk it over m ore comfortably at home," rather than closing the narrative by expunging the racial other as we see in Anna Lombard, invites further, open discourse about the issue a conversation between him and Effy that will form the basis for a new family narrative (Co nan Doyle 313). The doorstep of this previously idyllic cottage where Lucy has been concealed is darkened now not merely by associations with the foreign, but with the racial prejudice that has contributed to the tainting of the foreign. To relocate this new narrative within the English home appropriates the family unit as a social mechanism for dispelling such prejudice. By constructing this new family unit, Conan Doyle offers a new purpose for
216 English motherhood. By choosing to take Lucy into his home an d, with Effy, raise her in the bright, open air of the English countryside, Monroe offers a bold faced stand against any social backlash at their being a "black child in the neighborhood" (Conan Doyle 313). More importantly, openly accepting the visibly mi xed race child into the English home a child whose racial makeup cannot be conveniently disguised creates a context for her upbringing that, in sharp contrast to the family construct witnessed in Anna Lombard privileges neither aspect of the child's race over the other. Thus the English home and the maternal body together become, through the mixed race family, mechanisms for redefining racial mixing not as a mere amalgamation and absorption of races under the auspices of colonial advancement and sovereign unity, but a fusion that points to a diverse cultural narrative rather than one that privileges White subjectivity.
217 CHAPTER 7 CONCLUSION Each of the texts addressed in this project analyzes motherhood as a form of exchange to examine the ways th at women either participated in or were exchanged within networks of giving to serve those networks, whether the good of the local community (as the conclusion of novels like The Tenant of Wildfell Hall suggest) or the greater good and advancement of the n ation and mankind as a whole (as we see in stories like Esther Waters Dracula and "The Yellow Face"). For the writers I have addressed in this study, the family, not unnaturally, served as the primary mechanism for examining the ways that the Victorians often equated female utility with reproduction. This construct of the family as a cite of labor reflects the extent to which the Victorians sought to carve a space for the home in the shifting industrial and commercial landscape of the period. John Tosh po ints out that prior to the industrialization of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, business was largely transacted within the home, and thus "domestic relations were also therefore relations of production" (3). Work often depended on the l abor of family members as well as servants and apprentices. We see this markedly in the way that the Markham family farm operates in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall as a cite of labor that at once provides for the sustenance of the family and contributes publi c service. The doctrine of separate spheres, as I have discussed, still al lowed the family to serve as a s ite of labor, but the focus of that labor became reproduction. Such rhetoric, I suggest, appropriated to give the Victorian woman a sense of purpose without leaving the home, still continues to show itself in contemporary conversations about motherhood despite open debates about reproductive rights and
218 the long standing presence of women in the work force. In fact, the notion of motherhood as exchange and more specifically regressive exchange tends to rear its head in conversations about these very issues. In her 2011 book, How to be a Woman UK journalist Caitlin Moran devotes several chapters to the topics of motherhood and reproductive rights in whic h she reflects on the pull between a woman's maternal and nonmaternal identities a pull that still stands her at one end of a continuum in which her personhood is largely defined in terms of her reproductive capacity. On the one hand, Moran writes of the e xperience of giving birth, "a dose of pain that intense turns you from a girl into a woman. There are other ways of achieving of perception" (12). Here Moran, writing as a mother, identifies what she views as an empowering transformation that occurs when the focus of one's life extends beyond caring for self to caring for others. The problem, however, lies in the fact that the ri te of passage into adult womanhood, unlike adult manhood, is often inextricably linked to motherhood. Writing also from the perspective of a feminist and career woman who has had an abortion, she observes: Women, it is presumed, will always end up having babies. They might go through silly adolescent phases of pretending that it's something that they have no interest in, but when push comes to shove, womanhood is a cul de ever claimed for a moment that childless men have missed out on a vital view of motherhood is still so idealized and misty mother, gentle giver of life that the idea of a mother subsequently setting limit s on her capacity to nurture, and refusing to give further life seems obscene. For mothers must pretend that they are nurturing and protective of all life, however nascent or putative it might be. They should we still quietly believe deep down inside be pr epared to give and give and give, until they simply wear out. (13; 15)
219 This description of woman as mother speaks to the regressive form of giving that ultimately render's woman machine like, merely supplying a social demand for reproduction. Moran's obs ervation points to an underlying view of "woman's work" as reproductive labor. The woman who chooses to regulate the size of her family (or not have a family at all) is implicitly cast as not having fully utilized her body's labor potential. Conversely, t he woman who chooses to remain at home to care for her family often finds her "maternal labor" being quantified to justify the decision. In March 2013, the results of a study commissioned by UK insurance company Legal and General estimated that "[i]f paid, mothers would be paid 31,500 pounds a year" (O'Grady para 1). The study found that "the average mum spends 71 hours a week ensuring that school uniforms are clean, the fridge is well stocked and the house tidy" (O'Grady para 1). On the one hand, economica lly quantifying the work of maintaining a family dispels the misconception that the life of the housewife/stay at home parent is a luxurious indulgence of the rich. On the other, it suggests that there is no value to motherhood beyond its economic utility. Such a mindset implies that if the woman earns nothing tangible in return for the work of child rearing, she is not participating in an equal exchange, but sacrificing her own interests and pursuits for the good of her family and the public service that f amily provides. There is, of course, economic value in the family that the mother produces if children are seen as future laborers. Yet viewed against the personal and financial empowerment of earning an independent income, mothers suggestively reap this value only vicariously. Thus situating woman's decisions about motherhood within terms of
220 exchange catches her in an impossible conundrum in which either decision she makes can be potentially construed as regressive. On the one hand, the mother who does no t have a career outside the home is, according to studies like the one commissioned by Legal and General, literally short changed, giving with no return. On the other, the woman whose career takes precedence over her family or who chooses the career in pla ce of parenthood are selfish in their exclusively personal pursuits: "The inference of narrative has ground to a halt in their thirties if they don't 'finish things' prope rly and have children" (Moran 13). The extent to which the popularly dubbed "hen lit" of the past decade has endeavored to expose the conceptualization of motherhood as exchange as a regressive construct is twofold: it dichotomously positions women as eit her selfish or selfless givers, and it exposes a historical regression in the invocation of the family as cite of reproductive labor. It illustrates the ways that society has reappropriated the Victorian concept of motherhood as "woman's work" to render it appealing to the career woman by adopting a business model of family. In Alison Pearson's I Don't Know How She Does it (2002), the heroine Kate Reddy, successful fund manager at a major corporation in London and mother of two, spends nearly the entire nov el jetting around the world for business, has an affair with an American investor in the hope of feeling sexually viable again, and manages to restore her marriage only after giving up her job. While she does continue to work, she does so from home, managi ng a dollhouse furniture company founded by a friend and former coworker who has likewise left the office to be a stay at home mum. This plot, if blatantly heavy handed, nonetheless exposes the pull between the maternal and
221 nonmaternal that woman regularly faces. Kate, whose home life is as chaotic as her career is successful, regularly has nightmares about standing trial in "the court of motherhood" for being that most shameful of all women a bad mother: 'Katherine Reddy,' booms the judge, 'you appear bef ore the court of motherhood tonight charged with being a working mother who overcompensates with material things for not being at home with her Benjamin, for Christmas?...[I]t would be fair to say, would it not, that presents approaching the value of four hundred pounds were (Pearson 6) Kate's "crime" here is not that she purchases gifts for her children, but that she does so p resumably to buy their love in exchange for being free to pursue her career. More importantly, though she uses her maiden name Reddy professionally, the prosecuting counsel in her trial nightmares invariably refers to her by her "correct name," her married name, Mrs. Shattock (Pearson 6). Here Kate's maternal identity erases her professional female identity. The societal implication that Pearson criticizes, albeit exaggeratedly, is not that women cannot construct lives for themselves outside the family, bu t that if they cannot balance domestic and professional identities successfully, they must turn their exclusive attention to the more important of the two implicitly motherhood. The problem this narrative exposes lies not in the fact that Kate ultimately t akes up the role of the stay at home mum, but rather that she does so in a last ditch effort to atone for her focus on self fulfillment. The dollhouse company that Kate manages from home blatantly points to a business model of family that lures the career woman back home. On the one hand, that Kate manages to earn an independent income while being a stay at home mum balances the utility of being a provider with the sentimental investment of actively
222 participating in her children's lives rather than merely m aking a financial investment. On the other, her company markets a miniaturized domestic ideal to young girls packaged (for Kate) in the appealing position of CEO. Most recently, Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy (2013), which charts the ch allenges of contemporary single motherhood, adopts the language of exchange to criticize the business model of family for implying that the woman can only merge the utilitarian and sentimental models of motherhood from her place in the home. Fielding's car icature of the career mum is the character of Nicolette Martinez, mother of a schoolfellow of Bridget's son Billy and micro managing class mum. During a parents' night meeting, Nicolette declares to her son's teacher: I used to be CEO of a large chain of health and fitness clubs, which expanded throughout the UK and into North America. Now I am CEO of a family. My children are the most important, complex and thrilling products I have ever developed. I need to be able to assess their progress, relative to t engagements as play dates. They are team building exercises. (Fielding 354) What links women like Kate and Nicolette is the fact that each leaves a successful career as a business woman to devote herself to the "business" of running a household an arrangement that falls back on the construction of measuring female utility in terms of reproductive output. Nicolette's parenting philosophy reads more like a corporate mission statement. Fiel ding thus challenges readers to examine the extent to which the contemporary view of motherhood is a mere reinvention of the Victorian concept of "woman's work." Indeed, the twenty first century mother, often dividing her time between familial and professi onal responsibilities, almost seems, Fielding comically suggests, to require a CV to become a mother. In highlighting her business skills as they relate to motherhood, Nicolette effectively lists her qualifications for the position;
223 her success as a CEO im plies that she is an effective overseer and multitasker skills that she "markets" as directly transferable to coordinating the day to day rhythms of family life. Indeed, as the class mum, she is regularly seen organizing school picnics and concerts, collec ting for teachers' gifts, ETC. Fielding, like Pearson, paints the stay at home mum as a kind of spokeswoman for the business model of family, recruiting women to the maternal taskforce with her micromanaging efficiency. On the one hand, Bridget, chaotical ly struggling to split her time between school runs, playdates, and work meetings, offers a somewhat more realistic portrait of the working mother. On the other, the point that these narratives leave largely unspoken is the valuable contribution that women can make to society in their own right, whether or not they choose to become mothers. Women wr iters like Moran, Pearson, and F ielding tell us that the rhetoric of packaging motherhood within a business model to market it to the career woman still locates women within a socially prescribed narrative that makes motherhood the most valuable work they can perform. Casting the childless career woman as "selfish" and describing her life with vocabulary that suggests lacking carries the implication that a fulfill ing life that serves the good of others as well as self can only be found in motherhood. We live in a moment when the educational and career opportunities to which women have access far surpass those of our nineteenth century counterparts. If motherhood is as we desire to claim, truly a choice, we can no longer measure the value of woman's choices against a rubric that still implicitly defines the completeness of a woman's life narrative in terms of her reproductive capacity.
224 Concerns about reproductive r ights, however, encompass more than the right to terminate a pregnancy or the decision not to have children. For women who struggle to have children and seek the services of assisted reproductive technology such as invitro fertilization or artificial insem ination, the discourse of parenthood similarly complicates their ability to act as arbiters in the maternal narrative. In an article discussing the regulation of reproductive technology, Kimberly M. Mutcherson points to the vocabulary used to describe egg and sperm donation as indicative of this problem; in particular, she objects to the use of the term "donor" as "perpetuat[ing] myths of altruism that ultimately mask commodification and therefore make it more difficult for us to consider the realities of a market in making babies" ("In Defense of Future Children" 47). Viewed within the framework of motherhood as exchange, Mutcherson 's claim exposes this vocabulary as problematic because it views the parent or parents as primarily recipients of a gift rather than givers of life themselves and creators of a family. Parents who might not actively reproduce in the physiological sense who either adopt or resort to assisted reproductive technology still make an active choice to claim the rights and responsibilitie s of child rearing, investing time, money, and love in the life of another human being. conversely, conversations about assisted reproductive technology that view parents as purchasers rather than donees set up an arguably regressive relationship between p arents and potential children in the extent to which parents are cast as consumers. As Debora spar observes: When parents purchase eggs, for example, they are clearly selecting along genetic lines. Why else pay extra for that attractive Ivy League donor? Sperm is also marketed by genes, as evidenced by information pay more for smarter eggs and taller sperm, why not pay more to guarantee that the child who results from this high pote ntial pairing really
225 does carry the optimal set of genes? (qtd in Mutcherson "Making Mommies" 328) This idea of the so called "designer baby" turns the notion of parenthood on its head, positioning parents as recipients first and foremost rather than givers. Children here become the very material "symbolic credential" against which Adrienne rich warns t he twenty first century "well made baby" that Ouida criticizes in her portrayal of the marriage market's raising of daughters as commodities. It is also worth noting that the discourse of assisted reproductive technology as exchange is problematic in the extent to which it still often privileges the heteronormative family configuration. Rarely, Mutcherson points out, must the heterosexual couple answer questions about why they are choosing to have children because they are presumably seen as fulfilling a p rescribed biological and social duty. Same sex couples, however (as well as single women), often meet with derision as "reproductive outsiders" ( Mutcherson "In Defense of Future Children" 56). As I have pointed out throughout the dissertation, we can, on the most basic physiological level, view a child as the result of a sexual exchange between individuals that extends the focus of that act beyond an immediate one to one relationship. Yet however much advancements of reproductive technology have pushed the envelope in terms of the conventional concept of procreation, the vocabulary in which we continue to situate discussions of such technology falls short of encompassing the diversity of family narratives such advancements enable. Even the nineteenth centur y texts discussed here gesture toward an acknowledgement of such diversity; if stories like Le Fanu's Carmilla still create a restrictive network of giving in terms of female exclusivity, such networks nonetheless point to the ability to form procreative r elationships through an
226 alternative to a heteronormative construct. Thus examining the ongoing cultural construct of motherhood as exchange challenges us to cast a broader net in conversations about motherhood that encompasses the diversity of what it mean s to be a parent.
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233 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Francesca M. Marinaro holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts degree in English from Florida Gulf Coast University. She received her PhD in English with a concentration in Victorian Studies from the University of Florida in May 2014. Her major research interests include Ninete enth Century British Literature, gender and embodiment studies, and adaptation studies.