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

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

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

Therefore claims the young farm labourer Michael Henchard, in another of the most arresting passages in Thomas Hardy’s 1886 novel The Mayor of Casterbridge. Nearby the start of written book, Michael gets drunk on rum-laced furmity (frumenty), and has now an argument along with his wife, Susan. He chooses to sell Susan and their infant child, that are purchased by a sailor for five guineas. Whenever Michael sobers up, the enormity of just just what he’s done hits house; he realises he cannot get their daughter and wife right back, and swears down liquor for the following 21 years because of this.

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

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

This brilliant scene raised a wide range of concerns for me personally, that we attempt to investigate. Did spouse product product sales similar to this happen actually? If that’s the case, where so when had been they happening, and exactly why?

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