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ConnieAnnKirk
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Chapters 19-27 (No Spoilers, please)

For discussion of chapters not later than the end of Chapter 27.  Thank you!
~ConnieAnnKirk




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ELee
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Infanticide and baby farming

[ Edited ]

I’ll preface this by saying it’s a bit off topic and though morbid, interesting from a historical standpoint.  

 

In Ch 21, Elizabeth “found herself in one of the little-used alleys of the town” after exiting High-Place Hall. 

“The position of the queer old door and the odd presence of the leering mask suggested one thing above all others, as appertaining to the mansion’s past history-intrigue.  By the alley it had been possible to come unseen from all sorts of quarters in the town-the old playhouse, the old bull-stake, the old cock-pit, the pool wherein nameless infants had been used to disappear.”

Online, The Free Dictionary by Farlex describes infanticide in Victorian times.

“Infanticide became a volatile issue during the Victorian era and was written about by authors such as Charles Dickens, George Eliot, and Matthew Arnold. Although popularly perceived as poor, ignorant, unmarried girls concealing their pregnancies and then killing their infants at birth in order to hide their shame, infanticide was more often caused by financial desperation. The crime often went unpunished, as juries were reluctant to see women receive capital punishment.”

Although this is by no means a major issue in TMoC and is only mentioned in passing, it seems to have been an area of concern in the mid-to-late 1800’s.  Another related issue that existed during this time was the practice of baby-farming.

In her paper “Bastardy and Baby Farming in Victorian England”, Dorothy L. Haller notes that the baby farmers (mostly women) would run newspaper ads soliciting care of infants and offering care weekly/monthly (15 shillings per) or permanent adoption (12 pounds).

“The primary objective of professional baby farmers was to solicit as many sickly infants or infants under two months as possible, because life was precarious for them and their deaths would appear more natural.  They would adopt the infants for a set fee and get ride of them as quickly as possible in order to maximize their profits.  The infants were kept drugged on laudanum, paregoric, and other poisons, and fed watered down milk laced with lime.  They quickly died of thrush induced by malnutrition and fluid on the brain due to excessive doses of strong narcotics.  The costs of burial was avoided by wrapping the naked bodies of the dead infants in old newspapers and damping them in a deserted area, or by throwing them in the Thames.”

 

 



Message Edited by ELee on 06-10-2008 09:47 AM
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ELee
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Ch 25 ...meaner beauties of the night

When Elizabeth ruminates about her position in relation to Lucetta, she thinks
 
"What was she beside Lucetta?-as one of the "meaner beauties of the night," when the moon had risen in the skies."
 
In the B&N edition, it is explained that this is the opening line of Sir Henry Wotton's "Elizabeth of Bohemia".  Here is the whole poem, which brings a little more emphasis to the contrast she perceives.
 
You meaner beauties of the night,
Which poorly satisfy our eyes
More by your number than your light,
You common people of the skies,-
What are you, when the Moon shall rise?
 
Ye violets that first appear,
By your pure purple mantles known
Like the proud virgins of the year,
As if the spring were all your own,-
What are you when the Rose is blown?
 
Ye curious chanters of the wood
That warble forth dame Nature's lays,
Thinking your passions understood
By your weak accents,-what's your praise
When Philomel her voice doth raise?
 
So when my Mistress shall be seen
In sweetness of her looks and mind,
By virtue first, then choice, a Queen,
Tell me, if she were not design'd
Th' eclipse and glory of her kind?
 
(Philomel, I believe, refers to the nightingale)
 
By the by, do you think the name in the title of Wotton's poem had any bearing on Hardy's selection of Elizabeth for his character?
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Re: Infanticide and baby farming

Interesting, if a bit gory.

Keeping in mind that those were the "good old days." :smileyhappy:

ELee wrote:

I’ll preface this by saying it’s a bit off topic and though morbid, interesting from a historical standpoint.

In Ch 21, Elizabeth “found herself in one of the little-used alleys of the town” after exiting High-Place Hall.

“The position of the queer old door and the odd presence of the leering mask suggested one thing above all others, as appertaining to the mansion’s past history-intrigue. By the alley it had been possible to come unseen from all sorts of quarters in the town-the old playhouse, the old bull-stake, the old cock-pit, the pool wherein nameless infants had been used to disappear.”

Online, The Free Dictionary by Farlex describes infanticide in Victorian times.

“Infanticide became a volatile issue during the Victorian era and was written about by authors such as Charles Dickens, George Eliot, and Matthew Arnold. Although popularly perceived as poor, ignorant, unmarried girls concealing their pregnancies and then killing their infants at birth in order to hide their shame, infanticide was more often caused by financial desperation. The crime often went unpunished, as juries were reluctant to see women receive capital punishment.”

Although this is by no means a major issue in TMoC and is only mentioned in passing, it seems to have been an area of concern in the mid-to-late 1800’s. Another related issue that existed during this time was the practice of baby-farming.

In her paper “Bastardy and Baby Farming in Victorian England”, Dorothy L. Haller notes that the baby farmers (mostly women) would run newspaper ads soliciting care of infants and offering care weekly/monthly (15 shillings per) or permanent adoption (12 pounds).

“The primary objective of professional baby farmers was to solicit as many sickly infants or infants under two months as possible, because life was precarious for them and their deaths would appear more natural. They would adopt the infants for a set fee and get ride of them as quickly as possible in order to maximize their profits. The infants were kept drugged on laudanum, paregoric, and other poisons, and fed watered down milk laced with lime. They quickly died of thrush induced by malnutrition and fluid on the brain due to excessive doses of strong narcotics. The costs of burial was avoided by wrapping the naked bodies of the dead infants in old newspapers and damping them in a deserted area, or by throwing them in the Thames.”



Message Edited by ELee on 06-10-2008 09:47 AM


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ConnieAnnKirk
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Re: Infanticide and baby farming

[ Edited ]
Morbid, to say the least.  People often think life was so much tamer, less violent, and more conservative back in history.  This is just one example of how that is simply not the case.
 
~ConnieK
 


ELee wrote:

I’ll preface this by saying it’s a bit off topic and though morbid, interesting from a historical standpoint.  

 



Message Edited by ConnieK on 06-10-2008 01:25 PM
~ConnieAnnKirk




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Re: Infanticide and baby farming

Anybody who has read the Iliad, or War and Peace, or Oedipus
Rex, or who has read about the Roman Circus or the Spanish Inquisition or the Salem Witch Trials, would be hard pressed, I think, to suggest that life in the past was less violent than it is now.

ConnieK wrote:
Morbid, to say the least. People often think life was so much tamer, less violent, and more conservative back in history. This is just one example of how that is simply not the case.
~ConnieK


ELee wrote:

I’ll preface this by saying it’s a bit off topic and though morbid, interesting from a historical standpoint.



Message Edited by ConnieK on 06-10-2008 01:25 PM


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ELee
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Ch 20

"Henchard, being uncultivated himself, was the bitterest critic the fair girl (Elizabeth-Jane) could possibly have had of her own lapses-really slight now, for she read omnivorously."
 
To describe Elizabeth as reading "omnivorously" stood out for me.  (taking in everything that is available)  At first, it reminded me of one of the passages from The Return of the Native regarding Eustacia.
 
"She could never have believed in the morning that her colourless inner world would before night become as animated as water under a microscope..."
 
I believe in our previous discussion of TRotN, it was mentioned how the publication of Darwin's "Origin of the Species" probably brought zoologic terminology to the forefront.  In a milder circumstance, I think terming her desire to read as omnivorous could be considered in that same light.  At the same time, since we understand that she is reading things she isn't necessarily able to grasp and understand completely in her untutored quest for  knowledge,
 
"'If I am not well-informed it shall be by no fault of my own," she would say to herself through tears that would occasionally glide down her peachy cheeks when she was fairly baffled by the portentous obscurity of many of these educational works."
 
I find the use of omnivorous very apt since it signifies an indiscriminate attempt to absorb learning based on availability, which is more in tune with her character as Hardy has presented it.
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Re: Ch 20

The passage ELee cites follows immediately another passage which I found of considerable interest:

One grievous failing of
Elizabeth's was her occasional pretty and picturesque use of dialect
words--those terrible marks of the beast to the truly genteel.

It was dinner-time--they never met except at meals--and she happened to
say when he was rising from table, wishing to show him something, "If
you'll bide where you be a minute, father, I'll get it."

"'Bide where you be,'" he echoed sharply, "Good God, are you only fit to
carry wash to a pig-trough, that ye use such words as those?"

She reddened with shame and sadness.

"I meant 'Stay where you are,' father," she said, in a low, humble
voice. "I ought to have been more careful."

He made no reply, and went out of the room.

The sharp reprimand was not lost upon her, and in time it came to
pass that for "fay" she said "succeed"; that she no longer spoke of
"dumbledores" but of "humble bees"; no longer said of young men and
women that they "walked together," but that they were "engaged"; that
she grew to talk of "greggles" as "wild hyacinths"; that when she had
not slept she did not quaintly tell the servants next morning that she
had been "hag-rid," but that she had "suffered from indigestion."


Henchard, who started out life as a hay-trusser and was probably using exactly these same words as a young man, has now risen considerably in status, and now considers this language to be beneath the status of himself and his family. This points out the shift in status Henchard made, from laborer to respected businessman, and how conscious he was of the need to moderate his language to match his new class. This uprise in class would still perhaps have been unusual in 1830 England despite the rapid industrialization which was upsetting much of the class stratification on which English society had so long depended.
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