Peril and Protection in British Courtship Novels: A Study in Continuity and Change explores the use and context of danger/safety language in British courtship novels published between 1719 and 1920. The term "courtship novel" encompasses works focusing on both female and male protagonists’ journeys toward marriage, as well as those reflecting the intertwined nature of comic courtship and tragic seduction scenarios. Through careful tracking of peril and protection terms and imagery within the works of widely-read, influential authors, Professor Chavis provides a fresh view of the complex ways that the British novel has both maintained the status quo and embodied cultural change. Lucid discussions of each novel, arranged in chronological order, shed new light on major characters’ preoccupations, values, internal struggles, and inter-actional styles and demonstrate the ways in which gender ideology and social norms governing male-female relationships were not only perpetuated but also challenged and satirized during the course of the British novel’s development. Blending close textual analysis with historical/cultural and feminist criticism, this multi-faceted study invites readers to look with both a microscopic lens at the nuances of figurative and literal language and a telescopic lens at the ways in which modifications to views of masculinity and femininity and interactions within the courtship arena inform the novel genre’s evolution.

chapter 1|15 pages


Danger, Protection, and Gender Ideology in Courtship Novels

chapter 2|34 pages

Establishing the Traditional Courtship Novel in the Eighteenth Century

Haywood, Richardson, and Burney

chapter 3|14 pages

Intensifying Tradition

Gothic Courtship Novels of Walpole and Radcliffe

chapter 4|47 pages

Enriching and Mocking Tradition

Ironic Variations in Austen’s Courtship Novels

chapter 5|46 pages

Flawed Heroes and Rescuing Heroines

Victorian Challenges and Adherence to Tradition

chapter 6|55 pages

Combatants, Soul Mates, and Risky Ventures

Modernist Deconstructions of Courtship Novel Danger in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries