ABSTRACT

Chapter 5 contains explorations of six Victorian novels: Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre , Elizabeth Gaskell’s Mary Barton , Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield , George Eliot’s Adam Bede , and Thomas Hardy’s A Pair of Blue Eyes and Tess of the D’Urbervilles . Close attention to elaborate literal and figurative danger/safety language within these novels highlights the increasingly complex and often ironic interplay of internal and external obstacles in the lives of courting couples and spotlights emerging protests against rigid masculine and feminine stereotypes. These protests appear in blurred distinctions between honorable hero and pseudo-suitor and in striking gender role reversals involving deficient heroes’ unfulfilled promises of protection and heroines’ daring rescues of the men they love. Yet, in spite of challenges to the status quo, these novels depict a society where male privilege prevails and cherished feminine ideals include an unsullied reputation, self-sacrifice, physical delicacy, and moral superiority.