By Clare Hanson (auth.)
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Extra resources for A Cultural History of Pregnancy: Pregnancy, Medicine and Culture, 1750–2000
Yet at the end of the novel, when Adeline is once again held in the loving gaze of her mother, maternal feeling is again powerfully endorsed: Mrs Mowbray at that moment eagerly and anxiously pressed forward to catch her weak accents, and inquire how she felt. 'I have seen that fond and anxious look before,' she faintly articulated, 'but in happier times! ' (p. 268) To this extent, Adeline Mowbray offers a conservative and regressive version of the mother-daughter plot, which features in several novels of the period.
First, the freethinking Mrs Mowbray is shown to have failed her daughter through her irresponsible advocacy of theories she herself would never put into practice and which for her are simple 'amusements'. She further neglects her responsibilities when, as her friend Dr Norberry puts it, at the age of forty she plays the fool and marries 'a penniless profligate, merely because he had a fine person and a handsome leg': it is this second husband's attempted seduction of Adeline which prompts her elopement with Glenmurray.
The proposition that maternal emotions could affect the health of the developing child), they deployed the concept in their fiction to interrogate the contexts of such responsibility. Their fiction thus foregrounds the conditions under which a pregnant woman might come to suffer 'excessive' emotion, and often depicts the situation of the pregnant woman as an extreme case of the social and legal exploitation of all women. While women could at this time, exceptionally, have their property protected for their own use under the system of equity, the provisions of common law entailed the loss of a woman's legal identity upon marriage.
A Cultural History of Pregnancy: Pregnancy, Medicine and Culture, 1750–2000 by Clare Hanson (auth.)