By Virginia H. Cope (auth.)

ISBN-10: 0230239544

ISBN-13: 9780230239548

ISBN-10: 1349305812

ISBN-13: 9781349305810

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Extra resources for Property, Education, and Identity in Late Eighteenth-Century Fiction: Heroine of Disinterest

Sample text

Theorists such as Carol Gilligan have made claims for women’s innate drive toward a more cooperative ethic; even without accepting that conception, we can argue that women were expected to grease the wheels of civic cooperation and—increasingly in the eighteenth century—were legally and ideologically driven to do so. In novels of inheritance, then, gender ideologies supplement the explanatory appeal of narrative to imagine cooperative individuals: heroines who routinely reject economic calculations of value by choosing disinterest over self-interest.

Property and propriety are indivisible, with possession going naturally to the “industrious and rational” so long as “labour was to be his title to it” (Section 34). This stage does not last. The development of families eventually necessitates the creation of distinct and permanent property lines. The need for private property arises when the hypothetical acorngatherer becomes a father with children and servants, a head of family with a reason for acquiring more property than needed for his own immediate consumption.

This is in part because tenderness, construed as weakness, inspires men’s protective instincts.

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Property, Education, and Identity in Late Eighteenth-Century Fiction: Heroine of Disinterest by Virginia H. Cope (auth.)


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