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date: 16 February 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Katherine Mansfield described Dickens’s Mrs Wilfer (Our Mutual Friend)—a character who strenuously resists the role of angel in the house showing distaste for marriage and motherhood—as ‘after my own heart’. This chapter reconsiders Dickens’s difficult women in the light of recent work in queer and gender theory on the political value of anti-sociability with particular attention to the domestic and emotional experience of the affect alien. As well as Mrs Wilfer, key figures include Mrs Jellyby (Bleak House), and Martha Varden (Barnaby Rudge). The chapter offers a sustained new reading of the ugly feelings and household disharmonies of Barnaby Rudge, exploring Dickens’s engagement with the incoherence of Victorian domestic ideology as enshrined by figures like John Ruskin.

Keywords: John Ruskin, domestic ideology, queer theory, gender, affect, anti-sociability, affect alien, ugly feeling, emotion

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