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summary

A scathing critique of the legal status of women and their property rights in nineteenth-century America, Rebecca Harding Davis’s 1878 novel A Law Unto Herself chronicles the experiences of Jane Swendon, a seemingly naïve and conventional nineteenth-century protagonist struggling to care for her elderly father with limited financial resources. In order to continue care, Jane seeks to secure her rightful inheritance despite the efforts of her cousin and later her husband, a greedy man who has tricked her father into securing her hand in marriage.

 

Appealing to middle-class literary tastes of the age, A Law Unto Herself elucidated for a broad general audience the need for legal reforms regarding divorce, mental illness, inheritance, and reforms to the Married Women’s Property Laws. Through three fascinating female characters, the novel also invites readers to consider evolving gender roles during a time of cultural change.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
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  1. Title Page, Copyright Page
  2. pp. i-iv
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. v-vi
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. vii-viii
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  1. Editor’s Introduction
  2. pp. ix-xlvi
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  1. A Note on the Text
  2. pp. xlvii-xlviii
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  1. A Law Unto Herself
  2. pp. xlix-l
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  1. Part 1
  2. pp. 1-2
  1. Chapter 1
  2. pp. 3-12
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  1. Chapter 2
  2. pp. 13-22
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  1. Part 2
  2. pp. 23-24
  1. Chapter 3
  2. pp. 25-34
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  1. Chapter 4
  2. pp. 35-50
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  1. Chapter 5
  2. pp. 51-54
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  1. Part 3
  2. pp. 55-56
  1. Chapter 6
  2. pp. 57-62
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  1. Chapter 7
  2. pp. 63-71
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  1. Chapter 8
  2. pp. 72-78
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  1. Chapter 9
  2. pp. 79-86
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  1. Part 4
  2. pp. 87-88
  1. Chapter 10
  2. pp. 89-92
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  1. Chapter 11
  2. pp. 93-99
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  1. Chapter 12
  2. pp. 100-107
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  1. Chapter 13
  2. pp. 108-116
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  1. Part 5
  2. pp. 117-118
  1. Chapter 14
  2. pp. 119-124
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  1. Chapter 15
  2. pp. 125-128
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  1. Chapter 16
  2. pp. 129-131
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  1. Chapter 17
  2. pp. 132-140
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  1. Chapter 18
  2. pp. 141-148
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  1. Part 6
  2. pp. 149-150
  1. Chapter 19
  2. pp. 151-153
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  1. Chapter 20
  2. pp. 154-159
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  1. Chapter 21
  2. pp. 160-166
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  1. Chapter 22
  2. pp. 167-176
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 177-182
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  1. In the Legacies of Nineteenth-Century American Women Writers series
  2. pp. 183-183
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Additional Information

ISBN
9780803256705
Related ISBN
9780803238145
MARC Record
OCLC
895258735
Pages
208
Launched on MUSE
2015-01-23
Language
English
Open Access
No
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