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A woman's right to say no to a proposal of marriage, in defiance of her family and friends, was an essential feature of Victorian middle- and upper-class ideology, as it is represented in novels of the time. This right was based on the assumptions that falling in love is to some degree fortuitous, but that it is a permanent ontological change of selfhood. A good woman is justified in saying no even to an advantageous marriage proposal if she does not love her suitor. Anthony Trollope's novels offer varied dramatizations of these assumptions, while Henry James's novels recount their incipient breakdown.