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Sentimentalizing Patriarchy: Patriarchal Anxiety and Filial Obligation in Sir Charles Grandison Jeremy W. Webster In his classic work, The Family, Sex and Marriage in England, 1500-1800, Lawrence Stone argues that the late seventeendi and eighteentii centuries saw the rise of companionate marriage, a form offamilial organization in which the choice ofa spouse was largely left to die discretion ofchildren radier dian dieir parents, in which wives became responsible for managing the household and organizing leisure activities, as well as supervising the education oftheir children, and in which couples considered emotional intimacy and affective ties a requisite for a happy marriage.1 Published one year after Stone's book, Randolph Trumbach's ThePòse oftheEgalitarianFamily similarly claims that patriarchy was slowly replaced by domesticity during die eighteentii century, eventually leading to "a pattern of close and loving association between husband and wife, and ofdoting care for children."2 Subsequent historians of gender and the family have challenged diese models byfinding much ofthe evidence upon which they are based to be "an expression of die ideal model of gender relations [in die period] radier dian a reflection ofits reality" and by emphasizing the "complicated and contradictory nature" of that 1 Lawrence Stone, TheFamily, SexandMarriageinEngland, 1500-iSOO (NewYork: Harper and Row, 1977), 392. 2 Randolph Trumbach, The Rise oftheEgalitarian Family (NewYork: Academic Press, 1978), 120. EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY FICTION, Volume 17, Number 3, April 2005 426 EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY FICTION reality as a result of "the diversity ofways in which men constructed and thought about themselves, and deployed diose facets of selfidentity in their relations with odier men and women."3 While Stone maintains that "patriarchal attitudes within the home markedly declined, and greater autonomywas granted not only to children but also to wives," odier historians contend diat, in die words ofAnthony Fletcher, while patriarchywas challenged by die deployment ofdomesticity and sentimentality, "men revised a scheme ofgender relations [during die eighteentii century] diat served dieir interests as men so effectively" that patriarchy survived.4 Building upon the work of these historians, this article explicates one aspect ofdiis "revised scheme ofgender relations," modifications in paternal-filial relationships, to demonstrate how die threat to patriarchal hegemony by discourses of sentimentality and romantic love during the eighteenth century was deflected and filial duty to obey paternal figures (actual fatiiers, older brotiiers, and male guardians) was recast as an obligation born out oflove rather than compulsion. As Susan Moller Okin maintains, tiiis new schema "provided a new rationale for the subordination of women." While earlier views of patriarchal authority preached obedience to fatiiers and husbands as part ofthe beliefthat the heads ofhouseholds owned tiieir subordinates , writes Okin, by 1700 die rhetoric ofpossession, which had been co-opted by liberalism to espouse die individual's self-ownership, was, as Stone and Trumbach claim, replaced widi a cultural discourse of loving intimacy between husband and wife and ofdoting care for children , diat is, "the affective or sentimental family." According to Okin, die idealization of the sentimental family had several consequences for women and children: First, women's spheres of dependence and domesticity are divided from the outside world more stricüy dian before. Second, women increasingly come to be characterized as creatures ofsentiment and love rather than of the rationality tiiat was perceived as necessary for citizenship. Finally, die legiümacy of male rule both within and outside the family is reinforced—despite the challenges to it that are inherent in individualism—on the grounds that the interests of the family are totally united, that family relations, unlike those outside, are based 3 Elizabeth A. Foyster, Manhood inEarly ModemEngland: Honour, Sex, andMarriage (London and New York: Longman, 1999), 2; Gender in Eighteenth-Century England: Roles, Representations , and Responsibilities, ed. Hannah Barker and Elaine Chalus (London and New York: Longman, 1997); Tim Hitchcock and Michèle Cohen, introduction to English Masculinities, 1660-1800 (London and New York: Longman, 1999), 1. 4 Stone, 8; Anthony Fletcher, Gender, Sex, and Subordination in England, 1500-1800 (New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1995), 411. PATRIARCHAL ANXIETY 427 only on love, and tfierefore husbands and fathers can be safely entrusted with power within the household and with the right of representing dieir families' interests...


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