‘I’d sell my spouse if anybody would buy her’: spouse product sales in England
‘For my component I don’t realise why guys who ‘ve got wives and want that is don’t, should not dispose of ‘em since these gipsy fellows do their old horses…Why should not they place ‘em up and sell ‘em by auction to males that are looking for such articles? Hey? Why, begad, I’d sell mine this full moment if anyone would purchase her!’
Therefore states the farm that is young Michael Henchard, in just one of the most arresting passages in Thomas Hardy’s 1886 novel The Mayor of Casterbridge. Nearby the start of the written guide, Michael gets drunk on rum-laced furmity (frumenty), and it has an argument along with his spouse, Susan. He decides to sell Susan and their child daughter, that are purchased by a sailor for five guineas. Whenever Michael sobers up, the enormity of exactly exactly what he’s done hits house; he realises he cannot get their daughter and wife right right back, and swears down alcohol for the following 21 years because of this.
The scene is shocking, no question, just just exactly what with Michael’s casual brutality, Susan’s misery, while the pervasive misogyny. Yet whenever it emerges that Susan is also quite keen to part means with Michael, i will be struck by there being something oddly modern with what is actually a no-fault divorce that is quick. Michael describes to your onlookers that:
‘It’s an agreement to component. She shall use the baby|Thebaby shall be taken by her if she would like to, and get her means. I’ll just just just take my tools, and get my methods.