By Mary Jean Corbett
Corbett explores fictional and nonfictional representations of Ireland's courting with England in the course of the 19th century. She considers the makes use of of familial and family metaphors in structuring narratives that enact the ''union'' of britain and eire. Corbett situates her readings of novels by way of Edgeworth, Gaskell, and Trollope, and writings by means of Burke, Engels, and Mill, in the various historic contexts that form them. She revises the severe orthodoxies surrounding colonial discourse that presently be triumphant in Irish and English experiences, and provides a clean standpoint on vital facets of Victorian tradition.
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Additional info for Allegories of Union in Irish and English Writing, 1790-1870: Politics, History, and the Family from Edgeworth to Arnold
Zerilli eﬀectively argues, ‘‘what comes apart in the French Revolution . . ¹² Patrilineal inheritance, as I have noted, is central to Burke’s thinking about the reproduction of political and economic forms; he represents it as sure and certain, while revolutionary change is dangerous and unpredictable in its outcomes. ¹³ Burke’s conﬁdence in the security of hereditary transmission depends, in other words, on the tacit assumption of marital chastity among women, who act as the unacknowledged ground for and guarantors of familial, economic, and political legitimacy.
For while Burke presents the family as a neutral ﬁgure embracing all within its grasp, his historicist defense of English liberty rests on some latent assumptions about the nature and character of women and men, conceived ahistorically as ﬁxed and unchanging – yet also liable to extreme unsettling in the revolutionary context. ¹⁰ In its basic form, Burke’s binary opposes masculine activity to feminine passivity in much the same way that Davidoﬀ and Hall characterize emergent middle-class gender ideology.
As part of that family, Ireland was entitled to a limited autonomy, but subject ultimately to its superior’s sovereignty, both for its own beneﬁt and Great Britain’s: as Burke wrote in ‘‘A Letter on the Aﬀairs of Ireland’’ (), his last extant work, ‘‘the closest connexion between Great Britain and Ireland, is essential to the well being, I had almost said, to the very being, of the two Kingdoms . . Ireland, locally, civilly, and commercially independent, ought politically to look up to Great Britain in all matters of peace and of War’’ (Writings and Speeches ).
Allegories of Union in Irish and English Writing, 1790-1870: Politics, History, and the Family from Edgeworth to Arnold by Mary Jean Corbett