Elizabeth Gaskell: Wives and Daughters. (2635 words)

  • Josie Billington (University of Liverpool)

The setting for Wives and Daughters is provincial Hollingford, and its heroine, Molly Gibson, is daughter of the respected local doctor, Mr Gibson, a widower since Molly’s infancy. The main impetus for the story is the doctor’s decision to re-marry in order to provide his vulnerable daughter with a mother. His choice of wife, Mrs Kirkpatrick, a widow and former governess for Lord and Lady Cumnor, the local aristocracy, is happy to be released from the drudgery of keeping herself and her daughter by running a minor, unsuccessful school. But she is far from being a match for the doctor in intellectual and moral seriousness. While there are “no outrageous infractions of domestic peace”, the strain between the couple shows e…

Billington, Josie. "Wives and Daughters. ". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 09 February 2007
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=8841, accessed 22 October 2016.]