This chapter surveys correspondence between spouses, emphasizing the variety and complexity of marital experience, and examining the effects on letters as a source of rising female literacy and greater epistolary privacy between partners. It stresses that letters reveal the widespread existence of emotional as well as social, economic, and political bonds within marriage, and indicate mutual favourable expectations of conjugal relationships. Allied to this, it argues that correspondence was not merely a pragmatic way of conducting business and conveying information, but in fact performed more privy and intimate functions, and assumed emotional significance. This chapter also assesses the extent to which restrictive gender codes of female behaviour were enforced in practice, mapping the location of power within marital relationships and the scope of wives' activities and interests. Finally, it highlights the differences between husbands' and wives' letters: husbands more frequently articulated emotion and affection in their correspondence than did wives.
Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.