I expand scholarship by Lawson and Shakinovsky, Rintoul, Surridge, and Tromp on marital abuse in nineteenth-century British fiction. Due to Blackstone's theory of coverture, wives allegedly consented on their wedding days to future abuse. Further, Bacon legalized physical and emotional marital abuse, and Hale established the marital rape exemption. The public, including nonfiction writers, erroneously asserted that marital abuse existed almost entirely in the lower classes, but fiction writers countered that myth by showing “consensual” abuse in middle- and upper-class marriages. With middle-class physical and emotional marital abuse in “Janet's Repentance” and upper-class sexual marital abuse in Daniel Deronda, Eliot shows all marital abuse as nonconsensual and enabled more overt condemnations of upper-class sexual marital abuse from Egerton's “Virgin Soil” and Galsworthy's The Man of Property and In Chancery.

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