What Is the Significance of Marital Union in the European Novel? Discuss, with Reference to at Least Two Novels Studied.

6. What is the significance of marital union in the European novel? Discuss, with reference to   at least two novels studied.
According to the nineteenth century edition of Webster’s dictionary, marriage was “the act of uniting man and woman, as husband and wife for life”. This literary definition does not explain social and legal implications of marriage and its fundamental aspects in nineteenth- century consciousness.   Married couples were expected to “inhabit a legal role, legal personality, that carried with it strong and stringent public expectations as to conduct and responsibility. That legal person, that collection of legal rights and duties- the husband, the wife- existed regardless of an individual discontent with individuality (Hartog, 97).   In legal understanding, a couple, who has contracted to live together, constitute an association of two individuals, each with a separate intellectual and emotional make up. (Hartog, 96). As Hartog continues, to be married is legally nothing more than an agreement to enter into a personal relationship between arising out of the civil contract. One always remains as individual (97).
That individuality did not apply to the changing climate in political, cultural and social spheres in XIX century Europe. European women of that time lived in age characterized by gender inequality. The onset of industrialization and urbanization transformed European society and family life. The Victorian age was time of escalating gender polarization, as women were expected to adhere to rigidly defined moral and domestic rules. They could not vote, could not testify in a court, had extremely limited control over personal property after marriage, were rarely granted custody of their children in cases of divorce, and were barred from institutions of higher education. They often were forbidden the right to love and passion.
Like the majority of her European counterparts, Russian women lived in patriarchal environment. With restricted...