DeCicco, Lynne Marie Books1996 0-7734-8756-5
This book examines three mid-Victorian novels that highlight prevailing attitudes toward both women and lawyers: Charles Dickens's Bleak House; Wilkie Collins's The Woman in White; and George Eliot's Felix Holt, the Radical. The novels reflect the confluence of social issues: the public's suspicion of lawyers and the law's own hostility toward women. To qualify the underpinnings of this tension more completely, the first chapter looks at three short works by Herman Melville: "the paradise of Bachelors", "The Tartarus Maids", and "Bartleby the Scrivener". These pieces crystallize the difficulties women encounter when confronted with a legal world, and set the framework for what will be examined in the novels. The volume also includes a chapter providing an overview of the legal profession in England, outlining the kinds of marginality experienced by both lawyers, particularly solicitors, and women, who were struggling for legal identity.