M. Jeanne Peterson (essay date 1970)
SOURCE: “The Victorian Governess: Status Incongruence in Family and Society,” in Victorian Studies, Vol. 14, No. 1, September, 1970, pp. 7-26.
[In the following essay, Peterson considers the role of the governess within the Victorian middle-class family, focusing primarily on the incongruencies inherent in the notion of “employed gentlewoman.”]
The governess is a familiar figure to the reader of victorian novels. Immortalized in Jane Eyre and Vanity Fair, she has made frequent appearances as the heroine of many lesser-known novels. And innumerable governesses appear as little more than a standard furnishing in many a fictional Victorian home....
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