Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Elizabeth Gaskell$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Patsy Stoneman

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780719074479

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: July 2012

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719074479.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM MANCHESTER SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.manchester.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Manchester University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MSO for personal use (for details see www.manchester.universitypressscholarship.com/page/privacy-policy).date: 16 October 2018

Cousin Phillis (1863)

Cousin Phillis (1863)

(p.105) 9 Cousin Phillis (1863)
Elizabeth Gaskell

Patsy Stoneman

Manchester University Press

Written almost simultaneously with Sylvia's Lovers, Cousin Phillis seems like a reaction to the intractable problems of evolution, conflict and passion raised in that novel. Evading the problem of aggression, it presents not ‘nature red in tooth and claw’ but ‘man in harmony with nature’. For once, Elizabeth Gaskell has avoided the mixed forms of fiction that cause such critical distress, and written in the clearly defined genre of pastoral, with beautiful descriptions of nature and an apparent absence of disturbing problems. Perfection, paradise, is by definition ‘timeless’, unchanging. But Cousin Phillis describes a post-Darwinian world that ‘has no place for stasis…, pure invariant cycle, or constant equilibrium’. Its references to rural life have the ambiguity of running water, which is always changing while it appears the same. Gaskell shows that while sexual consciousness is spontaneous, shame is a social imposition. Unlike Ruth, Phillis performs no sexual act, but her story raises some of the same questions about innocence and shame.

Keywords:   Cousin Phillis, Elizabeth Gaskell, nature, pastoral, rural life, shame, innocence

Manchester 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.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.