‘“We’ll have bread and cheese for our supper, and eat it on our knees”: Diet and Domestic Control in Wives and Daughters and No Name’

This paper will consider the extent to which women wielded power by controlling the male diet in the nineteenth century, the limitations of male and female domestic control in the middle-class Victorian household and the restrictive nature of the class-imposed boundaries of meal times and foodstuffs. It will also examine the wider cultural and social function that dietary management performed outside of the domestic sphere, together with its impact upon perceived gender roles. The paper will go on to consider how the character typologies and gender power relations exhibited within two Victorian novels – Elizabeth Gaskell’s Wives and Daughters (1866) and Wilkie Collins’s No Name (1862) – reflect these contemporary discourses of dietary control within the domestic sphere. 

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