Ideology and Emancipation in Maria Susanna Cummins
International Journal of Literature and Arts
Volume 3, Issue 6, November 2015, Pages: 166-170
Received: Nov. 10, 2015; Accepted: Nov. 21, 2015; Published: Dec. 10, 2015
Views 3484      Downloads 91
Goetz Egloff, Coeditor, Yearbook of Psychohistorical Research, Heidelberg, Germany; Practice for Psychoanalysis, Mannheim, Affil, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany
Article Tools
Follow on us
The essay highlights aspects of ideology and of emancipation issues in Maria Susanna Cummins´ novel, The Lamplighter, published in 1854. Being a domestic, or sentimental, novel it reached a wide range of readers, as did many of contemporary female authors referred to as literary domestics. Though simply structured, The Lamplighter carries a specific view as to life at home and life in the world, relating to central issues of female readers´ self-perception and self-concept. Benevolence and enlightenment as central ideas of socialization give insight into the ways and the goals of the early republic. In the novel, aspects of affirmation take turns with aspects of autonomy in the image of how women were supposed to be like. Obvious differences in background, class, and behavior hint at the morals and manners of a society on the cusp of becoming the nation-to-be. Cummins is shown to promote what is a moderate approach of achieving a middle position between poverty and fashion. Mostly didactic in her presentation of the protagonists, Cummins advocates a kind of Protestantism that is grounded in the concept of man being generally capable and in need of undergoing a gradual educative process. With that the author rejects the Calvinism then still strong in New England, and she advocates for candor in antebellum contemporaries.
Maria Susanna Cummins, The Lamplighter, Domestic Novel, Sentimental Novel, Literary Domestics
To cite this article
Goetz Egloff, Ideology and Emancipation in Maria Susanna Cummins, International Journal of Literature and Arts. Vol. 3, No. 6, 2015, pp. 166-170. doi: 10.11648/j.ijla.20150306.17
Copyright © 2015 Authors retain the copyright of this article.
This article is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License ( which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Baym N (1978). Woman´s Fiction: A Guide to Novels by and about Women in America, 1820 – 1870. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, p. 11.
Term from: Kelley M (1984). Private Woman, Public Stage: Literary Domesticity in Nineteenth-Century America. New York: Oxford University Press, p. VIII.
Baym (1978), p. 12.
Cummins MS (1988 [1854]). The Lamplighter. Edited and with an Introduction by Nina Baym. New Brunswick/London: Rutgers University Press, p. 2.
Cummins, p. 35.
Cummins, p. 213.
Davidson CN (1986). Revolution and the Word: The Rise of the Novel in America. New York: Oxford University Press, p. 124.
Baym (1978), p. 24-25.
Cott NF (1977). The Bonds of Womanhood: “Woman´s Sphere” in New England, 1780 – 1835. New Haven: Yale University Press, p. 67.
Cott, p. 64.
Cummins, p. 4.
loc. cit.
Baym (1978), p. 49.
Cummins, p. 28.
Baym N (1988). Introduction. In: Cummins MS. The Lamplighter. New Brunswick/London: Rutgers University Press, p. XX.
Cp. Cummins, chs. XXXVII ff.
Cummins, p. 39.
Cummins, p. 46.
Cummins, p. 357.
Cummins, p. 213.
Saulsbury RR (1999). “Strong and Brave”: The Culture of Womanhood in the Novels of Maria Susanna Cummins. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press.
Baym (1988), p. XIX.
Douglas A (1977). The Feminization of American Culture. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, p. 12.
Baym (1978), p. 17.
Chopin K (1899/1994). The Awakening. Ed. Margo Culley. New York, London: W.W. Norton & Co.
Cp. von Heynitz B (1994). Literarische Kontexte von Kate Chopin´s The Awakening. Tuebingen: Gunter Narr, pp. 182 ff.
Baym (1978), p. 48.
On reception topics cp. Baym N (1984). Novels, Readers, and Reviewers: Responses to Fiction in Antebellum America. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Cummins, ch. XXII.
Kelley M (1984). Private Woman, Public Stage: Literary Domesticity in Nineteenth-Century America. New York: Oxford University Press, p. 271.
Kress D, Egloff G (2007). Bilder der 1950er bei Salinger, Roth und Updike. Gesellschaft und Zeitgeschichte in der US-Nachkriegsliteratur. Marburg: Tectum, pp. 56-68.
Harris SK (1990). Nineteenth-Century American Women´s Novels: Interpretive Strategies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 135.
Cp. Cummins, ch. VI.
Cp. Cummins, ch. VIII.
Baym (1988), p. XXI.
Freud S (1933). Neue Folge der Vorlesungen zur Einfuehrung in die Psychoanalyse. Frankfurt: S. Fischer, p. 516.
Baym (1988), p. XXIII.
Baym (1978), p. 173.
Tompkins J (1985). Sensational Designs: The Cultural Work of American Fiction, 1790 – 1860. New York: Oxford University Press, p. 148.
Davidson (1986), p. 125.
Frederick JT (1975). “Hawthorne´s Scribbling Women”. The New England Quarterly, 48, 2, pp. 231-240.
Schulz D (1985). Fruehe amerikanische Erzaehlliteratur. In: Breinig H, Halfmann U (eds.). Die amerikanische Literatur bis zum Ende des 19. Jahrhunderts. Tuebingen: Francke, pp. 78-99.
Chopin (1899/1994).
Stanzel FK (2004). Otto Gross Redivivus – Lady Chatterley Revisited. ZAA, 52, 2, pp. 141-151.
Peeler N (2010). The Woman of Ressentiment in When She Was Good. Philip Roth Studies, 6, 1, pp. 31-45.
Egloff G (2014). Treating the Fiction of Forms: Metafiction in John Barth. Intl J Literature and Arts, 2, 1, pp. 1-5.
Kerber LK (1986). Women of the Republic: Intellect and Ideology in Revolutionary America. New York: Norton.
Baym N (1995). American Women Writers and the Work of History, 1790-1860. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.
Baym (1978), p. 49.
Science Publishing Group
1 Rockefeller Plaza,
10th and 11th Floors,
New York, NY 10020
Tel: (001)347-983-5186