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
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Goetz Egloff, Coeditor, Yearbook of Psychohistorical Research, Heidelberg, Germany; Practice for Psychoanalysis, Mannheim, Affil, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany
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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.
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