[The following passage comes from chapter 4 of Chris Vanden Bossche's Reform Acts: Chartism, Social Agency, and the Victorian Novel, 1832-1867, which is reviewed in the Victorian Web — Andrzej Diniejko]

Like other Victorian novels, Guy Fawkes internalizes to England the national narrative that imagines the resolution of conflict between nations through a marriage plot uniting representatives of each culture. The opposition between Catholic Ireland and Protestant England in a novel like The Wild Irish Girl becomes in Guy Fawkes the conflict between recusant Catholics and the Protestant state. Accordingly, the novel depicts the courtship of the Catholic Viviana Radcliffe by the Protestant Humphrey Chetham. Moreover, in keeping with the shift from culture to class in the Victorian novel, Viviana belongs to the aristocracy, while Humphrey is a merchant belonging to the rising middle class. Thus the novel's marriage plot projects the possibility of a union in which, in accord with the companionate ideal, the partners come to love and respect one another precisely through the articulation of their disagreements, hence enabling them to unite in spite of class and religious difference. In this respect, Chetham's courtship of Viviana Radcliffe accords with the Whig discourse of toleration that would accord citizenship and equal rights to Catholics. [53-54]


Vanden Bossche, Chris. Reform Acts: Chartism, Social Agency, and the Victorian Novel, 1832-1867. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 2014. [Review in The Victorian Web

10 May 2014