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Standard of grief: Mourning in Victorian fiction and life-writing

Strawn, Morgan
Throughout the nineteenth century, upper class Victorians established standards for certain styles of dress and mannerisms during mourning, which eventually applied moral value to the performance of funerary rituals through the pursuit of a "good" death. Instead of allowing mourners to express their grief in a manner that alleviated personal turmoil, societal emphasis on achieving a good death and the religious strictures that go with it took focus away from the dead and placed it onto the living. In fiction, deathbed scenes were influenced by the idea of a good death and often took Evangelical conceptions to an extreme. This project examines examples of mourning in fiction and in life-writing to highlight the way popular novels suppress dissonance by resolving grief too quickly or too easily, in a way that cannot be reproduced in real life.