Sexuality in Hamlin Garland's Rose of Dutcher's Coolly

By Pizer, Donald | Papers on Language & Literature, Summer 2009 | Go to article overview

Sexuality in Hamlin Garland's Rose of Dutcher's Coolly


Pizer, Donald, Papers on Language & Literature


The history of the creation of Rose of Dutcher's Coolly is one of older ideas reshaped in response to fresh circumstances. (1) Garland had made notes in 1890 for a story about a Wisconsin farm girl whose intellectual development renders her dissatisfied with farm life, and during 1892 and 1893 he wrote portions of the story involving Rose on the farm and at the University of Wisconsin. He was perhaps initially led to explore this theme by his observation of the childhood of his younger sister Jessie, a vibrant tom-boy and later an intelligent young woman, and was further motivated when Jessie died tragically young in late 1890. It was only in late 1894 or early 1895, however, that he decided to bring Rose after graduation not to New England, as he had originally planned, but to Chicago, which he viewed as his future home. The work now expanded from a long short story to a full novel, the final half of which is set in Chicago. And now the central issues raised in the earlier portions set on the farm and in Madison are resolved not only in the context of Chicago but with its active participation and aid.

Garland had been deeply moved in late 1889 by the plays of Henrik Ibsen and the American dramatist James A. Herne which explored such feminist themes as the double standard of sexual conduct and the barriers facing women seeking self-determination in a male-dominated society. (2) These New Woman themes of Rose have been frequently discussed as has its illustration in theme and practice of the regionalist aesthetic Garland had expounded in his 1894 literary manifesto Crumbling Idols. This essay is devoted to an exploration of relatively unfamiliar approaches to the work, most of which arise from or are closely related to its representation of Rose's sexuality. These have not been previously explored largely because Garland has not been taken seriously enough as an intellect and as an artist to consider the possibility of the existence of complex and disturbing themes in his fiction. Indeed, he himself would no doubt have rejected most of the ideas which are about to be discussed--rejected them both as present in his novel and as proper areas of concern in general. But they are there nevertheless and may help explain the strong holding power of Rose during the more than a century since its publication.

Since Rose of Dutcher's Coolly breaks almost exactly into two halves, the novel can be usefully approached in relation to that division. In the first half, Rose is growing up in Wisconsin on her family farm and then at the University in Madison. In this portion of the novel she is nurtured and protected first by her father and then by Dr. Thatcher. In the second half, she goes to Chicago, armed only with a few letters of introduction, to make her way alone in that turbulent, unfamiliar world. One significant characteristic of Rose therefore is its place in the major late nineteenth-century American fictional form of the development story in which a young person journeys from a farm or village to a great city in order to define himself or herself in that larger, more competitive social context. Howells, for example, had used the device in several of his novels, and Dreiser was also to use it in relation to a young woman in Sister Carrie. In addition, each half of Rose's country/city division has its own distinctive thematic emphasis. The first depicts how a young girl absorbs from her immediate natural world the qualities of energy and freedom that will see her through the problems of life she later encounters. The second, beginning in Madison and reaching full expression in Chicago, shifts into what can be called a Victorian problem novel. In a work of this kind, all in the fiction is shaped around the overt discussion and dramatization of a major social issue of the day. In Rose the problem is that of the proper and productive roles of sex and marriage in the life of an attractive but also talented and intelligent young woman who wishes to make full use of all her attributes. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Sexuality in Hamlin Garland's Rose of Dutcher's Coolly
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.