‘A Kind of a Sort of a Gentleman’: the Gentleman’s Progress from Sir Charles Grandison to John Halifax
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The year 1856 marks an important point in the evolution of the idea of the gentleman, for it was in that year that Dinah Mulock Craik’s John Halifax, Gentleman appeared. This stunningly mediocre novel was well received by the mostly middle-class reading public who enthusiastically embraced John Halifax and everything he represents, for he is the embodiment of those qualities most revered by the bourgeoisie: industry, piety, integrity, and business acumen. What made John Halifax not just popular but significant, however, was that he could be accepted as a gentleman without the previously indispensable advantages of rank or inherited wealth. The appearance and public endorsement of John Halifax, Gentleman marks the culmination of a process that had begun more than a century earlier: the bourgeois redefinition of the gentleman.
KeywordsMiddle Class Eighteenth Century Moral Worth Moral Authority Woman Writer
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