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Alcott’s first adult novel, Moods, initially published in 1864, presents oral promises between women as extralegal alternatives to standard legal contracts between men and women. In the 1864 edition of Moods, Alcott's protagonist, Sylvia Yule, fails to understand the constraints of marriage as a type of contract, and the results are dramatic. In fact, Alcott undermines the idealized marriage plot so crucial to her later, wildly popular works like Little Women (1868-69). In the 1864 Moods, Alcott boldly questions both legal contracts and oral promises characteristic of nineteenth-century conceptions of romantic love and heterosexual friendship.


This work was originally published in "Popular Nineteenth-Century American Women Writers and the Literary Marketplace," edited by Mary DeJong and Earl Yarington and published by Cambridge Scholars Press.



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