What laws applied to married women at the time this novel was published?
What had been some changes in property and child custody laws since 1870 and 1894? What changes were being advocated by feminists at the time? (higher education for women, better education for female children, child custody for minor children, right for married women to separate or to refuse sex, end of legal category of "illegitimacy," better conditions for single mothers)
With which of these issues is Caird concerned?
What is the significance of the title? What effect is created by the use of an obscure classical legend for the title?
Under what circumstances do we meet Hadria, Algitha, and other members of their family? What is the significance of the dance, the night time ambiance, and the suggestions of Celticism and primitivism?
What debate surrounds the discussion of Emerson's belief in the power of the will? Does it seem likely that circumstances will prove him correct?
What does Algitha wish to do with her life, and why does her mother object? What grounds does the latter give for her opposition?
Is Algitha happy in her new role? (yes) What is the effect of her departure on Hadria?
What new interest is brought into Hadria's life by the arrival of Valeria du Prel? How is the latter received by Mrs. Fullerton, and on what grounds? (she doesn't like strangers)
What does Hadria learn about Miss du Prel's past? Does the latter consider herself happy? (no, feels alone)
What is Hadria's relationship to the natural world? Is this important? sense of the sublime) Can you think of other 19th century novels in which the heroine's relationship with nature is emphasized? (Jane Eyre)
What importance is given to Scottish culture and settings throughout the novel? (used to emphasize wild elements of nature; witchery, gothicism and sublimity) What qualities are associated with the north and south of Europe respectively?
Under what circumstances does Hubert Temperley meet Hadria? (is dancing) What views of women does he express to his friend Wilson? (likes individuality)
Are these views consistent with those he later offers to Miss du Prel? (lectures the latter on women's nature and duties)
What do we learn on the arrival of Professor Fortescue? (has been a friend of Miss du Prel) How is he described? (a friendly, learned, and pleasant thirty-five year old man)
What had been the Professor's marital history? (beautiful wife had killed herself a year after their marriage) How does Hadria respond to him? (best and most generous man she has met) What does she feel is unusual about his temperament? (impersonal and detached)
What does Professor Fortescue claim to discern in Hadria's character? (unpredictable, cannot foretell results) How does she respond to the thought of her future? (defiant, sense of fear)
How does Hadria respond to Hubert Temperley's first proposal? What opinions do the Professor and Miss du Prel exchange regarding the prospect of this marriage? (Fortescue believes it's a bad idea; Miss du Prel approves of it)
Why do you think Caird creates a character who disagrees with all of Hadria's choices for her closest friend? (gives contrast, emphasizes that Hadria is alone)
Under what circumstances do Hadria and the Professor attempt to help a wounded dog? What does this incident reveal about their views of the treatment of animals by humans?
What advice does he give her regarding her future? (should develop her musical talents)
How does Hadria respond to the Professor, and why may this be an ominous sign for her future? (describes him as lovable) What hint is given of Miss du Prel's emotions toward him?
What seems Hadria's attitude towards Hubert during their courtship? (121) Are we prepared for her acceptance of his proposal? Under what circumstance does this occur? (she is in a trance after dancing, 137)
What promises does he make as he proposes? Does he make a serious effort to keep his promises? What does she expect will be the nature of their married life?
Why do her later efforts to break off her engagement fail? (entrusts letter to his sister! 166)
What is the substance of Henriette Temperley's lecture to the Preposterous Club? (124) On what grounds is this criticized by the narrator?
What function do Hadria's brothers Frank and Ernest serve in the plot? (serve as chorus) What role is allotted Mrs. Gordon? By Algitha? (confidante and conscience)
Under what circumstances do we first meet Hadria after her marriage? (in graveyard, in a state of sorrow, 148)
Whose story does he hear, and why may this have affected her? (unmarried schoolteacher died of grief after delivering child, 148)
Are there literary precedents for her conversation with the gravedigger? Do you find other Shakespearean elements in the novel?
What do we learn about the kind of music Hadria composes? (wild, modern) How might a late-Victorian audience have reacted? (avant garde)
What are some causes of quarrel between Hadria and her husband? (he brings home a friend for lunch but no meat is available for the meal; some feminists of the time pointed out that meals would be simpler if more vegetarian, limiting the need to buy fresh meat constantly in the days before refrigeration)
What seems to be Caird's attitude toward hunting? How do the several characters respond to animals, and what does this reveal of their character?
What are some ways in which this novel departs from conventional expectations for fiction of the time? (an anti-marriage plot novel; an early female kunstlerroman)
Does The Daughters of Danaus provide a proper balance between plot and polemic?
What seems the narrator's/protagonist's attitude toward servants or other members of the working-classes? (fails to create a cross-class plot) Is this a deficiency, considering the novel's central themes?
Is it significant that Hadria's children are sons rather than daughters? May this have affected the plot?
How are themes of heredity introduced into the plot? What contemporary views do these represent? (social Darwinism, survival of the fittest) To what degree are the physical qualities of the characters seen to reflect their characters? (phrenology--physiognomy reveals character)
In practice do we see ancestry affecting the character of the novel's central figures? (not much--Hadria unlike her mother and even her siblings) Can you think of contemporary writers who likewise place a great emphasis on ancestry? (Thomas Hardy, in Tess of the D'Urbervilles)
What is the significance of Hadria's sense that she lives in a period of transition? (208) Would that have been true for many late Victorians? (cmp. Matthew Arnold, "one dead, the other waiting to be born.")
How are the two professors, Fortescue and Theobald, contrasted? What are some early signs that Theobald is not to be trusted? At what point does the reader realize that he is the father of Hadria's "adopted" daughter?
What do we learn about the birth and lives of Hadria's sons? (282, simply mentioned as existing) Is this a significant omission? What motivates this reluctant mother to "adopt" and travel with another child? (240, chooses rejected female over privileged males)
Is the character of Martha ever fully developed?
What significance is given to the theme of voluntary "adoption" as opposed to biological motherhood? Can you think of other novels of the period in which the roles of surrogate mother are emphasized? (Margaret Oliphant's Kirsteen)
How does Hadria react to the wedding of a village maiden? (depressed; feels she is marrying into slavery, 251)
Why had Professor Fortescue's marriage failed? (wife wishes him to assume more domineering roles) How does this plot element enforce the novel's themes? ("new men" as well as "new women" are needed)
What view does Professor Fortescue hold of evolution and the afterlife earlier in the novel? (evolution is spiritual and political as well as biological, 272) Is this a view other reformist thinkers at the time would have held? How does he change? (more hopeful about continuation of identity in some form, theme of immortality, survival of the soul, 202)
What role in Hadria's life is played by Henriette Temperley? Is it desirable that she should be raising Hadria's sons?
Under what circumstances does Hadria leave for an independent life in Paris? What are her first responses to escape from home? (delighted with everything, 297; loves Paris, 302)
What are some important aspects of Hadria's life in Paris? Is it significant that her talent is recognized by a great musician? What are his own views on what a talented woman musician should do with her life? (reinforces her desire for independence)
What problems does she encounter in Paris? (maid who shops for her is cheated, 311, not able to supplement her income, forced to change residences) Do any of these affect her ability to return again? (probably couldn't support herself if she returned)
What do we learn about her inheritance and separate income settlement? (half of it went to her husband, making it impossible for her to be independent)
What finally motivates Hadria's return to England? Her remaining at home? Is it significant that it is her mother, not her husband and children, who cause her renunciation of her career? (the reader might have agreed that her sons and husband required her presence, but not that her life should be sacrificed to her mother's hysterical possessiveness)
Given the assumptions of this novel, might there have been other alternatives?
Does it seem plausible that her mother's doctor should agree that the absence of her daughters had caused her mother's lifelong debility? (even in Victorian England, this seems excessive)
What purpose is served by the brief aborted-affair plot? What has been Hadria's purpose in considering an affair? Where was her husband in all this?
What does she find undesirable about Professor Theobald? (403) What qualities does he seem to lack? What ends their relationship, and how does she reject him? (he embraces her; she says she'd like to kill him, 434) Is it significant that this rupture occurs before she learns that he is Martha's father?
What point is made by the respective fates of Martha's parents?
Is Theobald correct that without having married the mother he will be able to gain custody of the child? Why doesn't Hadria resist more than she does?
What other turn-of-the-century "new women" novels include a similar aborted or brief affair? (The Odd Women, Story of a Modern Woman, A Writer's Life) Why do you think this theme reappears in these books? (substitutes for marriage plot; enables heroine to reject rather than be rejected; makes point that modern romantic relationships are transient and unsatisfactory)
With what final charge, and what comforting hope, does the professor leave for Hadria as he dies? Is his death a fitting conclusion for the book? What seems important about the final image of the robin? Can you compare this ending with that of others of the period? (Story of an African Farm; suggestive of hope)
What does the novel seem to suggest will happen in Hadria's later life? What is the effect of such an open and indeterminate ending? (seems modernist, realistic, plot doesn't end with marriage or death)
Which of the topics covered in "The Morality of Marriage" is present in The Daughters of Danaus?
What are some comparisons and contrasts between Daughters of Danaus and other new women fiction or plays which you have read?