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Mrs. Caudle's Curtain Lectures

Mrs. Caudle's Curtain Lectures by Douglas William Jerrold
By: (1803-1857)

First serialized in Punch magazine in 1845, and officially published in book form in 1846, Mrs. Caudle's Curtain Lectures presents a collection of 37 lectures delivered by Mrs. Caudle to her husband as a means of reproach for his trivial infractions. Also, the author marvelously incorporates typical elements responsible for disagreements between spouses including the antipathetic mother-in-law, the ne’er-do-well friends, and the jealous outbursts.

Jerrold’s charming piece of satire introduces the Victorian married couple, Mr. Job Caudle, a small shop owner, and his martinet wife. Aware that her husband is much too busy during the day to absorb her wisdom and convictions, Mrs. Caudle patiently waits till nightfall, when the pair is united in the comfort of their bed, to share her thoughts with him. Unable to escape her verbal attacks, Mr. Caudle must bravely endure her overreactions over his innocent deeds. Furthermore, Mrs. Caudle possesses the power to exaggerate situations and formulate inflated outcomes that will supposedly bring havoc to their family. Needless to say, Mrs. Caudle seems to fuss about her husband’s every move, as she fiercely brings attention to his innocent faults including money-lending, late night outings with friends, and a suspicious friendship with a certain woman. However, after thirty years of marriage, his wife dies and leaves him all alone in the night, but despite her physical absence, her voice still freshly lingers in his mind. As a result, he feels the need to write down her lectures each night and keep their nocturnal tradition alive.

Interestingly, Mrs. Caudle's Curtain Lectures evokes a feeling of déjà vu, as Mrs. Caudle presents an archetypal model of the nagging and protective wife, whose husband is left defenseless against her scolding. A delightful set of heartfelt matrimonial discourse, Mrs. Caudle’s bedroom lectures are sure to raise a laugh with her comical, yet charmingly realistic portrayal of a Victorian wife, as she fulfills the authoritative role as Mr. Caudle’s lawfully wedded wife.

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