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Archived Group Reads 2014 > No Name 2014 Scene 5; Feb 22

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message 1: by SarahC (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1424 comments This is for discussion of this section of the novel.


message 2: by Teresa (new)

Teresa (tnorbraten) | 107 comments FYI, my husband, the law school graduate, say that you can't dis-inherit your spouse without courts getting involved. Most states allow the widow and children to get a percentage of the estate. A wife usually gets about a third to a half. The result is the will "disappears". Magdalen, of course, can't fight the will because she went into the marriage under false pretenses.


message 3: by Irene (new)

Irene (zavrou) Yes, but what name did she use when she got married? Her marriage would not have been legal unless she used her own name and that is something she could not do. Her marriage was not legal.


message 4: by Clarissa (new)

Clarissa (clariann) | 526 comments Teresa wrote: "FYI, my husband, the law school graduate, say that you can't dis-inherit your spouse without courts getting involved. Most states allow the widow and children to get a percentage of the estate. A..."

Magdalen's lawyer mentions that if Noel was a resident of Scotland she could fight being disinherited, but the English laws were obviously different at that time and her only recourse is if her husband was mad or unduly influenced.


message 5: by Clarissa (new)

Clarissa (clariann) | 526 comments I hope the thing with the dress is over now, I've found it difficult from the beginning to accept that Mrs Lecount was somehow able to maneuvre and cut out a section of Magdalen's dress without Magdalen noticing. And then for some reason Magdalen takes this plain dress with her everywhere, even though Mrs Wragge would associate it with the ghost, and Magdalen is clever enough to realise the risks.
It seemed an unnecessary plot device as Magdalen has those distinctive moles and her identity is discovered in a myriad of other ways.

I hope that Magdalen regains her spark a bit now that she's lost her husband.

I'm assuming at this point that Norah will have a happy ending with George and all the money.

And poor Noel Vanstone. Mrs Lecount, his trusty servant, gets so excited by her triumph that she forgets the advice she gives the disguised Magdalen when she first meets him, to be weary of his weak heart and deal gently with him.


message 6: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2531 comments Teresa wrote: "FYI, my husband, the law school graduate, say that you can't dis-inherit your spouse without courts getting involved. Most states allow the widow and children to get a percentage of the estate. A..."

That's the law in all US States today, and probably in all Western countries. But it wasn't the case in England at the time of No Name, which we were told was (or at least started) in 1846. Up to the passage of the Married Women's Property Act of 1870, married women had no right of inheritance. The husband could will away all his property, including any property that came with her to the marriage which became his property on marriage. This is why marriage settlements were so important for the wealthy, since without a settlement even a wife who brought a fortune to her marriage could be left totally destitute, as Magdalen was.

Interestingly, Collins tells us that Scotland didn't allow a husband to disinherit his wife, so if they had established domicile in Scotland, she would have had spousal rights. But they were only visiting, so the Scottish law didn't apply.


message 7: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2531 comments Irene wrote: "Yes, but what name did she use when she got married? Her marriage would not have been legal unless she used her own name and that is something she could not do. Her marriage was not legal."

That conflicts with what Collins told us, if I read him right. And I'm pretty sure he had researched the law in this area carefully since it was a critical aspect of the novel.

He tells us that it was a legal marriage unless and until it was nullified by a court. Vanstone could have requested a nullification on the basis of fraud, but I'm not sure I agree with Collins that the Court would automatically have granted it, since Magdalen never specifically told him that she was not Magdalen Vanstone, and I'm not sure that marrying under an assumed name was automatically fraud. However, be that as it may, the marriage was legal until vacated, and since Noel hadn't vacated it at the point he died, it was and remained a legal marriage and nothing anybody could do about it once he was dead. Not that it did her any good, other than being able to present herself as a widow, since at that time she got no automatic benefits from having been married to him, but I believe Collins when he tells us that it was a legal marriage and remained one after his death.

If a marriage were automatically void if one of the parties used a false name, there could have been some real issues since names were a bit more casual then than now, people changed names a lot without necessarily going through all the legal hoops. It was a bit earlier, but look at the various ways Shakespeare spelled his name. So I think it made sense that the marriage was valid unless one party wanted to end it on the basis of fraud.


message 8: by Clarissa (new)

Clarissa (clariann) | 526 comments Everyman wrote: " It was a bit earlier, but look at the various ways Shakespeare spelled his name. So I think it made sense that the marriage was valid unless one party wanted to end it on the basis of fraud. ."

Isn't there a difference between slight variations in spelling and using a totally strange name that no one would recognise as belonging to your person?
In the interview with Lecount though, I don't recall either Noel or Lecount mentioning voiding the marriage, it was all about the will.


message 9: by SarahC (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1424 comments Everyman wrote: "Irene wrote: "Yes, but what name did she use when she got married? Her marriage would not have been legal unless she used her own name and that is something she could not do. Her marriage was not ..."

Everyman, you mentioned this point in the last thread. I still have been thinking about this false name. I may still be misunderstanding what you say. By introducing herself, or by being introduced by the false Mr. Bygrave as his niece Susan Bygrave, I dont see that Magdalen is legally covered because she did not say specifically that she is not Magdalen Vanstone. I am not sure I see the strength of the debate.


message 10: by SarahC (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1424 comments As Clari also mentions slight variations of spelling seem to fall within another category as well. Families did vary their names slightly quite often, dropping or adding letters throughout the generations. I have also seen accounts of families growing so large and prevalent in one locality that they purposely added an e or an s to make their own particular branch more specific, but not with intent to deceive.


message 11: by Irene (new)

Irene (zavrou) Look what I found..........
Generally it may be said that if a name has been assumed and inserted in the licence for the purpose of fraud, in order to enable the party to contract marriage and to conceal himself from the party to whom he is about to be married, then the licence would be void; but where a name has been previously so assumed as to have become the name which the party has acquired by reputation, then the insertion of that name in the license will not render the licence void.

So does this mean if Magdalen had challenged her disinheritance she would have won?


message 12: by SarahC (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1424 comments In my view, Magdalen was "concealing herself" from the party she was marrying.


message 13: by Peter (new)

Peter I'm following all the speculation regarding Magdalen and the name controversy. Very interesting discussion. To what extent do you think the original Victorian reading audience would have wrestled with the issues we are?


message 14: by Whimsical (new)

Whimsical (goodreadscomb_flowers) | 189 comments Peter wrote: "I'm following all the speculation regarding Magdalen and the name controversy. Very interesting discussion. To what extent do you think the original Victorian reading audience would have wrestled..."

I think that to the extent well known authors of the day would write about it in an on going series, says allot. This must have been a "hot topic" at the time, so much so that legislation was enacted pertaining to it.

It's perhaps a topic very close to the authors heart as he lived with and fathered children with women he did not marry!


message 15: by Clarissa (last edited Feb 23, 2014 04:46AM) (new)

Clarissa (clariann) | 526 comments Peter wrote: "I'm following all the speculation regarding Magdalen and the name controversy. Very interesting discussion. To what extent do you think the original Victorian reading audience would have wrestled..."

I think generally Victorian readers reacted to the moral fabric of characters, so Magdalen's deceit in courtship may have been more interesting from this perspective than from the legal one we are thinking about.
As I commented before, I believe Collins wanted to protect Magdalen from being judged too harshly which is why the section where the reader might expect to see her at her most determined acting out her plan, focuses on the battle between Lecount and Wragge and Magdalen fades and even becomes suicidal.


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