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"Things Scoundrels Do: Wife Desertion" Topic

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866 hits since 6 Apr 2017
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian06 Apr 2017 10:50 a.m. PST

If you're looking for something 'period' to pin on a scoundrel character, consider Wife Desertion (AKA abandonment).

In a time before the large-scale entrance of women in the workforce and the modern welfare state, a woman who was abandoned by her husband was in dire straits. Especially if she had young ones at home.

Note that this was not just 'bad form' – it was illegal! Sheriffs were known to go after delinquent husbands, arrest them, and bring them back to face a judge.

Wife desertion was also grounds for divorce.

On the other hand, not everyone accused of 'wife desertion' was guilty. If a husband left 'with the consent of the wife' (i.e., she threw him out), it wasn't desertion. And it wasn't desertion if the wife provoked him into leaving, or did something worthy of divorce (i.e., adultery).

So when designing memorable characters, consider making your scoundrel guilty of abandonment… or maybe those are just rumors…

Or maybe your female character is searching for the missing husband, either because she wonders what became of him, or she just wants to prove she tried to find him so she can divorce him for abandonment…

Or the son who wants revenge on the long-lost father who abandoned them…

Or a law enforcement officer in pursuit of a delinquent husband…

Oberlindes Sol LIC06 Apr 2017 1:48 p.m. PST

Abandonment? Go whole hog and auction her and your little daughter off to some sailor!

Thomas Hardy can give you the details.

MHoxie Inactive Member06 Apr 2017 4:30 p.m. PST

"Wanted in fourteen counties of this State, the condemned is found guilty of murder, armed robbery of citizens, state banks, and post offices; the theft of sacred objects, arson in a state prison, perjury, bigamy, deserting his wife and children, inciting prostitution, kidnapping, extortion, receiving stolen goods, selling stolen goods, passing counterfeit money, and contrary to the laws of this State the condemned is guilty of using marked cards and loaded dice…."

Mako11 Inactive Member06 Apr 2017 4:47 p.m. PST

Cheating on the wife, though sometimes condoned since they could care less, after being mistreated for some time.

Sobieski07 Apr 2017 4:14 a.m. PST

"…they could care less…"? Bleeped text?

thedisgruntledfusilier Inactive Member07 Apr 2017 5:55 a.m. PST

MHoxie: "even a filthy beggar like that has a protecting angel."

Personal logo The Virtual Armchair General Sponsoring Member of TMP07 Apr 2017 10:38 a.m. PST

Nice point, Bill: A fine bit for character development, motivation, and plotting story lines.

But may I ask, what happened to make this something so important as to post about it here and now?

The question is rhetorical, no answer expected, but this seems an odd duck of a topic.


Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian10 Apr 2017 11:02 p.m. PST

But may I ask, what happened to make this something so important as to post about it here and now?

Stumbled across a newspaper report about my grandfather being arrested by the sheriff. evil grin

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