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Women and the World of Dime Novels

The Brokenhearted Wife

"With a broken heart she had followed her husband to the happy hunting-grounds, faithful even in death."
Esther: A Story of the Oregon Trail (97)

Brokenhearted wives, as opposed to brokenhearted women, suffer specifically because of the actions of their husbands. Though the causes may be different, these women have all lost their husbands. Their broken hearts are the tragic symptoms of the trueness of their loves. Even when they have been betrayed by their husbands, their wifely devotion prevents them from taking vengeance against the men. If the husband has died, the wife honors his memory by choosing not to remarry. Sometimes, her love and pain are so overwhelming that she cannot live without him.

The nature of the dime novel makes the brokenhearted wife a melodramatic character. Whether she suffers death from a broken heart, death by suicide, or chooses a life of celibacy in the face of financial ruin, these women's fates are tied inexorably to their feelings for their husbands. Click on the pictures below to explore their stories.


Meet the Women:

Tim Bumble’s Charge
Coraline Lattison
Joe, the Sarpint
The Brokenhearted Wife