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Women and the World of Dime Novels

The Kidnapping Victim

"She disappeared last night—was torn violently from her room."
Cedar Swamp; or, Wild Nat's Brigade (57)

For men in dime novels, one of the most popular methods of "wooing" the women they wish to marry is to kidnap them, or to hire others to kidnap them. In instances where the man anticipates resistance from the woman, he kidnaps her before proposing marriage, so that she is forced to agree. The men with a greater veneer of respectability propose first and are usually genuinely surprised when the women they desire reject them. The kidnapping is an attempt to take the decision out of the women's hands and to separate them from other men who could be tempting them to refusal. Forceful abduction may not seem like the most obvious way to win a woman's affections, and it is never successful. Ultimately, the failed marriage frustrates the men involved and vindicates the women. Click on the pictures below to explore their stories.


Meet the Women:

Cedar Swamp
Catherine Vale
Esther Morse
Marie de Mendez