Mrs. Caudle's Curtain Lectures cover

Mrs. Caudle's Curtain Lectures

Douglas William Jerrold (1803-1857)

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1. Introduction
2. Lecture 1: Mr. Caudle has lent five pounds to a friend
3. Lecture 2: Mr. Caudle has been at a tavern with a friend, and is “enough to poison a woman” with tobacco smoke
4. Lecture 3: Mr. Caudle joins a club – “The Skylarks”
5. Lecture 4: Mr. Caudle has been called from his bed to bail Mr. Prettyman from the watch-house
6. Lecture 5: Mr. Caudle has remained downstairs till past one, with a friend
7. Lecture 6: Mr. Caudle has lent an acquaintance the family umbrella
8. Lecture 7: Mr. Caudle has ventured a remonstrance on his day’s dinner: cold mutton and no pudding. – Mrs Caudle defends the cold shoulder.
9. Lecture 8: Caudle has been made a mason – Mrs Caudle indignant and curious
10. Lecture 9: Mr Caudle has been to Greenwich fair
11. Lecture 10: On Mr. Caudle’s shirt buttons
12. Lecture 11: Mrs Caudle suggests the her dear mother should “come and live with them”
13. Lecture 12: Mr. Caudle having come home a little late, declares that henceforth “he will have a key”
14. Lecture 13: Mrs Caudle has been to see her dear mother – Caudle on the “joyful occasion”, has given a party and issued a card of invitation
15. Lecture 14: Mrs Caudle thinks it “high time” that the children should have summer clothing
16. Lecture 15: Mr. Caudle again stayed out late. Mrs Caudle, at first injured and violent, melts.
17. Lecture 16: Baby is to be christened; Mrs Caudle canvasses the merits of probable godfathers
18. Lecture 17: Caudle in the course of the day has ventured to question the economy of “washing at home”
19. Lecture 18: Caudle, whilst walking with his wife, has been bowed to by a younger and even prettier woman than Mrs Caudle
20. Lecture 19: Mrs Caudle thinks “it would look well to keep their wedding-day”
21. Lecture 20: “Brother” Caudle has been to a Masonic charitable dinner. Mrs Caudle has hidden the “brother’s” cheque-book
22. Lecture 21: Mr. Caudle has not acted “like a husband” at the wedding dinner
23. Lecture 22: Caudle comes home in the evening, as Mrs Caudle has “just stepped out, shopping” On her return, at ten, Caudle remonstrates
24. Lecture 23: Mrs Caudle “wishes to know if they’re going to the sea-side, or not, this summer – that’s all
25. Lecture 24: Mrs Caudle dwells on Caudle’s “cruel neglect” of her on board the “Red Rover”. Mrs Caudle so “ill with the sea”, that they put up at the Dolphin, Herne Bay
26. Lecture 25: Mrs Caudle, wearied of Margate, has “a great desire to see France”
27. Lecture 26: Mrs Caudle’s first night in France – “shameful indifference” of Caudle at the Boulogne custom house
28. Lecture 27: Mrs Caudle returns to her native land. “Unmanly cruelty” of Caudle, who has refused “to smuggle a few things” for her
29. Lecture 28: Mrs Caudle has returned home. The house (of course) “not fit to be seen”. Mr Caudle, in self-defence, takes a book
30. Lecture 29: Mrs Caudle thinks “the time has come to have a cottage out of town”
31. Lecture 30: Mrs Caudle complains of the “Turtle Dovery”. Discovers black beetles. Thinks it “nothing but right” that Caudle should set up a chaise
32. Lecture 31: Mrs Caudle complains very bitterly that Mr. Caudle has “broken her confidence”
33. Lecture 32: Mrs Caudle discourses of maids-of-all-work and maids in general. Mr. Caudle’s “infamous behaviour” ten years ago
34. Lecture 33: Mrs Caudle has discovered that Caudle is a railway director
35. Lecture 34: Mrs Caudle, suspecting that Mr. Caudle has made his will, is only “anxious as a wife”, to know its provisions
36. Lecture 35: Mrs Caudle “has been told “ that Caudle has “taken to play” at billiards
37. Lecture the Last: Mrs Caudle has taken cold; the tragedy of thin shoes
38. Postscript

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Summary

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.