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Murders and MadnessMedicine, Law, and Society in the Fin de Siècle$
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Ruth Harris

Print publication date: 1991

Print ISBN-13: 9780198202592

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198202592.001.0001

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Men, Honour, and Crimes of Passion

Men, Honour, and Crimes of Passion

(p.285) 8 Men, Honour, and Crimes of Passion
Murders and Madness

Ruth Harris

Oxford University Press

This chapter provides further observations on masculine responsibility, examining male crimes of passion, notions of masculine honour, and the critique of middle-class decadence. Men claimed passion as the motive for the killing of wives, lovers, or rivals in almost half the murder cases during the era. In deciding whether to condemn them, the court probed deeply into their attitudes towards marital duties and sexual behaviour, searching for credentials which proved honourable intent, loyalty, devotion, or sometimes merely evidence of romantic attachment. The chapter concentrates on the sometimes similar, but more often contrasting, means of preparation, execution, and justification which typified male and female crimes of passion. It also examines a range of character and behaviour considered to be ‘dishonourable’.

Keywords:   masculinity, passion crimes, moral responsibility, masculine honour, outrage

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