In Reuban Sachs, one of the elements of the plot I immediately noticed was the prevalence of romance and courtship. Much of the plot surrounds Reuben and Judith, and their relationship within both the conservative and insular Jewish community, and the wider London Victorian society. The use of courtship is something reoccurring in Victorian texts. In Wuthering Heights with Heathcliff and Catherine, and Great Expectations with Pip and Estella. Romance and love seem to be natural tools used to explore the limits of Victorian society, both in a general sense and more specifically within the texts (the Jewish community in Reuban Sachs, or class/money in Great Expectations).
What is specifically included in each of these texts is the concept of true love against societal expectations. When Reuban and Judith see each other again in Chapter 3, they immediately feel drawn to each other, “he heard and saw nothing but the sound of Leo’s violin, and the face of Judith Quixano” (pg 31). This is immediately followed in Chapter 4 by descriptions of societal expectations, how insular and difficult marriage was within the Jewish community and the talk of the pragmatic and financial portion of marriage and courtship.
Pip’s desire to improve his social standing to court Estella, and Heathcliff’s status at Wuthering Heights all force Victorian societal boundaries in relationships. Why use romantic relationships specifically to tackle these themes? Maybe they are areas specifically targeted towards younger members of Victorian society, and romance is one of the few driving things that could be influential enough to shake up these social rules for characters. I am curious to see how the rest of Reuban Sachs plays out and to see if the relationships within this novel play out the same way as Wuthering Heights and Great Expectations.