Novel Endings

Eighteenth and Nineteenth-century novels are notorious for their beginnings. Think of such lines as “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” or “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” But perhaps just as notorious are the endings of these novels, which, if the stereotype is true, should end with a large cast of characters happily married or appropriately punished. Most of these novels, however, have ambiguous endings that keep readers and critics debating. The discussions found in this section of our blog site take up the endings to various novels and debate their significance, the way in which the endings ask us to reconsider the whole novel.