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What kind of contract is a marriage contract? Under nineteenth-century common law and the principle of “coverture,” a woman would, upon marriage, lose her rights to property ownership, to write a will of her own, or to sign contracts. Husband and wife were one under the law, and represented in the male person. Meanwhile, the marriage contract, as a “contract” whose terms could not be stipulated by the contracting parties, and one whose female signatory would consequently lose legal recognition of her signature, was a curious legal document. Charles Dickens’s 1865 novel, Our Mutual Friend, published amidst a public debate over women’s suffrage and married women’s property rights, is a particularly sober meditation on the institution of marriage and its imbrications within the legal and textual spheres. While the plot of the novel is structured around the controlling hand of a dead man’s will, Dickens ultimately deconstructs and delegitimizes “text” by depicting signatures as misleading, education as stifling, and by having the living legatees disregard the “will.” The novel’s central romantic pairings, too, are oddly de-textualized, so much so that Bella Wilfer’s and Lizzie Hexam’s marriage contracts are legally problematic.