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Inside the CastleLaw and the Family in 20th Century America$
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Joanna L. Grossman and Lawrence M. Friedman

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691149820

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691149820.001.0001

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The End of Heart Balm

The End of Heart Balm

(p.90) Chapter Four The End of Heart Balm
Inside the Castle

Joanna L. Grossman

Lawrence M. Friedman

Princeton University Press

This chapter considers the decline and fall of a group of closely related causes of action: breach of promise of marriage, alienation of affections, criminal conversation, and perhaps even civil and criminal actions for “seduction.” The story here is tangled and complex; no one factor explains why these causes of action lost ground. But they are connected with the social meaning of marriage, and very notably, with one striking twentieth-century development: the sexual revolution—specifically, the end of the idea that only married people were entitled, legitimately, to have sexual intercourse. These causes of action lived in the shadow of traditional marriage, and depended for their validity on traditional marriage. As it declined, they too receded into history, although not entirely.

Keywords:   causes of action, promise of marriage, alienation, criminal conversation, seduction, social meaning, sexual revolution, traditional marriage, sexual intercourse

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