The Mayor of Casterbridge
Marriage Quotes Page 4
How we cite our quotes:
It was an odd sequence that out of all this wronging of social law came that flower of nature, Elizabeth. Part of his wish to wash his hands of life arose from his perceptions of its contrarious inconsistencies – of Nature's jaunty readiness to support bad social principles. (44.8)
This is a funny way of describing the wife sale – it was a "wronging of social law." Note that the narrator doesn't call marriage a "moral" or "religious" law. It's purely a social institution.