Trollope's wit; The Rich Center of the Book (The Alien/American Among the Brits); Mary Masters and her Father/Mary Masters and Reginald Morton; The Hardships of Arabella's Life; Back to Arabella; Compassion for Arabella; Arabella's Honesty; Negative Capability in Trollope; AT: Anton Trendellson and Arabella Trefoil: Mischievous Self-reflexive joking?; The AS: Go West, Young Woman (Arabella Characterized as an American); The AS: Arabella's Anger; Arabella as the Poor Aristocrat; Arabella as a Tragic Figure; Arabella Again; Lord Rufford not such a fool? and Mounser Green the Man; Arabella the Unhappy Addict; The Ennui of it all; Arabella Poor Thing with no time at all even in small ways

Subject: [trollope-l] Trollope's wit

From: Sigmund Eisner

Without giving anything away in this week's assignment in The American Senator, I think I have come across the kind of sly wit that is so enjoyable in the works of AT. Here the author is commenting on who goes to church and why. The passage is at the beginning of Chapter XXXVIII.

"On the next morning Arabella went to church, as did of course a great many of the party. By remaining at home she could only have excited suspicion. The church was close to the house, and the family pew consisted of a large room screened off from the rest of the church, with a fire-place of its own,-- so that the labour of attending divine service was reduced to a minimum. At two o'clock thy lunched, and that amusement lasted nearly an hour. There was an afternoon service at three, in attending which the duchess was very particular. The duke never went at that time, nor was it expected that any of the gentlemen would do sop; but ladies are supposed to require more church than men, and the duchess rather made it a point that, at any rate, the young ladies staying in the house should accompany her....."

This is delicious satire. Obviously no one attends divine service for the purpose of divine service. No where is the sermon of the day mentioned. The purpose of attending church is to be seen in church. The men of the family, who are secure in who they are, make no such pretense. But the ladies must be seen. Church with this family is a social thing, not a moment of reflection of ones sins or moral conduct. Senator Gotobed, had he been there, would have scorned the conduct of the upper-class parishoners, as he did in a sense at the dinner at Mr. Mainwaring's house. As Ellen has remarked often, the Senator tweaks his transatlantic cousins excactly where they least like to be tweaked. The theme of the Senator's observations is carried right into this paragraph about church attendance.


To Trollope-l

April 19, 1999

Re: The American Senator, Chs 39-44: The Rich Center of the Book (I)

Trollope is at his most interesting when he has gotten into the center of his story; then all the characters are fully evolved, the situation at a complex height, and all the parallels and contrasts working most suggestively. These chapters seem to me such a point in The American Senator.

Objectively considered Arabella Trefoil is a horror. She is ruthless, apparently frigid, has no concern for other people whatsoever; her behavior in public is one long phony show, though in front of Rufford she is almost openly craven. She will let him do anything he wants. She will never get in the way of any of his pleasures. And so on. There is no lie she won't tell if she thinks it can pass muster. Yet I think the reader is made to sympathise with her, and I suggest this sympathy is the result of Trollope keeping us close to her every thought, almost every breathe.

I was very impressed with Trollope's capture of an interior monologue which felt like an inner stream of consciousness tracing Arabella's time in the garden in the late afternoon, first with Rufford and then with her aunt, her hours before the hunt and how she experiences reality coming into her mind as she wakes and fall back to sleep, her sense of Rufford's presence near her in the postchaise, and her feelings after Rufford runs away. Maybe what was so masterly was Trollope's ability to make the reader feel the color of the dark air to Arabella, of its coldness and wetness, of chills, of weariness (RJ agreed with me there -- this is on hard-working girl). I will quote but one paragraph of the kind of thing I mean:

It was still dark night, or the morning was still dark as night, when Arabella got out of bed and opened her window. The coming of a frost now might ruin her. The absence of it might give her everything in life that she wanted. Lord Rufford has promised her a communication through the servants as to the state of the weather. She was far too energetic, far too much in earnest, to wait for that. She opened the window and putting out her hand she felt a drizzle of rina. And the air, though the damp from it seemed to chill her all through, was not a frosty air. She stood there a minute so as to be sure and then retreated to her bed (Oxford The American Senator, ed JHalperin, Ch 39, pp 261-62).

We are so up close to her. This is not an easy thing to achieve in a book so filled with other characters and places and rich with events and detail.

Her letters are little masterpieces. When Trollope says he will present them to us and leave us to decide on their merits as compositions and gain their ends, that provides the suspense. We know what the content will be. The second we are to look at to see if it's stiff and repulsive. Not at all. But there are limits to what you can make someone else do who needn't do it. Especially if he has an astute brother-in-law.

Trollope does really present a difficulty to anyone who wants to study any particular part of his art. He is a master of the letter. Yet most articles on his use of the letter confine themselves to at most one or a couple of novels. What one should do is go through them all. One would find a treasure-trove of uses, probably of development, and also variety. In this novel alone letters form an important thread in the plot and are contrasted and compared, are used for manipulation, for philosophising -- for lies, and politicking. Letters cause events and stop them, and reveal the inner nature of people. Just about all the important characters write them and we read them. Now one does't read a letter novel for the story; they are the arias in the recitative.

Ellen Moody

Re: The American Senator, Chs 39-44: The Rich Center of the Book (The Alien/American Among the Brits, II)

Others will have noticed that the Senator and Goarly and the whole pack of characters involved in the case of the goose and what is owed Goarly seemed to have vanished from our book for the last couple of our instalments. Well he's back, and he makes the book very interesting thematically. He carries the intellectual content of Trollope's critique of society, not by virtue of what he says or thinks but rather by virtue of his situation and the response of others to his continual insistence on telling the literal truth about the economic arrangements which underlie the power structure of British society.

Take Gotobed's predicament vis-a-vis the court case of Scrobby, Goarly and Rufford: this reminds me of Trollope's treatment of justice and law in a number of his other novels (e.g, The Macdermots of Ballycloran, The Three Clerks, Orley Farm, Phineas Redux, The Landleaguers). Gotobed demands justice. If we look back to his talk with Goarly's lawyer, we find he is telling the simple truth when he says he never promised to carry the case on to the end and pay for it (Oxford The American Senator, ed John Halperin, Ch 19, pp. 125-26). What an idiot. What a complete naif. He is advised he will lose if he contends against the lawyer who says he is liable for Goarly's charges because all the members of the community are angry at him for coming in on Goarly's side in the first place (Ch 41, pp. 277-78). No one will care about the actual merits of the case.

Edgar F. Harden has a very interesting essay on The American Senator -- 'The Alien Voice: Trollope's Western Senator, Texas Studies in Language and Literature 8 (1966-67), 219-34). After reading it I came to the conclusion that underlying Gotobed's predicaments is Trollope's perception of human nature as hopelessly self-centered, venal, passionate, stuck in the moment, blind, & obtuse. Even though people scarcely hear one another, much less understand and only act in terms of their own values and needs and desire for security or excitement or prestige or love (&c&c), the way people manage to get along together ('such are the chasms which details create between men . . ') is that they stick to old ties, bonds, and what has been as if it were right or just. This is very Burkean. Says Harden, through Gotobed's predicament, Trollope shows us 'the subtle ties and antagonisms among men . . . form the heart of the social matrix or disrupt it'. The problem is how people shall carry on together in a civilised manner. To go after strict justice, demand legal rights at every turn, never to compromise for the sake of peace at the moment is eventually to make yourself hated by all.

Another way to put this is the alien voice is the person who thinks. Gotobed is an intellectual :). He is also Mr Trollope.

Mr Mainwaring's dinner can be read as Trollope making mischief through the Senator. He puts in the Senator's mouth precisely the criticism he, Trollope, makes of the church in novel after novel through characters like Crawley and Grantley, Proudie and Saul -- the church does not pay its clergymen fairly at all. You can get a man who is genuinely religious, works like a horse, and he can barely feed his wife and children; another supine type spends his life in Italy on the large income of a sinecure while some desperate curate does the work. Trollope is himself against the present arrangement absolutely and argues explicitly and implicitly. The church ought not to be treated as a place for making yourself powerful through patronage. It has been made the property of those who belong to the elite by chance. Most of what Gotobed tells Mainwaring is perfectly true, but it is hopeless to bring it up.

I liked Gotobed's point about how when people really care whether a man is competent at what he does (growing food, managing farms, determining cases in court, sailing ships), then people look to see the person given the position can really do the job. They seem not to care whether the vicar can do his job or not. This really reminds me of teacher in academic universities; you are promoted based on what college you went to, who wrote your letters of recommendation, what papers you have published. Not on the basis of your teaching. No one cares. The student wants his certificate as the passport to the good job and only wishes the teacher would give less work. No one really cares whether a cure of souls goes on -- or not enough. Everyone at table is of course aghast (Ch 52, pp. 289-91). They say Gotobed is a brute. Yes. But he's a correct brute, and is voicing Trollope's own opinion, all the while as narrator Trollope keeps telling us how Gotobed himself only listens to himself (p. 289).

Apparently real understanding between people is not at all based on telling one another what is the literal truth of a situation. Rather we want others to understand what we want and help us to get or maintain it. And for some people (like the kindly decent Mr Masters) it's anything for a quiet life, except when he sees real cruelty going on. He draws the line at his wife's attempt to crush his daughter. So we have a value here: it has to do with the heart's integrity and loyalty to bonds and relationships. Again we are in Burke's territory.

Ellen Moody

Re: The American Senator, Chs 39-44: The Rich Center of the Book (III)

We must not neglect our third plot: the swirl of characters and events set on foot when Mary Masters refuses Larry Twentyman's offer of marriage. It brings to the fore many scenes and themes or subjects which relate to the book's other two plots.

For example, there is the hunt of Arabella Trefoil for a rich husband. As she chooses Lord Rufford over John Morton so Mary chooses Reginald Morton over Larry Twentyman. Arabella does not talk of love, and Mary does, but note both girls for the Top Male available to them. (Top in the sense of rank and perceived status).

We also have scenes which relate to the court case and to the hierarchical power relationships of the society which are criss-crossed by particular individuals' willingness to be unpleasant, to bully others into submitting for the sake of peace. Mr Masters is asked to be Rufford's lawyer, but his wife despises him nonetheless. Because she can cow him. She is jealous of Mary and loathes seeing Mary go to Lady Ushant because in her gut she resents anyone above her and would crush Mary into Larry's arms not only to get rid of her, but because it would satisfy her to put the girl 'in her place'. Her husband's fineness is to her an irritant. She married above herself and now wants to pull the others down to her level. She likes Larry partly because he is not quite the gentleman in status -- though we see that as to his heart and gentility within he is as much the gentleman as Reginald Morton.

It's curious how the presence of one plot and themes affects the presentation of another. While I think Trollope deliberately sets up contrasts and reinforcements between parallel plots, creates ironies and repeating patterns, I am often aware of what I call spill over. This is not wholly conscious. For example, when Lord Rufford talks to Tom Surbiton, Rufford insists he is not engaged in the following words: 'It has not been arranged' (Oxford The American Senator, ed John Halperin, Ch 45, p. 308). Well this is echoed in the next chapter title: 'It cannot be arranged', a chapter about Mary Master's proposed long visit to Lady Ushant, her attempt to escape her stepmother's real harshness with the consent of her father. This is spill over.

Similarly I am struck in this novel between the spill over from the Gotobed plot to the Masters one. Lady Ushant may be seen as contrasting completely to the Senator. She wants Mary to come live with her; sees the justice of it, but she won't do it until she learns the specifics of the exact circumstances and people involved by sending her nephew, Reginald, over there to pay attention to the case. Not the abstracts of right and wrong. Who will be hurt? who will gain? is she interfering?

I could do without the Lady Ushant type in the sense that this behavior supports the establishment every time, and the Senator is breaking it up. I mean only to point out the spill over in the contrast. I doubt Trollope meant to make this parallel but is rather shaping everything to themes he is working out as he goes.

There is an excellent book on interlace in medieval romance, Eugene Vinaver's The Rise of Romance where Vinaver argues this kind of spill over is typical of interlace and makes for its beauty and depth and endless interest. Similar arguments are made for Elizabethan/Jacobean plays which also have these mirroring plots.

My favorite scenes in this plot are those between the father and daughter. Note how Mary uses letters to escape and thwart the tangle of bonds. Arabella uses letters to nail people down (as documents to hold them to); Mary uses them as handles to insist on her having said something and make that stick. Her stepmother cannot deny she refused Larry when there it is on paper. The post office is another institution which breaks up the tyranny of the family, and in novels clandestine correspondence is often morally inveighed against.

Trollope does not allow us to get as up close to Mary's mind as he does Arabella's perhaps because he dwells intently on Arabella herself in a way he does not on Mary. The Masters story shows equal attention to a number of characters rather than one central one. If Trollope comes up close to anyone in this plot and beyond the other males (John Morton at moments particularly), it's Larry Twentyman with whom Trollope himself identifies. He said Larry was the hero. He is a kind well-meaning soul, and while that's not enough to change or improve society, it will ameliorate the existences of those who are around him.

Ellen Moody

Subject: [trollope-l] Re: American Senator, Chs 39-44: Mary Masters and her Father/Mary Masters and Reginald Morton

From: "RJ Keefe"

Ellen Moody writes that her favorite scenes in the Mary Masters plot are between Mary and her father. Mine are the rarer ones (so far) between Mary and Reginald. Trollope's 'good' girls are always scrupulously reserved and never volunteer anything that might be misconstrued, but there seems to be little more to this plot than reticence. I'm reminded of W.S. Gilbert's funny poem about the two Englishmen marooned on a desert island who can't speak because they haven't been properly introduced. Pardon my caps, but the plot makes me want to scream SPEAK UP! In contrast, Arabella talks quite freely (if not a lot - she's no bore). She may be lying, but at least her words are meant to have some effect in the world. Mary's are hamstrung by exactly that fear. Not all the social anthropology in the world will convince me that Mary's unwillingness to disclose Reginald's name to her father is anything but unnatural - given the state to which her stepmother has brought the household.

RJ Keefe

Subject: [trollope-l] _The American Senator_, Chs 39-44: The Hardships of Arabella's Life

From: "RJ Keefe"

Picking up from Ellen Moody's post, I'd like to say that I find the roots of my sympathy for Arabella in the trouble Trollope takes to acquaint us with the hardships of her life. Like most of Trollope's 'bad' girls, Arabella has absolutely no inner direction, and her imagination produces nothing but prophecies. Is this lack of what I think in German might be called a 'geistlich' intellect a character defect or a birth defect? Trollope quite wisely never opines. Like the Catholic Church on the subject of homosexuality, he censures acts, not predispositions. His censure, moreover, is tempered by a staunch grasp of the difficulty of acting against one's nature.

Ellen has set the world a magnificent task: collecting and explaining the contexts of Trollope's novel's letters. Trollope's career at the post office certainly heightened what would have already been a healthy respect for the personal letter in pre-telephonic time - to which I'd be only too happy to return now that e-mail has come along.

RJ Keefe

Re: The American Senator: Back to Arabella

Ellen, Arabella Trefoil's problem is a very real one. Without a marriage, that is a marriage that will keep her in groceries, she might just as well jump under Ferdinand Lopez's train. Trollope is commenting on a striking problem in 19th century culture. And he's not the only one. Remember poor Jane Fairfax in Emma. One of the best portraits of a lady in this unfortunate situation is Mabel Grex in The Duke's Children. Education for middle to upper class women in the English 19th century prepared them for just about nothing. If a lady did not marry and did not have a private income, the could be a governess, and that's about it. The day of a lady being a scientist or a lawyer was still far in the future, and the English were hardly the pioneers to bring it about. Marie Curie was just coming into maturity when Trollope died.


Subject: [trollope-l] Compassion for Arabella

From: Sigmund Eisner

I also feel compassion for Arabella, although she is not a very nice girl. She has learned her tricks from her mother, and her mother sees a bleak future for herself if the daughter does not marry money. Of course there is no future for Arabella either, but Arabella is honest enough to say so. Her mother doesn't have an honest bone in her body. I gather that Arabella is not in the first bloom of youth. In fact, all she has left of girlish charms is a very nice (albeit cold) smile, which she can turn on when the occasion demands. I gather from lack of evidence to the contrary that she still is a virgin, although a reluctant one. We learn that she was charming back in Washington, when she was setting her trap for John Morton. But bring her to John's home in England, and very little of that charm remains. Furthermore, she finds John's house very dull. She also finds her life very dull. And it certainly must be. The business of being a constant guest in country houses eventually must be boring. It might be comparable to spending ones time in a series of plush hotels with no companionship to enjoy the luxury other than a nasty mother and two distant servants, who are about as companionable as hotel employees.

Well, we'll see what happens when she goes to Lord Rufford's house.


Re: Arabella's honesty

I feel just the same way about her. I think it's her honesty that makes me like her. Trollope uses a lot of battle and fighting terms for her campaigns that give the sense of how hard she's working to secure some kind of future. There's no warmth coming from Mr Morton to her either--so I don't see how she's more to be despised than he. Her mother and Mary Master's stepmother are comparable in awfulness--though I guess Mary's is a bit the worse. I'm sure we're supposed to see parallels between Mary and Arabella, to A's disadvantage --but from my 20th C perspective I find Arabella more interesting, if not more likeable.

I always try to cast Trollope for a Masterpiece Theatre or a movie--who could play Arabella? She's supposed to be languidly lovely--any ideas?

Judy Warner

Reply-to: Subject: [trollope-l] AS: Negative Capability


A propos of various comments about Arabella Trefoil, I'm reminded of the letter to his brothers in which Keats advances the notion of 'negative capability.'

"...[I]t struck me, what quality went to form a Man of Achievement especially in Literature & which Shakespeare possessed so enormously - I mean Negative Capability, that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason ... This pursued through Volumes would perhaps take us no further than this, that with a great poet the sense of Beauty overcomes every other consideration, or rather obliterates all consideration."

George Steiner writes of negative capability as the outlook the makes it possible for us to separate Macbeth from his deeds sufficiently to regret his untoward end. Readers who can't make or simply don't feel this distinction (it oughtn't to be forced) will have persistent problems with the claims of beauty, tending to regard it as suspect, unworthy, corrupting, and so on.

The fact is as Ellen puts it: we probably wouldn't care to spend much time in the company of an actual Arabella, and we'd certainly waste little energy defending her conduct. The whole point of fiction is the virtual nature of the contacts that it proffers - if I may import a rather vogued-out term. We may merely judge Arabella as we would expect to be judged; or we may look for something more, a pleasure that would be inappropriate, if not impossible, in 'life.'

Taking pleasure in Lizzie Eustace is even more deliciously inappropriate.

RJ Keefe

Re: AT: Anton Trendellson and Arabella Trefoil: Mischievous Self-reflexive joking?

RJ's posting made me recall that AT are Anthony Trollope's initials. People make a great deal of the coincidence of Anton Trendellson's (the Jewish young man in Nina Balatka) initials with Trollope's own. How about _A_rabella _T_refoil?

Or is it just mischief and self-reflexive quiet jokes to himself that cause him to use his initials. I think he would be aware of the coincidence because he is alive to the allegorical significance of his characters' names, the resonance, the alliteration, the puns.


Reply-to: Subject: [trollope-l] Trol: The AS: Go West, Young Woman

From: John Mize

Gene Stratton wrote:

We've said a lot about Arabella, and at this time I just have two additional thoughts. First, I wonder if Trollope thought of her as an American. We know and he knew that she wasn't, but at times she seems to come across as an American.

I, too, see Arabella as something like Trollope's idea of an American woman. He seems to see the United States as the epitome of predatory capitalism. There is little place for family ties, sentiment or custom. The only important thing is power, either money or physical force. In the United States Arabella would be free to be herself and not have to play the hypocrite. She would fit in well with the other hard, dangerous, rapacious American women. If someone really annoyed her, she could shoot him, and the Americans wouldn't really care all that much.

I suspect Trollope's having an American lecturing the English is intended to be something of an insult. He apparently sees Britain moving in the direction of the United States, and men like Lord Rufford are partly to blame. If the Lord Ruffords refuse to acknowledge their responsibilities and only care about their privileges, the country might as well abolish all titles and distinctions and become a republic.

John Mize
Subject: [trollope-l] Trol: The AS: Arabella's Anger

From: John Mize

Patricia Maroney wrote:

I am having more and more trouble understanding Arabella and her motives...

I think Arabella is motivated by anger and resentment. She wants to have money and social standing, but she cannot obtain these on her own. She has to marry a wealthy and well-born man to get what she wants. She is supposed to love the man she marries, but she resents and despises those men who have what she so desperately covets. At one point she says that it is unfair that Lord Rufford has everything and she has nothing, since he is a fool, and she is much more intelligent than him. Her anger and resentment work against her attempts to lure her prey by pretending to be soft and conventionally feminine.

Playing the little feminine games that one has to play to bag a wealthy husband goes against her nature. I don't know whether that makes her insane. I'm sure at least some present day psychiatrists would diagnose her as having borderline personality disorder. I'm not sure where the line is between borderline personality disorder and refusing to accept things as they are. Psychiatrists, as a rule, seem to want us to fit in. I remember reading a Freudian analyst of Mary Wollstonecraft. There was a lot of Freudian verbiage which I couldn't pretend to completely understand, but the gist of the analysis was that Mary wouldn't have had all the troubles she had in life if she had just been a good little girl and let the boys run things as Nature intended.

John Mize

Subject: [trollope-l] Arabella as the Poor Aristocrat

From: "RJ Keefe"

It's no doubt odd of me, but I see Arabella as a child of a great family that happens to be poor. In other words, I see her as someone without - for all her acuity in dressing for success and the like, and all the calculated toils that Trollope imposes upon Arabella's youth - anything like the sense of everyday 'reality' that 'you and I' (dear Internet reader) have. Characters like Arabella remind me so forcibly of Nancy Mitford's accounts of the living conditions of the poorer aristocrats at Versailles - East Village slums would have meant heavenly improvements! - that I wish we could all share a seminar in upper-class spending. Come to think of which, Ellen herself regretted, the other day, the 'squandering' that went on in the ancien regime. It wasn't 'trickle.' but 'cascade' down: rich people who lived 'in the world' held on to very, very little of their wealth.

My great argument, and most enjoyable of all possible arguments, with Ellen is about the joys and rewards of incidental elitism. I think that most people born into the 'ruling class' drag more disadvantaged baggage through life than the poorest peasant. (Since, however, they eat and dress rather better, if just as hand-to-mouth, I'm certainly not about to say that the peasants are more to be envied.) Arabella herself is the only daughter of a younger son: in practical, as opposed to DeBrett, terms, she's hopeless. And - what nobody seems to want to credit her with - Arabella has a wit. She's a smart-aleck; she's a smart-ass; she can't resist the imprudent if clever comeback. (Trollope says, very much in passing, and rather self-contradictorially, that she's not very, but I take him to mean that she's not what the French would call 'spirituelle' - that she has no soul.) Her exchanges with Rufford are right out of James and Proust: they sting as very few ripostes in Trollope do. Julia Brabazon, perhaps Trollope's greatest loser, at least among women ('inter mulieribus' seems strangely apt here), hearkens, in contrast, back to the Austenian tradition of Mary Crawford. Arabella belongs to a world that Trollope would not live to see fully realized.

Ellen mentioned The Shooting Party an extraordinarily fine novel by Isabel Colegate that was given an extraordinarily fine cinematic treatment in time for the late James Mason to participate. I'd like to mention the salt to Shooting Party's pepper, Statues in a Garden, which, like The Shooting Party, roils under premonitions of the Great War. Colegate is very much alive and with us, and those of her novels that she has set in the past - the last being, I think, The Summer of the Royal Visit - set unexpectedly higher standards for 'historical fiction' without being in the least bit limited by notions of genre. I should like very much, now that it's been brought up, to make some room in our group reading for one or both of these books. Colegate's reputation may be muted now, but, like our William Maxwell's, I can't doubt that it will mushroom as clichés of modernism stale.

Even in my own haute-bourgeois Westchester youth, Arabella's idea of resting through dinner but showing up for the drawing room afterward would have been taken as 'pushing it.' I've known ladies who would have felt no less abused and put upon by Arabella than the Duchess of Mayfair. Post-Scriptum-ante: Does anybody else regard the Mayfair title as a jocular nod at the Grosvenors? God knows the Eaton Hall of Trollope's day WAS the ugliest house in Britain, even if its facade wasn't particularly lengthy.

RJ Keefe

From: "RJ Keefe"

I failed to put 'clever' at the end of a phrase about what Trollope thought Arabella wasn't. Lord, how easy gobbledygook is to write!)


Re: Arabella as a Tragic Figure

From: John Mize

I suppose I see Arabella as something of a tragic figure. She wants to be a duchess and give fashionable parties, which seems to me to be a rather tawdry ambition. She is too intelligent not to see the pointlessness of such a life. I think that's why she despises the people she tries to manipulate and despises herself for stooping to manipulate them. Lord Rufford is a fool. Nothing can or should be expected from him. Arabella should know better.

John Mize

Subject: [trollope-l] Arabella again

From: Sigmund Eisner

John Mize writes that Lord Rufford is a fool and that nothing can be expected from him. Indeed Lord Rufford is all that. Consequently, he would be the perfect husband for Arabella, from her point of view. As we know her at this stage of our reading she is angry that she has had to endure a long period of husband hunting without the success (as she sees it) enjoyed by her contemporaries. What would make her happy and possibly in time a contented dowager ruling all those who come near her is an alliance with Lord Rufford. He would give her money and prestige. She would give him an ornament to grace his dining room table. Privately she would manipulate him at every step throughout their lives together. She would not have to love him; in fact she is most likely incapable of love. All she would have to do is manage him. But then perhaps Lord Rufford, albeit he is a weakbrained drone, is not fool enough to subject himself to a lifetime of tyranny.

Re: Lord Rufford not such a fool? and Mounser Green as the Adequate Man

Dear All, At the risk of giving away a later novel where we met Lord Rufford (Ayala), he does indeed end up a henpecked husband. And his companion for life has none of the outward graces or sharp intelligence of Arabella Trefoil (AT). He becomes a function of his sister's ideas.

And he gets just what he deserves.

Trollope has already hinted to us that the right partner for Arabella is Mounser Green whom Trollope thinks functions beautifully in diplomacy. He may be third-rate as an ideal man (as Trollope said in a letter outside the novelRufford's never had to think and is not a strong man at all. His carapace has been his rank, connections, and family. In the end they devour him. See the man in Ayala

Now Mounser Green, he's made his own way ... a clerk like you-know-who and one who did not take a Civil Service Exam.


From: (Patricia Maroney)

I like these observations on Lord Rufford and his appeal to Arabella. Perhaps part of the reason she is discontented with John Morton is that he does draw boundaries and make his own decisions. We see this in his dealings with his grandmother and in the financial arrangements as to his marriage, and we will see more of it in later chapters. I imagine Trollope sees this as admirable in a man, but it would frustrate Arabella and her mother. I wish Trollope had developed John Morton a bit more; I have to really look hard for ways to get to know him. I thought it was amusing to hear Trollope referring to him as the Paragon, and even funnier when it turned out that others referred to him as such. Pat

Subject: [trollope-l] Arabella the Unhappy Addict; The Ennui of it all

From: "RJ Keefe"

Regarding Arabella Trefoil's happiness, I hasten to agree completely with Ellen Moody. I wouldn't say that she enjoys glitter and prestige; I'd say that she's addicted to it, or requires it to get herself out of bed in the morning. That's the problem with John Morton. He may be safe, he may be more than she deserves, but he's dull. He's dull and Bragton is dull. As a diplomat, John is never going to tickle her with Ruffordian naughtiness. Arabella's principal weakness is boredom -as it is for most people who expect the good things in life to come straight from the outside world. (This is where Arabella most resembles Lizzie Eustace - and Julia Brabazon.)

We mustn't overlook Arabella's fatigue. Trollope wraps her up in it on almost every page that she graces. She's immensely tired, both short- and long-term. Long term, she's sick of the marriage market, as who wouldn't be. Short-term, she's worn out by the effort of, for example, making the most of her clothes and toilette. I agree with Ellen that she's exhilarated by the hunt, but she no longer has the stamina (nor the innocence) to run very hard or very fast without feeling the expense.

Not to get too cosmic, I'd still like to float the idea that it was the insouciant boredom of the Arabellas and the Ruffords that brought down the old world in 1914. The idea's not mine, and I'm not sure that I agree with it. But I think that Trollope sensed the social danger (forget impropriety) posed by these customers.

RJ Keefe

Re: Arabella Poor Thing with no time at all even in small ways

When I think about Arabella, I cannot imagine that she has any time to do anything that might give her any inner direction. She, poor thing, has put herself into positions that she must always be furthering as looking for the "best" husband or getting herself out of some sort of trouble that her bold (lying) statements have gotten her into. Also think of the amount of time she spends fixing her clothes to be the best possible. That is the sort of thought she seems to be capable of and spends her time on. I find her a fascinating character.


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