Depth of Characters: The Proposal (of Frank Gresham to Miss Dunstable(; Sir Roger Scatcherd's Alcoholism (and the Immediate Cause of Death, An Election); "Retrospective": Mary and Being Beneath Consideration; Dr Thorne & 18th Century Mock-Heroic Novelists (Fielding); Mr Moffat Falls into Trouble; Frank as a Bully; Male Violence in Victorian Culture (Regulated Hatred); The Frank Greshams and Harry Claverings of Trollope's World

To Trollope-l

October 24, 1999

Re: Dr Thorne, Chs 20-23: Depth of Characters: The Proposal; Sir Roger's Alcoholism

There was so much of interest in these four chapters, it's hard to know where to begin. I think what most struck me to talk about first is how Trollope really gives the presences in these chapters a depth of reality. He persuades us there is a personality, and one we like, before us. In this I am most impressed by the style of the dialogue. Trollope seems to come up close to the characters and we listen in on conversations that have all the apparently chanciness of life. It's also not just the scenes. There is a deep-musing quality to the presentation of Sir Roger Scatcherd and Mary Thorne that is touching. Trollope really believes in these figures: he has invested the chapters called 'Sir Roger is Unseated and Retrospective' with all sorts of subtle and strong emotions. The 'Proposal' scene between Miss Dunstable and Frank is also so good because we adhere to Miss Dunstable as a person who tells the truth and has real feelings to be hurt, and Frank seems such a real young man with all a real young man's silly vanities and thoughtlessness.

Favorite lines from 'The Proposal':

'Why Mr Gresham, what on earth do you mean? In all human probability I shall never write another line to Mr de Courcy; but, if I did, what possible harm could it do you?

'Oh, Miss Dunstable! you do not in the least understand what my feelings are'.

'Don't I? Then I hope I never shall. I thought I did. I thought they were the feelings of a good, true-hearted friend; feelings that I could sometimes look back upon with pleasure as being honest when so much that one meets is false. I have become very fond of you, Mr Gresham, and I should be sorry to think that I did not understand your feelings' (Houghton Mifflin Dr Thorne, ed EBowen, Ch 20, p. 212).

How hurt she has been at the hypocrisy of the professions of feeling she has been surrounded with.

The same serious feeling underlying all her comedy is brought out::

'I was able to laugh at them as long as I thought that I had but one true friend to laugh with me. But one cannot laugh with all the world against one'.

'I am not against you, Miss Dunstable'. 'Sell yourself for money! why, if I were a man I would not sell one jot of my liberty for mountains of gold ... Have you forgotten you r soul, you spirit, your man's energy, the treasure of your heart? And you, so young! For shame, Mr Gresham! for shame -- for shame! (Ch 20, p. 214).

Trollope makes a great use of the dash throughout these chapters. It seems to mark the beating of his characters hearts and minds.

I liked how the narrator shows us a less idealistic reason for Miss Dunstable forgiving Frank:

It may be, that Miss Dunstable did not feel much acute anger at finding htat this young man had addressed her with words of love in the course of an ordinary flirtation, although that flirtation had been unmeaning and silly (Ch 20, p. 215).

Earlier this week Duffy Pratt remarked he thought one reason a kind of cult following has formed around Hardy is Hardy was the first to present us with tragedy in novels. I can think of tragic novels of the 18th century, and argue Trollope gives us a sense of real tragic waste in the story of how Sir Roger's unseating is a kind of last straw in his self-destruction. What is true is that before Hardy the really working class hero who does not succeed to become gentry, who is no Sir, are given a depth of seriousness and respect which is rare. Sir Roger is not always equally respected by Trollope. In 'Sir Roger is Unseated' Trollope entered utterly into Sir Roger's triumph and then sudden loss. The sense of triumph comes from Trollope's intense respect for the office of MP; the argument about Sir Roger's fall allows Trollope to satirise the new political laws against bribery as hypocritical. If people were sincerely against bribery that would be one thing; it's the pretended disgust which is not felt in the heart by anyone and which is used by people to get at one another for the usual petty venal reasons that he objects to. In the story of Mr Romer Trollope shows how supposedly high principles work themselves out in the political arena of real human nature to ruin decent men. There was comedy in the ludicrous overblown lies the people who want to unseat Sir Roger come up with: 'He was quite horror-struck at the list of his own enormities' (Ch 22, p. 230).

Nonetheless, the general note struck again and again is poignant and tragic:

And the blow to him was very heavy. Men but seldom tell the truth of what is in them, even to their dearest friends; they are ashamed of having feelings, or rather of showing that they are troubled by any intensity of feeling. It is the practice of the time to treat all pursuits as though in what we desire we were only half in earnest. To be visibly eager seems childish, and is always bad policy; and men, therefore, nowadays, though they strive as hard as ever in the service of mammon -- usually do so with a pleasant smile on, as though after all they were but amusing themselves with the little matter in hand (Ch 22, p. 229).

Times have not changed a bit. Nor I suppose has it every been very different. Trollope probably knows that It's not that people don't want to seem childish. Rather they don't want to appear in need, vulnerable, for then someone, human nature being what it is, will strike at them.

So Roger pretends not to care that he is unseated. He puts on a bravura, but we are told how much more devastating it was to him because he had no friend to whom to unburden his heart for real:

For him there was no sympathy, no tenderness of love; no retreat, save into himself, from the loud brass band of the outer world.

The blow hit him terribly hard' (Ch 22, p. 234).

That repetition of 'the blow hit him' is a Trollopian technique. I felt sorry for Lady Scatcherd because she was not regarded as a companion by her husband; one gets the sense he is so much smarter than her in some ways, yet when she talks she is so perceptive. They are just not congenial mates. At any rate, all alone, having lost this great prize which perhaps could have made his success meaningful to him, could have given him something to do he respected, he returns home to the bottle, 'a broken- hearted man'.

The immediate cause for Sir Roger's death was then this election unseating: the moral is against heavy-drinking, but the heavy-drinking sliding into self-destructive alcoholism is understood. The description of the secretary's quiet dismay, and the wife's helplessness is moving:

'She knew that this husband of hers, this man, who, with all his faults, was the best of her friends, whom of all she loved best -- she knew that he was killing himself, and yet she could do nothing. Sir Roger was his own master, and if kill himself he would, kill himself he must.

And kill himself he did. Not indeed by one sudden blow. He did not take one huge dose of his consuming poison and then fall dead upon the floor. it would perhaps have been better for himself, and for those around him, had he done so (Ch 22, p. 236).

The rhythms of the above are perfect. The sentences are written not according to some grammatical construction, but according to hitting the thought and feeling in such a way as to get the feel of Sir Roger and Lady Scatcherd's tone of mind combined.

I'll make a separate posting for the chapters, "Retrospective".

Ellen Moody

Subject: [trollope-l] Dr Thorne, Chs 20-23: Depth of Characters: The Proposal; Sir Roger's Alcoholism

From: Sigmund Eisner

I was about to write my appreciation of the proposal scene between Frank Gresham and Miss Dunstable, but Ellen anticipated me, and I don't think I can improve on what she said. Nevertheless, I was taken by Miss Dunstable's understanding of the nature of a young man. She doesn't really scorn him. To do so would be cruel, and Miss Dunstable is not that. She knows that Frank is both young and inexperienced. Furthermore, he is put up to the proposal by his politically-minded aunt, a true De Courcy, even though she only married into the family. Miss Dunstable realizes that there is not a thing wrong with Frank that a little maturity won't cure. Furthermore, Miss Dunstable would like to find the right man for herself, much as any unmarried woman who has passed her thirtieth birthday would. In her world with its customs, time is running out. She is already past the safe age for child bearing, anyway the safe age considering nineteenth-century medicine. But she would like to spend her adult years as the wife of a man equally adult, a man who does not issue a false proposal because she is rich. Miss Dunstable is not a girl, such as so many of Trollope's heroines are. Young girls in Trollope bubble with enthusiasm. Miss Dunstable is not a bubbler. She is a mature and sensible woman who, unfortunately for the code of the times, has not found a true husband. But, above all, she is sensible, and quite likeable too.


Re: Dr Thorne, Chs 20-23: "Retrospective": Mary and Being Beneath Consideration

When I read 'Retrospective' I thought to myself Trollope never created a heroine more delicately. The presentation of Mary is at once full and nuanced so as she talks on you see many complex motives operating on her from moment to moment. She comes across here to me as one of Trollope's most, if not the most appealing of his virtuous chaste young heroines.

First she is an underdog; she is publicly exiled, publicly shamed. It's clear she can do nothing about it. Her pain is thus not trivial and it's strong. Trollope conveys it through just the right pictorial details of gesture:

[Dr Thorne] was perfectly thunderstruck by the collected -- nay, cool way in which [Mary] received his tidings. She turned pale, indeed; he felt also that her hand somewhat trembled in his own, and he perceived that for a moment her voce shook; but no angry word escaped her lip, nor did she even deign to repudiate the charge, which was, as it were, conveyed in Lady Arabella's request (Houghton Mifflin Dr Thorne, ed EBowen, Ch 23, p. 237).

Holding tight and firm costs her. We feel how hard it is for her not to show her 'intensity of feeling' (I take the phrase from the narrator about Sir Roger's feeling after he is unseated).

The whole chapter seems to be an examination of how it would feel to a passionate full-blooded if chaste young woman like Mary to be rejected as something beneath consideration. There is the curious side remark by Trollope that all women should be more powerful at hiding their emotions then men. Why? Because they are more vulnerable to being exploited in various ways or taken sexual advantage of:

She was of the same age with him; as impressible, though more powerful in hiding such impressions, -- as all women should be; her heart was as warm, her blood as full of life, her innate desire for the companionship of some much-loved object as strong as his (Ch 23, p. 238).

It's when I read such a passage and am told it is inferior because Trollope is telling (narrating as story-teller) not showing (not dramatising this idea), Trollope's art is inferior I get indignant. Deeply felt telling is more powerful than dramatic scenes by other writers not deeply felt.

We get four dramatic dialogues: Mary and the Doctor; Mary and Mr Gresham Frank's father; Mary and Patience; and Mary and Trichy (Beatrice). They all have the same lack of pointed stylization which makes them feel like real life. There is ironic comedy in Mary excusing and pitying the Squire when he had expected to excuse, pity and make much of her (Ch 23, p. 241), but I found myself much more deeply engaged by Mary and her uncle, and Mary and each of her female friends. The pain of Beatrice being against her marrying Frank is the result of Beatrice not considering Mary quite a person: Beatrice is dismissing Mary as not having feelings the way she, Beatrice, does. The conversation with Patience contains no derisory assumptions on Patience's part; therefore Mary can reveal more, take down her guard more: she will not confess that she has done anything offensive, nor to the right to anyone to punish her. Both carry a sting of disgrace she flings off. And yet it has hit home; she is disgraced, and the narrator lets us know she knows it.

The chapter ends on the message from Boxall Hill that Dr Thorne is to go to Sir Roger immediately. He's dying. Trollope's musing sense of a frame of mind with emotional depths shows us Dr Thorne thinking about who will be Sir Roger's heir. I liked the sharp appreciation of Dr Thorne's motives in day-dreaming for his neice-daughter:

his longings, perhaps, were not so much that Mary should be rich, as that she should have the power of heaping coals of fire upon the heads of those people who had so injured her (Ch 23, p 244).

Among us, Is Mary anyone's favorite heroine? Is Dr Thorne anyone's favorite hero?

As I read this book slowly I become persuaded it really is one of Trollope's best and freshest. He has not tired of the formulas; this is the first time through for a number of them. It's a loving book. I remember reading it was the first book he made any money on; it was his first monetary success.

Ellen Moody

Re: Dr Thorne, Chs 20-23: Dr Thorne & 18th Century Mock-Heroic Novelists (Fielding)

When we were reading Barchester Towers I was so often reminded of Fielding, but didn't keep on. The method, narrator's tone, use of mock-heroics, stance, even organization reminded me of Fielding in his novels. Dr Thorne is not stylized as a whole, not witty in a piquant controlled way. However, there are numbers of passages and a couple of chapters which seem to me lifted out of 18th century literature.

When Dr Fillgrave confronted Lady Scatcherd and Dr Thorne, the mock-heroics were 18th century: it was rather like debates in Joseph Andrews. In this week's chapters the way the narrator treats Frank beating Mr Moffat up harks back to the 18th century. Distancing us keeps us from feeling much for Moffat. Then the way the narrator addresses Frank as if the narrator were a character in the fiction. This apostrophising comes from semi-comic sentimental comedies of the earlier period. I also noticed Popian couplets, rhythms which recall the antithesis and grace of the 18th century couplet:

instead of heart beating to heart in sympathetic union, purse chinks to purse (Houghton Mifflin Dr Thorne, Ch 21, p. 221).

The reductive language deflates marriages like Augusta Gresham to Mr Moffat. I like the rhyme and rhythm.

Some of the scenes between the Squire and Lady Arabella over the jilting of Augusta reminded me of Mr and Mrs Bennet after Jane Bennet is apparently jilted by Mr Bingley. Lady Arabella's piteous woe is just the same as Mrs Bennet's laments. The squire taking on the voice of scepticism is Mr Bennet like. There need be no influence; it's rather Trollope adheres to the types.

Trollope had a robust sense of humour and was as sharp and sceptical as any Mr Bennet. I can think of numbers of characters in his books whom he tells us love strong 18th century literature (as opposed to 'insipid' 19th century). Miss Marrable's taste was formed in the Restoration and early 18th century (an elderly maiden aunt in The Vicar of Bullhampton), and she was not ashamed of it. We should not forget Trollope's mother was born in 1779.

I enjoyed the comedy of these chapters too -- especially the depiction of the election and Mr Reddypalm. The allegorical names are common in 18th century satires, though I think more broad, not so precisely pointed. Nearthewinde, Closerstil :). Trollope says they like the new purity for if none were demanded their fees would not be so high; they would not be so much in demand. Slow and Bideawhile are two more comic names which are perfect. Fillgrave. 'Thorne' does have resonance. Mary is a thorn for Frank's parents; Dr Thorne is a prickly type (as is Mary). The central characters have to have believable names which yet have resonance: like Tom Jones, Mr Knightley.

Would anyone like to guess or suggest a model in Trollope's mind when he thought about himself as a novelist during and after the writing of Dr Thorne? Or is this in some ways a highly original book which was imitated by others.

Ellen Moody

Re: Dr Thorne, Ch 21: Mr Moffat Falls into Trouble; Frank as a Bully

I imitate Todd and throw out a few questions. He asked about the attitude towards class and money we find in Dr Thorne. I ask about his attitude towards male violence, specifically the legitimizing of bullying in this week's instalment.

A couple of years ago when I was travelling with my husband and younger daughter to Maine by car, we listened to Timothy West's dramatic reading of 'Mr Moffat Fall into Trouble'. I remember how in the car, my husband, Jim, daughter, Isabel and I agreed the chapter was more than a little offensive.

How so? Well look at the title of the chapter: it contains in the deliberately understated description of what Frank did to Moffat a sneer at Moffat. It is clear to anyone who reads even rapidly that Trollope is all on the side of Frank's whipping Moffat with a thick cutting whip. It will be said Moffat deserved it. Moffat is characterised as a mercenary cold craven hypocrite. However, are the values which lie behind Moffat's behavior what is punished here, or his lack of manliness? Moffat is a whimp.

Trollope would say there is no other way of punishing a man who has betrayed a woman in the way Moffat has. As most courts of law will not put people away for humiliating and shaming others (too many people do it all the time, and it's in the eye of those who can behold it with sympathetic imagination), so most courts of law will not put a Mr Moffat away. It might be that one could sue for breach of contract, but in reality (which is different from what we find in the famous case of Bardell v Pickwick in Dickens), such a case shames a woman and often the money is not forthcoming, there, or worth it. You threaten to go to law to bully the person into the marriage -- as the law which said a woman had to live with her husband was put there to intimidate. So before the mid-19th century a man could avenge his female relatives, and perhaps females were able to force men into keeping their promises. The same thinking underlies the word 'protector' when used of a man for a woman he is related to: if she lives alone, she has no recourse if someone bullies her; with a man about, he can beat up the offender.

However, when we come to look at how this 'system' or substitute for courts of law worked out in reality, we find what it favored was bullies. Those men who would enjoy beating up others, could and did take advantage of such customs. Worse, he man who didn't duel, who refused a challenge, was often himself then harassed, bullied, and humiliated. That's why men duelled; if you avoided it, you were in trouble from the worst elements of human nature -- which it need not be said turn up in all classes of men no matter what their education. There is a remarkable set of chapters in Madame de StaŽl's Delphine where a man refuses to duel and is then harassed out of his job; he loses all position at court and literally has to flee some bullies. Other novels of the 1790s show the custom of bullying, of fighting other men when your woman is insulted is a pretense for a form of bloodlust, bloodsports with human beings.

In reality the man who punished another for not keeping his word to a woman was simply the bullying type. Many men would not so act because they weren't. They were supposed to be ashamed of themselves because they didn't so act. That was the more. In reality the man who didn't keep his promise would not be such a craven hypocrite. There would be much to be said for and against both sides in any breach of contract. What is gained by such a system but broken bones when one side includes a male bully? These broken bones are not fun: Trollope again deflates criticism by having Moffat's hurt hilariously overstated by rumor. This way we won't take them seriously at all. Isn't it funny this man being beat up? Before casts and other scientific medicine a broken bone could mean crippling for life.

Peter Gay's opening chapter in one of his very great volumes on the Victorian period calls duelling and challenges and the custom of men beating others the cultivation of hatred to prove your prowess. A version of bloodsports. Since we are reading Hardy, I'd like to mention that Hardy disliked bloodsports intensely, Trollope revelled in them and resented attacks on hunting and the like. Trollope laughs at young at Sir Peregrine for being a coarse idiot when Peregrine spends his time making rats attack one another and betting on them. The joke is crude and we don't get any sense of what it entails. There's a conversation in Barchester Towers where the characters talk about the new custom of controlling the borrowing of boys at school so as to prevent them going into bad debt, and Trollope again is against it. This is part of education. The unpaid shopkeeper is no concern of his. I have an idea that beating up on other boys and, as a boy, being forced to beat or run away is another part of education in school Trollope would not have done away with. Bloodsports.

The glee with which Trollope assumes we are going to enjoy Frank's behavior is also predicated on Moffat's not being quite the gentleman Frank is. Moffat's hesitation before the onslaught is taken as evidence he's not quite the upper class gentleman Frank is. Another element in this book throughout is a complacent condescension to all people of the lower class. Trollope's narrator shows intense sympathy for Lady Scatcherd but he is continually condescending to her, and we are to like her because she knows her place. She is embarrassed by her title.

Did anyone else find this chapter at least a little offensive? Having grown up in a world where violence among young men was acceptable and done a good deal (razors were the preferred weapon with which young men fought in the Bronx in the 1950s), I find this sanitised depiction and argument for a custom which goes along with duelling indicative of attitudes in Trollope which do not lead to a more humane and decent society at all. If you ask why we continually have wars, this set of attitudes is the place to begin.

Also what do people make of the continual condescension to the 'lower orders' in a book whose heroine is a bastard and in which the big joke is she's the rich heiress after all? That then shows up the phoniness of all this talk of class and 'good' blood. Is Trollope ambivalent? Is he pandering? During the year he wrote this Barsetshire book, he also wrote The Three Clerks and _The Bertrams_ books which are singularly free of this condescension. Does this kind of validation of the old order go with the Barsetshire books? Part of the nostalgia Mr Trollope is selling as intrinsic to this particular ware?

Ellen Moody

Subject: [trollope-l] Dr. Thorne: Mr. Moffat Falls Into Trouble, Ch.21


Like Ellen, I find this chapter surprising and rather offensive. I am no advocate of violence, and while I don't like bloodsports either, I feel it would have been more acceptable had there been more fair play. Had Moffat and Frank Gresham engaged in a duel, I would have thought them both stupid, but not dishonest toward one another. However, a duel would have been fought to determine whether Moffat was guilty or not. Frank has already taken on the duty of judging Moffat himself as well as determining the punishment. I was most shocked by Frank's behavior, who while young and foolish has never before struck me as cruel, violent, or prone to an anger that would cause him to be irrational. Furthermore, he must understand that Mr. Moffat, despite the money, was no great catch for his sister. Since Frank loves the penniless Mary, I have a problem with his being so intent upon his sister's marriage, or even feeling the need to wreak revenge for his sister, whether he approve of the marriage or not. In short, I feel Frank acts cowardly in this case - bullies generally are cowards, and while I understand Mr. Gresham's hidden approval of his son's behavior, whether the reader feels Moffat deserves the beating or not, it was not Frank or anyone's right to assault him.

What Ellen failed to comment on but I found fascinating in terms of the narrator's view of the scene is the comment when the assault is interruped:

The interruption however came, all too soon for Frank's idea of justice. Though there be no policemen to take part in a London row, there are always others ready enough to do so; amateur policemen, who generally sympathise with the wrong side, and, in nine cases out of ten, expend their generous energy in protecting thieves and pickpockets. When it was seen with what tremendous ardour that dread weapon fell about the ears of the poor undefended gentleman, interference there was at last, in spite of Harry Baker's best endeavours, and loudest protestations.

"Do not interrupt them, sir," said he; "pray do not. It is a family affair, and they will neither of them like it." (226) (I'm reaidng the same edition as Ellen).

Of course, Harry is wrong and Moffat will want to be interrupted. What is amazing is that Trollope feels such behavior can be vindicated when done in a just cause, and it is almost a gentleman's right to afflict criminals in this manner. Furthermore, the description places Mr. Moffat on the level of a thief and pickpocket.

Despite my disapproval of the scene, I also find myself sympathizing with Frank. I recently went to see the film Fight Club with Brad Pitt and Edward Norton. I have heard mixed reviews of it from its being an intelligent film to a sign of the increase of male aggression in modern society. I was both concerned and fascinated with the subject, and after viewing the film, found it to be far more intelligent than I expected. It is largely a piece of social criticism against the increasing materialism of our society and the messages that consumerism and the media send us. The fight club in the film is created by men who are angry because they have grown up in a culture that made them believe they would all grow up to be rich, famous, movie stars or rock stars and have fancy cars etc. That has not come true for them, or for the majority of people, and consequently, they form an organization set on destroying consumer America and getting back to what is real in the world. It is sort of a distorted return to Walden pond idea.

I bring up this film in connection with our Trollope chapter because I feel the film's characters are people with no sense of control over their lives or society and they gain that control by violence. Consequently, Frank Gresham, whose behavior I otherwise find inexplicable, may act violently, less out of hatred toward Mr. Moffat or concern for his sister, than from a desire to have some control over his own life and those around him. He is confused, controlled by the women - his mother, sisters, aunt, and even mary because she will not have him - and because Frank is too weak to rise against this basically feminine world he lives in and which emasculates him, he seeks to "prove his manhood" by preying against another whom he sees as weaker than himself, realizing that he can get away with this act of aggression because Moffat has acted criminally in the eyes of his family.

Comments anyone?

Tyler Tichelaar

Subject: [trollope-l] Dr. Thorne: Mr. Moffat Falls Into Trouble, Ch.21

From: Sigmund Eisner

It's hard for me to agree entirely with the recent message from Tyler. Certainly Tyler is correct to condemn Frank for the kind of violence that would never do in our society. Today we have seen so much violence that we condemn it all. Now in Trollope's time there were other conditions. First, a jilt is a despicable character. Trollope has lots to say about that. Second, a young man, especially a gentleman, normally worships his sister. All gentlemen do in Trollope. If someone had raped his sister, Frank would be expected to take justice into his own hands. Any gentleman would. Jilting is almost as bad an offense as a rape. We don't look at it that way, but certainly Trollope did. The females in a gentleman's family are sacred. That's why the term "son of a bitch" was so offensive to any 19th and early 20th-century gentleman. It just wasn't said. So from Frank's viewpoint, and from his father's and his author's viewpoint, he did what was almost the right thing. Still, I can see how 20th-century gentlemen and ladies find the scene offensive.


Subject: [trollope-l] The Frank Greshams and Harry Claverings of Trollope's World

From: Ellen Moody

This is written in response to Tyler's explanation of some of the deeper motives for Frank's horse-whipping of Moffat. I have not seen the film Tyler describes but think Tyler's description of Frank as a man controlled by women also describes Harry Clavering in The Claverings. The irony is that many of these bourgeois males in Trollope's fictions who so preen themselves upon their masculine freedom, manliness and the rest of it are in the fictions presented as living lives in which their women are the repositories of their self-respect. Harry ricochets from woman to woman. The difference between Frank and Harry is that in the later book Trollope is less sympathetic and puts Harry in situations where Harry does betray the second girl he is engaged to; Miss Dunstable acts as a sort of good angel to Frank: her words stop his marriage proposal; she urges him on to stay loyal to Mary.

Novels reflect social reality, and the social reality in Victorian times for middle class men was when they were in their domestic environments and interacted with women of their class, they were subject to it. They had to control their sexual urges until and often after they were married (depending on how strong the particular woman's character was and depending on how much he or she wanted to practice contraception). They had to play according to the rules in public. I think Peter Gay does describe duelling, the bullying culture, the rat-betting as forms of release. Sublimation Freud would call it.

I agree on the confusion in Frank's purposes -- if there is any purpose beyond the enjoyment of beating the man he has always despised up. I have to say to Howard there is certainly a very strong class element here. Since Trollope wants us to 'root' for Frank, he softens the sneering at the non-gentleman and the humiliation associated with whipping in this period. One whipped slaves because it was also humiliating. It was a psychological punishment in the navy; in Elizabethan times. In The Prime Minister when it's Ferdinand Lopez who seeks to horsewhip Arthur Fletcher then Trollope points out the viciousness and low vulgarity and animal quality of the man who would horsewhip the other, the descension of it. Again, Peter Gay shows us how it was gentlemen who duelled, gentlemen who issued challenges, and the crude beating up we see here would be a mark of despising a man who has got above himself (Moffat, the tailor's son).

Ellen Moody

From: "Howard Merkin"

It seems to me to be completely unfair to regard Frank as a bully because he wanted to punish Moffat -- a man who had used his wealth, and the desire of the girl's parents to get her a husband, to extort more money from Frank's impoverished father. and then reneged on the deal.. I can't feel at all sorry for Moffat, and believe that he deserved everything that he got. He clearly wasn't badly injured, despite Frank's 'big-cutting whip', and since he was probably wearing an overcoat, as well as the hat that Trollope mentioned, he was unlikely to have been seriously affected. The treatment that was meted out to him was what I imagine a Victorian would have considered appropriate, and certainly I suspect that it occurred a great deal more frequently in fiction than it did in fact. It is a rather more severe beating than Johnny Eames is to hand out two novels later to someone else who jilted a young lady. I don't see that this chapter reflects a class attitude at all. Moffat behaved like a swine, and was treated accordingly.

What I find more interesting is the way Trollope uses the second person singular when he speaks of Mr Moffat coming down the steps of his club. "Oh! Mr Moffat! Mr Moffat! If there be any goddess to interfere in thy favour, let her come forward now . . . let her bear thee off on a cloud if there be one to whom thou art sufficiently dear!" Then talking about the police, he uses another archaic pronoun, when he says "Where were ye, men, when that savage whip fell" and "Had ye been there what could ye have done?" I am sure that Trollope uses these forms elsewhere, in a similar position where he is trying to build up the reader's feelings about a character, but I cannot currently trace the passages that I am thinking of. Can any other list members help? I wonder whether, like Stella Gibbons in Cold Comfort Farm, who used three stars (as in Baedeker) to mark her purple passages, Trollope used these forms to indicate the way in which a character's behaviour was to be regarded.

Finally, to answer Ellen's point, I have been in love with Mary Thorne ever since I first read the book nearly fifty years ago. Beautiful, but decided and in no way to be put upon. We don't see a great deal of her after this book is finished, but what we do encounter shows that she continued as one might have expected, and became the accomplished and polished woman that she promises to be in this novel. I like to think that Doctor Thorne is someone I would want to have known well, but he doesn't come close to Mary! The only other heroine that comes near her is undoubtedly Elizabeth Bennet.


John Mize quoted Sig's paragraph:

"It's hard for me to agree entirely with the recent message from Tyler. Certainly Tyler is correct to condemn Frank for the kind of violence that would never do in our society. Today we have seen so much violence that we condemn it all. Now in Trollope's time there were other conditions. First, a jilt is a despicable character. Trollope has lots to say about that. Second, a young man, especially a gentleman, normally worships his sister. All gentlemen do in Trollope. If someone had raped his sister, Frank would be expected to take justice into his own hands. Any gentleman would. Jilting is almost as bad an offense as a rape. We don't look at it that way, but certainly Trollope did. The females in a gentleman's family are sacred. That's why the term "son of a bitch" was so offensive to any 19th and early 20th-century gentleman. It just wasn't said. So from Frank's viewpoint, and from his father's and his author's viewpoint, he did what was almost the right thing. Still, I can see how 20th-century gentlemen and ladies find the scene offensive."

An excellent modern recounting of this issue is Fowles' . In Victorian times, marriage was a serious moral, political and social event: as well as personal. For the bourgeois, at least.

John Mize

Subject: [trollope-l] Clarification of beating of Mr. Moffat


Just to clarify my earlier comments on Frank's beating of Mr. Moffatt, I do not approve of violence, but that doesn't mean I don't feel he had it coming. Like Ellen suggested, I was surprised that the Greshams did not sue him for breach of promise, but also as Ellen said, this could be humiliating for the rejected spouse. It was like rape in a sense, in which a woman would not come forward because she was treated as the criminal. Consequently, I understand Frank felt it was the right thing for him to do. I am not so sure that the society completely condoned such behavior however. The characters seem of mixed reaction. Beatrice hesitatingly suggests that it was wrong of Frnak to behave so, to which Mary responds that it was admirable. At the beginning of Chapter 23 we are told that it was basically hushed over, which could suggest it was poor behavior and therefore not worth discussing, or that people secretly approved and therefore looked the other way. I'm suggesting that Victorian England would have been in a transitional period where it may or may not have been acceptable and consequently there are mixed reactions. I do, however, continue to wonder if Frank did not act as much or more for his own self-image than out of any concern for his sister or family, except in that family image reflecting upon his own. I liked Frank a great deal more before his action, even if Mary may like him better afterwards.

Tyler Tichelaar

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