The Crawleys Escape from Total Shipwreck; Characters with Motivational Life Of their Own; The Characters Explain It to Us; Indications of Popular Culture; The Barsetshire Series as a Whole; Dr. Thorne is still Barsetshire; Trollope's Repetitions

To Trollope-l

September 26, 2000

Re: Last Chronicle of Barset, Chs 73-78: The Crawleys Escape from Total Shipwreck

As we all can see we are hastening if not to perfect felicity, at least to qualified happiness for some of the characters. This is true of the Plumstead set whose chapter is called "There is Comfort at Plumstead." Trollope has sufficient tact to dwell on the father and son drinking good wine together which is believable (the criteria for this sort of novel remains probability). The Crawleys can now crawl out of the dark shadow of a humiliating trial, prison sentence, and desperate existence thereafter.

For me the chapter called "The Crawleys are Informed" did not work very well in the sense that I didn't respond in the way Trollope assumes I will. It is marred by the need to explain this device repeatedly, meaning stagey references to the envelope (the equivalent of the caduceus of the god in the machine) with further explanations about why the Dean didn't know the 20 was in it. Also, as I have said, I have not much patience with sentimentality; I don't mind the tears streaming down Mr Toogood's face, for after all he is an escapee from Dickensian benevolent comedy, but Mrs Crawley's oh-so-humble disappearance and return, her tears (which we have had before) grate on my nerves. Some aspects of the depiction of what such a woman would be like are as false as the depiction of Grace Crawley at times: the quickest way I can indicate these is refer to the lack of intense anger, even if twisted into apparent depression would probably be part of such a woman's character by this time. The unqualified gratitude she and her daughter feel together with their submissive stance towards the husband and father is too much. For medicinal antidote I recommend Godwin's chapter on the uses of gratitude by establishments in his "Enquiry Concerning Political Justice".

This is not to say that Trollope belies the general inferences we are to take away from this now artificial plot: the Crawleys are still destitute, without connections they can lay claim to, and we will have need of a fairy god-father in the final instalment to demand for them a real competence and some security and self-respect at last.


Re: Last Chronicle of Barset, Chs 73-78: Characters with Motivational Life Of their Own

The parallelism in this week's second instalment is revealing. Trollope has juxtaposed Johnny's supposed last visit to Madalina Desmoulins with what will be his last visit to Lily Dale. The effect of such a juxtaposition is to give Lily's refusal more countenance. Neither Johnny nor Madalina gain respect in our eyes through this scene. Lily's accusation that he is "light of heart" is an interesting one: in that phrase Trollope brings home to us one element in her nature and what she has become through experience which will ever keep them apart. Trollope uses the metaphor of a tree; I think of a piece of wood which has been hit hard by some axe. The wood still is in one piece, but its inner bindings are looser, fragile, not strong, nervous. Johnny's lightness would grate on her nerves.

Yet I don't think "light of heart" is quite the right word for Johnny Eames; it's how Lily would see his character. The narrator gives us another: "Johnny" is made of "sterner stuff" than Madalina: "He knew there was no romance in it. He knew that he was only amusing himself, and gratifying her at the same time, by a little innocent pretense" (Houghton Mifflin Last Chronicle, ed AMizener, Ch 75, p. 610). Johnny has a hard streak: we saw this come out against Cadell; we see it in this chapter. For those who read carefully there is a phrase which gives us license to suspect real sex went on between these two: "now and again there might be some more potent attraction, when she would permit him to take her hand -- and the like" (p. 614). "The like" is such a flexible phrase :). That some sexual encounter of some sort happens just before he again leaves Madalina is also hinted at: "Then, having probably taken momentary advantage of that more potent attraction to which we have before alluded he left the room very suddenly" (p. 615).

Doubtless Madalina comes off worse. She is presented as hollow, false, and malicious. The last word about her is given by Dalrymple (who we are to assume should know): she is "a bird of prey, and altogether unclean bird" (p. 616). Earlier this week Michael O'Neile asked if others agree or disagree with the often-stated assertion that Trollope could present women brilliantly, and even from their point of view. My response would be: not when they are unchaste, break sexual tabooes. His presentation of Madalina remains on the surface; it's how she might appear to the gentlemen who "visit" her. He is willing to give Johnny the benefit of the doubt: Mrs Arabin, our choral female, is said to have "gained closer insight into Johnny's character" and seen that below the surface of his dalliance with Madalina is something far more worthy than the impulse to be "amused" (Ch 76, p. 618). Trollope also blackens her wherever he can -- as he does other women who are sexually-active outside marriage. It's important to note that these women are usually presented as of the lower orders, not ladies of his class.

Johnny and Lily's final encounter is among the best writing in the book -- as is the earlier proposal scene. Trollope gets so close to their inner life; we feel we have entered the very pores of their skin. They seem to speak so directly and closely to one another, and in each scene speak truths about themselves which they hardly ever admit to themselves. The realistic nineteeth century novel seems ultimately to aim at revelations of what we are unaware, to dig into what Freud called the "unconscious". This is true for Johnny too; would he in public admit he would be happy to take "a fragment", a woman who tells him to his face upon his asking her to marry him that she has been another man's. We get the world's perspective on marriage in this period in the lines Emily and Lily exchange after Lily leaves:

Emily: 'I think that a girl who is going to be married has the best of it'

Lily: 'And I think a girl who isn't going to be married has the best of it -- that's all' (Ch 77, p. 628).

In this concluding paragraph Lily again talks about her refusal in a way that brings to the fore that element in her 'no' which comes out of her lack of sexual attraction to John: "He could not ask me to do a single thing for him, -- except the one thing, -- that I would refuse" (p. 629). She can be John's loving friend, do anything for him he wants, but go to bed with him and bear his children. She doesn't want that with him. Last week we talked about the possibility that 19th century readers would also have seen in her assertion she would rather be at peace with her mother a general refusal to bear the lot of married women of her type: endless pregnancies. Here she is the subversive.

I also like the phrase "light of heart" because as Trollope has presented Adolphus Crosbie in two novels, Crosbie has never been "light of heart". Treacherous, ungenerous, muddled, yes, but not light of heart, not capable of amusing himself in the steely way of Eames. If I were to "type" this three along a line of how they relate to the world, using psychological terms from Karen Horney's work (as explicated by Bernard Paris in a remarkable book on fiction, A Psychological Approach from which I took the heading for this posting), I'd make Johnny Eames detached, something of an onlooker, seeking privacy; Adolphus Crosbie the narcissistic person, full of self-assertion, depending on his charm, and not sufficiently aware that other people can overturn his manipulations very easily, someone who could become despondent; and Lily, originally the compliant type, attracted to the apparently masterful aggressive person, desirous of surrender and safety. Her desire for surrender is also what keeps her from ever marrying Crosbie now.

Ellen Moody

Re: Last Chronicle of Barset, Chs 73-78: The Characters Explain It to Us

This chapter reminds me of a number of chapters in The Eustace Diamonds: the Palliser set sit on their chairs discussing the doings of the active characters in the book (Lizzie Eustace, Frank Greystock, Lucy Morris, the Fawn set, the Roanoke bunch). I think of medieval fiction where characters sat about discussing what has just occurred -- for the benefit of the reader. The Arabins, Mr Harding, and the Grantlys are being fitted into a plot-line which will produce the necessary happy enough ending, and they also obligingly (so good of them) explain it all to us with hints of what's to come. This is in case we haven't been paying attention.

We learn how the original befogging of Mr Crawley's mind came from his intense jealousy of Arabin and sense of the injustice and intransigence of a society who reward Arabin because he's in the right place at the right time and presents a pleasant diplomatic face to all (very like Phineas Finn in this). We are given that important hint about what niche our author is planning to fit the Crawleys into:

'When poor papa does go, what shall you do about St. Ewold's? Now, St Ewold's was a rural parish lying about two miles out of Barchester, the living of which was in the gift of the archdeacon, and to which the archdeacon had presented his father-in-law under certain circumstances which need not be repeated in this last chronicle of Barsetshire. Have they not been written in other chronicles? 'When poor papa does go, what will you do about St Ewold's?' said Mrs Grantly, trembling inwardly A word too much might, as she well knew, settle the question against Mr Crawley for ever. But were she to postpone the word till too late, the question would be settled as fatally (Houghton Mifflin, The Last Chronicle, ed AMizener, Ch 78, p. 632).

A sharp moment. The reality is that even when someone is tied to someone else through family or friendship, has come to feel sympathy and respect for them, they may not help them out even if it costs them very little. Our archdeacon might just think that Crawley is after all not sufficiently presentable. The line about Mrs Grantly trembling inwardly is also sharp in ways not intended by Trollope. How lovely to be a well-to-do gentleman in this period: all tremble before you, even, if she is dutiful, your own wife. That trembling was something Mrs Proudie never did do, which is why she was a pariah. The chapter closes with Arabin's memories of how Crawley had asserted himself over his wife: "'Sir,' he had once said to the dean, 'I request that nothing may pass from your hands to the hands of my wife' (Ch 78, p. 636). Has anyone thought that one moral Trollope actually may expect us to take away is that all this misery could have been avoided had Mrs Arabin not had a separate bank account from her husband's?

Cheers to all,
Ellen Moody

To Trollope-l

September 28, 2000

Re: The Last Chronicle: Indications of Popular Culture

As I was typing the chapter headings of the last chapters of The Last Chronicle of Barset I noticed the phrase "finger-post". It's an odd phrase, a finger which is a post. From previous experience of the phrase in other contexts I know that what is suggested is a finger which points us somewhere -- something like a post in an intersection between a group of roads which has signs radiating out from it, informing us about where each road leads. However, in itself it's not clear what is intended; even when it is read in contexts it is often left unexplained -- as if we should know what is intended. Among other things women were supposed to be "finger- posts" -- guide others under their care to the "right road". When Miss Madalina wants to be a finger-post, we are supposed to know this is a profanation, an absurdity. A world of values and attitude towards women is then subsumed in the phrase.

Another such phrase is "angel of light". Trollope uses it casually several novels beyond Ayala's Angel. There is even an illustration by Millais of Orley Farm which takes its line from one of the heroine's looking for "an angel of light". It too is odd, unless you know the immediate context; even then it's ambiguous unless you know something of a group of cultural values subsumed under it. I came across the phrase "angel of light" in one of Jane Austen's novels the other day: it referred to a heroine who is looking for some supremely fine lover/husband. Trollope wants to explode the notion in Ayala, yet in his way validates it by the happy endings of his novel. The idea or conception underlying the phrase is still with us -- unlike finger-posts.

Why bring this up? Well, to suggest that though in the 19th century few talked of popular culture for the middle class; in fact it did exist, and such phrases come out of it. To work out what such phrases say gives you a deep sense of what the assumptions of that popular culture were -- and Trollope's books pay much more than lipservice to it. Indeed whatever has happened over the course of a given novel, when he does provide the qualified happy ending it is often by embodying this culture's wishes and beliefs. In this week's chapters the idea that the group is inadequate for any individual member who from his nature cannot conform is swept under the rug; and death is framed in such a way as to lead us to see it as a meaningful closure, a community event.

Ellen Moody

From Dagny:

Part of Ellen's post contained the quote: 'When poor papa does go, what will you do about St Ewold's?' said Mrs Grantly, trembling inwardly A word too much might, as she wellknow, settle the question against Mr Crawley for ever. But were she to postpone the word till too late, the question would be settled as fatally (Houghton Mifflin, The Last Chronicle, ed AMizener, Ch 78, p. 632).

This immediately brought to my mind Archdeacon Grantley's own dilemma when his father, Bishop Grantley was failing. The position of bishop was much on his mind, but not to the exclusion of wishing his father could somehow miraculously recover. He wanted to take steps to have himself put up for the position but unfortunately by the time he determined that it must be done it was too late for things to work in his favor. This was even more unfortunate for the Archdeacon than he first imagined since Proudie was the replacement, bringing with him to the Barchester landscape Mrs. Proudie.


Date: Thu, 05 Oct 2000 06:48:31 +0100
Subject: [trollope-l] Barsetshire as Series

Ellen has been writing of the series as a whole and the way in which some of the books can be paired. I thought this was very interesting.

(I like Catherine's overview of the LBC too)

Looking at the series now we have finished, I still find Dr Thorne a strange book to include. Do any Trollopians also put it into Palliser novels? (bear in mind I've not read these). Is it one of those novels like Eustace Diamonds which sort of fits into several series?


I replied to Angela:

Re: The Barsetshire Series as a Whole

Angela has brought up the question of the books as a series or cycle. Now that we are just about done, would anyone like to share his or her thoughts.

To answer Angela's question, I don't find Dr Thorne a strange book to include for it is in Dr Thorne that we get the first start to the idea of binding together the two previous books, The Warden, and then Barchester Towers, which is a kind rewrite of The Warden into more conventional Victorian form (3 volumes, a more central love&marriage plot, the politics less radical in its questioning, a turn to religion). The way to do this is to fill in the countryside and it's with Dr Thorne that the mapmaker of Barsetshire begins. If you have ever tried to draw a picture, you will find yourself heading straight for the opening chapters of Dr Thorne.

It is true that it seems to swerve away from the reappearing characters whose presence also announces we are in Barsetshire territory (the clerics, Harding, Proudie, Grantly), but the Bishop and his wife do turn up as cameo roles. This is very like what one finds in other cyclical books: each one brings forward a new set of central characters with the ongoing ones sometimes coming to the fore and sometimes staying in the second distance or background. This is the way the Pallisers work, Oliphant's Carlingford Chronicles, Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time. We could say that what Dr Thorne brings into the series is that needed analysis of class and social milieu from a secular point of view: again it fills out the world in which the clerics live.

Angela also brought up another interesting truth about the Barsetshire series. It adumbrates the Pallisers. It is in Dr Thorne we travel to Gatherum Castle, hear of Matching Priory, meet the Duke of Omnium. The Palliser characters find their country seat in Barsetshire, hold elections there. Frank Robbins has shown the chronology of the two series is consistent so you can actually map actions in a Palliser book to ones in a Barsetshire and find them consistent to the year. While that's not detailed work, it suggests Trollope had to go back to remember or just remembered as he went -- and thought' of the two series as interlocking.

A further argument to see the interlocking character of the two series is the election campaign presented in Dr Thorne and London Parliamentary politics in Framley Parsonage as material fitting the Palliser series. These sequences would not be out of place, especially the cynical disillusioned Sowerby-Smith set. There is also a development towards an examination of sexuality and women's place in society in _The Small House_ especially -- and there is where we first meet Lady Glen and Plantagenet. Trollope's intuitive imagination brought them forward in just the spot they belonged. This will be immediately picked up in the story of Alice Vavasour in Can You Forgive Her? and with it the story of Kate and Lady Glen's parallel one to Alice's.

The difference would be in the centrality of the Barsetshire countryside and the religious themes (though they are expressed through a political and social not devotional perspective) in the Barsetshire books, while the Pallisers centralise the action in London and are wholly secular in outlook.

The sense of a book that does not fit often happens in these developing series. As Angela says, people often want to omit The Eustace Diamonds from the Pallisers. Trollope himself was at first not sure whether he should include The Small House as it lacks the clerical characters, but then without it, The Last Chronicle of Barsetshire makes little sense when it comes to the Lily-Johnny-Crosbie-London set.

One has to ask onself, what makes a series a series? Terrain (interlocking landscapes and houses)? Reappearing characters? Themes? All these Barsetshire has.

Really the question ought to be phrased in reverse. Is there anything which denies it? There we have to turn to aesthetic structuring of the individual books which is quite different, especially when it comes to the first three, a political fable (The Warden, a high Fieldesque comedy (Barchester Towers), and then dramatic psychological realism, but of an unusally tight-constructed sort, one without clearly separating plots, for Dr Thorne is centered on two males, Thorne and Frank and their one woman, so to speak, the illegitimate Mary. Not until the last two do we get that loose baggy monster James condemned -- as the typical Victorian interweavon multiplot structure may be called. I daresay for many readers this is not important.

Cheers to all,
Ellen Moody

Date: Thu, 05 Oct 2000 07:12:27 -0600
Subject: [trollope-l] Dr. Thorne is still Barsetshire

Angela: Dr. Thorne is still Barsetshire. This novel introduces new characters who stay with us right through The Last Chronicle. In retrospect, and I've been reading right along with everyone else, I see the whole Barsetshire series as a wonderful display of interesting characters that I am privileged to be among in sequential stages of their lives.


From: "Judy Geater"

October 7, 2000

Re: Trollope's Repetitions

Hello all

Re Trollope's many allusions and "repeating phrases" - it's quite amazing how many there are when you start looking for them! Before joining this list, I must confess I had never thought of Trollope as a "poetic" writer - but the chains of imagery and echoed phrases are all there. Thanks to Art for mentioning the book by Elizabeth Epperly and to Ellen for the information on Juliet McMasters. Do you happen to know the title of her book on Trollope? I had a look at the catalogue of our local libraries, but all they have by her is a book on Thackeray's major novels and a collection of conference papers on Jane Austen.

Harping back to The Small House at Allington again, I've just spotted another repeated allusion, this time to the Book of Common Prayer. Trollope makes at least three allusions to a well-known line from the General Confession: "We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done; And there is no health in us."

The first time this line crops up is in reference to Crosbie, in Chapter 48, Nemesis, where he is settling down to the misery of his married life, and gets in trouble at work with the three Commissioners.

When Mr Optimist starts to lecture him, Crosbie asks: "If I have not taken too much on me, what is it that I have done that I ought not to have done?"

He is primly told that he has "given directions in many cases for which you ought first to have received authority". But I think a 19th-century reader, reciting the General Confession every Sunday at church, would immediately have picked up the reference to the line in the prayer book.

Crosbie's real sin isn't some oversight with red tape and paperwork, but his desertion of Lily and marriage to Alexandrina. He certainly has "done those things which he ought not to have done"... and his reward is misery both at home and at work!

The second reference to this passage from the prayer book is in the title to chapter 51: "John Eames Does Things Which He Ought Not to Have Done". This is the chapter where he finishes his relationship with Amelia, telling her he won't marry her. But even as he breaks free of a weeping Amelia, "putting his arm round her waist, he kissed her; which he certainly ought not to have done". A third reference to the prayer book.

The tone is quite light and jokey in much of this chapter, but at this point Amelia is suddenly vulnerable, as we are told she is crying genuine tears.

OK, so she'll dry those tears in a few pages and marry Cradell instead. But I think, amid the charm and humour, there definitely is a suggestion here that Johnny has treated Amelia badly, as he himself admits. The repeated prayer book allusion helps to emphasise the slightly veiled echo in Johnny's behaviour of Crosbie's treatment of Lily. They have both "done things they ought not to have done".

However, I also noticed that Johnny feels proud of himself as he walks away from Amelia - at the end of this chapter "...he felt himself elated almost to a state of triumph. He had got himself well out of his difficulties and now he would be ready for his love-tale to Lily".

Ellen has pointed out that he also feels "rather proud" when he gets away from Madalina in Last Chronicle - so this is another interesting place where one book echoes the other.

Judy Geater

Re: Trollope's Repetitions

Date: Sat, 07 Oct 2000 23:25:20 -0400
Subject: [trollope-l] Trollope's Repetitions

What a lovely posting Judy; it's revealing. I like these intricate looks at language; they tell a lot. It's here Trollope resembles Gaskell.

The book by Juliet McMaster which carefully studies Trollope's use of language, landscape, dramatic dialogue and imagery is Juliet McMaster, Trollope's Palliser Novels: Theme and Pattern (Oxford, 1978). I have never had the luck to look for it on the Net when it was in one of the bookfiner sites. Luckily the GMU library owns it. Juliet McMaster is one of the many people who write both on Trollope and Austen. One of the more interesting aspects of her study of the Pallisers is she includes The Small House as a kind of "prelude" or "prologue" to the Pallisers.

I would also recommend for its study of the powers of Trollope to analyse love and psychology in the Barsetshire books (especially _The Small House_ and _The Last Chronicle_ story of the various triangles which come out from Crosbie/Lily/Johnny Eames: Susan Peck MacDonald, Anthony Trollope (Boston, a Twayne book, 1987), and Stephen Wall, Trollope: Living with Character (New York, 1988). Lynette Felber's Gender and Genre in Novels without End is one of those books which denies Barsetshire is a 'real' series but grants the accolade roman fleuve to the Pallisers.:

Perhaps one of the ways in which people distinguish the Barsetshire books from the Pallisers is the former seem distinctly less about politics as politics, especially as practiced in London, elections and Parliament. Halperin really objected to McMasters's treatment because she just about ignores the politics of the Pallisers, but then there is a good deal in these books :).

One could make a study of Trollope's use of the Bible to great profit. Here is one text whose serious resonances he would've assumed his readers would recognise. There is a parallel between the males in Small House and Last Chronicle (Johnny, Crosbie); also in the former between the females (Amelia, Lily), but I suggest in the latter Trollope has rather set up a continuum with Grace at end one, Madalina at the other, and Lily turning away.

Cheers to all,
Ellen Moody

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