Rachel Ray, Chapters 6 - 10
We Go To a Ball; Religious Hypocrisy; Hard- Ball Negotiations; Meant for Good Words: Trollope's Spirit of Mischief & A Book for Millais to Illustrate; Rachel Ray, Miss Mackenzie & The Belton Estate: 3 of a kind; Rachel Ray and a Few of Trollope's Erotic Short Stories; Rachel Ray and Jane Eyre: Trollope and Charlotte Bronte; Ideal Women; Shandy; Luke Rowan and Mr Tappitt; Luke Rowan: Very Real

To Trollope-l

Re: Rachel Ray, Chs 6-8: We Go to a Ball

As I was reading these three chapters I couldn't make up my mind whether it partook more of the quality of Austen's description in Northanger Abbey of Catherine Morland's first experience of an evening of dancing in Bath or Trollope's description in Barchester Towers of "Miss Thorne's Fête Champêtre" which takes 5 not three chapters and is cleverly spread out over seven chapters (Chapters 35-42) in such a way as to interlace other goings on with the celebration. I decided it was both: it was the story of a young girl's first ball, a young girl who comes from poverty-striken segment of the minor gentry and is consequently at a severe disadvantage, particularly in the terrian of the vulgar new capitalist but money-making Tappitts, never mind her religious background which has served to shelter and inhibit her, so as to deprive her of weapons she needs in social occasions; it was also a celebration of pleasure, not in the high-spirits of the Ullathorne Sports, but in a quieter more sombre mode, more realistic, taking into account such things as the cost of the champagne.

I thought the scenes between Luke and Rachel exquistely well done; so too the scenes between her and the other young men. I found her startle at the shrewd truths Cherry is able to utter true to life; also her confusion at what the card is for; her inability to control who will sign; her hesitation at what she is supposed to do next; and, finally, the dawn hours of the morning or close of the evening (I thought of Sir Toby Belch's comment in Twelfth Night that to be up betimes is to be up early), her exhaustion from the real strain it took to get through it. And yet what a time for her it was.

The Ullathorne Sports are told from the narrator's point of view; this ball is seen through Rachel's eyes with the narrator offering us the larger context. What a comfort was Mrs Comfort -- the idyllic note was partly struck because there was such a cordial generous fairy godmother nearby to whirl our heroine there and back.

Ellen Moody

Re: Rachel Ray: Ch 9: Religious Hypocrisy

This is may be the sort of chapter that made the Rev Mr Macleod rage at Trollope. It is clearly set in here as a contrast to what has gone before. Mrs Prime and Mr Prong are our virtuous people. She visits him, and for what? Because she finds she cannot bear to live with Miss Pucker. Once there she finds him asking her to marry her. His motive? In part sex, and in bigger part, or so she suspects, money. When he proposes to her, she thinks, money. The narrator tells us that

"when Mr Prong told her that money in her sight ws dross, she merely shook her head. Why wa sit that she wrote those terribly caustic notes to the agent of Exeter if her quarterly payments were ever late by a single week? 'Defend me, from a lone widow', the agent used to say, 'and especially if she is an 'Evangelical' (Oxford Rachel Ray, ed PDEdwards, p. 119).

Trollope is asking us to define what is evil in this world? What really does harm to people? He offers up the idea that the religious fundamentalism of his age only twists and perverts further the maiming of human nature that the cash nexus and class-ridden paranoias of Trollope's time (and our own) that all on their own do damage enough.

Trollope does not hate Mrs Prime or Mr Prong. Dickens's fiction often leads us to blame merely the characters as awful unctuous; Trollope invites us to see these two as part of a larger picture that pressures them into acting stupidly. Being Trollope they both seem to want power over others; this is in their nature, and Trollope sees institutions and castes as precisely those structures in society which such types as Mrs Prime and Mr Prong flourish. One can say in Mrs Ray's behalf, however weak, however wavering, when confronted with what she knows is perverted (as in the idea that sex itself is bad), without being to think it out, she will not condone crushing a sweet but real enough (spunky) human spirit such as Rachel's.

Ellen Moody

Re: Rachel Ray, Chapter 10: Hard-Ball Negotiations

I am no good at hard-ball negotiations. We are today supposed to admire people who are good at such things. Luke is very aggressive in his sexual behavior, so he drives a bargain with Mr T. He will either be given half-management of the brewery, or he will be given a large sum of money with which he will open a rival brewery in the same town. He is not to be detered; he is not afraid. He is not a bully; he will work tactfully, diplomatically; but he will have his own.

The audacity of it is as remarkable as the ordinariness with which he proposes his alternative.

This chapter provides us with a parable about how success in capitalism comes about in the striking way Dr Grantley speech to the pensioners in The Warden provides us with a stark parable about political maneuvring. As a manager in Government, my husband has been sent to courses which teach him how to bully the other party successfully, how to manipulate, how to win; I can only hope the Federal Employees Union provides similar training for the people on the other side of the table. To be a lawyer, one must be good at this sort of thing all the time. A cunning intelligence and drive to win, an instinctive understanding of how to manipulate emotions in a situation is what it takes, not a symbolic intelligence which gets a high IQ on a test. That Trollope understood what this means may be seen in his portrait of Josiah Crawley who is in the worldly sense an utter failure -- yet ever so sensitive, nay brilliant when it comes to Aeschylus.

Luke is very good husband material for Rachel. He will provide. She will also hold her own against him -- as she has against her sister. They are well suited.

Ellen Moody

Ellen Moody

To Trollope-l

October 5, 1998

Re: Rachel Ray, Chs 6-10: Meant for Good Words: Trollope's Spirit of Mischief & A Book for Millais to Illustrate

About Rachel Ray Bart wrote:

"It helps to know that this is basically an expanded short story, and was originally intended for a very straight laced periodical."

Once again this is a theory. Sutherland says he sees a likeness. There is nothing in Trollope's papers, letters, or anything else to suggest that Rachel Ray developed out of any particular short story. I can see as much connection between Rachel Ray and short stories other than "The Courtship of Susan Bell" which are about love and involve similar triangles. Rachel Ray belongs to a group of domestic novels Trollope wrote within a very few years, beginning with Rachel Ray: Miss Mackenzie, which also contains much and harsher satire against fundamentalists; The Belton Estate and The Claverings.

It is important to remember the story was written for a straight-laced periodical. That suggests Trollope had a spirit of mischief. He knew the book would outrage Macleod, yet he wrote it. He might have rationalised it to himself that the fundamentalists were those who needed most to be taught what hypocrites they were. There is a horribly unctuous letter from Macleod to Trollope in which Macleod asks Trollope to write a book for him; perhaps its clear phoniness also irritated. On the other hand, Trollope and Millais had clubbed together for Millais to illustrate the book and I have a hunch Trollope was writing just the sort of book which would suit Millais's pre-Raphaelite sixties style. Illustrators and novelists often worked together or with one another in mind.

Ellen Moody

From: "Joan F. Wall"
Subject: TROL Rachel Ray 6-10
Sender: owner-trollope-l@smtp.teleport.com

Bart Hansen wrote:

Two lonely, religious fanatics who sit discussing the work of God, fighting the Evil One, who want nothing better than to find a kindred soul.

Bart I just love this, really great comparison.

And thanks for the information about its being an expanded short story. I have an old Oxford edition with no notes or introduction.

Trollope continues to amaze me with his ability to portray women. I've been reading C.P. Snow's biography and according to Snow many of his women are based on his wife who was a spirited and independent woman. He captures the fear felt by the young girl going to her first ball and the jealously and spite of the mother of many girls, one of whom she hoped would catch the eye of the young gentleman. And what a young gentleman, bold, sure of himself, and now it seems ready to marry after being with his lady love for just a few times. Seems to be a light parody of many young men I have known, including my son. As did Phineas Finn, by the way. Was it Ellen who said that his parodies are not so severe as Dickens and others? I agree and think this is why I have come to like him so much more than Dickens.


Subject: TROL Rachel Ray 1-10
Sender: owner-trollope-l@smtp.teleport.com

As usual, as usual - I'm just catching up. How does everyone else manage to do all this reading? My real-world friends imagine that I live a life of the utmost retirement, but on-line I tend to find myself huffing about as though in the train of the White Rabbit.

In any case, I've finally cracked Rachel Ray, and what a joy it is. First let me thunder out my agreement with Ellen Moody on the Austen-like quality of the opening chapters (at least). I couldn't help imagining the characters in outfits of the Napoleonic era. It's not only Mrs. Tappitt's ball, but the quiet of Bragg's End. Indeed, no Trollope novel that I'm aware of approaches so near to the terrain of 'Sense and Sensibility.' There's no question that Trollope's doing the writing; but the scenes and the gently flavored drama are really much more like Jane Austen.

Second, Mrs. Butler Cornbury (or Mrs. Buttered Cornbread, as I call her to myself) reveals a good many of the charms of Lady Glen. She's even political!

Third, while I agree with Ellen that Trollope doesn't 'hate' Prime or Prong, he not only dislikes them but looks down his nose, particularly at the reverend. That business with the hand on the table and the tilting chair was about as rude as Trollope gets, and Prong also wins an honorable mention, at least, in the competition for characters whose ungentlemanliness prods a lot of explicit language out of the writer.

Whatever was Trollope thinking, writing this for Good Words? RJ Keefe p>To Trollope-l

October 6, 1998

Re: Rachel Ray, Miss Mackenzie & The Belton Estate: 3 of a kind

Bart Hansen wrote in to suggest that Rachel Ray was simply a "rewrite" of one of Trollope's short stories" ("The Courtship of Susan Bell"). I replied:.

Most of the time I find the idea that a long work is somehow an expansion of a short one misguided because it mistakes the nature of creation in a novel. The novelist begins (in Trollope's case he tells us this in his "Panjandrum" and "A Walk in the Woods"), with a scene, a character, and unravels that in exquisite detail and then moves out from thematic inference. Between "The Courtship of Susan Bell" and Rachel Ray the two plots are so different, the character conceptions different, the themes different. The novel is utterly different in details, setting. There no religious bigotry whatsoever in "The Courtship" and it's important in Rachel Ray. Sutherland was making an offhand comment he hadn't thought out. A man who writes so much' does that.

There are 7 references to Rachel Ray in the Autobiography. All but three concern its rejection. I think he felt bad about that. He disappointed Millais; he was not able to increase his income or name-recognition in two wasy (serialising and volume publication). He did like to write short novels; he refers to them as "that pleasant task of a novel under 300 pages" (The Warden) and wrote 13 novellas. He wrote another 8 two-volumers of which Rachel Ray is one. One of his remarks about Rachel Ray links it to all the novels supposed to be illustrated by Millais and shows he is proud of his connection to Millais (Oxford Paperback, p 148).

However, the other two directly link it to The Belton Estate and Miss Mackenzie; in one he says all three were "issued in the same form" (p. 173), i.e., two volume novels and not serialised; the other likens it and Miss Mackenzie to The Belton Estate. He says Rachel Ray is "similar in its attributes" to these, and then goes on to of The Belton Estate's attributes that "it is readable, and contains scenes which are true to life; but it has no peculiar merits, and will add nothing to my reputation as a novelist" (p. 196). He is characteristically self-deprecatory. There is, however, nothing to make Rachel Ray or the other two novels stand out from the others in its themes or structure or characters.

He has some other quiet pastoral love stories, or erotic and slightly idyllic besides "The Courtship." There's "Alice Dugdale" and "The Mistletoe Bough." The religious theme and depiction of a provincial life is prominent in Miss Mackenzie. In addition, there is a real sexuality in the presentation of the triangle in The Belton Estate and its people are rigid and narrow. When I suggested the pairing of The Belton Estate and Rachel Ray I was thinking of Trollope's own remarks.


Subject: Re: TROL Rachel Ray 1-10
Sender: owner-trollope-l@smtp.teleport.com

Recalling my post of a couple of weeks ago about the article in the Trollope Society Newsletter relating to sexual innuendo in Trollope's novels; I snigger inwardly every time I read the name Prong.

Such a bad girl ...

Jill Spriggs

To Trollope-l

October 7, 1998

Re: Rachel Ray and Jane Eyre: Trollope and Charlotte Bronte

I agree the women in Rachel Ray defer to the men. In the case of Rachel, I think Trollope is hintingly getting across intense sexual attraction and when Rachel quiets down, we are to take this as a girl awaiting her lover. Mrs Ray is a kind of older Rachel (much like Mrs Dashwood is an older Marianne) and we see her defer to Mr Comfort. Mrs Prime does not openly challenge Mr Prong. Maybe this was really the way it was or seemed to be in a tiny provincial town and village?

John asks what did Trollope think of the Brontes? I can't say what he thought of them as people, but he thought Jane Eyre one of the great novels of the English language. He speaks of it as a tragedy and compares it to Scott's The Bride of Lammermoor and Thackeray's Henry Esmond which are books high up on his list (see An Autobiography, pp. 227-28). He also spoke highly of her strength and energy and character as reflected in Villette and Shirley:

"Charlotte Bronte was surely a marvellous woman. If it could be right to judge the work of a novelist from one small portion of one novel [JE], and to say of an author tha the is to be accounted as strong as he shows himself to be in his strongest morsel of work, I should be inclined to put Miss Bronte very high indeed. I know of no interest more thrilling than that which she has been able to throw into the characters of Rochester and the governess, in the second volume of Jane Eyre. . .

"In Villette and Shirley, there is to be found human life as natural and as real . . . The character of Paul in the former of the love is a wonderful study. She must have herself been in love with some Paul when she wrote the book, and have been determined to prove to herself that she was capable of loving one whose exterior circumstances were mean and in every way unprepossessing (pp 252-53).

He doesn't credit Bronte with originality, for that I think he looks to structure and mood, and attributes the "new" realistic novel which began to dominate novels in the early years of the 19th century to the influence of Austen, Edgeworth, and partly, Scott.

Ellen Moody

From: John Mize
TROL: RR: Ideal Women
Sender: owner-trollope-l@smtp.teleport.com

At 11:01 PM 10/7/98, Ellen wrote:

"I am not sure Trollope was on Charlotte's side in the sense of declaring war against the ideal domestic woman: we see a number of such types in his novels. What he did dislike was hypocrisy, prurience (and oddly enough, considering his attitude towards virginity for upper class women, he detested hypocrisy in the area of sex), and lies about human nature."

Sorry. I wasn't being clear. I don't think Trollope agreed with the Brontes at all about the ideal domestic woman. He certainly was attracted to the Angel of the House, although he usually avoids falling into the pit of popular sloppy sentiment. In Rachel Ray he makes the point that a typically domestically centered upper class Englishwoman like Mrs. Butler Cornbury is much superior to those hard and cerebral American women. He tries to be fair to women like Mrs. Hurtle and the Miss Tristrams who deviate too far from his feminine ideal, but he suggests they would be happier if they were more willing to conform. I am sure he preferred women like Rachel Ray to natural born malcontents and troublemakers like Lucy Snowe and Jane Eyre. However from the favorable quotes you cited concerning Villette and Jane Eyre, I have the impression that he granted Charlotte had the right to her own contrary view. By contrast I thought of Matthew Arnold's petulant, whiny criticism of Villette. Arnold was annoyed by Villette and by its author and lamented the fact that those women who would or could not be satisfied with conventional marriage couldn't simply dedicate themselves to religion and keep their mouths shut as they did in the good old days.

John Mize

To: Trollope-l
Subject: Rachel Ray: Shandy

October 13, 1998

If I were advising Luke Rowan, I would tell him to show more concern for the apple-growing farmers of Baslehurst. Luke wants to introduce good beer into the community, but the problem is that if the people turn to good beer they would turn away from apple cider, thus bringing economic distress to the farmers. Now, when we lived in England our kids drank shandy, which was half beer and half lemonade. Perhaps Luke could invent a shandy consisting of beer and apple juice. Anyway, that would be my advice to him if anyone asked.


From: John Mize
Subject: RR: Luke Rowan and Mr. Tappitt
Sender: owner-trollope-l@smtp.teleport.com

While I find it a little hard to have complete sympathy for a middle aged, conservative man who thinks that if bad beer was good enough for his old partner, it should be good enough for his partner's heir, I can understand why Luke annoys him so much. There's a certain bumptious, self-absorbed callowness to Luke that is a little grating. He doesn't seem to notice anyone but himself very much at all, that is, until he discovers Rachel. As a result he is surprised by almost everything anyone else does. He apparently didn't notice that Augusta and Augusta's mother wanted him to marry Augusta, and he didn't even think about the fact the Tappitt's pride might be wounded by a young stranger telling him that he has been wasting his entire life brewing bad beer. Tappitt would have to be an extraordinary person with a highly developed sense of humor and/or perspective not be offended by Luke. He's not. He's just an aging guy who probably could use the 19th century equivalent of a red sports car.

John Mize

Rachel Ray: Luke Rowan: Very Real

To add to John Mize and Sigmund Eisner's comments, how real is the young man, how believable, and how perfectly he fits the roles assigned to him in the novel. He is just the man sexually to awaken such a girl as Rachel and economically to stir up such a community as Baslehurst.

Ellen Moody

Contact Ellen Moody.
Pagemaster: Jim Moody.
Page Last Updated 11 January 2003