We are two part-time academics. Ellen teaches in the English department and Jim in the IT program at George Mason University.

Back to Pallisers: A Thumbnail Outline · 5 July 08

Dear Friends,

I have put a thumbnail outline of this 26 part series on this blog before as part of a longer blog on 5:10 (Phineas’s double life), but I want to have it separately now for easy reference.

An Overview: the four central subject matters or novel trajectories treated centrally (coming from Trollope’s six novels called Parliamentary or Palliser) are the Plantagenet, Lady Glen, & Burgo Fitzgerald story (this comes from The Small House and Can You Forgive Her?), the Phineas matter (Phineas Finn and Phineas Redux), the Lizzie Eustace story (The Eustace Diamonds culminating in Phineas Redux), and the Pallisers story, which includes that of the children glimpsed very young and growing up, their adolescence, and young adulthood, Lady Glen’s death, & culminates in their marriages and the Duke’s return to London political life (through scenes added throughout but having actors play in significant dramatic scenes in Phineas Redux, The Prime Minister, & finally dominating the very last of The Duke’s Children).

There are 3 smaller or shorter parallel stories which are interwoven with the 2 Palliser and 2 Phineas and Lizzie Eustace matters. These are: the George/Alice/Kate Vavasour & John Grey story (paralleled with the first CYFH? matter); the Adelaide Palliser and Gerard Maule story (placed for variety in the PR matter, containing Lord Fawn and changed a lot from Trollope’s subplot); and the Emily Wharton and Ferdinand Lopez story (reinforcing the PM matter).

The subsidiary story of the Lizzie Eustace matter (Eustace Diamonds) in Raven is the distancing one found in Trollope of the Pallisers as chorus: the Duke is aging, ill, with Lady Glen superintending his care. There is also a brief ludicrous comedy of Fawn chasing Madame Max (justified by a paragraph in ED where Trollope tells us Fawn asked her to marry him three times, but never bothers to dramatize or develop the idea), but it’s hardly three scenes altogether, and is part of the mockery of Fawn; he then moved into the Adelaide Palliser and Gerard Maule which is made up of scenes where most seem to occur in a bucolic landscape and make up a disillusioned pastoral.

A secondary way of regarding these shorter pieces is to connect them throughout the series as variants on what a man is to do when confronted with hard-to-achieve (sometimes impossible) norms of masculinity in our culture. In costume drama this is criss-crossed by the need also to be a gentleman or appear so. Plantagenet Palliser and Silverbridge are caught up in the dynasty pattern across the series, and Phineas functions as secondary hero skirting tragedy.

1:1-3:6 is the Plantagenet, Lady Glen & Burgo Fitzgerald story (CYFH?)

1:2 to 3:5 is the George/Alice/Kate Vavasour story; Vavasour story set adrift in 3:6 (CYFH?)

3:6 transitional from Plantagenet and Lady Glen story to Phineas matter (CYFH? combines with PF)

4:7 to 6:12 is the Phineas matter, with the Brentford family, Lady Laura & Kennedy, Violet and Chiltern matter a subsidiary parallel; the story does not exist apart from Phineas’s; Madame Max is a linchpin combining the Lady Glen/Plantagenet/Palliser matter with Phineas’s story) (PF)

Like 3:6, 6:12 is transitional: we have the end of the Phineas/Lady Laura matter (PF) and beginning of Lizzie Eustace/Fawn in earnest (ED)

7:13: the Lizzie Eustace and her suitors and hangers-on story (what’s left of ED after much chopping and alteration; no Lucy Morris, no Lady Fawn, no Lucinda Roanoke)

7:14: transitional: it begins as Lizzie’s story but also has Mary’s death early & by its end we are in the thick of Phineas’s story once again

8:15-9:19: Phineas story second phase, with destruction of Lady Laura, Madame Max’s rescue of him and their marriage, Chiltern supports Phineas, Palliser & his other allies stands aside; in 8:16 first episode of clash of Duke with his two sons (PR, some anticipation of PM, invented DC material)

8:16-9:18: Adelaide-Gerard Maule love story, Fawn a second suitor. If not the shortest inset story (if one regards Lord George de Bruce Caruthers and Jane Carbuncle as a separate story, theirs is as short), it’s striking for the one story where closure occurs off stage. The last we see of them Adelaide is in tears, and Gerard has marched off after insulting her. Onstage we are shown the Duke giving in to giving them Madame Max’s legacy, but they themselves are dismissed. Do the short stories undercut the complacency of the Palliser story? No. They are variants on it.

9:19-12:26: begins the long trajectory of the Palliser story and matter (PR still and now PM much changed)

12:20-11:23: is the Emily Wharton/Ferdinand Lopez story; ended more than set adrift as man commits suicide and woman retreats to father’s arms in 11:23 (a PM story which actually takes over Trollope’s PM at times)

12:24-26: The ending of the Palliser story, with emergence of Silverbridge and Mary as new generation, and death of the now Duchess of Omnium in 12:26 (more PM and DC, with much new invented matter and episodes realigned).


Diary entry: Last night I had sent off my proposal to JASNA to give a paper at the 2009 JASNA, and this has freed me up to return to the Pallisers. I watched Pallisers 7:14 Thursday night and discovered that 7:14 is not Lizzie’s story still, but a transition. While it begins with Lizzie’s (Sarah Badel) story, at its opening Mary Finn (Maire Ni Ghrainne) dies, which allows a transition to Phineas’s (Donal McCann) return and attempt at reintegration and confrontation with hostility so that by the end of the part the focus on on Phineas’s second phase with his troubles in full swing. Whence this new thumbnail outline.

See various links and a concise summary of 1:1-3:6, 4:7, 4:8, 5:9, 5:10, 6:11, and 6:12; 7:13, 7:14; and 8:15, 31-33, 8:15, 34-35


Posted by: Ellen

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