The Warden, Chapters 9-12
Mr Harding's Anguish, Eleanor as Iphigenia, John Bold and Dr Grantly once again; Tom Towers's Name
To Trollope-l

I began this week on June 28, 1999

Re: The Warden, Chs 9-12: Mr Harding's anguish

I guess I will first concentrate on the other chapters which are to my mind moving. I read this book as focussed on Mr Harding. Trollope's original title for it was the ironic The Precentor' (a reference which highlights the last few words of the novel -- Mr Harding's). The Conference and Tribulation focus on Mr Harding's moral consciousness, his sensitive inability to deal with what is propaganda. I really find Mr Harding's response to what he reads in the newspaper comically like that of people who have been flamed on lists. He assumes everyone reads the Jupiter article in the same light he does; he assumes everyone will see it not only as an attack on him, but as a justified atttack; he assumes everyone will read it with the intensity of attention to detail he reads it with; he assumes it will stay on other people's minds in the way it does on his. In The Prime Minister Trollope shows Plantagenet Palliser (by then the Duke of Omnium) reacting to Quintus Slide's pieces in The People's Banner in the same tormented way. The word torment appears in these two chapters repeatedly.

It would however be mistaken to think Trollope laughs at Mr Harding's anguish. It is as human in its permutations and lineaments as the caving in of Bold and the bullying of Grantly. In fact one difference for me in Trollope's treatment of Mr Harding is the greater amount of inward life and sympathy Trollope with which Trollope portrays Mr Harding than he does any other character in the book -- including Eleanor.

The two chapters show a careful movement within the mind of the Warden from first reading, to feeling the article as a kind of unforgettable thorne, to brooding on, to thinking to himself he can avoid the shame and disgrace and humiliation somehow or other. When he sees from the reaction of his son-in-law and the Bishop he is expected, nay it is demanded of him that he hold onto the position for the sake of the institution of the church and the incomes and respect those who come after him will be able to obtain, the torment takes a new turn. It is then he becomes stymied; he sits still. He resembles all the many paralysed heroes and heroines in Trollope's other shorter novels to come: Cousin Henry, Cecilia Holt Western, Mr Whittlestaff. Also the central characters in some of the longer books who also face dilemmas which present two equally unpleasant solutions.

This is the knot Trollope places his characters on again and again. I have read books on suicide which say one real cause for the act is often found to be some impossible situation in which the individual begins to think of death as something he or she can better bear than the alternatives life presents. You are between a rock and a hard place so you reach for your knife -- or go crazy. Trollope's characters most often walk away, though not always. In Mr Harding's individual case, it is almost unthinkable to give the position up -- unless Eleanor agrees to live on a scale which will make her very poor and make her ability to marry someone of her class difficult. (Unless of course she has to do with an idealist like Bold who is a rare man who is apparently not marrying to position himself.) Mr Harding has only a tiny income beyond the Wardenship. Later in the novel the Archdeacon tries to pressure him by insisting he cannot keep his other tiny income if he gives the wardenship up. Eleanor gives him some relief in her willingness to throw it all over for his peace of mind and her comment they can live on in a very small way and she won't mind. But he knows that relief is momentary and it is a thing easier said than lived with -- to give up the income and place. Says he to himself:

'He was as a man bound with iron, fettered with adamant: he was in no respect a free agent; he had not choice. 'Give it up!' If only he could: what an easy way that were out of all his troubles' (Oxford Warden ed DSkilton, p. 135)

It is equally almost unthinkable, at least unendurable to Mr Harding to stay in the position and read humiliating, shameful distressing insults of himself. These he cannot bear, and it is this aspect of the case Trollope dwells upon. We get many paragraphs inside Mr Harding's mind as he tries to make out whether what is the right thing to do. If he can persuade himself, it is right to keep the income, he tells himself he can endure the Jupiter. But holding onto the income and place is wrong, then he cannot endure the Jupiter for the Jupiter will be right about him. That is why it is so important to him to have Haphazard's opinion and why he cannot accept winning on a technicality.

I find Trollope close tracing of the Warden's mind throughout these chapters superb and absolutely true to human nature in a character such as Mr Harding has been conceived. Trollope also has a real sense of pictoral projection: the pictures of Mr Harding sitting there so still make the point dramatically and memorably. There is such a wealth of material in his regard I don't know which one to quote. I'll content myself with the paragraph which follows the one where he asks himself 'Why should he bear all this? why should he die,d for he felt that he could not live under the weight of such obloquy?':

'If it can be proved', said he at last, 'that I have a just and honest right to this, as God well knows I always deemed I had; if this salary or stipend be really my due, I am not less anxious than another to retain it. I have the well-being of my child to look to. I am too old to miss without some pain the comofrots to which I have been used; and I am, as others are, anxious to prove to the world that I have been right, and to uphold the place I have held; but I cannot do it at a cost such as this?' (p. 118).

The cost: to be in the wrong. The torment: to be excoriated and shamed while he is in the wrong.

Gene has, I have to say, defended the Archdeacon's behavior in a chapter which to me shows him at his worst. I agree that later in the series the Archdeacon is presented more sympathetically: mostly through comparing him with people who are so much worse than he (Slope, Mrs Proudie, some of the characters in The Last Chronicle). I have also to say I think Trollope wants us to see the Archdeacon as going over the top when he not only gloats over Bold but enjoys threatening him with costs. His behavior in the scene where Bold comes to him to tell him, he Bold will give up the suit, is that of the intimidator, the bully par excellence. He is cruel and insulting throughout. When one wins, one can have the graciousness to hold out a hand in fellowship. Grantly has none of this. Not content to win, he twists the knife in the man who has lost.

There is an interesting aspect to this scene which fits it into Trollope's _oeuvre_: note how Bold is coerced into standing while he tells his tale. In Nina Balatka there is a closely similar scene where Anton Trendellson comes to the relatives of Nina to try to reason with them humanely, and he too is manipulated into the humiliating position of standing before them. In The Last Chronicle of Barset the Rev Josiah Crawley takes that long walk to the Bishop's palace to confront the Bishop and Mrs Proudie and in a spirit remarkably similar to Bold's he means to give up his position. To yield. To declare himself the loser. The Bishop asks him to sit, but Mrs Proudie intervenes with a few words and Crawley remains standing. I see Trollope as in all these cases on the side of the humiliated and mocked not the intimidators. I see such scenes as rooted in Trollope's earliest experiences at school, at home and in London as retold in his An Autobiography.

There is the problem of Bold's motivation. John Mize says it is hard to believe he would give up his case -- and all the glory he feels is being given to him, the reformist impulses he has shown up to this point, and after all he is becoming a Big Man too -- for love. Trendelsson's motivation is rooted in money needs; I hope there is no need for me to defend the complexity or truth of Crawley's as dramatised and meditated by Trollope. It would have been more believable had love been but one element in Bold's motivation: that is, had Bold carried his suit further and sickened of Towers further down the line. Possibly Trollope wants to put Bold v Grantly out of the way quickly to foreground Harding. He means to write a short novel. I think he also means to make Eleanor an important factor in the story. He wants her behavior to count. That's why he keeps up the love story through the invitation, Eleanor's visit to Mary; later on in a realistic way Bold can be there to support Eleanor. It would not have been as realistic if Mr Harding really had had to provide for Eleanor. Now she will be Mrs Bold. Trollope does provide a scene in which Eleanor becomes well nigh hysterical and in the moment I can see Bold acceding. He is not hard. He is just inexperienced. Would he not have gone back on his word, especially after the bullying and threats of Grantly?

My view is that although keeping Eleanor's part of in the play is important to Trollope, Trollope is after bigger moral game. Trollope has made Bold give up the suit to make an ironic moral point through the story. Never neglect the storyline :). The storyline can now show us that Bold will soon learn that giving up the suit himself will not make it go away. Moral: don't start things whose ending you can't control (this is a conservative moral). Eleanor too will have to learn that her father does not feel relieved at all when she tells him Bold has given up the suit. So what? says the old man. Bold cannot make it go away now. The key here is the suit takes on a life of its own -- and that is what happens in politics. The Warden is a fable about how politics works whether in the church or elsewhere. I always think the story line of a novel gives us the central way of reading what the novelist intends. Here it is that it does matter what any individual sacrifices (Eleanor) or what any given individual decides to do who is involved (Bold). Once something is set off, you must take the consequences because human beings will not be controlled by you. Be careful what reforms you go after. I am myself always amused to read about bills which begin as a reform in some way and end up passing into law something completely contrary to the reformer's original intent. This is actually very common.

I will offer a few comments on the 'Iphigenia' Chapter separately. Ellen Moody

On the same day Gene Stratton wrote:
Subject: [trollope-l] The Warden: Chs. 9-12

Earlier I mentioned my view that in this, his 4th novel, Trollope was still learning his trade. I guess we never stop learning, but what I mean is that he hadn't yet reached full journeyman status. That status, I think, came with his next novel, Barchester Towers. In this current reading assignment of 4 chapters, there was one chapter I had some objections to, and one I thought was superb.

Ch. 7 is titled "Iphigenia," and throughout, Eleanor Harding is compared to the unfortunately maiden of Greek myth, as well as, to a much lesser extent, to Jephthah's daughter. Perhaps I'm super-critical, but it just didn't fit. Agammemnon shot a deer and thus offended the Goddess Artemis, who demanded that he sacrifice his daughter. Though he agreed, he held off for years. Then, as he sailed as commander-in-chief of the Greeks heading to fight Troy, he found his fleet becalmed, and on the island of Aulis he was told by the goddess that he would never reach Troy unless he went through with the sacrifice. There are variations of this story, and even Euripides gives two versions, but the essence is that the father sacrificed the daughter.

At no point has Mr. Harding asked Eleanor to sacrifice herself. At no point has Mr. Harding wielded an allegorical knife to destroy his daughter. In fact, Harding is complete unaware of her plans. So it doesn't fit.

Further, what sacrifice is Eleanor really making? She will beg Mr. Bold to withdraw his law suit against her father. That is entirely in keeping with her character. So much so that I see no sacrifice here at all. Had it been some other woman, say, H. Rider Haggard's She-who-must-be-obeyed, such a pleading would have been completely outside character and indeed a sacrifice. But not for Eleanor.

Eleanor knew that her action would cause Bold to "declare his passion ... there had been enough between them to make such a fact sure; but it was equally certain that he must be rejected. She could not be understood to be saying, Make my father free and I am the reward. There would be no sacrifice in that."

On the contrary, that would have required a real sacrifice. To marry the man who had attempted to ruin her father in order to get that man to desist would indeed have been a sacrifice.

Facetiousness Alert: Somewhat facetiously, let me give an idea of how she might have effected her sacrifice: After getting Bold to promise to withdraw the suit, and then hearing his "passion," she could have said:

"I do not love thee, Mr. Bold. The reason why cannot be told, but this I know, and this I hold, I do not love thee, Mr. Bold.

But Bold would have persisted, and she could have then made the sacrifice. All right, she would marry him, but he should be warned that whenever she hears his footsteps outside her door, like Lady Hillingdon [chronology off a bit here], Eleanor would "lie down on my bed, close my eyes, open my legs and think of England."* There's a sacrifice worthy of Euripides; well, perhaps Aristophanes.

Now Chapter 8 I liked. Dr. Grantly is in rare form here, even for him. Those of you who have seen the British TV production of The Warden, will recall Nigel Hawthorne at his magnificent best in this role. In this one scene he seems to go through the complete gamut of emoting: polite, kind, seemingly sympathetic, sarcastic, vindictive, uprighteous, mean-spirited, tough, mild, scholarly, rude, the whole she-bang. But if Hawthorne played the script to the hilt, it was Trollope who wrote it. As I read the words, I could hear them from the miniseries. The TV scriptwriters had the good sense not to play around with them. They recognized perfection when they saw it.

Oh, but this only shows how bad a character Dr. Grantly was. Not necessarily. Ask yourself: Why did Bold go to Grantly in the first place? He had promised Eleanor he would drop the suit, and he had received a reward from her, and had every right to expect that the reward would grow. Was he trying to collect another reward from Grantly for the same act? What is it that the Bible says about not letting your good deeds show? You vitiate the goodness of your deed when you go around crowing, oh, what a good doer I am. Grantly was right --there was no legitimate reason for Bold to go way out of his way to Plumstead Episcopi simply to tell Grantly in person what he would have learned from Dr. Harding, via Eleanor, in a short while anyway. In fact, shouldn't Bold have gone to Finney first to instruct him to stop the suit?

And, secondly, Grantly could have been right when he accused Bold of having some other ulterior motivation. What small-town lawyer would not quake on learning that the best lawyer in the land, one with all the important Parliamentary and court connections, would be his opponent in the case? Would not some of this reason for anxiety have communicated itself to Bold, too? And by now he must have realized that the suit was getting out of hand and was certainly going to cost him far more of his inheritance than he had originally thought. Bold had to know that he did not hold the good cards. Could he have been so naive that the thought of throwing away his inheritance would not have made him uneasy. Perhaps only in his subconscious mind, but Bold could have decided to go to Grantly with the comforting idea that, now not only had he earned Eleanor's gratitude, not only had he put his mind at rest from nagging him for his treatment of a man he had every reason to like, but Grantly -- the man who pulled the strings for the Church in Barchester -- by learning of Bold's act as soon as possible, could put an immediate end to the whole accursed thing from the Church's side.

No, I don't think Mr. Bold was behaving so nobly. And I think Dr. Grantly had some justification on his side for his admittedly rude -- albeit magnificent -- performance.

*These words of Lady Hillingdon (1857-1940), married to a man she didn't care for, were noted by J. Gathrone-Hardy in a 1972 book. They were picked up recently as an interesting string on the Victoria List, generating a rather long and thorough discussion.

John Dwyer answered Gene: First John D quoted Gene's words:

Ch. 7 is titled "Iphigenia," and throughout, Eleanor Harding is compared to the unfortunately maiden of Greek myth, as well as, to a much lesser extent, to Jephthah's daughter. Perhaps I'm super-critical, but it just didn't fit. Agammemnon shot a deer and thus offended the Goddess Artemis, who demanded that he sacrifice his daughter. Though he agreed, he held off for years. Then, as he sailed as commander-in-chief of the Greeks heading to fight Troy, he found his fleet becalmed, and on the island of Aulis he was told by the goddess that he would never reach Troy unless he went through with the sacrifice. There are variations of this story, and even Euripides gives two versions, but the essence is that the father sacrificed the daughter.

At no point has Mr. Harding asked Eleanor to sacrifice herself. At no point has Mr. Harding wielded an allegorical knife to destroy his daughter. In fact, Harding is complete unaware of her plans. So it doesn't fit.

Then John D addressed Gene directly:

Dear Ginger (because Gene used his wife's name in his email address, i.e. Ginger Watts,, John thought Gene's name was Ginger:

My copy of The Warden hasn't yet arrived, and I have experience only with Barchester Towers. But one might think of Thackery's Vanity Fair: in Chapter 13 there's an Iphigenia clock, "a great French clock," representing the female sacrificed to patriarchal ambition--in "a cheerful brass group." This is a bit of the context: Amelia has mentioned in company that George has gone to the Horse Guards and will be back to dinner, in effect, asking for a delay of some minutes--until George arrives. The clock tolls five, then

"Dinner!" roared Mr. Osborne
. "Mr. George isn't come in, sir," interposed the man.
"Damn Mr. George, sir. Am I master of the house? DINNER!" Mr. Osborne scowled. Amelia trembled.

In its own context the clock is meaningless; only the reader registers the resonances. What comes to mind is that failure imaginatively equals failure morally.

John Dwyer

I replied to Gene too:

Re: The Warden: Eleanor as Iphigenia

While I would agree that in this chapter -- as in the chapter about the party -- Trollope's insistent use of literary and other allusions is too heavy-handed, I have no problem seeing Eleanor as a kind of Iphigenia. When we make an analogy to explain something it need not hold literally or in all points. So we say the heart is a kind of pump; it is true; it pumps blood around the body. But of course it does not work the way a real pump works at all. Gene mentions Epperly's book which I think excellent: she likens the madness scenes in He Knew He Was Right to Greek tragic drama. Of course the actual events of He Knew He Was Right are totally different from those we find in Oedipus Rex or Aeschylus, but metaphorically, emotionally and imaginatively the cases of Louis's and Camilla's madness are the same. Trollope himself makes the analogy. Louis Trevelyan is most un-Othello-like, yet the analogy hold true essentially: the anxiety of sexual jealousy is shaming and drives a man mad.

How does Eleanor sacrifice herself? By openly begging Bold to give up his suit. By pleading with him. I have all too often in my life had the experience of trying to get someone to do something which I have no power to enforce. Often I lose. One reason I lose is I am too proud and will not beg. I will not give up my dignity or admit my need. She is also risking something which does come to pass: that Bold will then take advantage and insist on reciprocation. If he gives up the suit, she must admit she loves him. She has not yet done that. Indeed, far from that she has proudly told him she can do without him in an earlier chapter. Now she must eat crow. She is lucky in her man for he is not impossible to move. But she doesn't touch his heart without really giving up her self-respect in front of him.

Trollope's middle class English women, especially those who are presented as virgins are always presented as having this strong pride. It reminds me of Spenser's Britomart. She is bright and strong precisely because she has not given in to a man. It is the Diana myth. Eleanor has to yield pride, and then she has to yield her love. She has to say yes almost first. This is hard for her -- as Trollope sees it. I cannot see Emily Trevelyan doing this.

What is Eleanor's motivation: she cares intensely about her father. A touching aspect of The Warden is the father- daughter relationship. The first cover illustration to the book shows us a picture of Eleanor appealing to her father by the fireplace; my Oxford reprints The Only Daughter by J.Hallyar. These are good choices: Eleanor is sacrificing her pride and self- respect, and as we see, herself, for she agrees to marry Bold, in order, so she thinks to save her father. Note what she says in the moment of hysteria, the heights, as it were, of despair. I will quote two longer passages. She opens her plea thus:

'I especially want to speak to you about my father. Indeed, I am now here on purpose to do so. Papa is very unhappy, very unhappy indeed, about this affair of the hospital. You would pity him, Mr Bold, if you could see whow wretched it has made him [a few sentences later] and -- and -- if this goes on, he will die ... He will break his heart and die ...

At the heights of her hysteria, she is on about her father:

'Then why should he be persecuted? ... why should he be singled out for scorn and disgrace? why should he be made so wretched ...

Towards the end, she screams:

'Will you, will you, will you, leave my father to die in peace in his quiet home ...' And she clung to him with fixed tenacity, and reiterated her resolve with hysterical passion' (pp. 147-51).

After this 'imploring,' what can the poor man do? He does love her; he weakly offers an ambiguous "I will ... I do -- all I can do, I will do' (p. 152). Then of course he demands his reward in return and his sister aids and abets him in surrounding the 'exhausted' and 'dishevelled' Eleanor.

The question is, Is the scene helped or hindered by the strongly-put allusion at the opening of the chapter? I agree it is not sufficiently well-prepared for (as it is in He Knew He Was Right); it is too downright; Trollope is relying on us to enter imaginatively into the scene and feel the analogy. But as I have argued before he doesn't mean this novel to be read that realistically; it is a short fable. Throughout the book he breaks the illusion to make allusions and analogies to other literature. If I have a complaint about the scene, it is in the opening apology to women. If Trollope is including the love plot partly as a sop to the female reader, why does he assume all females are small-minded and will see Eleanor as plotting, conniving all the while to marry Bold as her real purpose. That is low. Maybe some women would; maybe he is pointing out that unconsciously Eleanor is relying on sexual attraction and love and manipulating. But he need not insult me by assuming I will misread the scene because I am petty and jealous and suspect other women of always being on the make for a man.

Finally, I will conclude with my reiterated response to Gene's reiterated comment that The Warden is journeyman work. It is a gem; as Sadleir argues, one could say that with The Warden Trollope arrives at his fable-making capacity. It has its flaws -- but so does The Last Chronicle of Barsetshire, and other of Trollope's novels. I guess I can only say to others read The Macdermots of Ballycloran and you will find Trollope has written a great tragic Anglo-Irish novel which analsyses the condition of the Irish while providing a political and psychological story which few novelists ever reach. Trollope's art was mature from the start; his published writing starts in his later years. We have lost all that he wrote as a young man -- in journal-form as he tells us. Read The Kellys and O'Kellysand you will find in his second novel strong comedy and the multistructure plot of Trollope's later long realistic novels brought to brilliant life. The Warden is yet another kind of book which must be judged by its own criteria and purposes, one which does not lead to Barchester Towers so much as The Small House (in Lily Dale's story) and The Last Chronicle(in Crawley's story), in the conception of Plantagenet Palliser which stretches across the Pallisers and the other novels mentioned in my other post about characters who are paralysed by psychological and moral dilemmas they never made in a world they don't fit into.

Ellen Moody

Gene answered John as follows:

Hello, John:

I should mention that Ginger didn't write that message. For the first time, I think, I unintentionally didn't sign my name, though I've written enough on this list so that most people know that Gene Stratton uses Ginger Watt's e-mail address.

On your not having The Warden, it's too bad because being able to read along with the group allows the reader to get so much more out of it. Perhaps you could borrow a copy from a library, and then keep yours, when it comes in, as your permanent copy. When reading The American Senator, I let myself read too far ahead of the group and found that disadvantageous. So now I very carefully read just the assigned chapters for the week.

I apologize for not fully understanding your message below. Probably my fault, not yours, but could you give me a better idea of what you mean? Could you have have left something out? Thanks for helping me to understand better.

Gene Stratton

John Mize offered his take:

From: John Mize

To me the parallel between Eleanor and Iphigenia is that Dr. Grantly wants Mr. Harding to act like Agammemnon. Unfortunately for Grantly, he has the wrong man. Agammemon sacrifices his daughter, so he can sail to Troy to fight a stupid war for his brother's benefit. When he returns home with Cassandra as a trophy-captive, his wife, Clytemnestra, is not amused and kills him. Agammemnon loses everything, because he won't tell his stupid brother, "Forget Helen. She's not worth the trouble. If you insist on going through with this, don't count on my help. You're on your own." Dr. Grantly, like Menelaus, is counting on Mr. Harding's family and church loyalty to keep him in the fight, but Mr. Harding is not the man Agammenon was, for better or worse.

I can understand Grantly's refusing to let Bold off easily, but it's hard,if not impossible, for me to sympathize with Grantly. From Grantly's point of view, Bold has learned that he has no case and wishes to drop everything. However Grantly is so furious that Bold ever presumed to cross him and the church that he won't let Bold drop the case. I have a hard time sympathizing with Grantly's refusal to be a magnamimous winner. I also have a hard time sympathizing with Bold's willingness to give up his principles for love. I can't help but think that means his principles were never that serious to begin with. He was simply playing at being the reformer. My attitude may have something to do with my underestimation of the power of love. I've always agreed with Rosalind's line in As You Like It. "Men have died from time to time, and worms have eaten them, but not for love."

John Mize

From: Judith Moore

I agree that Trollope has some difficulties with the tone of this chapter. He's already let us know that John Bold became a reformer in part because he was young and energetic and hadn't enough to do, so it's not altogether surprising that he gives up this one project for love--he hasn't sufficiently known himself. But he means well in going to Dr. Grantly, and the Archdeacon behaves outrageously rudely to him. His motivations are real, too, but are they enough? I suspect the plot is driving him here more than his own character, and that reinforces my feeling that Trollope isn't yet completely in control of his art. It's clear from several recent postings that what most of us value most highly in Trollope is his realism, and in this case the realism of Dr. Grantly's character is vivid in spots but not quite consistent overall.

Judith Moore

Gene then wrote about Tom Towers, the newspaper writer Trollope so castigates in these chapters:

In Puritan England, as well as Puritan New England, in additional to biblical names (eg, Ebenezer, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Rebecca, Deborah, Bathsheba, etc.), morality names were very popular. Thus we get such names as Mercy, Patience, Preserved, Fear, Wrestling, Humility, Desire , Remember, Experience, and Freelove (which meant something quite different from its 20th century connotation). However, the name "Tamesin," which I once saw described in a book as a morality name, was actually a phonetic version of "Thomasine."

In The Warden we have the name Tom Towers, and I can't help but think that Trollope got it from Oxford University. From my flat on the Thames in Oxford, I could look out my back window and see Christ Church College's very prominent tower, which houses the bell known as Tom, and naturally the tower is known as Tom Tower. Christ Church being (arguably) the most influential of Oxford's colleges, it almost seems to me that Trollope was ironically giving the prominent newspaper opponent of the High Church side (which could be also called the Oxford Side) a name which could also be symbolic of just what Tom Towers was fighting tooth and nail).

Gene Stratton

And that was it for the week. I will add this comment: Gene has identified with Grantly, and resented Trollope's treatment of the character. Alas, no one else did so identify.

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