I, too, easily saw where the novel was going early on. I'm pretty sure anybody would, and certainly Trollope's contemporary audience must surely have known. And, as a consequence, I toyed with the idea that with such a fairy-tale set-up (poor illegitimate girl revealed as an heiress is the 19th century equivalent of the poor girl being revealed to be the princess), Trollope might pull off a surprise in which Mary does not become heir, but still marries Frank. (This, in my opinion, would be much more interesting than her not becoming heir and Frank deciding to follow his "duty" and marrying money elsewhere. This would, I think, have been the "tragic" ending of a 19th century novel.) Although Zola might indeed have gone with the naturalist denouement. Probably Frank would have utterly failed as a farmer (indeed, how could he not?) and the novel would end with total financial and personal ruin for all, including Mary and her uncle. (Nice observation that the French Revolution contributed to the pessimism of Hugo, Zola, Flaubert, et al. Even the Řber-Romantic Dumas has some comparatively bleak outcomes. I never made that connection before.) A more positive outcome in which it all falls through but Frank does indeed manage to support her as, say, a barrister or even a clergyman might have been an early-20th century plot.
: I agree with you and add my own thoughts:
: 1). So far, and probably during the whole
: series, the "Barsetshire
: Chronicles" have revolved around very
: concrete moral dilemmas. Although concrete,
: however, these dilemmas are very far from
: clear-cut or easily soluble. Reverend
: Harding debates between fighting for his
: position or acknowledging that the clergy
: has some (probably excessive) perks.
: Clearly, he has done his job well, so there
: is no fault on his part that ethically
: forces him to resign: he is the victim of a
: larger, social and political debate, about
: the clergy's position in society. Here, Dr.
: Thorne debates between easing his niece's
: marriage and letting her be a pawn in a
: financial game. This game is repugnant to
: Dr. Thorne on account of his egalitarian and
: democratic convictions. A moral dilemma is a
: great center around which to develop a
: 2). Trollope, though no radical or socialist
: (and in fact he was an officer of the
: British Crown, in the postal service), has
: an acute gaze to put on Britain's society.
: For him, far from the "shopkeepers'
: nation", England is still very much a
: feudal society, tied by obsolete notions of
: "blood". However, the Industrial
: Revolution has turned the tables in favor of
: rich plebeians and against idle landed
: gentry. Hence the hypocrisy of the De
: Courcys, always paying lip service to
: nobility but actually looking for rich
: commoners to marry and make them sustain
: their lavish lifestyle. So, and going to
: your comparison with Dickens, if Trollope
: refrains from going into the sordidness of
: urban slums or child labor, he is not blind
: to England's shortcomings as a free society.
: 3). Trollope does a great job of explaining
: England's politics at the time, between
: Conservatives, Whigs (both pro and
: anti-Crown), and Radicals, with all their
: contradictions: liberal aristocrats, like
: the Duke, and conservative democrats, such
: as Dr. Thorne himself. Electioneering,
: electoral cheating and post-electoral
: conflict, as well as the depiction of
: professional elections strategists, were
: fascinating to me.
: 4). Alcoholism is portrayed and analyzed in
: agonizing and truthful detail. As the son of
: a man who died from alcoholism, for me it
: was at the same time painful and endearing
: to read these parts.
: 5) Now, about literary style: I also enjoy
: Trollope's way of building the story along
: with the reader making it, as it were, a
: live novel developing before the reader's
: very eyes. Trollope talks about his editors
: and critics and addresses them, reflecting
: on the dilemmas of the creative process.
: 6) Characters: totally agree with you that
: Miss Dunstable was a discovery. She deserved
: an older, mature, intelligent husband, but
: sadly she is only too conscious that she is
: another pawn in a greedy, financial game. It
: ennobles her that she refuses to play the
: game. A witty, warm, and independent woman.
: Hopefully she will remain Frank and Mary's
: lifelong friend and adviser. Dr. Thorne, by
: not being perfect, is the more admirable.
: Ethical integrity, in his circumstances,
: requires almost heroism, and he proves
: himself equal to the challenge. Scatcherd is
: a wonder of a rough, more perverse, Falstaff
: of the Industrial Revolution.
: 6). Having said this, I must add that the
: really challenging novel would have been one
: in which Mary does NOT become a heir: what
: would have happened to her, Frank, the
: Greshams, and Dr. Thorne if Louis Sctacherd
: had lived? Would the romantic couple have
: been able to survive together in the midst
: of family rejection, social scandal and
: poverty? This, of course, would have been a
: more modern novel, or one written By Hugo or
: Zola, writers shattered and molded by the
: French Revolution, and not a Victorian,
: Trollope novel. As it is, it is a very
: enjoyable reading, deservedly within the
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