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Truth and consequences : the banishment of Anthony Trollope's Palliser Four

Reynolds, Edith A. author ;Barnett, Stuart, 1960- thesis advisor

1995

Available at Central Connecticut State University  CCSU Theses/Dissertations Stack 6  (Thesis 1433 )()

  • Title:
    Truth and consequences : the banishment of Anthony Trollope's Palliser Four
  • Author/Creator: Reynolds, Edith A. author
  • Barnett, Stuart, 1960- thesis advisor; Central Connecticut State University. Department of English.
  • Creation Date: 1995
  • Language: English
  • Physical Description: [5], 114 leaves ; 29 cm.; paper 29 cm. ink typescript.
  • Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references (leaves 111-113).
  • Subjects: Trollope, Anthony, 1815-1882 -- Criticism and interpretation; Trollope, Anthony, 1815-1882 -- Characters -- Women
  • Description: A close reading of Anthony Trollope's six-novel Palliser series offers a complex social and historical portrait of upper-class Victorian England that employs the political arena and the cosmopolitan quality of London's society to explore some of the social mores governing women during the latter half of the nineteenth century. Murder, marriage, poverty, cruelty, and intrigue find a niche within the pages of these texts, yet, it is within the domestic and social sphere that four females emerge who are linked by the truth and circumstance. Their behavior and the consequences they suffer demonstrate the harshness of the Victorian marriage-market and society's methods of self-policing that, in turn, supports the Marxist feminist view of the patriarchal system: that the system does not depend on a man's physical strength but in his ability to control and manipulate wealth in order to maintain his superior status over women. Trollope introduces truth as having contradictory qualities. He shows that truth-telling as a religious virtue is generally regarded as the hallmark of an honest man but women who tell the truth are regarded as dangerous and undesirable. In the case of four female Palliser characters, telling the truth about their desires and failings erodes a carefully-constructed facade created by the Victorians that masks unhappiness and powerlessness among females of the nineteenth century. Trollope shows how duly and responsibility that upholds the financial arrangements connected to marriage in Victorian England overrides the personal needs of the individual. Those who fail to comply with this idea are banished from society, even though their actions are truthfully pursued. This exemplifies the Victorian social order that the good of the whole overrides that of the individual. Using Lady Glencora Palliser as an example of proper Victorian conduct when faced with marital unhappiness, Trollope poses Lady Laura Kennedy, Lizzie Eustace, Lucinda Roanoke, and Lady Mabel Grex in similar circumstances. By failing to comply with set standards and following through with "appropriate" marriages, as well as acknowledging a true desire, Lady Laura Kennedy, Lizzie Eustace, Lucinda Roanoke, and Lady Mabel Grex find themselves outcast from polite circles. Their inability to conform with society's strictures calls into question the validity of the social rules governing their society and it is in their common punishment that the reader learns much about how that society functions. In the case of Lady Glencora and Lady Laura Kennedy, for instance, Trollope follows these young women into their marriage to reveal an underlying dissatisfaction in order to illustrate the social restrictions that prevented young women from seizing control and changing the unhappy outcome of their lives. As an author Trollope perpetuates the social morality of his lime when he fails to allow women to thwart the law and exalts adherence to the matrimonial vow of obedience. Trollope strives to recogni7.e these women as victims of circumstance and societal pressure before allowing them to be cruelly exiled. Yet one might ask why so harsh a sentence is provided by this author? In other works, Trollope introduces far more manipulative and fallen women who later earn a small portion of respectable living. This begs the question: if the likes of Arabella Trefoil from The American Senator or Julia Brabazon of The Claverings, whose fortunes rivaled the Palliser Four's, could find some small happiness, why were the other ladies vilified? One answer is that the inconsistency of punishment has less to do with the level of degradation to which each lady sinks than it does the effort they expend to achieve their goals. Ironically, the lack of industry demonstrated by these four women is the antithesis of the one quality that serves as Trollope's hallmark. Industriousness is a characteristic Trollope displays throughout his life by simultaneously succeeding in two careers despite an impoverished beginning, a shaky early career, and an unmonied marriage. His industrious nature is evident within the Autobiography where he reveals his rigid production schedule, his complex plot inspirations, and public reaction to his work. As detailed as the Autobiography appears, Trollope leaves no clue why he links these four and why he banishes them. The reader is left to speculate whether this punishment is a deliberate addition to this series or a subconscious effort that serves to define the society he portrays. Criticism linking these particular women is also lacking and so this thesis explores, through a historical perspective of the period, the role of women, the policing efforts of upper-class society, the economic influences that shape Victorian society, and the :financial restrictions governing the conduct of its members. , Rather than single Trollope out as a villainous author who enforces an unfair punishment on undeserving females, this thesis proposes to examine the circumstances of this historical era that allows this punishment to be accepted and recorded by Trollope. Through this effort, a greater understanding of the Victorian value system with regard to women and their society will hopefully be achieved.
  • Notes: Includes bibliographical references (leaves 111-113).
  • Degree Granted: M.A. Central Connecticut State University 1995
  • OCLC Number: 36134294