Before Caroline’s wedding to Harcourt, Trollope describes Caroline as readying “herself for the sacrifice.” Trollope has conflated the Christian wedding altar with the sacrificial altars of Greek and Roman antiquity, and he thereby suggests that Caroline herself is the sacrificial victim to be offered up on her wedding day. [KS & RR 2012]
The bridesmaids for Caroline are referred to as “attendant nymphs.” Nymphs are minor divinities who take the form of beautiful maidens and may accompany a goddess, so in this instance Trollope seems to be continuing the representation of Caroline as a goddess. [KS & RR 2012]
much she could do, was now doing, was prepared to do
Trollope effectively uses a tricolon construction here to convey Caroline’s resolution to marry Harcourt although she does not love him. Each clause in the tricolon contains a form of “do,” which reinforces a sense of Caroline’s firmness just before Trollope mentions what Caroline cannot do–that is, behave like a typical excited bride. The repetition of words in different forms but containing the same basic element is a rhetorical device known as polyptoton. [RR 2012]
sed post equitem sedet atra cura
Henry Harcourt has just received 500 pounds from Mr. Bertram as he and Caroline depart on their honeymoon, and Caroline says that she is pleased. Yet all is not well, as Trollope signals with this line from an Horatian ode: “but black care sits behind the knight.” In the ode, Horace uses this line to illustrate the fact that worry can beset even the fortunate. Caroline should be happy as she rides off in the carriage with new husband, but Trollope ends this chapter with the foreboding Horatian image followed by an explicit mention of the “very black” care that now sits behind Caroline, a “female knight.” [KS & RR 2012]
Source: Horace Odes 3.1.40.