Chapter 75 – Arabella’s Success

conquered in the field, cast her javelins

Again, Trollope invokes language that recalls military action when discussing Arabella’s plans.  See commentary for Chapter 20.  [KS 2012]

 

Narcissa

Arabella takes some care with her appearance, now that Mounser Green appears to be a marriage prospect.  When Mrs. Green comments on Arabella’s efforts, Arabella quotes a snippet of Pope to her.  Pope’s Narcissa is a woman whose vanity follows her to the grave:  she is upset at the prospect of being buried in woolen clothing.  Pope names his character after the Classical figure of Narcissus, a youth who fell in love with his own reflection.  [RR 2012]

Source:  Alexander Pope, Moral Essays 1.246-251.

Chapter 74 – Benedict

Benedict

The title of this chapter recalls Benedick, one of the protagonists of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, who finally marries Beatrice after a long bachelorhood.  Such a reference is fitting here, since this chapter contains the arrangements for Lord Rufford’s marriage to Miss Penge, and the OED cites instances of “benedict” used as a generic noun for any long-standing bachelor who finally marries.  An ironic Classical echo may be operative in addition to the Shakespearean one:  “Benedict” comes from Latin benedictus, “blessed.”  Although Lord Rufford’s sister may consider him “blessed” in his wife-to-be, Lord Rufford knows that Miss Penge will change his habits and, when married, he will not be allowed the luxuries of his bachelor days.  [RR 2012]

Sources:  Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing.
OED.

 

harpy

Lady Penwether is discussing Lord Rufford’s predicament with Sir George.  In her mind it would be best for Lord Rufford to propose to Miss Penge because it would free him of Arabella and the public’s opinion concerning his treatment of Arabella.  Lady Penwether likens Arabella to a “harpy,” which is a mythological vulture-like bird with the face of a woman.  The very name “harpy” is derived from the Greek word for “snatch.”  This imagery is invoked due to Arabella’s sudden appearance and “attack” on Lord Rufford.  [KS & RR 2012]

 

oracle and demigods

Lady Penwether is attempting to assist Miss Penge in getting Lord Rufford to propose.  Throughout these attempts, Lord Rufford enjoys the status of an “oracle” in the house.  The ladies treat him as if he were some sort of divine mouthpiece whose every word uttered has extra significance.  The ladies are submissive and receptive toward everything Lord Rufford says.  The heightened deference is extended even to Lord Rufford’s horses, who are treated as “demigods.”  [KS & RR 2012]

 

what such oaths were worth

Lord Rufford compares Arabella and Miss Penge and remembers that Arabella had “sworn that she would never be opposed to his little pleasures.”  But, Trollope tells us, Rufford “knew what such oaths were worth.”  On the antiquity of this sentiment, Arthur Leslie Wheeler says, “The unreliability of woman’s oaths had become proverbial as early as the time of Sophocles (fr. 741):  ‘woman’s oaths I write on water.'”  Wheeler demonstrates the use of the idea in poems by Callimachus and Catullus.  [RR 2012]

Source:  Arthur Leslie Wheeler.  Catullus and the Traditions of Ancient Poetry.  Berkeley:  University of California Press, 1934, p. 231.

 

persecute

In talking with Lord Rufford, Miss Penge calls Arabella “that woman who persecuted you.”  Miss Penge is probably referring first and foremost to Arabella’s persistent harassing of Lord Rufford, but the Latin etymology of the word is also at play.  The Latin verb persequi means “thoroughly follow” and even “hunt after” or “take vengeance on”–all of which Arabella has done to Lord Rufford.  In Trollope’s time these other meanings could be conveyed by the English word.  [RR 2012]

Sources:  LS, OED.

Chapter 73: “Is It Tanti?”

A man at Rome ought to do as the Romans do

This sentiment dates back to antiquity.  St. Ambrose is said to have stated this in reply to St. Augustine:  “When I am at Milan, I do as they do at Milan; but when I do as they do at Milan; but when I go to Rome, I do as Rome does.”  [KS 2012]

Source:  Entry in Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable.

 

Reg

Mary Masters gives the nickname “Reg” to Reginald Morton after their engagement.  This shortened version of Reginald’s name is phonetically similar to the Latin stem of his name reg-, meaning “king.”  It is appropriate that this nickname is given to him following his assumption of the squireship and his betrothal, as both of these make him a proper king in the universe of Trollope.  [CMC 2012]

 

philanimalists

Reginald is discussing with Mary the possibility of taking up hunting as one of his social duties as squire.  Although Reginald did not hunt when he lived quietly and economically at Hoppet Hall, he states that he hates the “philanimalists.”  Trollope’s use of this Latin/Greek hybrid adds a humorous and satirical flair; the use of the word itself seems to discount the views of those whose “love of animals” leads them to oppose hunting, the custom of the country.  [KS & RR 2012]

 

tanti

As Reginald and Mary discuss the various social obligations they will have to take on, Reginald suggests to Mary that she should “regulate” all that she does according to “the great doctrine of ‘tanti.'”  Tanti is the genitive singular of the Latin adjective tantus, which means “so much.”  Tanti is being utilized as a genitive of value, which means “of so much worth.”  The word in this form can also be translated as “worthwhile.” Social customs and expectations can be worth performing even if they are not strictly necessary.

The chapter is entitled “Is It Tanti?”  This could be understood as the question Mary should ask herself about each of her actions as she implements Reginald’s doctrine.  It could also be a question asked about fox-hunting and its social function.  In fact, Reginald introduces the idea of “tanti” to Mary while they are talking about fox-hunting:  Reginald maintains that opponents of the practice do not understand that recreation is as important as the material necessities of life.   Trollope closes this chapter by asserting that the “day’s sport certainly had been ‘tanti,” answering his own question.  [KS & RR 2012]

Chapter 72 – “Bid Him Be a Man”

queen of the place

Mr. Masters assesses how fortunate he is to be the father of the wife of the squire at Bragton, and someday the grandfather of a squire.  He is proud that his daughter will be “queen of the place.”  This title is especially suitable for Mary when viewed in connection to Reginald.  His name is partly derived from the Latin noun rex, “king.”  For much of the novel, Reginald is a secluded gentleman, but upon John Morton’ death, he ascends to the ownership of Bragton and the position of squire.  He moves from a private existence to the life of a landed gentleman who occupies an important social role in the community.  Reginald’s gentle and honorable disposition, his “kingly” behavior, seems to make him particularly suited for the role of squire.  Mary, as his wife and as a character with a gracious and gentle goodness, fills her role as “queen” of Bragton.  [CD 2012]

Chapter 71 – “My Own, My Husband”

Elysium

Here, Mary’s joy about marrying Reginald is likened to the entrance of the soul into Elysium.  Elysium, the happy hope of heroes, is a part of the underworld most like Christian Paradise.  In fact, Paradise is referenced in this same passage both before and after Elysium.  Throughout the novel, Mary is rarely the recipient of Classical imagery or allusion.  Even in this instance the Classical meaning of Elysium is preempted by Christian imagery.  [CD 2012]

 

Mary’s not unwilling face

Trollope employs the Classical device known as litotes here:  the expression of an idea through the negation of its opposite.  Litotes is particularly effective in this instance because it helps to convey Mary’s consummate modesty even (or especially) at the moment of her first kiss with Reginald.  [RR 2012]