in Small House at Allington

Chapter 04 – Mrs. Roper’s Boarding-house

Apollos and hobbledehoys

Trollope devotes the first pages of Chapter 4 to a description of Apollos and hobbledehoys.  Apollo is the god of prophecy, divination, music, and the arts and also is referred to as the god of light.  Apollo is usually portrayed as the ideal of young male beauty.  Trollope describes Apollos as fruit that have had support in order to have ripened.  A hobbledehoy ripens at a slower pace.  Trollope describes John Eames as a man who is not constantly admired.  He contrasts John, a hobbledehoy, with Apollo, saying that hobbledehoys “do not come forth into the world as Apollos.”  Apollos, according to Trollope, also are better socially and have “much social intercourse.”  However, Trollope does acknowledge that John Eames has friends. Trollope is comparing John and Crosbie in this passage as the two suitors for Lily Dale.  See commentary for Chapter 2 for Crosbie as Apollo.  [KD 2006]

Sources:  Cassell’s Dictionary of Classical Mythology.


Apollo, hobbledehoys, and the Dale girls

This passage refers to the Dale sisters “who are not themselves unaccustomed to the grace of Apollo.”  Trollope points out that the Dale girls are dear friends of John Eames and that it is not unusual for pretty girls to befriend hobbledehoys.  Trollope, using the Classical technique of litotes, also states that the girls are used to the company of Apollos.  [KD 2006]


John may be like Apollo

Shortly after Trollope’s extended contrast of hobbledehoys and Apollos, the reader finds that John has been writing poetry about his love, Lily Dale.  Apollo is the god of music and arts, so perhaps Trollope is saying that Johnny Eames is a bit like Apollo after all.  [KD 2006]


Apollos in their splendid cars

In this allusion, John acknowledges to himself that there are Apollos to take girls such as Lily Dale away in splendid cars, or rather chariots.  [KD 2006]


Mr. and Mrs. Lupex

In Chapter 4 we are introduced to the Lupexes, whose name resembles the Latin word for wolf, lupis.  The feminine form of lupis, lupa, can also be used to describe a prostitute. Trollope is perhaps implying that the Lupexes are wolf-like and that Mrs. Lupex is not a respectable woman.  The association of wolfs and prostitutes hearkens back to myths about the founding of Rome, when Romulus and Remus supposedly were reared by a she-wolf or lupa.  Livy gives two explanations of the story of Romulus and Remus in his History of Rome.  He reported that an actual wolf could have nursed the infants or rather a man with an unchaste or lupa wife reared the brothers.  [KD 2006]

Sources:  Livy, History of Rome 1.4.


the divine Amelia Roper

Trollope describes Amelia as divine, which implies she is goddess-like.  Trollope is being funny here in that, as we later learn, Amelia is anything but goddess-like.  This notion is also fitting because she is able to control Johnny Eames much like gods control humans.  [KD 2006]