in Framley Parsonage

Chapter 06 – Mr. Harold Smith’s Lecture


Mentor is a character from Homer’s Odyssey, who is an old friend of Odysseus.  Mentor first appears in book 2 when he delivers a speech in public.  However, most of the appearances of Mentor depict him as Athena in disguise, usually to give advice and help to Odysseus’ son, Telemachus. This depiction of Mentor seems to agree with the OED’s definition of the word ‘”mentor” as one who gives guidance and assistance to another person, usually to someone who has less experience and is of a younger age. In the Odyssey, Mentor is supposed to watch over Odysseus’ possessions, but his chief duty seems to be that of an advisor; when Athena assumes this role, she gives advice to Telemachus early in the story and then to Odysseus in the last chapters.  In Framley Parsonage, Trollope describes individuals around the age of fifty as acting playfully and jocosely, much like young children or carefree adolescents. They are poking fun at Mr. Harold Smith and the speech which he is about to deliver about the South Sea Islanders and their civilization.  Trollope says that people in this age group are able to have a good time whenever there aren’t any “Mentors” of a younger age (25-30) around to spoil their fun and make them straighten up.  It is said that Mark Robarts might have been such an individual, if he hadn’t fit in with the older members of the group as well as he did.  Trollope’s depiction of the mentor/mentored relationship switches the generational positions of the people in each role and presents them as being opposite. Instead of older people being in the serious, earnest, role of mentors, they are described as the ones who are being taught how to behave.  The younger clergymen are the ones who are shown as Mentors, being strict and disciplined, and not having any time for fun and games.  By switching these positions, Trollope creates a humorous situation; the older generation being quieted by younger individuals allows us to laugh at this ironic, yet improbable, situation.  [MD 2005]

Sources:  Homer, Odyssey, books 2 and 22.


born when Venus was in the ascendant

This seems to be an astrological reference to the planet Venus and its position in the sky when Mr. Slope was born.  Mrs. Proudie has just told a short tale about Mr. Slope and his pursuit of several different women at the same time (Eleanor Bold, now Eleanor Arabin, and Madeline Stanhope), although they are not mentioned specifically.  Mrs. Smith remarks that the planet Venus must have influenced Mr. Slope’s birth, since Venus was the Roman goddess of love and this man seems to get himself into quite a few romantic entanglements.  [MD 2005]


Latin and Eton

Trollope mentions that Mr. Green Walker has given a lecture about leading grammarians in the language of Latin and how their work was studied at Eton, a secondary school in England.  At this time, individuals who were considered to be educated were highly trained in the Classical Greek and Latin languages.  Trollope himself was a Classical pupil and was very familiar with the studies of Latin at schools like Eton. The fact that Mr. Green Walker gives a speech about this subject shows how well he knew it; since this was the launch of his political career, he would want to start off well by giving a speech on a topic with which he could not fail.  [MD 2005]



In his speech about the South Sea Islanders, Mr. Harold Smith refers to the godlike spirit of Genius who holds the earth in the palm of its hand.  Mr. Smith’s use of “Genius” connects the ancient Roman understanding of a genius as a presiding, protective spirit and the English understanding of “genius” as exceptionally inspired talent.  Mr. Smith’s Genius is wearing “translucent armor,” and this may represent the idea that we are unable to see this protective spirit or its actions.  [MD & RR 2005]


a pagan sentimentality

Mrs. Proudie objects to the “pagan sentimentality” of Mr. Harold Smith’s speech, which includes mention of non-Christian gods in the ancient mold.  Mrs. Proudie is a devout Christian, not open to other ideas, and she therefore feels the need to interrupt Harold Smith’s speech in order to promote her Christian doctrine.  [MD & RR 2005]