in Three Clerks

Chapter 14 – Very Sad

a dog in the manger

Harry feels betrayed by Gertrude’s engagement to Alaric, even though Gertrude had already refused Harry’s proposal before Alaric’s courtship began. The narrator calls attention to Harry’s situation by comparing it to Aesop’s fable about a dog who eagerly defends his pile of hay from cows, even though dogs do not eat hay. Though Trollope is generally sympathetic toward Harry, here the fable implicitly critiques his reaction. Since Aesop’s fables have become associated with young audiences, the fact that Trollope uses a fable here rather than other forms of Classical literature (like poetry or philosophy) may suggest that Harry’s reaction is immature. [GZ & RR 2016]

source: translation by Laura Gibbs of “The Dog in the Manger.”