in Old Man's Love

Chapter 15 – Mr. Whittlestaff Goes Out to Dinner

not unsuccessfully and not unhappy

Trollope twice uses litotes—the ancient rhetorical technique of asserting something by negating its opposite—to good effect in this chapter. When Mary Lawrie dines in the company of John Gordon, Mr. Whittlestaff, and those who know her story, she attempts to hide her self-consciousness “not unsuccessfully.” Later she declares to Mr. Whittlestaff that she is “not unhappy.” The use of litotes strikes an ambivalent note, consonant with Mary Lawrie’s own mixed and conflicted feelings about her situation. [RR 2018]