in Barchester Towers

Chapter 29 – A Serious Interview


This is a description of Mr. Harding and the role which he plays while mediating between his two daughters, Eleanor Harding and Mrs. Grantly.  He is portrayed as Mercury, who was the Roman messenger god and the son of Jupiter.  Mercury’s duties consisted primarily of delivering messages, which were often from his father Jupiter, to other gods and goddesses as well as to humans on earth.  The effect of calling Mr. Harding “Mercury'” is that it makes us think of him as being at his daughters’ disposal and that it is his main duty to relay messages between the two women.  Of course, Mr. Harding has many more duties which he has to perform as the rector of St. Cuthbert’s than managing affairs between his two daughters, so this allusion can be viewed humorously.  [MD 2005]


tragic muse

In Greek mythology the Muses are the nine daughters of Memory and Zeus, and they provide poetic inspiration.  Here, Trollope maintains that because he does not have the patronage of the tragic muse he cannot truly describe Eleanor’s face when Dr. Grantly talks of her as the future Mrs. Slope.  [RR 2005]