in American Senator

Chapter 40 – Lord Rufford Wants to See a Horse


Arabella has just come back to Mistletoe after riding alone in the same carriage with Lord Rufford.  Her aunt is scandalized at the thought, even with the assurance given by Arabella that she and Lord Rufford are engaged.  Trollope writes that Arabella is aware that even as this risky action has opened Elysium–the realm of the afterlife reserved for Greek heroes–to her, it could also be her ruin if Lord Rufford does not marry her.  This use of Elysium continues the warrior imagery previously associated with Arabella.  [CMC 2012]


man’s love instigated by pursuit

Trollope reflects that men are unlikely to fall in love with women who “throw themselves into their arms”–instead, men’s desires are excited by the “difficulty of pursuit.”  The equation of courtship and pursuit seems fitting in a novel which spends so much time on fox-hunting; indeed, fox-hunting is one of Arabella’s prime venues for pursuing Lord Rufford.  In Ovid’s Metamorphoses we can find precedents for the presentation of erotic desire as a kind of hunt or chase:  the pattern is set by Apollo’s pursuit of Daphne and is continued, with variations, throughout the poem.  Although Trollope may not have any Ovidian connection in mind, the erotic chases of the Metamorphoses show us that female characters are unlikely to achieve satisfaction when they take the initiative.  An example is Echo, who see Narcissus while he hunts, follows him, is spurned, and wastes away.  Arabella has taken the initiative with a man, and as hunter rather than hunted she will not be successful in her pursuit of Lord Rufford.  [RR 2012]

Source:  Ovid, Metamorphoses 1.452-567 (Apollo and Daphne) and 3.356-401 (Echo and Narcissus).