in Barchester Towers

Chapter 41 – Mrs. Bold Confides Her Sorrow to Her Friend Miss Stanhope


In this allusion, Bertie Stanhope is being likened to the mythological winged horse Pegasus, which was famous in ancient Greek mythology for aiding humans in difficult situations, particularly Bellerophon in his adventures.  Charlotte Stanhope plans on making her brother, Bertie, the Pegasus who will help Eleanor out of her present social predicament.  Mr. Slope has just asked Eleanor to marry him, and she refused; however, they had ridden together in the same carriage on the way to the Thorne’s party, and Eleanor certainly doesn’t want to have to ride home with him in the same vehicle.  Bertie is going to help arrange another ride home for Eleanor, and in Charlotte’s plan, will himself ride home in a carriage with her.  [MD 2005]



This is a reference to the Sirens, who make an appearance in Homer’s Odyssey.  The Sirens are creatures with beautiful voices, but they attempt to call men to their ruin and own deaths.  Madeline Stanhope is very Siren-like by the fact that she likes to flirt with multiple men, drawing them in, and then when they have fallen in love, dropping them and letting them crash by themselves. This is precisely what she has already done to Mr. Slope and is now doing to Mr. Arabin as well.  [MD 2005]

Sources:  Homer, Odyssey, 12.


Mount Ida, Juno, and the offspring of Venus

This is a reference to a beauty contest (held on Mount Ida) between Minerva, Juno, and Venus, of which Paris was the judge. He chose Venus as the most beautiful, making the other two goddesses his enemies in the process; however, he only did this in order to have Venus help him seize Helen as his wife, thereby beginning the Trojan War.  Juno continues to persecute Venus’ offspring, Aeneas, after the Trojan War has ended.  Mr. Slope proposes to Madeline Stanhope that if she had been at this contest, she would have been judged by Paris to be the most beautiful woman of them all, even triumphing over Venus.  This flirtation, however, seems to be much too over-the-top for Madeline Stanhope, who respects the less aggressive approach of Mr. Arabin much more than she does that of Mr. Slope.  Madeline ultimately helps Mr. Arabin marry his true love, Eleanor Bold, while she helps bring about the downfall of Mr. Slope, who was trying too hard to win her over.  [MD 2005]