in Bertrams

Chapter 43 – Another Journey to Bowes


When Mrs. Wilkinson leaves Hurst Staple to see Lord Stapledean, the stable-boy serves as her “charioteer.”  “Charioteer” recalls the Classical motif of battle that was established in the opening chapter.  Mrs. Wilkinson is driven to the station as if she is going into battle.  Mrs. Wilkinson is depicted as being overly ambitious and militaristic in her attempts to curtail Arthur’s authority.  [KS 2012]


Cerberus and a region as little desirable might be

Mrs. Wilkinson has finally made it past Lord Stapledean’s butler, who is described as “Cerberus,” and will be able to make her pleas to the lord himself.  In Classical mythology, Cerberus was a beastly dog that guarded the Underworld.  Once Mrs. Wilkinson has bypassed the guardian butler she enters Lord Stapledean’s book-room–the arena in which she thought she would achieve victory turns out to be as uninviting as the Underworld, and the lord’s response to her is unsatisfactory.  [KS & RR 2012]


she had come so far to fight her battle

As Mrs. Wilkinson pleads to Lord Stapledean for help, she grows dejected:  she came so far to “fight her battle,” and now she realizes that she will not be victorious.  This militaristic discourse resonates with the Classical theme of vae victis announced in the opening chapter.  [KS 2012]


vae victis, Io triumphe, paean

Mrs. Wilkinson returns to Hurt Staple unsuccessful in her attempts and reports to Arthur that she will no longer fight his marriage.  In the past Arthur had been accustomed to cry vae victis, “woe to the conquered,” over his own losses, but now he has prevailed.  Io triumphe is an exclamation, “Ho, victory!”  A paean is an ancient Greek song celebrating victory.  Arthur started the novel as one of the conquered, but because he was never overly ambitious, he is now allowed the status of the victor.   [KS & RR 2012]