in Bertrams

Chapter 44 – Mr. Bertram’s Death

his god–his only god

Trollope states that Mrs. Bertram’s money had been “his god” throughout his life.  In this instance, money is personified as a deity.  Often in Greek and Roman mythology, certain things would be personified as gods; it is typical, for instance, to see Fate or Wisdom personified as a deity.  Here Trollope utilizes the trope of personification to illuminate the importance of money for Mr. Bertram.  In Trollope’s almost obituary-like narration, Trollope shows that Mr. Bertram was not an entirely good person as his only care was for his money.  [KS 2012]


his own mad anger

When Caroline pleads with George to ensure that she will not have to go back to her husband, George recalls “his own mad anger” that placed her in her situation with Harcourt.  The reference to “mad anger” recalls Trollope’s quotation of Quos Deus vult perdere, prius dementat, introduced in Chapter 33:  “Those whom God wishes to destroy he first makes crazy.”  Although Trollope first uses the proverb in reference to Harcourt, it applies in some degree to both Caroline and George.  The “mad anger” meant here is George’s outrage that Caroline had shown his letter to Harcourt and the breaking of their engagement which led to so much grief.  At this moment, however, George’s “mad anger” has passed, and neither George and Caroline will be utterly destroyed.  [KS & RR 2012]


my pride and my anger

Caroline explains that her own pride as well as her anger at George kept her from backing out of her marriage to Harcourt, even when she knew she should.  Both pride and anger are emotions attributed to Juno in the opening section of the Aeneid and are mentioned by Vergil as reasons for Juno’s behavior.  Here, Caroline acknowledges the motivating force of her Juno-esque emotions, but she also consigns them to the past.  Caroline has stepped down from her Juno pedestal.  [KS & RR 2012]

Source:  Vergil’s Aeneid 1.23-33.


black be reckoned white, white be reckoned black

Although George will not become Mr. Bertram’s heir, he is pleased that he has made an honest and independent life for himself.  He has not fallen into the habit of changing his views or actions for material gain–that is, he has not been tempted to call black white and vice versa in exchange for his uncle’s wealth.  The notion of changing black into white or white into black comes from Juvenal’s Satires, and Trollope has already used the image when discussing George’s worries about becoming a lawyer.  See commentary for Chapter 5.  [KS & RR 2012]

Source:  Juvenal, Satire 3.30.