in American Senator

Chapter 67 – In the Park

her heart was big enough

Arabella Trefoil has made up her mind to confront Lord Rufford, an act Trollope describes as requiring great pluck.  This specific phrase he uses to describe her is an echo of the original meaning of the word “magnanimous,” coming from the Latin words magnus and animus (literally “large” and “spirit”).  Although today we use “magnanimous” to mean “generous” or “beneficent,” in antiquity (as well as in earlier English) it could convey exceptional courage and bravery.  [CMC & RR 2012]


her purpose was revenge

Here Arabella is yet again compared to Medea, in that her purpose in going to confront Lord Rufford is to exact vengeance on him for the slight of not marrying her.  Unlike Medea, however, she does not intend to turn violent and carries some hope of changing his mind.  [CMC 2012]


heartless Nero

Nero is invoked here as Trollope narrates Lord Rufford’s inability to say he never loved Arabella, for no man could have the audacity to do such a thing unless he was a “heartless Nero.”  Nero was a Roman emperor who was famous for (among other things) the persecution of the Christians, having his mother killed, and building a sumptuous palace over a large expanse of land consumed by a fire.  The contrast between these acts and the inability of Lord Rufford to tell Arabella he does not love her adds a comic hyperbole to the situation.  The hyperbole is heightened even more when one considered that, according to several ancient authors, Nero killed his wife Poppaea through kicking her or poison. [CMC 2012]

Source:  OCD.


the gods will give an end

This phrase presumably references the pantheon of Greco-Roman deities, as it uses the plural “gods” instead of the singular “God.”  Lord Rufford is giving thanks that his present awkward conversation with Arabella must eventually come to an end, thanks to the mercy of the gods.  This image of the gods sitting in judgment of the conversation and intervening from on high is comically contrasted with Lord Rufford’s thought a few sentences later that the lunch bell too will bring an end to the conversation.  [CMC 2012]


no (Roman) triumph for Arabella

As Arabella is driven away from Rufford Hall for the last time, she reflects on the failure of her courtship campaign:  Lord Rufford will certainly not marry her; the battle is over.  The unsuccessful conclusion of Arabella’s strategizing is signaled with a counterfactual exclamation:  “…how perfect would have been the triumph could she have achieved it!”  There will be no marital/martial triumphal procession to celebrate her victory.  [RR 2012]