in American Senator

Chapter 76 – The Wedding

useful or pleasant

Trollope uses this phrase in explaining Arabella’s lack of full disclosure to her fiancée Mounser Green concerning her “adventure” with Lord Rufford.  She leaves out most of the details because telling Mounser would be neither useful to her purposes nor pleasant for either of them.  This phrase has conceptual roots in Aristotle, who interrogates what is “useful,” “pleasant,” and “virtuous” in the course of his Rhetoric.  Trollope’s use of this phrase is both humorous and an instruction to the reader to take a moral lesson from Arabella’s behavior.  The humor comes from applying an Aristotelian measuring stick to Arabella’s situation, while the register of the Aristotelian phrasing flags the scenario as one with a potential lesson for the reader on behavior.  [CMC 2012]

Source:  Aristotle, Rhetoric 1.



Mounser Green encourages Arabella to solicit the help of her “magnificent” aunt and uncle.  Mounser and Arabella want to use Mistletoe for their wedding.  Trollope is being playful with the etymological roots of “magnificent,” which are magn– (meaning “great”) and fic– (meaning “make”).  The use of this word is playful because Mistletoe will literally serve to make the wedding great.  [CMC & RR 2012]


hope and fear

Lady Augustus’ reaction to her daughter’s marriage is somewhat complicated.  She weeps while reminiscing about her interactions with Arabella, her old hopes for future prospects and the simultaneous fear that they might never materialize.  Both of these emotions served to motivate her to help Arabella find a husband.  This dual motivation of hope and fear and how they are the bane of humanity is a very Roman concept, often discussed by Seneca in his Moral Letters.  [CMC 2012]

Source:  Seneca, Moral Letters e.g., 5, 6, 13, 22, 24, 47.