Group read: The Eustace Diamonds by Anthony Trollope
Join LibraryThing to post.
This topic is currently marked as "dormant"—the last message is more than 90 days old. You can revive it by posting a reply.
The Eustace Diamonds by Anthony Trollope (1873)
You may knock about a diamond and not even scratch it; whereas paste in rough usage betrays itself. Lizzie, with all her self-assuring protestations, knew that she was paste, and knew that Lucy was real stone...
This is the third book in Trollope's "Palliser" series; although like its predecessor, Phineas Finn, it introduces a lot of new characters; while our old friends are present only in supporting roles.
The Eustace Diamonds is a novel that provokes quite a range of reactions. Some people list it as a favourite, and others dislike it. I find it quite a dark book. Like The Last Chronicle Of Barset it has a leading character who is "damaged" and whose personality flaws dictate the course of their life.
What is unusual is that we find Trollope adopting as his main character a bad woman---although not sexually "bad", of course! The shift in Trollope's attitude to women across his novels, and in particular his growing willingness to take what we might call "women's issues" seriously is, I think, a mark of his increasing maturity as a novelist. It is a change that happens with surprising rapidity. Only two books ago he was shaking his head at Alice Vavasor because she wouldn't just settle down and get married; one book ago he was giving full and sympathetic weight to Violet Effingham's sense of herself as an object for sale, and Laura Kennedy's inability to reconcile love and duty; here we have a full and ugly dissection of marriage as a commercial transaction, as a business, and of the emotional and psychological scarring that can be caused by it.
That's probably enough for starters! We can (hopefully) discuss these points more as we go along.
It looks like you'll be able to keep up so far, Kerry! :)
As a general comment, I am very struck by how much nastiness there is even in the first chapter of The Eustace Diamonds - hatred and lying and snarling and viciousness. We're in a very different world here from the Barset books.
I've said that our "heroine", Lizzie Greystock, is a bad woman, but really Trollope's point is elsewhere---the theme of the novel, I think, is truth (in the broadest sense of the world) against falsity; real diamonds versus paste. Lizzie's diamonds are the only "true" thing about her, and they're not even hers!
Trollope explicitly compares Lizzie to Becky Sharp, which I actually think in some ways is unfair on Becky. Remember, after all, this quote from Vanity Fair:
"I think I could be a good woman if I had five thousand a year."
Perhaps Lizzie's worst quality?
She did like reading, and especially the reading of poetry,--though even in this she was false and pretentious, skipping, pretending to have read, lying about books, and making up her market of literature for outside admiration at the easiest possible cost of trouble.
Lying about books?! **Shudder.**
(Mind you, I'm pretty sure at this point I could hold my own in an argument about Moon Tiger!)
>14 bohemima: Welcome, Gail! I'm very glad you could join us. Yes, there's some horrid characters in this one...and interestingly, Trollope's point is that ordinary people very often are horrid...
I do have several questions from these chapters. These things weren't clear to me, and I'm not sure if Trollope is deliberately making them fuzzy or not to us (I know that Lizzie at least "acts" like she doesn't understand):
1) What happened to the jewels that Lizzie got from her father that had been pawned? Did Sir Florian pay for these?
2) What exactly does Lizzie inherit when her husband dies? I seem so confused about this.
3) What does Lizzie's child inherit when her husband dies?
If there's a specific page that lays it all out, please reference for me.
Trollope's explicit evocation of Vanity Fair is significant here, and indicates we're in darker and more ambiguous territory than usual.
Lucy Morris, on the other hand, shows a proper appreciation of books. She had catalogued the library! Let's get this girl a lifetime LT membership!
1. When Admiral Greystock dies he hasn't paid for Lizzie's jewels. She must either then pay for them herself or give them back. Instead she goes to Harter and Benjamin and hints to them that she's about to marry a wealthy man, and they hold off pressing for payment on the assumption that she will persuade Sir Florian to pay her debts or that her debt payment will be part of the marriage settlement. However, Lizzie doesn't tell Sir Florian about the debts and when the bills arrive it is the beginning of the end for their marriage.
2. It's confusing partly because of all the lies Lizzie tells about it (and that's deliberate!). She has the use of Portray, the Scottish property, for life - which means that she doesn't really "own" it (it still belongs to the Eustace family), and that if she marries again, her second husband can neither touch it nor inherit it. (This of course makes a big difference to Lizzie's marriage prospects.) She has an income of about four thousand pounds a year, which is the revenue from the Scottish estate, and she also received a lump sum of money that was Sir Florian's own---but most of that has already been spent.
And of course, she has a diamond necklace worth ten thousand pounds... :)
3. Everything that did not go to Lizzie by Sir Florian's will---property and investments which will be held in trust until the boy is of age. When Lizzie dies he will inherit Portray too (as there was no second son).
Q. 2 & 3: Thanks! I was so confused about who gets what.
I'm reading the Oxford's World Classics edition, (paperback), 2011, Edited, intro & notes by Helen Small.
Sir Florian would certainly have paid - this is well before the Married Women's Property Act, so Lizzie's debts automatically became her husband's upon their marriage. (Or if left unpaid, the debt would have been paid upon the settling of the estate after Sir Florian's death.)
I will try to slow down so I can participate more in the group discussion, but I don't know if I can restrain myself.
>25 arubabookwoman: We're very glad to have you, Deborah! That's a slightly tricky question (and I'm neurotic about "in order" and so probably not the person to ask!). I guess if you've read Phineas Finn you already know how some of the major plots in Can You Forgive Her? are going to work out; I don't think reading The Eustace Diamonds will impact on that any further, so---come on in! :)
>10 lyzard: I was struck in particular by one of Trollope's opening sentences: 'We will tell the story of Lizzie Greystock from the beginning, but we will not dwell over it at great length, as we might do if we loved her.'
Normally Trollope seems a bit more sympathetic to his characters than he is to Lizzie Greystock in this chapter.
I want to make sure that I understand the problem with the diamonds correctly. Although Lizzie's son is the heir, he is still a minor and someone other than Lizzie is his guardian, correct? Once her son comes of age he could let his mother keep the necklace and wear it, but until then the administrators/trustees should have control of the necklace since it is part of the estate? Would the family lawyer have been so adamant about the return of the necklace if she hadn't already proven untrustworthy over the debts that Sir Florian had to settle after their marriage? Is the real fear that she will sell the diamonds and keep the proceeds for herself?
(That's my way of saying, "Very glad to have you here!")
To an extent I find Lizzie a victim of the Victorian stance on proper female behaviour (or proper female hypocrisy), wherein marriage was supposed to be the one goal of a girl's life, yet she was never supposed to show that it was or do anything actively to bring it about. Lizzie is an orphan so of course she has to act for herself---but she is disapproved for doing it even though there's no practical alternative. (Her treatment of Sir Florian is another matter, of course.)
Yes, that's right. The child is posthumous so he's going to have a minority of twenty-one years, during which time everything not willed to Lizzie is held in trust and administered by John Eustace, who has been appointed the boy's guardian. (At this time women were still not able to act as legal guardians, even to their own children.)
The position of the Eustace family (and Mr Camperdown, their lawyer, who should definitely not be overlooked) is that the necklace forms part of the estate, that it therefore belongs to the child, and that it too should be held in trust. Lizzie insists that Sir Florian gave it to her and told her that it was to be hers "forever". The double question is whether Sir Florian had the right to do that, and whether Lizzie is lying about it. (I think we know the answer to one of those.)
And yes, the fear is that Lizzie will sell the necklace; she does get it valued by Mr Benjamin. And certainly Mr Camperdown's distrust of her stems from the early-marriage revelations about her debts and her dealings with Benjamin.
However, we should note that Mr Camperdown is grossly exceeding his authority in his treatment of Lizzie, since any action against her can only rightly be initiated by John Eustace on behalf of the child. (Another example of how no-one is completely "in the right" in this book!)
So in Chapter 3 we find both Mrs Greystock and Lady Fawn reflecting on their sons' marital prospects in purely monetary terms. First Mrs Greystock tries to dissuade Frank from having anything to do with Lucy Morris on the grounds that he cannot "afford" to marry her - Mrs Dean was a very good woman, but she had aspirations in the direction of filthy lucre on behalf of her children, or at least on behalf of this special child, and she did think it would be very nice if Frank would marry an heiress..., and then we find Lady Fawn (who is one of the novel's few unquestionably nice characters) thinking along the same lines regarding Lord Fawn.
I love the sly humour in Trollope's description of Lord Fawn:
Lord Fawn had suffered a disappointment in love, but he had consoled himself with blue-books, and mastered his passion by incessant attendance at the India Board. The lady he had loved had been rich, and Lord Fawn was poor; but nevertheless he had mastered his passion...
...meaning, of course, that during the action of Phineas Finn, Lord Fawn was one of those who did not succeed in marrying Violet Effingham for her money.
I'm really enjoying this so far and after my initial surprise at Trollope's opening description of Lizzie Eustace (>28 souloftherose:) I've changed my mind and find that he is getting me to think of her sympathetically (whilst not loving her).
Particularly in chapter 5:
'But she was, and felt herself to be absolutely, alarmingly ignorant, not only of the laws, but of custom in such matters. Messrs. Mowbray and Mopus and Mr. Benjamin were the allies to whom she looked for guidance; but she was wise enough to know that Mowbray and Mopus, and Harter and Benjamin were not trustworthy, whereas Camperdown and Son and the Messrs. Garnett were all as firm as rocks and as respectable as the Bank of England. Circumstances,—unfortunate circumstances,—drove her to Harter and Benjamin and to Mowbray and Mopus, while she would have taken so much delight in feeling the strong honesty of the other people to be on her side!'
Lizzie is a liar, and sometimes I think a silly one, but my frustration is tempered by thinking that no-one has ever tried to prepare her for living independently and looking after money or understanding money. Admittedly, I think even if she did understand she would still try to unscrupulously keep the diamonds but at least she'd be battling for them on level ground.
I love the way Trollope uses the character of Lord Fawn here and (slight spoiler?) in Phineas Redux. He could have been just a throwaway character, a convenience, but instead Trollope really gets inside his head.
But of course, women weren't supposed to be prepared "for living independently and looking after money or understanding money".
This is one of the most exasperating of Victorian blind-spots, the insistence that women need not be taught to fend for themselves because of course there'll always be someone to look after them.
It's no coincidence that both Lizzie and Lucy are orphans. Both of them have been forced to make their own way---but they do so very differently according to their upbringings. And Lizzie, clearly, has had a very poor upbringing, which is at the root of most of her problems. Despite the fact that she is the only child of a single parent, her father has made no provision for her, but on the contrary has left her in debt. He has also taught her to ignore her debts and carry on, rather than pause until they are paid, which is what wrecks her with Sir Florian: if she'd told him about the debts at the height of his infatuation, certainly he would have paid them; instead she lies and conceals, with the inevitable consequences.
She hated Lady Linlithgow.
And she took in Lizzie Greystock, whom she hated almost as much as she did sermons...
But then Lady Fawn hated Lady Linlithgow as only two old women can hate each other...
You don't mean to say you don't hate her?" said Lizzie. "If you didn't hate her after all she has done to you, I should despise you. Don't you hate her?"
I won't go any further because I don't know where people are up to, but really, it doesn't stop!
Mr. Dove's discourse on the difference between heirlooms and paraphernalia had my head spinning. Thankfully there is chapter 28 to explain it in terms even Mr. Camperdown can understand. :)
>37 lyzard: I agree, the "hate" in this book is quite strong. In fact, I think people express blunt opinions (especially negative ones) more strongly than in the previous novels.
>38 cbl_tn: Uh-oh, I actually enjoyed the discussion on legal fine points of heirlooms. I'm just weird, I guess.
Not sure if I'm jumping too far ahead, but I have a question on a statement in Chapter 9.
In the prior chapter, Lord Fawn has begun slowly to reveal his monetary situation with Lizzie. Near the end of the 2nd paragraph of Chapter 9, the narrator says:
But Lord Fawn unfortunately was a lord, unfortunately was a landlord, unfortunately was an Irish landlord. Let him be as careful as he might with his sixpences, his pounds would fly from him, or, as might perhaps be better said, could not be made to fly to him. He was very careful with his sixpences, and was always thinking, not exactly how he might make two ends meet, but how to reconcile the strictest personal economy with the proper bearing of an English nobleman.
So why was an Irish landlord so unfortunate? How was this different from being an English or Scottish landlord?
This goes back to the business of Irish tenants' rights, as addressed to some extent in Phineas Finn. Briefly, the system in Ireland was fairly self-defeating, actually discouraging tenants from developing their occupied land or doing things better; effectively they got punished for making a profit. It was all about short-term gain not long-term benefits. If you were a large landowner like Lord Fawn, particularly one living at a distance, as opposed to an on-the-spot business man who could manipulate the system, you tended to lose money rather than earn it via your estates.
I was wondering whether Lord Fawn actually appeared in Phineas Finn or whether he was one of many unnamed suitors--I couldn't remember. So thanks >35 souloftherose: for looking it up, since I don't have a print copy handy.
It strikes me that for all the emphasis on marrying for money, people really don't have very much of an accurate idea of the true financial circumstances of the people they think are going to rescue them by marriage. It seems fairly common that people seem to be rich but are deeply in debt, or don't own what they claim to own, or are otherwise pretending to more than their actual net worth. Despite the fact that everyone seems to be able to quote everyone else's annual income down to the pound.
But here writing nearly twenty years later we find Trollope much closer to tragedy, with no guarantees offered for any of his characters. Even though earlier we had heiresses courted for their money, eventually a suitably disinterested suitor would turn up. Now there is no such escape. And if you have no money, you have nothing.
Even the subplot of Lizzie and Lord Fawn, though it has its comic aspect, is quite dark if you look at it squarely. Lord Fawn, though broadly speaking "a good man", proposes to Lizzie purely because he knows she has money. He doesn't bother to find out another thing about her.
Carrie mentioned Bleak House; as far as Dickens goes, I would also bring up Our Mutual Friend, which not only features a couple of social poseurs called "the Veneerings", but the subplot of Alfred and Sophia Lammle, who marry as a result of joint misrepresentation of their circumstances, and then each find out the other has nothing.
Obviously all this is reflecting a trend in Victorian society that many people found distasteful and disturbing, the underbelly of the rise of the middle-classes, which shifted the social emphasis from birth to wealth.
I mentioned at the outset that you do get some very diverse reactions to The Eustace Diamonds, and this is why. Some people find these novels more "mature" and approve of the shift away from the comedic tone and the built-in happy ending, while other people dislike the harsh vision.
Held on suspicion - you can do that with a servant, you can't with a lady or a gentleman (no matter how much you suspect them).
The police think it's an inside job and are pressuring the person with the least power and status. Unfortunately for Tall Footman he has thoroughly ticked Lizzie off so she barely gives his situation a second thought (besides having other things on her mind).
There's no hurry at all, Susan! Just go at your own pace.
The thing that strikes me about that quote is the fact that Lizzie doesn't just have enemies, she has active enemies - again we get a sense of a genuinely hostile environment.
Marriage, circa 1870:
Such a man almost naturally looks to marriage as an assistance in the dreary fight. It soon becomes clear to him that he cannot marry without money, and he learns to think that heiresses have been invented exactly to suit his case. He is conscious of having been subjected to hardship by Fortune, and regards female wealth as his legitimate mode of escape from it. He has got himself, his position, and, perhaps, his title to dispose of, and they are surely worth so much per annum. As for giving anything away, that is out of the question. He has not been so placed as to be able to give. But, being an honest man, he will, if possible, make a fair bargain. Lord Fawn was certainly an honest man, and he had been endeavouring for the last six or seven years to make a fair bargain. But then it is so hard to decide what is fair. Who is to tell a Lord Fawn how much per annum he ought to regard himself as worth? He had, on one or two occasions, asked a high price, but no previous bargain had been made. No doubt he had come down a little in his demand in suggesting a matrimonial arrangement to a widow with a child, and with only four thousand a year...
He didn't see why this woman he was about to marry should not be a good wife to him! And yet he knew nothing about her, and had not taken the slightest trouble to make inquiry. That she was pretty he could see; that she was clever he could understand; that she lived in Mount Street was a fact; her parentage was known to him;—that she was the undoubted mistress of a large income was beyond dispute. But, for aught he knew, she might be afflicted by every vice to which a woman can be subject. In truth, she was afflicted by so many, that the addition of all the others could hardly have made her worse than she was. She had never sacrificed her beauty to a lover,—she had never sacrificed anything to anybody,—nor did she drink. It would be difficult, perhaps, to say anything else in her favour; and yet Lord Fawn was quite content to marry her, not having seen any reason why she should not make a good wife!
And then she had had them valued, and manifestly was always thinking of her treasure. It was very well for a poor, careful peer to be always thinking of his money, but Lord Fawn was well aware that a young woman such as Lady Eustace should have her thoughts elsewhere. As he sat signing letters at the India Board, relieving himself when he was left alone between each batch by standing up with his back to the fire-place, his mind was full of all this. He could not unravel truth quickly, but he could grasp it when it came to him. She was certainly greedy, false, and dishonest. And,—worse than all this,—she had dared to tell him to his face that he was a poor creature because he would not support her in her greed, and falsehoods, and dishonesty! Nevertheless, he was engaged to marry her! Then he thought of one Violet Effingham whom he had loved, and then came over him some suspicion of a fear that he himself was hard and selfish. And yet what was such a one as he to do? It was of course necessary for the maintenance of the very constitution of his country that there should be future Lord Fawns. There could be no future Lord Fawns unless he married;—and how could he marry without money? "A peasant can marry whom he pleases," said Lord Fawn, pressing his hand to his brow, and dropping one flap of his coat, as he thought of his own high and perilous destiny, standing with his back to the fire-place, while a huge pile of letters lay there before him waiting to be signed...
I'm at Chapter 51 and I have yet to like any of the male characters. Lord Fawn is a wimp and Frank Greystock disappears when things get tough. And we're not to trust Lord George. And forget Sir Griffin. In a way it's frustrating not to have a man that stands his ground, except maybe Mr. Camperdown.
I have to admit that the story slowed down for me in the middle chapters. I could have done without the hunting scenes (sorry, Mr. Trollope!), and I was having trouble staying interested in the characters. At Chapter 44 ("A Midnight Adventure") things have definitely picked up and I'm back in the story. But I feel like there was a whole "ho-hum" forgettable middle section there.
"But, for aught he knew, she might be afflicted by every vice to which a woman can be subject. In truth, she was afflicted by so many, that the addition of all the others could hardly have made her worse than she was."
I've finished volume 1 now, so I'm well into it. I'm swapping between the Penguin classic edition which is my own, and a Kindle freebie for when I'm on the move. I'm using the old-fashioned version of WhisperSync, which is just remembering what chapter I'm up to when I switch between them :-)
Yes! I think the Lammles have been at the back of mind when reading this too.
>54 lyzard: Yes, the sly dig there made me smile when I read that.
>55 kac522: I don't normally enjoy Trollope's hunting scenes but I thought these were some of the best chapters so far and really highlighted the mercenary nature of all the marriage transactions. The pursuit of the fox in chapter 38 sort of ties in with all the marital pursuits going on in the background and I thought highlighted that there's about as much affection and love involved in the marital pursuits as there is between the fox and the hounds. I don't think the hunting scenes in earlier novels were as bloody.
"The truth is," said Frank, "that women don't do well alone. There is always a savour of misfortune,—or, at least, of melancholy,—about a household which has no man to look after it. With us, generally, old maids don't keep houses, and widows marry again. No doubt it was an unconscious appreciation of this feeling which brought about the burning of Indian widows. There is an unfitness in women for solitude. A female Prometheus, even without a vulture, would indicate cruelty worse even than Jove's. A woman should marry,—once, twice, and thrice if necessary."
Which goes back to >36 lyzard: 'But of course, women weren't supposed to be prepared "for living independently and looking after money or understanding money".'
I'm not a lawyer but I work in a legal area and the letter from Mr Dove and Mr Camperdown's reaction:
"It was undoubtedly the case that he had been a lawyer for upwards of forty years, and had always believed that any gentleman could make any article of value an heirloom in his family. The title-deeds of vast estates had been confided to his keeping, and he had had much to do with property of every kind; and now he was told that, in reference to property of a certain description,—property which, by its nature, could only belong to such as they who were his clients,—he had been long without any knowledge whatsoever. He had called this necklace an heirloom to John Eustace above a score of times; and now he was told by Mr. Dove not only that the necklace was not an heirloom, but that it couldn't have been an heirloom. He was a man who trusted much in a barrister,—as was natural with an attorney; but he was now almost inclined to doubt Mr. Dove. And he was hardly more at ease in regard to the other clauses of the opinion. Not only could not the estate claim the necklace as an heirloom, but that greedy siren, that heartless snake, that harpy of a widow,—for it was thus that Mr. Camperdown in his solitude spoke to himself of poor Lizzie, perhaps throwing in a harder word or two,—that female swindler could claim it as—paraphernalia!"
I'm not sure whether Lucinda or Sir Griffin is going to most regret this marital arrangement but I really felt for Lucinda here:
"When she was alone she stood before her glass looking at herself, and then she burst into tears. Never before had she been thus polluted. The embrace had disgusted her. It made her odious to herself. And if this, the beginning of it, were so bad, how was she to drink the cup to the bitter dregs? Other girls, she knew, were fond of their lovers,—some so fond of them that all moments of absence were moments, if not of pain, at any rate of regret. To her, as she stood there ready to tear herself because of the vileness of her own condition, it now seemed as though no such love as that were possible to her. For the sake of this man who was to be her husband, she hated all men. Was not everything around her base, and mean, and sordid?"
And here we also have yet another expression of "hate."
>55 kac522: I found the following passages telling, with regard to Lord Fawn's position within his own family. From Chapter 46, Lady Fawn thinks: She had but one son, and of all her children he was the least worthy; but he was more important to her than all her daughters.
In fact, I found Lady Fawn's entire series of musings here to be striking.
Woman-like, she regarded the man as being so much more important than the woman, that she could not think that Frank Greystock would devote himself simply to such a one as Lucy Morris. Had Lady Fawn been asked which was the better creature of the two, her late governess or the rising barrister who had declared himself to be that governess's lover, she would have said that no man could be better than Lucy. She knew Lucy's worth and goodness so well that she was ready herself to do any act of friendship on behalf of one so sweet and excellent.
She could not believe that Mr. Greystock should think so much of such a little girl as to marry her. Mr. Greystock would no doubt behave very badly in not doing so;--but then men do so often behave very badly! And at the bottom of her heart she almost thought that they might be excused for doing so. According to her view of things, a man out in the world had so many things to think of, and was so very important, that he could hardly be expected to act at all times with truth and sincerity.
Do we think these sentiments reflect Lady Fawn's view, Trollope's view, or the views of society at large?
There are two other things that keep puzzling me.
First, it's unclear to me whether it is easy or hard to break off an engagement. On the one hand, clearly there is social stigma attached. On the other hand, people seem to do it often and manage to continue their professional and social lives with hardly a hiccup. And, as Lady Fawn says above, men can almost be expected to behave badly. Does Lord Fawn really need an iron-clad reason to break off his engagement to Lizzie? Would the information his sister has been giving him about Lizzie's history and character be sufficient? Would his interactions with Lizzie and her refusal to accede to his wishes be sufficient? (It seems women/wives are expected to be deferential--so would a man be expected to marry one who demonstrated early on that she was not?) Or is it just that Lord Fawn is so pathetically weak that he can't stand up for himself at all?
Second, in the Barchester novels, both Mary Thorne and Lucy Roberts refuse to listen to expressions of love from their suitors and deny their own feelings out of a consciousness that a match would be unacceptable/imprudent/impossible. Even when the men are reckless, the women say no. While this struck me, as a modern reader, as demonstrating an excessive amount of self-denial, it also seemed to be generally acknowledged as the proper thing to do. Why does Lucy Morris, in similar circumstances, accept Frank? What is different?
Yes, I found those chapters very striking.
>60 AnneDC: I was struck by that passage in chapter 46 too.
'Do we think these sentiments reflect Lady Fawn's view, Trollope's view, or the views of society at large?'
I think they reflect Lady Fawn's view and the view of society at large. I don't want them to reflect Trollop's views and I think the fact that he spells out Lady Fawn's thought pattern here shows he realises there's an unfairness to this viewpoint which might imply he doesn't hold these views.
>60 AnneDC: 'it's unclear to me whether it is easy or hard to break off an engagement.'
This puzzles me a little too. I think it depends on the social status of the people involved and how public the engagement has been. In The Small House at Allington an engagement there is broken off by a man and I think he gets away with it because the engagement hasn't been formally announced and his fiancee has very little social standing. I think the issue with Lord Fawn and Lady Eustace is partly that they have formally announced it (or rather, she did) and partly that she's Lady Eustace and society would not allow you to treat someone of her stature that way (even if nobody likes her very much as a person). I think it would be easier for Frank Greystock to break off his engagement with Lucy because no-one really cares what happens to poor Lucy as she's just an orphaned governess :-(
Okay--- I might have to respond to these topic by topic. Lovely to see a general conversation! :)
Men and money
This novel in particular highlights another kind of double-standard, the financial privileging of men within their families. What we see repeatedly in Trollope's novels is the women in a family making continual personal sacrifices for the benefit of the son(s). That Trollope intends us to ponder this situation seems implicit in the fact that he keeps giving us single-son families - the Greystocks and the Fawns here, the Finns previously.
There were constant references in Phineas Finn to what the Finn ladies were giving up to finance Phineas, and in that case he was draining his father's resources too. Here, likewise, the Fawn ladies lead a very restricted life in order to "free up" what money there is for Lord Fawn, who like Phineas considers himself perfectly entitled to accept their sacrifice. The Greystocks don't have anything to sacrifice for Frank, so Mrs Greystock contents herself with pushing Frank into a mercenary marriage, while discouraging him from marrying Lucy.
I mentioned at the outset Trollope's obvious concern over the direction his society was taking, and specifically with reference to the dominance of money over morality. We see this again here with the seeming contradiction in Lady Fawn, who in all other respects is presented as a thoroughly good woman; yet even she feels that Frank would be justified in jilting Lucy and marrying Lizzie for her money.
This is another area where theory and practice were becoming increasingly separated. , a gentleman could not break an engagement without very serious cause. A broken engagement didn't hurt a man, but it was believed to damage the woman's reputation and subsequent marital prospects. This is the basis for all the hang-wringing over Alice Vavasor's behaviour in Can You Forgive Her?.
(Two unspoken assumptions here: if a man broke an engagement it was not because he changed his mind, it was because the woman had done something wrong; and if there had been a long engagement, the woman was likely to be "damaged goods".)
It was on the basis of the presumed harm done to a woman that the breach-of-promise laws were introduced: a woman could sue a man for breaking their engagement, but a man couldn't sue a woman. The problem here was that it was taken for granted that no "nice" woman would air her grievance in a courtroom; if she did she was un-marriageable anyway. (Towards the end of the century and into the next many gold-diggers made a nice living drawing men into compromising situations and then suing or threatening to sue.)
This is another area where what Trollope saw as the breakdown of the moral code came into play. Earlier, a man who treated a woman badly would be punished---by social ostracism, or more directly by being beaten or challenged to a duel. As the century wore on, there was (at least in Trollope's opinion) an increasingly worrying tendency for men to behave badly and escape without punishment.
Trollope considers this at length in his novels, and you can see the shift in opinion and behaviour. In Doctor Thorne, Frank Gresham horsewhips Mr Moffat after he takes back his proposal to Frank sister, Augusta. In The Small House At Allingham, people look askance at Bernard Dale because he does nothing when Crosbie jilts Lily; it is left to Johnnie Eames to back Crosbie's eye, after which Johnnie is treated like a hero (although Lily doesn't thank him for it).
Here, Frank Greystock is being actively encouraged to break his engagement to Lucy - on no grounds whatsoever - while the Fawns desperately look for an excuse for Lord Fawn to break his engagement in a "gentlemanly" way, i.e. in circumstances in which Society will consider him justified.
What we notice in all this is that the theory of "punishment" was all very well, but it only works were girls have a male relative (or a substitute, like Johnnie) to do the job. This is another area where Trollope explicitly contrasts Lizzie and Lucy---and we should not overlook the irony in the fact that, while Frank is busy championing Lizzie over Lord Fawn's bad behaviour towards her, he is treating Lucy even worse---and can do so with impunity: there is no-one to fight Lucy's battles.
Lord Fawn is caught in an untenable situation. He wants to be right - or rather, he wants society to think he is right - but he is trapped between two wrong pieces of conduct: breaking his engagement on what *might* be considered insufficient grounds, or supporting Lizzie and having it turn out she is legally in the wrong over the necklace. This is why he is desperate for the legal ruling to go against her - Lizzie retaining possession of property legally declared not hers would be grounds for a broken engagement. But he makes the fatal error of declaring that the disposition of the necklace is the *only* reason he wants to break the engagement; when Mr Dove rules against him, he is trapped by his own words (which he keeps putting in writing: you'd think a politician would know better).
In short, Lord Fawn is neither good enough nor bad enough for the situation he's in---or perhaps not strong enough. He neither has the intestinal fortitude to stand by what he's done, nor thick enough skin to break things off and put up with society's reaction.
So Lizzie and Lord Fawn *are* still engaged, because she has neither broken it off nor released him.
I've pointed out the fairly radical shift in Trollope's attitude to "women's issues", how increasingly he was willing to see things from a woman's point of view. For the time he is writing he is startlingly frank about what a loveless marriage might mean to a woman. In Can You Forgive Her?, Alice engages herself to George for what seems like a number of good reasons---and when it's too late she stops and thinks about what it actually means, how she will have to have sex with a man she doesn't love whenever he demands it. Here, even more so, Lucinda engages herself to a man she hates, fully aware of what it will entail for her---as we see in that very disturbing passage quoted by Heather from Chapter 42, her thoughts after their first kiss: And if this, the beginning of it, were so bad, how was she to drink the cup to the bitter dregs?
So we see both sides of the fixation on mercenary marriage---what it means to the woman as well as to the man. (Although none of the men seem bothered by the prospect of loveless sex.)
We need to keep an eye on Trollope's hunting scenes. Certainly to an extent he was just being self-indulgent in writing them---BUT---he also uses them to expose different aspects of his characters' natures (for example, in Can You Forgive Her? we see how cold and cruel Burgo Fitzgerald can be, through his treatment of his horse; it was a Victorian commonplace that a man treated his horses and his women in a similar way), and he also uses them as symbolic commentaries upon his action. Heather rightly points out that these hunting scenes comment upon the Lucinda / Sir Griffin situation.
A few more specific responses:
>55 kac522: Kathy, this is part of Trollope's exposure of his society, wherein "gentlemen" often behave very badly indeed. I don't think we're supposed to really like any of the men (or at any rate, certainly not admire them!), but on the other hand Trollope is certainly suggesting that "nice" people - including you and me, that is! - think and do things that they would condemn in other people (or in the characters in novels). Trollope's dictum that he writes about people, not heroes, has never been more baldly illustrated.
>60 AnneDC: Anne, you're quite right to highlight that contradictory passage about Lady Fawn. This is another aspect of the privileging of sons - it didn't matter whether they deserved special treatment, it just came to them as a matter of course.
>60 AnneDC: & >61 souloftherose: There is a big difference between the situations in Doctor Thorne and here. The gap between Frank Gresham and Mary Thorne is significant and should have been a definitive barrier; would have been, had Mary not inherited. It's not only that he is (or will be) "the squire" and she is penniless: her illegitimacy should have been the last word. However (as is pointed out) the Greshams have chosen to ignore this and allow Mary to be their children's friend, so they can't then turn around and reject her on that basis.
But there is no social reason at all why Frank Greystock shouldn't marry Lucy Morris; the objections are all purely mercenary.
In both cases, as you point out, it's the woman who has to keep a level head and see the bigger picture (ironic, and another example of contradictory Victorian views about women: they were supposed to be helplessly emotional, but were condemned if "their feelings ran away with them").
The different situations dictate a different response. Mary genuinely believes she would be doing Frank Gresham a great wrong by marrying him; whereas Lucy thinks that there is no real reason why she shouldn't marry her Frank, if he's content to take her as she is; and he's certainly been given plenty of time to think about it. Since he does think, and then proposes anyway, she's entitled to say yes.
(The other difference here is a mark of the increasing realism of Trollope's writing: he was willing to wave his magic authorial wand and give Mary a fortune in the earlier book, but there will be no such convenient turn of events for Lucy.)
Lucy is between a rock and a hard place, isn't she? Lady Fawn is doing what she can to help Lucy out of this situation. I think she's spot on when she tells Lucy that "No girl should allow herself to depend on a man before she is married to him." Lucy is unemployable because of her engagement to Frank, but she has no where to live until her marriage. Yes, Frank is treating her badly. I think Lucy has some responsibility too. She shouldn't have let herself get into this situation.
Trollope's contention that men never do really think these things through notwithstanding. :)
What do you think Lucy should have done differently?
ETA: I am interested in that assertion of Lady Fawn's that you quote, though, that, "No girl should allow herself to depend on a man before she is married to him", because that is in complete contradiction to everything that Trollope himself has said in his novels up to this point, via his narrators. Do you think he starting to change his mind on that point, or is he expressing through Lady Fawn something he doesn't believe himself?
I think Trollope may be shifting his view. He's had a long string of men (Frank Gresham, Adolphus Crosbie, Johnny Eames, Phineas Finn, and now Frank Greystock) who seem to illustrate the old saying "out of sight is out of mind", with young ladies placing them on pedestals they don't deserve. I think Lady Fawn has the more realistic view of Frank's character even though she is part of the marry for money crowd.
Trollope's earlier insistence that "worshipful" love was the mark of a "true woman" was rather exasperating, and it is interesting to see him shifting his ground slightly, albeit through a third party. In fact, Lucy behaves *exactly* as he has praised all his earlier heroines for doing, and yet here we see that maybe it's not such a good idea. (Bit rough on Lucy getting caught in this nexus!)
And thank you >57 souloftherose: --I would never have thought of the parallel between fox hunting and spouse-hunting, but it makes perfect sense.
--Why is Lizzie so nasty to Lucy about Frank? Yes, we know that Lizzie is selfish and dishonest, but overall she doesn't treat anyone as badly as she treats Lucy. Why? Up to that point I had found Lady Eustace an interesting portrayal of the motivations of a selfish liar. But after the way she treats Lucy, I couldn't have any sympathy for her whatsoever. It was a turning point in the book for me.
--Throughout the book Trollope seems to be attacking, or perhaps mocking, romanticism. My Oxford edition has lots of references to quotes (or paraphrasing by Trollope) from Byron, Shelley, Shakespeare, etc. Lizzie's search for her "Corsair" and "poetry" certainly seem silly at best. What was Trollope attempting to do with this theme? Did he have a specific target in mind? Weren't most of his readers women?
--The blatant anti-Semitism was troubling. I hadn't noticed it in Trollope's prior novels. I only recall the reference in Phineas Finn of Madame Max Goesler's husband, and he was not mentioned negatively, as I recall--only that Madame Max had more to overcome in society because she was the widow of a Jew. I suppose it's not atypical for the era, but even Dickens softened his portrayals of Jews by Our Mutual Friend.
Thank you, Kathy - you've brought up a few more points I meant to mention:
Lizzie vs Lucy
This goes back to the quote I posted at the top of the thread, about Lucy being diamond but Lizzie being paste. Lizzie's tragedy is that she knows what she is. She managed to catch Sir Florian because at that stage no-one really "knew" her and she concealed herself long enough to get the job done. Now, however, although she puts things to herself in terms of romance, she knows no-one's going to marry her except for her money, and maybe her face. There's just enough reality about Lizzie to want more than that (although she would be content with play-acting).
Lizzie recognises that Lucy is everything she isn't and hates her accordingly. Lucy is like a magic mirror, reflecting back at Lizzie everything she isn't. The fact that Frank, who could have her money for the lifting of the finger, won't lift his finger - that he prefers Lucy, who has nothing, and isn't even pretty - is absolutely galling to Lizzie. Her sneers and jeers, meant to ridicule Frank out of his preference for Lucy, of course have the opposite effect of highlighting the difference between the two women. On some level, Lizzie recognises that however much Frank hesitates over taking the full plunge with respect to Lucy, he's never going to come to her willingly unless Lucy is fully out of the picture, which is why she finally resorts to telling Lucy lies. She knows she can't win without cheating.
Yes, I meant to ask how people were getting on with the literary references? Particularly the ongoing references to Byron and The Corsair? This was another of Byron's literary self-portraits with the title Corsair cutting a swathe through the women he meets.
I don't think Trollope is mocking romanticism per se, but as with the Lizzie / Lucy dichotomy he's mocking false romanticism---and he chooses Byron in particular as the exemplar of false romanticism, and uses that as another way of defining Lizzie's character. Her piecemeal quotations, the fact that she poses as this great lover of poetry when she never finishes reading anything (or fully understands what she does read), are another manifestation of her "paste" nature. She also mixes her poetical metaphors, in particular bundling up her Byron with Tennyson, from whom she takes the idea of throwing the necklace into the water.
But we need to distinguish carefully between Trollope's own use of poetical allusion and Lizzie's misuse. Trollope himself uses Tennyson (a much more respectable poet than Byron) to make his points. Lizzie steals the idea of tossing her diamonds away from Tennyson's Idylls Of The King, but she misses the overriding point that this happens in the context of a love triangle, with a man caught between a true and a false love, like Frank (though Lucy gets off at least a little easier than poor Elaine). Lizzie likewise adopts the Corsair as her romantic ideal without internalising his habit of loving and leaving them.
Yes, this is ugly, but it wholly reflects where English society was at the time with respect to Jewish people; this is how people thought and spoke. And unfortunately things were only going to get worse over the next fifty or sixty years: you can find passages in English writing of the 20s and 30s that make Trollope's attitude seem friendly in comparison. Trollope, like Dickens, was ultimately called on this aspect of his writing---and again like Dickens, was surprised to learn that anyone thought he was doing anything wrong. Both of them softened their attitude - but both of them had to work at it.
Here, though, we do need to distinguish between what is said by the narrator and what is said by the characters. A lot of the anti-Semitic language is put into Frank's mouth, interestingly enough. It's hard to know how we're supposed to take that. I'd like to think it was intended as a criticism but sadly, probably not.
But the real nastiness is with respect to Mr Emilius, which reflects the feeling at the time that the only thing worse than a Jew was a Jew pretending he wasn't one---for some reason that was the ultimate dishonesty, in this case even further exacerbated by the individual's adoption not just of Christianity but of the role of a Christian minister. Note that the narrative never allows for a second that his conversion could be sincere.
There's always a difficulty in novels of this time - and in novels set in the 19th century - in the handling of moneylenders; most of whom, for historical reasons, were Jewish. (That charming practice of forcing someone to do something then criticising them for doing it.) But there's the added complication of "the Jews" being slang for "moneylenders" whether the people in question were Jewish or not.
It's interesting that you bring up Madame Max. I'm quite sure that Trollope changed his mind over how he wanted to handle her - initially his language around her is much harsher - and then he backs off and starts undoing some of what he has done. I think initially he meant her to be a much darker character, much more of an outsider; and to that end I'm sure he meant to imply that she was Jewish. But when he changed his mind he tweaked her into the widow of a Jew - not Jewish herself. If she had been Jewish he could never have done with the character what he does do with her.
>83 lyzard: Lizzie vs. Lucy--I'm also wondering if Lizzie is so much harder on Lucy than anyone else because she & Lucy are really from the same "background"--both orphans, both came from almost nothing, friends as children. Lizzie is just a step above Lucy because of favorable circumstances. She's as much of a "pretender" as Mr. Emilius or Lord George. And people tend to "pull rank" over those that are just below them, especially those whose "rank" they've just escaped.
>84 lyzard: Poetry--thanks for the clarification on this. I was finding it hard to differentiate between the "true" and the "false" romanticism.
>86 lyzard: you said: "And unfortunately things were only going to get worse over the next fifty or sixty years: you can find passages in English writing of the 20s and 30s that make Trollope's attitude seem friendly in comparison."
So true! I had heard a lot about how wonderful Angela Thirkell was, and how everyone loved her Barsetshire-set novels. I read one Angela Thirkell novel and put it down in disgust--it just dripped with anti-Semitism (I remember quotes like "You're such a Jew..."). I'm probably missing out on some great reading, but I couldn't take it.
I'm glad you mentioned the transformation of Madame Max...I wasn't sure if that was me just getting used to her, or Trollope warming up to her.
>85 cbl_tn: Too funny! But for a dull knife, she certainly does wreak a lot of havoc!
I have to say that this will not be one of my favorite Trollope novels. That said, it does seem to show a shift in perspective; more dark, more realistic.
I haven't really ventured into Angela Thirkell but I'm not surprised to hear it. I think the stuff from the 20s and 30s is particularly hard to take because it all seems so gratuitous---authors drag it in for no good textual reason. I tend to grit my teeth and wade on but I agree, it leaves a very bad taste.
No, I'm sure Trollope had second thoughts about Madame Max - thank goodness! :)
I agree, an uncomfortable type of realism that became very prominent in Trollope's later novels.
Fair enough, although Trollope does sometimes play a sort of game where he highlights something with respect to one character and leaves the penny to drop for us with respect to the others.
I find Lizzie rather pathetic. Obviously the only thing her father bothered to teach her was that possession was nine-tenths of the law. Her reiteration over the diamonds seems to me part childish selfishness, part awareness that she has nothing to offer except money. Of course, she's so determined to hold onto her value in the open market that she ends up lowering it instead.
Well done, Heather!
"I think," said the dean to his son, on the next day, "that in our class of life an imprudent marriage is the one thing that should be avoided. My marriage has been very happy, God knows; but I have always been a poor man, and feel it now when I am quite unable to help you. And yet your mother had some fortune. Nobody, I think, cares less for wealth than I do. I am content almost with nothing."—The nothing with which the dean had hitherto been contented had always included every comfort of life, a well-kept table, good wine, new books, and canonical habiliments with the gloss still on; but as the Bobsborough tradesmen had, through the agency of Mrs. Greystock, always supplied him with these things as though they came from the clouds, he really did believe that he had never asked for anything.—"I am content almost with nothing. But I do feel that marriage cannot be adopted as the ordinary form of life by men in our class as it can be by the rich or by the poor..."
As for Frank Greystock himself, though he had quite made up his mind about Lizzie Eustace, he was still in doubt about the other girl. At the present moment he was making over two thousand pounds a year, and yet was more in debt now than he had been a year ago. When he attempted to look at his affairs, he could not even remember what had become of his money. He did not gamble. He had no little yacht, costing him about six hundred a year. He kept one horse in London, and one only. He had no house. And when he could spare time from his work, he was generally entertained at the houses of his friends. And yet from day to day his condition seemed to become worse and worse. It was true that he never thought of half-a-sovereign; that in calling for wine at his club he was never influenced by the cost; that it seemed to him quite rational to keep a cab waiting for him half the day; that in going or coming he never calculated expense; that in giving an order to a tailor he never dreamed of anything beyond his own comfort...
>91 lyzard: Would Lady Fawn also be included on the list of bad parents? I feel Lord Fawn's selfishness is partly due to the unquestioned preference he was given as the son.
But now nothing was too good for him. An unmarried man who is willing to sacrifice himself is, in feminine eyes, always worthy of ribbons and a chaplet. Among all these Fawns there was as little selfishness as can be found,—even among women. The lover was not the lover of one of themselves, but of their governess. And yet, though he desired neither to eat nor drink at that hour, something special had been cooked for him, and a special bottle of wine had been brought out of the cellar. All his sins were forgiven him. No single question was asked as to his gross misconduct during the last six months. No pledge or guarantee was demanded for the future. There he was, in the guise of a declared lover, and the fatted calf was killed.
After this early dinner it was necessary that he should return to town, and Lucy obtained leave to walk with him to the station. To her thinking now, there was no sin to be forgiven. Everything was, and had been, just as it ought to be. Had any human being hinted that he had sinned, she would have defended him to the death...
It's been interesting watching Trollope shift from, "Well, of course every woman wants to get married, and if she thinks she doesn't, she's wrong" to, "I understand you don't want to get married, but what will you do instead?" Obviously he still thinks marriage is the "normal" outcome for a woman but at least he is acknowledging that things are not that simple, particularly if no desirable prospect presents himself.
Lizzie on reality TV? Harsh, but fair! :)
I have finished now, and I still love it. As I said on my own thread, I got a lot more out of it this time round, thanks to Liz's explanations and the discussion here, so thank you everyone!
As always with Trollope's novels, it is interesting to see how "poor" the characters view themselves, when they have housekeepers and cooks and butlers and coaches and coachmen and horses. I suppose no-one ever has enough money, but it was irritating that Frank had an income of about £2,000 a year (from work, so it could easily increase as he became more senior in the profession) and yet everyone thought he was "poor", while Lady Eustace had £4,000 a year (plus the castle) and was viewed as "rich", even though she was expected to marry someone with no money, and to have to keep him. Frank had plenty of money to live a life "north of Oxford Street", as Trollope put it, but expectations way out of line. If he'd stopped haring around the country after Lizzie he would have had plenty of time to make more money!
And you're perfectly right about Frank. Yes, it was expensive setting up housekeeping in London, but on that income he could certainly do it; but as we see in that passage I quoted in #91, most of the "problem" is that he won't cut back on his luxuries and extravagances. It's pure selfishness, and no-one calls him on it; on the contrary. Again you get the view that the privileged male's privileges come before everything else in life.
Doesn't Frank face the same dilemmas as Phineas Finn regarding being in politics and practicing law?
Frank is in a much better financial position than Phineas. He has worked himself up to an income of two thousand pounds a year, which is pretty good for someone in his situation of life. But between wanting to run with the wealthy crowd and having a taste for luxury that he won't thwart, he manages to slide into debt.
Anne, you're right to point out that this was a common issue. Victorian society was very much about conspicuous consumption---it wasn't enough to have money, you had to demonstrate you had it by spending it, and displaying the result. (Hence the standard Victorian housing situation of having the "public" rooms, the drawing-room and the dining-room, crammed with furniture and expensive ornaments, while the rest of the house was threadbare and neglected.) Economising was an admission of failure. So people did often get themselves into unnecessary trouble simply through refusing to compromise. We can see Frank's behaviour as a manifestation of this mindset, and also understand why everyone else thinks he's crazy to marry Lucy.
She liked lies, thinking them to be more beautiful than truth. To lie readily and cleverly, recklessly and yet successfully, was, according to the lessons which she had learned, a necessity in women and an added grace in man.
Yes, she was a liar but I didn't think Trollope needed to pound us over the head with that so unrelentingly. Every character in the book knew she was a liar and talked about it. And come to think of it, not one character thought well of her. (Even Frank eventually realized was a wretch she was.) Except..............Lady Glencora Palliser. I was so happy when she made her appearance but was she really taken in by Lizzie? I want to think she was just looking for an amusing diversion, a break from the stifling aristocracy that surrounded her. But Trollope gave her the funniest line in the book (IMO):
"I quite agree with you, Mr. Bonteen, that it would be very nice to send the brother of a marquis to Botany Bay, or wherever they go now; and that it would do a deal of good to have the widow of a baronet locked up in the Penitentiary; but you see, if they didn't happen to be guilty, it would be almost a shame to punish them for the sake of the example."
I wish Madame Max Goestler would've had a larger role in the narrative.
One question that niggles at me. Trollope's position in this book seems to be that because Lizzie had lied to her husband, and then later lied to others about the circumstances under which she had taken possession of them, she had forfeited the moral right to own the diamonds. But legally, I struggle to see how they could ever actually have been part of the estate. Simply because of the value? The outside world couldn't have known that Lizzie lied -- we know, because Trollope tells us. Some people assume that to be the case, because they don't like her or they distrust her. But dislike/distrust are legal positions. I wonder whether even had she told the truth and had her husband behaved precisely as she described -- had he given her the diamonds intending her to possess them outright -- whether people wouldn't have behaved precisely as they did in the book, trying to take them away from her simply because they were too valuable to be left in a woman's possession. Their possession made any woman too independent of men.
And yes, Madame Max interests me for that reason. She, Glencora and Lily Dale are almost the only women characters I have found in my re-reading of Trollope for whom I have any liking -- and my liking for Trollope as an author is diminishing. As Liz notes, he creates selfish characters (like Phineas) and yet puts them in the role of hero, so that while there is satire and social commentary, it's hard to read between the lines and realize that he is asking us to qualify our admiration.
While I know that anti-semitism worsened later on (I'm reading some Evelyn Waugh now, and recently read something else where a few casual remarks had me blinking in astonishment), here the treatment of Mr. Emilius was straight out of the music hall. Overall, NOT a novel I enjoyed, though I could appreciate what Trollope was doing with it, in terms of his comments of "the marriage plot" and the role of social status.
This may be way off, but I wonder if Trollope wanted to, bluntly, sell more books, and therefore created these more simplistic women that would be popular with the general reading public.
I think it is unfair to generally categorise Trollope's women as "simplistic". The man who created, developed and sustained Lady Glencora Palliser has paid his dues in that respect. And I wouldn't call characters like Madame Max, Lady Laura Kennedy or Alive Vavasor simple either, to note only the Palliser books.
I think it's more accurate to say that Trollope describes women raised and living in a society that allowed them little freedom of action and few choices. Glencora herself only gets away with her behaviour because she's in a pretty unique situation - titled, married to the heir to a dukedom, politically influential and incredibly rich. Lots of people thoroughly disapprove of her, they just don't dare say so.
In his earlier novels Trollope did show a thoroughly male, mid-Victorian attitude towards woman, and was very much given to prescribing marriage and two children for whatever ailed a woman---but as he matured as a novelist this did change. He became more interested in female psychology, and was prepared to admit that young women who were dissatisfied with their lives and options had a right to their grievance. You would never have found a character like Lucinda in one of his early books. There's no doubt he intends us to be horrified by her situation, and to condemn a society that not only allows such things, but forces them.
I would agree that Lizzie and Lucy, each in her own way, are among the less complex of Trollope's women but that is necessary for the schema of The Eustace Diamonds. The point of that novel to me is to show the functioning of a society dominated by what I would call "false positions", and what happens to people who can't play by its rules.
We saw throughout how Lizzie and Lucy are paired in a number of ways, and this is another: Lucy because she can't be anything but honest, Lizzie because she can't be anything but dishonest. As a result, neither of them is capable of playing the role assigned to them by society.
The thing about Lizzie is not just that she's a liar - it's that she's a bad liar, a liar who is obviously, embarrassingly a liar; while society as a whole functions on the back of lies - or false positions - that people can at least pretend to believe in. Her obvious lying is the naked version of what usually goes on clothed. This is why she makes people so uncomfortable.
And this is also why Trollope, as you say, "beats us over the head" with it. It's a smokescreen. Effectively he's replicating the behaviour and attitude of society at large: "Lizzie is a terrible liar - why can't she lie well, like we do?"
(When is Lizzie at her best? In the wake of the first robbery, because she picks one story and sticks to it, which makes it easier for the people who choose, through self-interest, to support her to pretend they believe her.)
Frank Greystock is really the face of society in The Eustace Diamonds. I don't think for a moment Trollope approves of him, or thinks we should. But he doesn't editorialise here, because this (unlike the hand-wringing over Lizzie) is where he makes his real point. We shouldn't miss the significance of Frank being both a lawyer and a politician. This is a man whose entire existence consists of advocating things he doesn't believe in, saying things he doesn't mean, and switching his stance whenever its expedient---and he's very good at it.
Consider his entry into politics: they needed a Conservative candidate, so he "became" a Conservative. He fights Lizzie's battle not because he genuinely believes it, but because it allows him to score points over Lord Fawn. If he and Lord Fawn were on the same side of the political fence, he wouldn't be doing it. He's a professional manoeuvrer, a calculator, who has one moment of sincerity in the entire novel and spends the next 500 pages regretting it. He was perfectly prepared to connive at Lizzie retaining illegal possession of the necklace as long as it could be excused by some legal finagling, but a fake robbery was too much even for him to swallow. (Heck, it was too much for Lord George, which speaks for itself!) If Lizzie hadn't finally made it impossible for him to adhere to her, goodbye Lucy.
Perhaps the most damning condemnation of society at large in The Eustace Diamonds is that a woman like Lady Fawn, a thoroughly kind and decent person, can actually think that Frank *ought* to jilt Lucy.
And here's the thing about Lucy: she's as honest as the day is long and perfectly sincere---and she makes people every bit as uncomfortable, and causes those close to her just as much distress, as Lizzie does with her dishonesty and insincerity. She does what women were "supposed" to do by putting her entire trust in a man, and everyone finds her ridiculous as a consequence.
The main task of the female sex at this time was to grease society's wheels and to look the other way when required, to keep the surface smooth while the battles went on beneath it. And this is why Lucy's callout of Lord Fawn is so completely shocking to everyone. Of course she's perfectly right; which in terms of her social duty as a woman makes her perfectly wrong.
Neither Lucy nor Lizzie knows how to play the game; instead they each behave in a way that exposes the wheels turning, and ruin it for everybody else.
Suz, in your review of The Eustace Diamonds you commented:
Anything worth that much money can't possibly belong to her
And unfortunately, this was exactly the case.
The Eustace Diamonds is set more than ten years before the Married Woman's Property Act, but even that only spoke to property that a woman inherited or earned directly; it didn't touch anything that came to her through her marriage.
Wives at this time still had no separate, individual legal standing, but were considered adjuncts to their husbands. One of the consequences of this was that a woman did not own anything that came to her possession via her husband's family; she merely had temporary custody of it. This was almost always true whether the point at issue was an estate, a property---or a necklace.
Usually wives (or wives of eldest sons, anyway) were given their husband's family jewels at the time of their marriage. However, when their own eldest son married, they were expected to give those jewels to their daughter-in-law. Jewels were rarely transmitted through women, but were almost always legally owned by men. If a girl had jewellery as her dowry, its ownership would be worked out during the marriage settlements, and it could well become her husband's property.
On the death of her husband, a widow was required to hand everything over to the next male heir---unless her husband had made separate legal provision, allowing her to own the thing in question outright (very unusual) or retain use of it for her lifetime (more common).
And even this would be dictated by whether a piece of property was deemed to belong to "the family" or to the man as an individual. If there was a legal entail the husband's hands were completely tied; otherwise he had some discretion.
BUT---and this is the critical point with regard to The Eustace Diamonds---even if he *could* do it, a husband almost certainly wouldn't. This was a materialistic, property-based society that was all about acquisition and increase of revenue. (The Ferengi had nothing on Victorian England!) The idea that a man would just give away a ten thousand pound necklace, that is, permanently reduce his family's property holdings by ten thousand pounds, is inconceivable.
So when Lizzie says Sir Florian gave her the necklace, to be her permanent property, no-one believes her. Not just because she's a liar, but because men just didn't do that.
The fact that this was a family necklace, i.e. part of Sir Florian's inheritance, weakens Lizzie's claim. If Sir Florian had bought the necklace after he and Lizzie were married, she would have been on firmer ground. Even so, when a man gave his wife a valuable gift, he was expected to make it legally clear that he intended her to keep it, usually by mentioning it and his wishes regarding it in his will. This is the other problem with Lizzie's position: Sir Florian does *not* specifically mention the necklace in his will. He does specifically mention the Scottish property - he does clearly will the property, and its revenue, to Lizzie for her lifetime - that is the provision he makes for her. But he does not mention the necklace, which means that he treats it as part of his general estate, and that consequently it is part of the property to be held in trust for his son.
Of course, as the surprising revelation about heirlooms reveals, some of this might have been based on longstanding convention rather than law. Even so, English law almost always favoured the large property owner, so even if this had gone to court I think it's unlikely that the ruling would have favoured Lizzie (and that's even assuming she wasn't caught committing perjury!).
Mind you...I'm always sorry that this novel doesn't pursue the matter of "paraphernalia". That might have been interesting... :)
I still loathed nearly every single character in this book, with the possible exception of Lady Fawn. They all deserve each other. Yes, I enjoy Glencora, and Planty Pal, and loved Lily Dale, and Phineas certainly has his moments, but in so many ways, there is so little to differentiate the opportunism of Frank and that of the Rev. Emilius. I do know more or less what comes next, thanks to a really convoluted connection to the actress who played Glencora in the television adaptation, but am def. up for Phineas 2 in the fall. Though I may not wait until then. Don't know. Depends on whether I want to try some Thackeray or Dickens in the summer, instead.
I enjoyed this book thoroughly. I read it as a bitter comedic commentary on the Victorian push for money, money, money. It seemed to me that Trollope was writing very much with his tongue in his cheek. Of course, that's just my opinion. But different sentences and paragraphs here and there would, I think, back me up.
I'm always fascinated by how every person reads a different book.
>116 brenzi: Completely agree Bonnie. :-)
In the meantime I may read one of Trollope's less well-known standalone novels to get my Trollope fix (maybe The Bertrams?)
I don't think it needs tutoring, although we are back in the realm of politics; overall it's more plot-driven than political, from memory. But perhaps someone else might be willing to volunteer, if it was felt that tutoring would be helpful?
Speaking of tutoring--- If I suggested that The Bertrams might benefit, would it sound disgustingly self-serving?? :D
(I can suggest a couple of standalone alternatives...)
Of course, the new edition is going to be a very pricey Folio edition but maybe by the time we're ready to read the book....
:-D I'm interested if you are (and, probably more importantly, if you have time!)
>123 cbl_tn: - >127 cbl_tn: I will definitely be following along with Castle Rackrent in May. I've been meaning to read Maria Edgeworth for a while.
>130 lyzard: Even without exchange rates and shipping that limited edition is a little too pricey for me. I hope someone releases a more affordable version at some point.
Like many of you, this wasn't my favorite of Trollope's works, though I still thought it was a good book overall. The dearth of likeable characters and the focus on Lizzie at the expense of other side stories to give me a break (I depend on those in Trollope) lessened the book for me.
Liz summed it up for me very nicely with this statement about Lucy and Lizzie.
>111 lyzard: Neither Lucy nor Lizzie knows how to play the game; instead they each behave in a way that exposes the wheels turning, and ruin it for everybody else.
I think I'll join in on the September read of Phineas Redux if that is still the plan.