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A daily record of what I'm thinking about what I'm reading

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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Moral and ethical dilemmae in Trollope's The Warden

The social, moral, and ethical dilemma and entanglements get even tighter - and more complex - as the narrative of Trollope's The Warden develops, in short: The warden's daughter Eleanor goes to see her beloved John Bold who is leading the fight against the warden - trying to end his sinecure and use the funds to provide more aid to the elderly indigent - and tries to persuade him to give up his lawsuit, which she is sure will kill her father. He resists, but then, in part because of the intervention of his sister, Mary (Eleanor's best friend), he relents and says he will give up the lawsuit because of his love for Eleanor. She is pleased in a bittersweet way; she feels - rightly - that in a sense she has prostituted herself to him (Trollope would not have used that metaphor): she has said if you drop the suit you can have my love (and hand in marriage). It's exactly what she intended not to do; she, like Bold, wanted to argue out everything on a high moral plane - wanted him to drop the suit because that would be the right thing to do - not in order to "win" her heart. After his decision, Bold goes off to see the main antagonist, Archbishop Grantly (who is also the warden's son-in-law - and, if his marriage to Eleanor goes through, would be his brother-in-law) and tells him he's dropping the suit. Well and good - but then Grantly, instead of letting things end right there, goes off on a tirade and tells Bold how much they have already invested in the defense (probably a lie) and says he won't let the suit rest (probably stupid - he still could lose) and will purse claims for expenses and damages against Bold and is cohort (reporter for The Jupiter, which has waged a public-relations campaign against the church and specifically against the Warden). Bold leaves feeling he was completely misunderstood and his motives misjudged. Grantly is an evil soul; in a Dickens novel, he'd get what he deserves - in Trollope, who knows?

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