Friday, August 26, 2016
We want to like Bold (in Trollope's The Warden), but why we can't
Dr. Bold, the small-town surgeon who is pursuing a legal action against the Church of England for misappropriating the Hiram legacy - giving the old men who are to be the beneficiaries a couple of pence a year and giving the warden, the church underling who manages the old-age home where the men live, a really excellent income of 800 pounds a year - even though the eponymous warden (in Trollope's novel) is the father of the woman, Eleanor, whom he loves. Got it? We want to like Bold - he's clearly right in his analysis of the misuse of the legacy and his opponent in the struggle, the archdeacon Grantly (who is also the son-in-law of the warden) is a totally loathsome man and a pompous bully - his kids, as we learn in chapter 8 or so, are equally noxious - is a perfect antagonist, a guy you'd really want to kick to the gutter. Yes, we really want to root for Bold, the obvious champion - but this is not a Dickens novel (see yesterday's post) with obvious right and wrong, good and bad - Bold himself if self-righteous and confident to a fault. By pursuing this action, he estranges himself from mild-mannered warden and, more important, ends the relationship with the warden's younger daughter, Eleanor. And Bold can't see anything wrong in that. It's not that he's wrong to pursue the legal matter - but it's emotionally and socially wrong that he can't even perceive the consequences of his actions, the hurt he's bringing on the woman he purports to care about and the man he'd considered a friend. He's smart - but obtuse - and we fear that things will only get worse for him as he goes up against entrenched antagonists who can squash him w/ a thumb.