by Margaret Markwick.
Published 1997 by the The Hambledon Press.
Trollope is usually seen as a faithful mirror of Victorian England, both in providing intimate details of contemporary life and in endorsing the moral attitudes and certainties of the period. His powers of empathy make his characters convincing and knowable in an astonishing way. Yet the Victorians restricted women to the house and severely limited their rights and opportunities. Trollope and Women examines the conundrum of how a great novelist could both accept the conventional values of the time and yet be able to see and sympathise with the impossible situations in which Victorian women often found themselves.
Margaret Markwick shows the individuality of Trollope’s women: even conventional Angel in the House heroines, like Mary Lowther in The Vicar of Bullhampton, can surprise us at times. More tellingly, he cannot help giving some of his less angelic characters, such as the vivacious Lizzie Eustace in The Eustace Diamonds, his unwilling admiration. His range extends beyond simple romance to the realistic handling of marriages, both happy and unhappy, and to the treatment of bigamy and scandal. He shows men and women getting on together as well as fighting bitterly. Nor are Trollope’s novels as devoid of sex as has often been thought.
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