[This document is a note to the author's Trollope's Comfort Romances for Men: Heterosexual Male Heroism in his WorkGPL.]

The book's continual use of imagery and allusion drawn from romances has been widely explored. Trollope develops the many stories of this alluringly pleasurable novel through archetypal romantic, pastoral, luxurious imagery and personal and bookish paradigms: beyond the beauty and beast fable (e.g., 7:59), we have a Cinderella story (6:57), and language which connects both heroines to sleeping beauty ("dormir" in French means to sleep); typologies, allusions, and names from Shakespeare's fantasy and erotic romances, a pseudo-medieval minstrel from Walter Scott, characters who read Byron and Tennyson's Idylls of the King, and character types and situations strongly reminiscent of Austen's Sense and Sensibility and Northanger Abbey. Ayala is named after Trollope's favorite champagne, and the places the novels evoke are idyllic pastoral landscapes, from Rome to Scotland, from the green parks of London to a lush landscape in Sussex; the physical description of Ayala is reminiscent of Kate Field.

See Thompson introd. to Ayala's Angel, viii-x, and notes; apRoberts, 196-97 (she identifies Sense and Sensibility in the archetypes); R. C. Terry, The Artist in Hiding (Towota, NJ: Rowman and Littlefield, 1977):68-71; 165-66; Kincaid, 256-59; Herbert, 199-205, 210-16; Kendrick, 103-6. Mullen remarks in The Penguin Companion to Trollope: "Trollope, who was devoted to champagne, probably took Ayala's unusual name from the well-known champagne house established in France in 1860 by the son of a Colombian diplomat" (21-25) Ayala is also a bewitching Ariel, and the other strong heroine of the book, Imogen, takes her name from Cymbeline. As one may see from Hazlitt's and other nineteenth-century criticism (Anna Jameson comes to mind), Imogen was for Victorians an exemplary heroine. The modern illustrations to Anthony Trollope, Ayala's Angel (London: Folio Society, 1989) by Robert Geary show an Ayala who bears a strong resemblance to Kate Field and a Jonathan Stubbs dressed in outfits that recall Anthony Trollope's own. See my website, Ayala's Angel, and Illustrations by Robert Greay. Trollope's investment in Ayala has led innumerable critics to identify Ayala Dormer with Kate Field who Trollope tells us he loved (Autobiography, 316).

One could argue that in Ayala's Angel Trollope compensates for the distressing misogyny of his mockery of "female disabilities" in Is He Popenjoy? A candid account of how women are treated in Is He Popenjoy? would have to include its crude and tasteless satire on the suffragette movement, and the Dean defends the unquestioned right of "one half of the world" to "rule" the other on the grounds women are "fed by the labours" of men (16:152). He seems unaware that the vast majority of women in England did need to work for money to live. Yet George is allowed to work out that while Mary carries with her a great deal of money from her father, were she dependent on her marketable skills, she'd starve:

He figured it out, and found that his wife could earn three-halfpence a day by two hours' work; and even Lady Sarah did not required from her more than two hours daily. Was it worth while that she should be made miserable for ninepence a week — less than 2 a year. Lady George figured it out also, and offered the exact sum, 1 19s ... Then Lady Sarah was full of wrath . . . Mary considered a while, ands then said that she thought a petticoat was a petticoat, and that perhaps the one made by the regular petticoat-maker would be best. She did not allude to the grand doctrine of the division of labour, nor did she hint that she might be doing more harm than good by interfering with regular trade. [3:27-28]

The latter paragraph shows Trollope had been reading Barbara Bodichon's radical tract, Women and Work (Is He Popenjoy, 320 n. 27). Also I suggest Bessie Raynor Parkes's What Can Educated Women Do?. Both are available and other tracts all written and published in the 1850s through '60s, in Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon and the Langham Place Group (London & NY: Routledge, 1987): 36-74, 150-73. The only suitable occupation Miss Mackenzie can think is that of a nurse — just such a career Parkes discusses, and taken up in the 1890s by Mary Ward's Marcella in her at once traditional and radical novel; see Mary Augusta Ward, Marcella, ed. Beth Sutton-Ramspeck (Ontario: Broadview Press, 2002).


Victorian Web Overview Anthony Trollope Gender Characterization bibliography

Last modified 9 August 2006