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Can You Forgive Her?
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The Trollope Project - Archives > Can You Forgive Her? Chapters 27-32: Oct 15-21

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message 1: by Frances, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Frances (francesab) | 1871 comments Mod
In this section, many deep emotions, or lack thereof, are revealed. We learn how Glencora feels about her marriage and her previous suitor, Burgo Fitzgerald. We learn about Burgo, and Alice, and Kate, and George's feelings, or their lack of feelings.

How has your opinion of any of our characters changed?

What do you think of Trollope's writing-what is he trying to portray about either individuals or about society? Do you think he succeeds?

message 2: by Madge UK (new)

Madge UK (madgeuk) | 2933 comments I think Trollope's writing, particularly his conversations, is superb and very realistic.

message 3: by Robin P, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Robin P | 2205 comments Mod
With Glencora, it's clear that she is in love with Burgo, whether he deserves it or not. With Alice, it's more that she prefers George to anyone else she can think of. She seems rather cynical about love, while Glencora is overly romantic, saying she wants to be with Burgo even if he mistreats her. Her romanticism also shows up in her love for the ruins. Alice and Glencora only have this much choice because they have some money and position. If they lacked one or the other, they would be more obligated to marry to save themselves and their families.

message 4: by Madge UK (last edited Oct 15, 2017 11:00PM) (new)

Madge UK (madgeuk) | 2933 comments Gothic ruins were a favourite Georgian and Victorian backdrop and many of the stately homes had them installed for effect, sometimes together with resident hermits who were paid to reside there and look suitably dishevelled.


Phrodrick Interesting we are 30 plus chapters into what are widely known as Trollope's political novels and not one comment about anything Trollope has to say about politics?

message 6: by Madge UK (last edited Oct 16, 2017 05:04PM) (new)

Madge UK (madgeuk) | 2933 comments Although the Palliser novels are about the lives of certain politicians, a subject which fascinated him, Trollope wrote: ‘If I wrote politics for my own sake, I must put in love and intrigue, social incidents, a dash of sport, for the sake of my readers’.

We see very little actual politics in CYFH but there is a power struggle going on between the Liberals and Conservatives which is reflected in the power struggles of the various couples, in attitudes related to The Woman Question and in the differing views of the young and old. In this sense this particular novel reflects the politics of everyday life, perhaps setting the scene for some parliamentary power struggles, rather than domestic ones, in the later novels.

And of course mention of voting intentions regarding The Reform Bill or Irish Home Rule does not mean anything to readers here, particularly American ones, whereas they were hot topics at the time the Palliser novels were being written.

message 7: by Frances, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Frances (francesab) | 1871 comments Mod
We also get a glimpse of where politics often happened-in the homes of the wealthy at weekend parties where much of it went on without outright discussion-just deciding if someone seemed "the right sort of man" for the job on how they behaved over the weekend

Phrodrick Agree to all.
Trollope's coverage of the proceeding of the House constitute scathing, sarcasm and satire in very high form.
Rather like those who seeming skip the hunt because of the mistaken belief they lack emotion or character import, the actually small amount of politics include some very sharp, pointed and arguably universal comments on politics.

The back and forth between the two parties are trivial in the specific details, but step back and enjoy the language.

message 9: by Madge UK (last edited Oct 17, 2017 04:46AM) (new)

Madge UK (madgeuk) | 2933 comments In Victorian novels there are often references to the hearth such as 'Then he got up from the sofa, and stood himself on the hearthrug, with his back to the fireplace.'

The hearth was a special place in the Victorian home and standing by the hearth to talk seriously to family or friends was the practice of men whereas women sat beside it and were called 'the Madonna of the Hearth'. The warmth of the hearth symbolised the warmth and security of the home. Hearthrugs were often made by brides-to-be and formed an important part of a trousseau. I made one myself in my youf by pegging bits of coloured cloth from old clothes onto sackcloth! (The Irish called them 'proddy rugs' because you prodded the bits of cloth through the sacking with a large needle or small stick.)

In these days of central heating we forget that most homes once had only one fire and gathering around it to keep warm, to talk, to read aloud to others, to sew etc was what the majority of people did on a winter's evening. The fire, called a 'range', would fuel an oven each side and a hob for a pan or kettle. On special occasions, like Christmas, and in more affluent homes, a fire would also be lit in the 'parlour' where games like charades and cards would be played and maybe songs would be sung around a piano. Pictures of Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and their family popularised this way of spending Sundays (plus eating a 'Sunday roast') and of having a Christmas complete with a Christmas tree and presents, which was a German custom brought to England by Prince Albert.

Roman Clodia I read this book quite recently so am afraid of saying anything in case I accidentally slip in a spoiler! Just wanted to say thanks to Madge for all the interesting info - I'm going to hold off on Phineas Finn till the group schedule.

LindaH | 97 comments I look forward to seeing how the marriages of the politicians will figure in their careers. Mr Palliser is a very ambitious man married to a woman who wishes to run off with another man. We are told that “public disgrace would hit him harder than private dishonour.” It will be interesting to see how that plays out. The Duke of Bungay is married to a “fool” of a woman. He may have quelled the Duchess’s complaint about the influential Mrs Sparkes, but what future demands will rock his unflappable style? And now there is George with his own ambitions, trying to acquire Alice’s hand. As a wife, how might she figure in his career?

message 12: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 2894 comments Mod
I find that Alice has still not caught on to her cousin Kate's personality, but she is beginning to get an idea of George's. She admires him, but will never feel passion for him. Alice did not like her grandfather commenting on her jilting Mr. Grey, mainly because she knew she did wrong. I am hoping that in the course of the twelve months, Alice will find that marriage with George is not an option.
Glencora is in a tough situation, mainly because she is so young. If she had been older, it might have been harder for her relatives to convince her to marry Palliser.

Phrodrick And had Glencora been older she might have seen that Burgo, is a wastrel and a bad boy with no positive characteristics.

At some point we might want to notice that Plenty has also sacrificed to follow the Duke's wishes. He is trusting and yes, loving enough to have no no fear about trusting his wife or that she lacks the strength to fall for Burgo.

Trollope loves to present variations on a theme. We have seen husbands and competing males and how they react, to women between two choices.

Again, show of hands, who here can sigh for a man named Burgo w/o collapsing into derisive laughter. Can it be that Glencora does not love this man, but has merely made him the target of her need for love and immaturity about matters of the heart?

LindaH | 97 comments Phrodrick,

((Laughing after reading your post) I couldn’t help thinking, what if Burgo and Cheesacre went in business?

message 15: by Abigail (new) - added it

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 676 comments LoL, LindaH! But it would have to be Cheesacre and Burgo, so they could do a hipster rebranding and name the company CheesBurgo.

LindaH | 97 comments Good one, Abigail!

message 17: by Madge UK (new)

Madge UK (madgeuk) | 2933 comments LOL.

message 18: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 2894 comments Mod
Gotta love the names Trollope comes up with!

Phrodrick Abigail wrote: "LoL, LindaH! But it would have to be Cheesacre and Burgo, so they could do a hipster rebranding and name the company CheesBurgo."

First they would have had to open a 1960's Carnaby street nightclub: Cheesburgo a Go Go

message 20: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 2894 comments Mod
I have been thinking about George and find him completely self-absorbed and manipulative regarding Alice, with his sister Kate as an able assistant. I really hope that Alice does not marry him, or lose her money.
On the other hand, he countersigns a loan, and we saw what happened in Framley Parsonage when the money wasn't paid on time.
Does George value friendship more than marriage?

message 21: by Frances, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Frances (francesab) | 1871 comments Mod
I don't think he values this marriage or Alice at all-he is looking out for her money.

Burgo, on the other hand, has a certain charm. He is apparently wildly attractive, but also kind at times. I do wonder if, in marrying someone for both love and money, he mightn't have settled into a happy relationship with a wife who loved him dearly. It isn't clear to me why money must marry money-in this case both Plantagenet and Glencora appeared to have enough money to support a spouse as well.

message 22: by Linda (new)

Linda | 207 comments Alice continues to surprise me. While she had been refusing to consider rekindling her relationship with George, it seemed that she was still attracted to him and was just resisting her passion because of his previous behavior. Her stay with Glencora and Glencora’s distress over her feelings for Burgo and desire to run away with him have certainly had their effect upon Alice. What good is love? It’s brought only unhappiness to Glencora, to herself...why pursue it? It’s in this vein she reads and responds to George’s letter. In fact, the two seem to share some similarities, which Alice notes in her response. While they each have affection for the other, neither is in passionate love (as at least Alice once was). Instead they are both trying to decide whether to marry each other to achieve other purposes. Alice notes that they are suited to each other in temperament (unlike John Grey). They share the objective of electing George to Parliament, using Alice’s money for this purpose. While George thought he would have to marry Alice to gain access to her money, Alice is quite ready to give him the money before they are married, and would even have given it to him for his election if she were only a friend. Alice is searching for a meaningful purpose which she finds in helping George become an MP. Also, in reuniting him with his grandfather, the Squire. George seems to be sincere in wanting to become an MP, but I don’t trust him. The biggest difference in their decisions about marriage is significant. Alice has given her decision a lot of thought and tells George she has to wait a year before the marriage so she can recover from her bad behavior concerning John Grey. George, on the other hand, bases his final decision on the flip of a coin by a servant. If only Alice knew.

So Alice represents a new type of woman who marries for a purpose beyond creating a comfortable haven for her husband away from the outside world. Alice is searching for meaning precisely within the outside world through her support, financial and otherwise, of George as an MP.

If Glencora represents a new type of woman, it would be one who is willing to ignore all traditional morality and duty by leaving her husband to run away with the man she actually loves passionately. Being ruled by her emotions, she rationalizes her desire by saying Palliser can marry again and have a child. Alice acts as the voice of reason, Glencora will be an absolute social outcast if she goes through with her plan. It would be a disaster. At this point in the novel, for me Glencora and Burgo are the most sympathetic characters, although Burgo’s self-destruction and meaningless life are pathetic as well. Glencora and Burgo are alike in their passion and their (deluded?) fixation on a life with each other in some distant place away from critics.

message 23: by Frances, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Frances (francesab) | 1871 comments Mod
I agree with finding Glencora and Burgo to be sympathetic, and I don't understand why their marriage would have been considered such a disaster by her family, however that ship has sailed and I don't think they could run off together now and have any prospect of happiness in the long run.

You're also right about the contrast with Alice, seems to discount her own feelings on choosing a husband, and is thinking more of what she can do with her life afterwards.

Phrodrick It seems there is an on-ging determination to give preference to the bad boys , perhaps because they are so clearly active when compared to the good boys.

Plenty Pal is something of a stick, but he is given no serious regard in this discussion. He will provide Glencora with a safe place to be childish and to grow up to be an adult. With Burgo she would have be a woman, actually a fallen woman who has violated the bond of matrimony of no means and little future. Everything we see of Burgo is schemes and debt and no count friends.

From HMS Pinfore: Gilbert and Sullivan
The hours Creep Apace:

On the one hand,
Papa's luxurious home with ancestral
armour and old brasses. Yes, brasses!
Carved oak and tapestry form distant Rome,
Rare 'blue and white" Venetian finger glasses,
Rich oriental rugs, luxurious sofa pillows,
And ev'rything that isn't old from Gillows!

And on the other hand,
A dark and dingy room in some back street
With stuffy children crying,
Where organs yell and clacking housewives
Fume, and clothes are hanging out
All day a drying,
With one cracked glass to see your face in,
And dinner served up in a pudding basin!

Burgo is just like Glencora a kid, but where is there any hint he has any talent , desire or so much as a plan to work at any real job?

message 25: by Robin P, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Robin P | 2205 comments Mod
There's a similar theme in Snobs by Julian Fellowes, where the young woman thinks it will be romantic to run off with the artist/actor but when she really has to live in his flat, things look different.

message 26: by Madge UK (last edited Oct 23, 2017 12:08AM) (new)

Madge UK (madgeuk) | 2933 comments One of the reasons women were steered away from bad boys was that they were more likely to have slept around and to have caught syphilis which was hereditary and the scourge of the intermarrying aristocracy. When men were called up for WW1 after the more relaxed Belle Epoque a very high incidence of it was found and a cure wasn't possible until the discovery of penicillin in the 1930s. My father told me that it was the danger of venereal disease which kept people on the sexual 'straight and narrow', not religious morality.

Also, after the discovery that Queen Victoria was a carrier of haemophilia, as with Tsar Nicholas' son, Alexander, the intermarrying of cousins among the aristocracy (to keep wealth in families) was discouraged. Genetics was being understood via the fashion for Eugenics and it was realised that many bad mental and physical traits could be passed down such as the the 'madness' of George III and the Hapsburg nose.

message 27: by Frances, Moderator (last edited Oct 23, 2017 11:09AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Frances (francesab) | 1871 comments Mod
Interesting, Madge. It would be considered a little odd today to be marrying a cousin-but that doesn't seem to have been the case for Alice and George.

message 28: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 2894 comments Mod
It seems that a lot cousins married other cousins, at least in the literature of those times.

message 29: by Madge UK (new)

Madge UK (madgeuk) | 2933 comments Alice and George haven't married and are being discouraged from doing so.....

Cousins marrying cousins was and is a traditional way to keep land and money in a family but it can lead to problems, as explained above.

message 30: by Hilary (new) - added it

Hilary (agapoyesoun) | 181 comments Thanks, Madge, for the 'proddy rug' reference. That was a new one on me. For some time in Ireland, and in the North in particular, 'proddy' rug might well have been understood to be a descriptive drawn from sectarianism! "Get your 'proddy' rug here!!", as opposed to a 'Roman Catholic' rug! :p. I wonder in which direction they knelt to pray!! Haha! You see: scratch the surface in Ireland and religious background is staring you in the face ...

message 31: by Madge UK (new)

Madge UK (madgeuk) | 2933 comments LOL Hilary. I had forgotten that alternative meaning to 'proddy'. I suppose they could have been Protestant rugs too if Protestants were more inclined to make them!

Renee M | 751 comments I'm wondering of part of Alice's rekindled attraction to George has more to do with his going into politics. It's almost as if she wants to support him in doing that from which she is barred. As well as seeing him finally make something of himself in the world... Justifying her faith in him in the first place.

But I don't know that his convictions and commitment to the the causes she believes in will prove to be any stronger than his commitment to anything else, other than his own ego.

message 33: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 2894 comments Mod
Alice seems to be drifting along and losing direction. She has got herself into a difficult situation and can't see any way out. I really hope she doesn't marry George.

message 34: by Renee (last edited Oct 25, 2017 04:29AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Renee M | 751 comments Also, I'm still Team John Grey. I never had any patience with bad boys. I always liked 'em kinda nerdy, shy, and squeaky clean. ;-)

message 35: by Abigail (new) - added it

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 676 comments Me too, Renee. I always preferred Mr. Bingley to Mr. Darcy.

message 36: by Madge UK (new)

Madge UK (madgeuk) | 2933 comments Given that Alice can't have a career, I suppose that taking on George could be seen as a project, like taking on a failing business and trying to turn it around. Grey wouldn't be much of a challenge.

message 37: by Robin P, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Robin P | 2205 comments Mod
As far as Alice helping George, I keep thinking of a joke from the Clinton presidency, where Bill and Hillary are driving near her hometown and they stop at a gas station. Bill says, "Just think, if you had married him, you'd be working in a gas station" and Hillary replies, "If I had married him, he would be President!"

message 38: by Madge UK (new)

Madge UK (madgeuk) | 2933 comments The old trope that behind every Napoleon there is a Josephine:)

I somehow don't think that is as true today as it once was when women had little better to do than be a 'helpmeet' . Women are now putting their intelligence and energy into forging their own careers or are intent on becoming ladettes who imitate the worst aspects of men.

Renee M | 751 comments But, both Bingley and Darcy before Wickam!!

Brian Reynolds | 729 comments Frances wrote: "I agree with finding Glencora and Burgo to be sympathetic, and I don't understand why their marriage would have been considered such a disaster by her family, however that ship has sailed and I don..."

Trollope has portrayed Burgo in differing terms. At first I thought he was a devious wastrel like George, but Trollope then presents him doing kind acts and having a generally pleasant personality. That and his beautiful features have people oohing and aahing over him

The family objections are that he has no talent, ambition and his leisure habits would result in unwise spending decisions that would dissipate the family fortune.

Too bad he couldn't be a male model. However, there are careers in Victorian times his personality and looks might suit, but he appears to have no career goals, an attitude fairly common with the upper crust set.

message 41: by Lori, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lori Goshert (lori_laleh) | 1369 comments Mod
I'm slowly catching up :-)

I don't have much to add, except that I agree that Alice is probably marrying George (or considering it - I also hope it doesn't happen. He thinks that she's a fool, after all) because she could be indirectly involved in politics.

I'm starting to like Burgo a little bit. I hope there's a happy ending for him, but I agree that running off with Glencora would not be it. He appears to have a conscience, even if it's on "mute," and I hope he doesn't try anything. I'm guessing Glencora won't go to Monkhead and he won't have the opportunity anyway, but I'd also like to see him change his own mind.

message 42: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 2894 comments Mod
I see Burgo as a young attractive man who is probably a lot of fun to be with, but has not had the chance to grow up. Their dream of running away together is a childish fantasy. Glencora would have to be the adult and money manager of the couple.

Bonnie | 228 comments I like how Burgo helped the girl on the street, but I don't like that he rode his horse to the death at the fox hunt.

“Oh, Burgo, hadst thou not have been a very child, thou shouldst have known that now, at this time of the day,—after all that thy gallant horse had done for thee,—it was impossible to thee or him. But when did Burgo Fitzgerald know anything? He rode at the bank as though it had been the first fence of the day, striking his poor beast with his spurs, as though muscle, strength, and new power could be imparted by their rowels. The animal rose at the bank and in some way got upon it, scrambling as he struck it with his chest, and then fell headlong into the ditch at the other side, a confused mass of head, limbs, and body. His career was at an end, and he had broken his heart! Poor noble beast, noble in vain! To his very last gasp he had done his best, and had deserved that he should have been in better hands. His master's ignorance had killed him. There are men who never know how little a horse can do,—or how much!”

message 44: by Madge UK (last edited Feb 24, 2018 12:38AM) (new)

Madge UK (madgeuk) | 2933 comments A frequent occurrence at fox hunts Bonnie, then and now:(:( It is a cruel sport, cruel to horses, cruel to foxes:

Now banned but the Tories have threatened to bring it back, supported as they are by the landed gentry who hunt:

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