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Phineas Redux (Palliser, #4)
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The Trollope Project - Archives > P29. Phineas Redux Aug 12-18: Ch 33-40

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message 1: by Frances, Moderator (last edited Aug 10, 2018 02:42PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Frances (francesab) | 2037 comments Mod
The politics is becoming increasingly heated, and so is the situation between Phineas and Lady Laura.

First-the politics. The government has fallen, and the Whigs are back in power, but there is much behind-the-scenes activity in forming the cabinet. What do you think of the Duchess' interference? How do you think Phineas will manage?

Second-the relationship between Lady Laura and Phineas-she is clearly still very much in love with him, and becoming increasingly demanding emotionally. He has moved on.How is Phineas handling the situation? What do you think of Lady Laura's actions and behaviour towards Phineas?

This is the place to discuss the end of the first half of our novel.

message 2: by Lori, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lori Goshert (lori_laleh) | 1560 comments Mod
You know who I miss right now? Archdeacon Grantly. I'm sure Mrs. Grantly has to listen to him rip Mr. Daubeny a new one every night over dinner, and I'd like to hear it too!

As for politics, not much has changed over time. I enjoyed the debates.

The duchess' interference didn't do Phineas much good, aside from keeping Bonteen out. I can understand Phineas's frustration with the situation, as he knows what everyone would say about him if he were to get in because of her influence, but I didn't like him calling her stupid. It seems unwise and a bit childish.

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

Frances (francesab) | 2037 comments Mod
Yes, I think Phineas is becoming frustrated and short tempered and therefore is making mistakes he wouldn’t normally make.

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

Robin P | 2398 comments Mod
I didn't follow all the political ins and outs in detail, but some things are very familiar, like demonizing your opponents, and finding a way to spin any actions that seem inconsistent with previous speeches.

message 5: by Phrodrick (new)

Phrodrick After how many books in the political novels we have something close to a real politics.
Trollope is spinning it entirely to suit hisown agenda. Let us not confuse ourselves, this is nearer to propaganda than a history lesson.

Phineas has allowed himself to be very exposed. His election advisors told him that the special relation with the church was a winning issue. He did as he had been told and ran with it. There was no prior indication that he had given it 10 minutes thought.

The failing ministry that held power upon his return to the House, with equal cynicism chooses the same issue for the one purpose of maintaining power. PF is now by his own flat feet stuck in the middle.

PF has some standing because he had previously stood against his party and therefore might be believed as a (semi) independent voice.

That he argues he favors the end of the relationship, but only if proposed by a new ministry headed by his party is pure, if vicious satire. Yes politics can be this contrived, but the entire set up is a fictional contrivance.

His case for being part of the new ministry is legitimately based on the work he has accomplished in elective office and in the field. That he is very hard about not wanting preferment by means of petticoat connections is to his favor. He wants recognition because he thinks he deserves it.

He also believes, sincerely, that he is being opposed by men of lessor personal qualities and for reason mean in spirit.

He remains a ladies man, at least 2 or is it 3 in line for his next wife. That said he has no desire to be a 'pink' appointment to office

Anyone else feel that the sudden death of his hometown wife was contrived?

message 6: by Lori, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lori Goshert (lori_laleh) | 1560 comments Mod
Phrodrick wrote: "Anyone else feel that the sudden death of his hometown wife was contrived?"

Oh, yes. Phineas is Trollope's male version of Eleanor Bold. A favorite character to whom he wanted to give a second story line that included a second romance (or at least have Phineas free again to take risks).

message 7: by Phrodrick (new)

Phrodrick Far more then Trollope's trivialization of party politics. What comes through in bold colors is his real political issue. Politics of the heart and hearth.

message 8: by Linda (new)

Linda | 207 comments I am enjoying the political shenanigans as well. While I realize Trollope is offering a satirical version, sadly it is so close to or equal to the truth of the current situation in the US, I am continually amazed. Imagine, a political party which is willing to abandon long held principles as they blindly follow an unscrupulous leader who believes that he alone can fix the nation- too fantastical to be believed!

I find Phineas's determination not to accept any position based on Glencora or Laura's intercession chauvinistic. How did he win his previous seats if not without the intercession of many powerful men? His flip-flopping on the issue of disestablishment just proves his continuing subordination of ethics for political gain, so I can't believe his refusal of their help is based on his finding his moral conscience. However, he is obviously so upset by not being given a place in the ministry that if Glencora or Laura were to be ultimately successful, I don't see how he would not accept. I guess we'll find out. I did love how Glencora was able to connive Bonteen out of the position of Chancellor.

In his autobiography, Trollope writes that he saw no other option than to kill off Mary. Phineas could not return to London and Parliament while she was still alive. Evidently, Trollope regretted having to do it.

message 9: by Robin P, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Robin P | 2398 comments Mod
So apparently when he finished Phineas Finn, he didn't plan on bringing him back. It seems to me he could have introduced some other character for this part of the story.

I really like what you said, Linda, about Phineas owing his career to powerful men, which is totally true, and no one thinking anything wrong with it. Just think if Laura, Glencora, Mme Max and the others could have been in government themselves!

message 10: by Phrodrick (new)

Phrodrick "I find Phineas's determination not to accept any position based on Glencora or Laura's intercession chauvinistic. How did he win his previous seats if not without the intercession of many powerful men?"

As much as we may want to make this a 21st century novel. It is of its time and place.
A petticoat appointment is a insult to any person who believed he had an earned right to preferment. He is frustrated over this point because the mere fact that these women are being so involved will taint whatever the outcome.
Who is going to believe in his merit if they know about the women?

It is a double insult if he loses what he believes himself to have earned to smaller people with smaller minds and motivations.

We already know that powerful people, with factual knowledge of his performance admit to his ability.

The arguments before us are:
1. His relative merit Which is what he wants recognized.
2. His assured party loyalty. He failed that once before on grounds of principle, and this is the only case his enemies make against him.
3. He is popular with certain - want to be powerful ladies. Who are assumed, rightly or wrongly to have only an emotional preference to him.

There is no honor in any of the cases except case 1

The Duchess Glencora wants to be a social power house. This is the role she bargained for. She wants to be in charge of who has what level of social and political access. She took up Lady Eustace's cause, and was wrong. It may be that she wants to be a part of things because she can, not because she knows what she is about.

As a former Navy Officer, I can tell you that getting the reputation of having political influence can be a career killer. Much like a petticoat appointment, the assumption is that you lack ability.

There comes a point when 21st century women, do not want a job or promotion because they are women, they want it because they know they will be good at it. This is what PF wants. What ever the origins of his original break, now is the time for him to be recognized on merit.

message 11: by Phrodrick (new)

Phrodrick We could almost make a contest out of finding times when Trollope plays favorites with Phineas.
(view spoiler)

Clearly Trollope will bend or break rules about deus ex machina for his protected son.

New Topic or older one

I begin to get a glimmer about PF. Early in this book he returns to London more or less disgusted with the way his political friends deserted him while he was out of the House. He leaps back into elective politics with something like a mature understanding that his political friends will remember him only insofar as he has a politically existence.

Now he is upset because these same friends are making decisions about him that are , and are understood to have political dimensions.

There looks to be an apparent failure, on PF's part.
He knows that: his merit was ignored when he held no elected spot but
He is adamant that merit should suddenly be the only consideration now that he has returned to elective office.

I have only a handle on this aspect of his personality, but my sense is that Trollope does not want use to think on this.

message 12: by Linda (new)

Linda | 207 comments Phrodrick wrote: ""I find Phineas's determination not to accept any position based on Glencora or Laura's intercession chauvinistic. How did he win his previous seats if not without the intercession of many powerful..."

I absolutely agree that my comment about Phineas behaving chauvinistically is a modern reaction. I usually try to read through the 19th century lens, but this time it was too much to refrain!

However, no matter how much Phineas wants to be viewed on his merits, his political friends and foes, whether male or female, will ultimately decide his fate, or so it appears as far as I’ve read. Cantrip tells him as much. Phineas did scuttle the ship and Cantrip says that Phineas knew he would have to accept any consequences- Bonteen’s hatred and a general party aversion to Phineas having a government position. Cantrip does try to be optimistic by telling Phineas that he will eventually find favor again.

What is interesting is how men and women both try to wield their power in whatever way is socially open to them- women behind the scenes and men in the world of politics and government- and what their objectives are in using their power. It certainly seems that Glencora, Laura and Madame Max are all motivated by helping others whom they care for rather than the moral validity of any social issue. As for the men, except for some exceptions such as Turnbull, they are not motivated primarily by issues but by taking and retaining power and putting their party above all. Actually, men and women operate from similar motivations to remain true to a group- for women it is those people they care for and for men it is their political party.

A brief comment on modern women in the work world. Women have always wanted/demanded to be judged on their merits. Unfortunately, even including the present day, they are all too often discriminated against for being women- whether the discrimination stems from believing they have some emotional “defect” in their personalities or the assumed conflict between work, childbearing and family responsibilities. While we have come a long way since the 1950’s and 60’s, these reasons still underlie why, for example, there is such a scarcity of women in mid-management positions in Fortune 500 companies which results in there not being a big enough pool of qualified women from whom to choose for CEO positions of those companies.

message 13: by Linda (new)

Linda | 207 comments Phrodrick wrote: "We could almost make a contest out of finding times when Trollope plays favorites with Phineas.

He signs himself into ruinous debt only to have the schnook's (was it Fitzgibbons?) sister show up ..."

I agree. Phineas certainly has lost his golden boy status, at least for now, and appears to be on a high horse proclaiming his unjust treatment, especially by Bonteen, in judging him by his past political behavior. However, that he is also a victim of the false rumors surrounding Laura, Kennedy and him is unjust and will hopefully be set right.

I think Trollope is always on Phineas's side, but in creating a truly three dimensional character, he does present definite flaws or negative aspects in his personality which any actual person would have.

message 14: by Phrodrick (new)

Phrodrick Linda wrote: "Phrodrick wrote: ""I find Phineas's determination not to accept any position based on Glencora or Laura's intercession chauvinistic. How did he win his previous seats if not without the intercessio..."

Very good points thanks

message 15: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 3094 comments Mod
I can see how helpless Phineas feels in dealing with the press campaign that has tarnished is image. He has summed up his situation accurately, in that he knows he is on the outside in his party.
I don't like Glencora's interference in trying to get him a post, but I am glad she succeeded in keeping Bonteen out.

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