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“THE INTERCOURSE BETWEEN THE SQUIRE AND HIS SON”: THE FATHER-SON MARRIAGE PLOT AND THE CREATION OF THE ENGLISH GENTLEMAN IN ANTHONY TROLLOPE'S DOCTOR THORNE

  • Helena Gurfinkel (a1)

Extract

HE IS (NOT) A GENTLEMAN” is a verdict that we frequently encounter in Trollope's novels. The writer's concern with defining the English gentleman is virtually obsessive; however, his effort is fraught with numerous frustrating contradictions, reflecting the Victorians’ struggle to decide what constitutes exemplary masculinity. In some instances, Trollope's gentleman is a product of a certain class, while in others such elusive and intangible criteria as physical appearance and moral conduct come to define him. Despite the perennial identification of the name “Trollope” and Trollope's writing with thoroughly conventional ways of constructing gender, I argue that his gentleman is an expression of his nostalgia for an ideal of manhood that possesses traditionally feminine characteristics.

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