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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Paul Montague

Trollope introduces Paul Montague as a friend of Roger Carbury.  Though likeable, Paul is weak in that he allows others to make decisions for him that he himself should make.  he seeks Roger for advice, only to fail to follow through.  Paul's tendency to vacillate when facing tough situations causes the conflicts with which he must contend in the novel.

Upon inheriting £6000 from his late father, Paul allowed his uncle to invest his money in the railway venture of Hamilton Fisker with "an assurance from his uncle that an income amounting to ten per cent. upon his capital should be remitted to him with the regularity of clockwork" (Ch. 6).  This promise, however, never fully materializes and Paul loses money in a venture in which he never wanted to invest.  Further, Paul unwillingly plays a significant role in getting Melmotte to head the London office of the firm, even though he is leery of Melmotte as a swindler, at one point calling him "as vile a scoundrel as ever lived" (Ch. 26).  Nevertheless, even with this insight into Melmotte's character, Paul still agrees to accept a position on the Board because "the money was very pleasant to him" (Ch. 22).  Paul was starting to be drawn to the money grubbing aspect of the scheme, choosing to ignore his conscience.  He knows he should end his involvement, his wavering is caused by his desire to make money.

Paul's vacillation with regard to Mrs. Hurtle nearly causes an end to his relationship with Hetta.  Though Roger requested that Paul not pursue Hetta so that the former may have her as his own, Paul ignores Roger's request because Hetta had already rejected Roger multiple times.  Paul's previous uniformed engagement to an American divorcee cause Paul much trouble when Mrs. Hurtle travels to England to get an explanation for Paul's breaking off of the affair.  Though Paul no longer loves Mrs. Hurtle, his consents to take her to a play and spend some time with her at the beach, appearing in public with her as an engaged couple without having told Hetta that a Mrs. Hurtle exists.  Paul's feeling do not vacillate but his actions suggest that he is not willing to separate himself completely from his past.

Paul is "at heart honest and well-conditioned" (Ch. 10), but he is a person of questionable judgment and not forceful enough when dealing with challenging situations.  Such a personality trait causes him to deal with many troubles he could avoid. 

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