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Friday, February 11, 2011

Unwillingness to Work in TWWLN (cont'd)

Wharfedale (1872), John Atkinson Grimshaw

 Lord Nidderdale is yet another lord whose family is having pecuniary troubles.  In order to correct these troubles, the young lord's father, the Marquis, has tried to arrange a marriage between Nidderdale and Marie Melmotte, a union which would require Melmotte to pay a sum of half a million pounds before it is settled.  Melmotte struggles to acquire the money and Nidderdale gives up his pursuit.  He begins to have true feelings for her later, but a marriage becomes impossible with Melmotte's suicide and the revelation of his crimes. 
The situation of Lady Carbury is a little different.  A widow with an income of £1000 a year, she quickly realizes that is not enough money, having a son like Felix who is a spendthrift.  Therefore, she pursues a literary career, though without any training, producing the book Criminal Queens, a factually challenged historical work.  Her scheme is to solicit favorable reviews of her work from three editors of popular newspapers of the day, hoping they will overlook the the fact that the work lacks true scholarship.  Called "false from head to foot" (Ch. 2)), she evens uses her feminine qualities to appeal to one editor in particular, Mr. Broune.  Lady Carbury does not refuse to work but looks for the easy way out, never once suggesting that Felix himself should work but instead enabling his laziness. 

As an antithesis these lazy characters, all dwelling in the city of London, Trollope introduces John Crumb, who lives outside the city.  Crumb is engaged to Ruby Ruggles, who rejects Crumb because of his poverty as well as his lack of education and elegance. 

Her education has been much better than that of the man.  She can read, whereas he can only spell words from a book.  She can write a letter after her fashion, whereas he can barely spell words out on a paper.  Her tongue is more glib, and her intellect sharper.  But her ignorance as to the reality of things is much more gross than his.  By such contact as he has with men in markets, in the streets of the towns he frequents, and even in the fields, he learns something unconsciously of the relative condition of his countrymen,—and, as to that which he does not learn, his imagination is obtuse.  But the woman builds castles in the air, and wonders, and longs (Ch. 18)

Crumb, a "dealer in meal and pollard" (Ch. 18), shows up to a dinner at the Ruggles home covered with evidence of his work, his uncouth appearance repulses Ruby.  Preferring Felix, Ruby is drawn to the latter's physical characteristics (good-looking, well-groomed, though clothed carelessly) but ignores his flaws and inability to support her, unlike Crumb, who though "the dustiest of all men" (Ch. 18) is "afraid of no work" (Ch. 33). 

She made mental comparisons between him and Sir Felix Carbury.  She could see, as though present to her at the moment, the mealy, floury head of the one, with hair stiff with perennial dust from his sacks, and the sweet glossy dark well-combed locks of the other, so bright, so seductive, that she was ever longing to twine her fingers among them.  And she remembered the heavy, flat, broad honest face of the mealman, with his mouth slow in motion, and his broad nose looking like a huge white promontory, and his great staring eyes, from the corners of which he was always extracting meal and grit;—and then also she remembered the white teeth, the beautiful soft lips, the perfect eyebrows, and the rich complexion of her London lover (Ch. 33).

It is only through misuse that Ruby is able to appreciate Crumb as the better man.  As a result, he is one of the few characters in the book that ends up happy with the love of his life while maintaining his integrity.

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