Bachelor of Arts
Madeline Neroni, Subversive, Siren, Narrator, Barchester Towers, Anthony Trollope
The first half of this paper will trace Neroni's development from the unlikely caricature of a siren to the rounded, believable narrator's accomplice whose position establishes her own credibility. Neroni serves to reinforce and augment the implications of the narrative whenever she holds court with her suitors. As "the Circe of Barchester" (Kn 37 1), she leads her lovers into revealing those traits that the narrator has already warned us to expect, thereby providing the narrator with further text to comment upon. Trollope needs to reveal certain aspects of his men, not in their inward deliberation, but in startled reactions to a shot gone home. The narrator discloses their areas of potential psychological conflict; Neroni starts the conflict into motion.
My second half will examine Neroni's position as an accomplice to that side of the author that subverts the narrator's more conventional views. Neroni's subversive role is built on the foundations of the narrator's early dependence on her as a clear-seeing, analytical character. Her original position of moral ambiguity sets her up as the logical advocate for the views about which the author himself feels ambivalent. Even as Trollope cajoles the reader into belief in the reliability of Neroni's moral judgments, he is jolting us periodically with her unorthodox moral opinions. In this section, we build on a hypothetical delineation of Neroni's self-concept to show how her unorthodox perspective is both valid and necessary.
Low, Jennifer A., "Madeline Neroni and the Moral Design of Barchester Towers" (1984). Honors Papers. 630.