When it suits him, as we have seen, Trollope adopts the conventions of romance and stands them on end for gentle mockery of puppy love, all the while exploiting the fairy tale so engagingly that his readers are willing participants in the game of make-believe. We follow lovers’ adventures, mistakes and partings up to the grand moment when all problems are solved and the lovers are clasped in each other’s arms. What follows in a page or two is perfunctory tidying up of the loose threads until every Jack has his Jill. Some critics scorn this frivolity. But young love is important preparation for later relationships against the stable background of marriage, home, work and satisfying avocations. Perhaps youthful pangs and ecstasies occupy more space than what comes after. This is only to be expected, for pursuit and capture offer such scope to the writer. But in Trollopé s case they are only part of the matter; and despite their preponderance in his fiction the less significant part. It is his studies of mature love in marriage through which moral problems are examined, complex characters are explored, and much of the chaotic and disturbing pattern of human life is set before us.
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