Moral and Social Acceptability

  • David Skilton


The Victorian novelist had to tread a tight-rope of moral and social acceptability. On the one hand he risked offending against very strict but often imprecisely formulated canons of behaviour; on the other hand he might be overcautious, and fall into dullness and consequent popular failure. At the summit of his popularity Trollope successfully performed this feat of balance, having risen in public and critical esteem by hitting on the exact blend of raciness and propriety in Barchester Towers and Framley Parsonage. His, re-marked the Saturday Review in 1867, is the literature of ‘the moral and respectable middle-class mind’, and combines interest with moral unexceptionableness to the satisfaction of readers of all ages. ‘The most careful mother need not make a pioneer excursion among Mr. Trollope’s pages in quest of naughtiness forbidden to her daughters; and yet few young people, save of the very fast pattern, will call those pages slow…’ 1


Social Acceptability Secondary Character Happy Ending Literary Convention Social Prejudice 
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© David Skilton 1996

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  • David Skilton

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