Gentlemanliness, Status and Law in Anthony Trollope’s Lady Anna | R Antinucci | Pólemos

Despite the little critical attention it has received, Lady Anna is exemplary in Trollope’s output as a novel in which contemporary ideas of Englishness, gentlemanliness and the law are not only questioned, but also complicated and conflated in various ways. Whereas the majority of scholars have focused their analyses on the legal intricacies of the dispute involving Lady Anna and occasionally on the reflection on true gentlemanliness, which indeed is the central concern of the novel (most often simply to ascertain whether the son of a tailor could be a gentleman or not), the present contribution intends to re-assess the paradigms of masculinities embodied by the male protagonists of Trollope’s novel, and to verify to what extent the gentlemanly status can also be granted to the law’s representatives, in particular to the Solicitor-General Sir William Patterson in both his private and public roles. The various and opposite criteria adopted by the different characters to judge and define a gentleman mirror the epistemological changes that had been re-shaping the debate on its figure, thus disclosing a social texture in which old and new notions of gentlemanliness co-existed.

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