"The Hero of This Little History"

Hobbledehoydom in Anthony Trollope's "Ayala's Angel"

in Boyhood Studies
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Using Anthony Trollope’s character Tom Tringle ofAyala’s Angel, I argue that in his portrayal of the hobbledehoy, Trollope is imposing on Victorian boys and young men a code of behavior every bit as restrictive and every bit as unnatural as the “suffer and be still” doctrine imposed on girls and young women. Using critical tools from the fields of Masculinity Studies and studies of literary character, I discuss Trollope’s portrayal of Tom Tringle as emblematic of the restrictions Victorian gender ideology placed on women. What emerges is a new dimension to Victorian gender studies. The admonition addressed to Victorian women of all ages and classes that they should “suffer and be still” in the face of any adversity is well known, and is often accompanied by the assumption that no similar restriction is placed on boys and men. In the world of Anthony Trollope’s novels, however, unlike that of many other Victorian novelists, women seldom need much taming, as obedience is a strong character trait in the majority of his heroines. His young men, on the other hand, tend to be far less morally evolved, and in Trollope’s love plots, if anyone has to undergo profound changes of character before being fit for marriage, it is usually the man. I argue that Trollope’s stern but gentle treatment of the misfit Tom provides further answers to the often debated question of Trollopes relative conservatism.

Boyhood Studies

An Interdisciplinary Journal