Monday, October 3, 2011

In praise of Dr. Grantly

The weather was so nice this weekend! Which is another way of saying I didn't do too much reading.  (And I've been delinquent in answering comments; sorry!) But I did start in on Barchester Towers, the sequel to The Warden. I'm enjoying it, a lot, and I'm looking forward to being able to write about it here... aka finish it...

Anyway, much of my enjoyment of Barchester Towers thus far comes from the most excellent character of Dr Grantly, the archdeacon. He's just so filled with righteous rage! In Trollope's world, Mr Harding is the central character in more ways than one; he's described as a good-hearted older man who is concerned to do the right thing and therefore takes very seriously the criticisms raised by reformers. Then the reformers on the one side are balanced by Dr Grantly on the other.

Dr Grantly is completely convinced of the rightness of his own position. He's shocked and appalled by the slightest suggestion to the contrary. And most of all, he's offended by those who don't behave according to a gentlemanly code of conduct.
And now, had I the pen of a mighty poet, would I sing in epic verse the noble wrath of the archdeacon.
So he's not necessarily the nicest of people (although since Trollope is pretty conservative, he always seems to be on the "right" side of things; and since I tend to be more on the conservative end myself, I suppose I'm more sympathetic than others would be). But really I think he's just an entertaining character.

As I think about it, it seems like a fair amount of modern comedy involves a bewildered "straight man" surrounded by exasperating absurdities. Off the top of my head, Oscar on The Office does this, right? Or Michael Bluth in Arrested Development. You could put together a whole subset of 30 Rock plots where Liz Lemon sets out to set people straight. Maybe that's part of why I find Dr Grantly's self-righteousness so amusing.

Imagine a non-awkward ending here :)

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