MASTER OF ARTS VICTORIAN LITERATURE,
ART AND CULTURE,
ROYAL HOLLOWAY UNIVERSITY OF LONDON
The events in Trollope’s The Small House at Allington, like many Victorian novels, centres around the promise and pursuit of matrimony. However, owing to the novel being written in a period which was ‘dominated by the cult of athleticism’1 and when ‘the complete transition to manhood depended on marriage’2, Trollope explores the problematic progression from courting to matrimony, not only in emotional terms, but also through sporting activities. The idea that finding a husband or a wife is like a game becomes complicated through Trollope’s characterisation that makes both male and female protagonists active in the hunt, rather than the game involving active men and passive women, as usually expected in Victorian sporting activities. The women’s, especially Alexandrina de Courcy’s, involvement in the marriage game challenges the Victorian ideals of masculinity, as both Johnny Eames and Adolphus Crosbie flounder in their matchmaking and fail to emerge as a true hero or successful sportsmen.