Sunday, August 8, 2010

Mr. Slope is a cunning and ruthless opportunist loyal to none but himself. Discuss with special reference to Barchester Towers.

“Mr. Slope is a cunning and ruthless opportunist loyal to none but himself” that is what comes as the final assessment of the character of Mr. Slope after reading the novel, Barchester Towers. Trollope has presented Mr. Slope as an ugly character and has used many weapons in his armoury to make us dislike him. Trollope introduces him to us as:

“His hair is lank, and of a dull, pale, reddish hue. It is always formed into three straight lumpy masses, each brushed with admirable precision, and cemented with much grease…He wears no whiskers, and is always punctiliously shaven. His face is nearly of the same colour as his hair, though perhaps a little redder; it is not unlike bad beef—beef, however, one would say, of a bad quality. His forehead is capacious and high, but square and heavy, and unpleasantly shining. His mouth is large, though his lips are thin and bloodless.”

Mr. Slope has risen from humble beginnings and hopes to rise still further. He becomes the domestic chaplain of the Bishop of Barchester and is determined to be the power behind the throne and is prepared to fight his benefactress, Mrs. Proudie, in order to make it happen. He feels that he is capable of quickly rising in the church leadership and views individual people as stepping stones to his success.
He has both courage and spirit to bear him out in his resolution. He had taught himself to think that in doing much for the promotion of his own interests he was doing much also for the promotion of religion. He is a spiritual tyrant; his religion is a means for him to denounce, terrify, mortify, control, and become master over the behaviour of other people. Trollope tells us Slope cares little for the specifics of doctrine; but when he ‘walks through the streets, his very face denotes his horror of the world’s wickedness, there is always an anathema lurking in the corner of his eye’.
He wanted a wife, and he wanted money, but he wanted power more than either. He had once paid court to Olivia (Dr. Proudie’s eldest daughter) but had withdrawn on the grounds that she was not wealthy enough.
When Dr. Proudie became bishop however, he renewed his suit, but was rejected. His courtship of Eleanor is a reflection of his character, in that he feels no remorse in attempting to marry her for her money. He considers himself worthy of being promoted to be the Dean of the Cathedral and taps his resources of powerful friends to gain that position only to be cast off even from the lowly job of domestic chaplain. He goes on to a career in small but wealthy churches in London. His activities right from his entry in the story till the end, his efforts to knit the conspiracies, shifting of his loyalties (however he was loyal to none but to himself only), the changes in his preferences and his plans to use the people in his support, his brushing off his insults—all these things show clearly that he is a cunning and ruthless opportunist who is loyal to none but to himself only. He is always seen in search of an opportunity or chance to jump to the higher positions and for this purpose he can go to any extent.

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