Lady Anna: The Solicitor-General as Prospero

  • R. D. Mcmaster


Lady Anna is about legitimacy — the legitimacy of a marriage, the legitimacy of a birth. But beyond these questions of legal fact, it is about legitimacy in a more general and metaphorical sense. At the level of fact, if the Countess Lovel is truly Earl Lovel’s wife, her daughter has the right to be called Lady Anna (thus the significance of the title), to be accorded the status and observances due to her rank, and to be capable of inheritance. For, says Blackstone, ‘The incapacity of a bastard consists principally in this, that he cannot be heir to any one, neither can he have heirs, but of his own body; for, being nullius filius, he is therefore of kin to nobody, and has no ancestor from whom any inheritable blood can be derived.’1 These are matters of great social and emotional consequence. Though the Countess comes from a humble but respectable background — her father, Captain Murray, ‘had come of the right Murrays’ (3) — and we have little doubt of her moral status; nevertheless, the establishment of legal fact one way or the other will result in social exaltation or penury. Reflecting on these possibilities, we come to the metaphorical sense of legitimacy, the sense in which we speak of legitimate theatre or legitimate argument;2 that is, something having a generally recognised status or admissibility.


Italian Woman Legitimate Theatre Legal Fact Paradise Lost Metaphorical Sense 
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Notes and References

  1. 3.
    P. D. Edwards, Anthony Trollope, his Art and Scope, (Hassocks: Harvester Press, 1978) p. 128.Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    James Kincaid, The Novels of Anthony Trollope, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977) p. 162.Google Scholar
  3. 11.
    Northrop Frye, The Anatomy of Criticism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1957) p. 174.Google Scholar
  4. 15.
    Edmund Burke, Reflections on the French Revolution, (London: Dent Everyman, 1910), pp. 19–20.Google Scholar
  5. 16.
    Drinker, ‘The Lawyers of Anthony Trollope’, in Two Addresses Delivered to Members of the Grolier Club (New York: Grolier Club, 1950) p. 41.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© R. D. McMaster 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. D. Mcmaster
    • 1
  1. 1.University of AlbertaCanada

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