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Reading Ideas in Victorian LiteratureLiterary Content as Artistic Experience$
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Patrick Fessenbecker

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781474460606

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474460606.001.0001

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Anthony Trollope on Akrasia, Self-Deception and Ethical Confusion

Anthony Trollope on Akrasia, Self-Deception and Ethical Confusion

(p.76) Chapter 2 Anthony Trollope on Akrasia, Self-Deception and Ethical Confusion
Reading Ideas in Victorian Literature

Patrick Fessenbecker

Edinburgh University Press

Victoria Glendinning has noted that the “Ur-story” of Trollope’s novels consists of a romantic triangle where a protagonist is romantically committed to one character, yet becomes attracted to another character and hence delays the fulfillment of the first relationship. Trollope’s use of this form is not accidental: his novels return repeatedly and reflectively to agents who act against their own best judgment. Characters like Phineas Finn, who act on impulses they wish they did not have and for reasons with which they themselves disagree, demonstrate the centrality of the philosophical problem of akrasia or “weakness of the will” to Trollope’s thought, and thus make clear the extent to which Trollope’s use of the form of the romantic triangle is a tool for the analysis of a problem in moral psychology.

Keywords:   Anthony Trollope, Moral Psychology, Irrationality, Can You Forgive Her, Moral Deliberation

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