English Society. Sketched by George r. Click on image to enlarge it.. From
The Old Marquis of Carabas.— “What, madam! There’s your lovely but penniless daughter positively dying to marry me; and here I am, willing to settle £20,000 a year on her, and give her one of the oldest titles in England, and you refuse your consent!!!! By George, madam, in my young days it wasn’t the mothers who objected to men of my sort. It was the daughters themselves!!"
Nous Avons Changé Tout Cela ("We've changed all that"), which depicts a girl's parent objecting to her desire to marry an unsuitable but wealthy older man, touches upon much the same subject that Trollope depicts in The Way We Live Now. There Georgina Longstaffe, who's despaired of acquiring a suitable husband, wishes to marry a much older Jewish banker. Trollope turns the tables on the reader, who likely shares Georgina's father's prejudice against Jews, by making Breghert the only one in the entire novel who acts with nobility and "class," — that is, as a gentleman.
Here du Maurier, who wishes to create a simple opposition of age, makes the elderly suitor both English and extraordinarily wealthy, reversing the situation in many British novels in which men with titles but little money seek to marry young women, daughters of the nouveau riche (who could even be American), to restore the family fortune. That much is clear in this cartoon, but why did du Maurier name the man with “one of the oldest titles in England” the Marquis of Carabas — the cunning cat who saves the day in “Puss in Boots” as well as a character in Benjamin Disraeli’s novel Vivian Grey? (Well after du Maurier twenty- and twenty-first-century novels and an anime also appeared with this title).
Nous Avons Changé Tout Cela combines realism and the grotesque: the old man strikes the viewer as someone out of a cartoon by Phiz or John Leech, whereas the young woman, her mother, and all the details in the cartoon belong to a much more realistic style.
Scanned image and text by George P. Landow [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the person who scanned the image and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]
English Society. Sketched by George du Maurier. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1897.
Created 1 July 2001
Last modified 30 April 2020