The Eustace Diamonds

by Anthony Trollope

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Lizzie Eustace

Lizzie Eustace, a wealthy and beautiful young widow who is much the center of attention in London society. Prior to her brief marriage to Sir Florian Eustace, she was the impoverished daughter of Admiral Greystock, an elderly and dissolute retired naval officer who was, as the narrator states, “in his later life much perplexed by the possession of a daughter.” Lizzie is nineteen when her father dies, and it is painfully evident that she has grown up to become a self-centered, amoral person, bored with the Victorian virtues intended as a guide for the conduct and training of proper young women. Whereas other young women seek to prepare themselves for husbands of virtuous character and position in the community, Lizzie is obsessed with a romantic ideal and longs for a Byronic hero, a dark and subtly dangerous “corsair” to carry her off into a vaguely outlined life of ecstasy and excitement. Her selfishness and her many failed attempts at manipulating others take on comic rather than sinister proportions in the course of the novel.

Frank Greystock

Frank Greystock, a young barrister and newly elected member of Parliament for the conservative party. Frank’s father is a clergyman, the dean of Bobsborough, and the family is not wealthy. Frank therefore is faced with the necessity of marrying someone with the financial means to further his career. The apparent dilemma lies in the fact that Frank loves Lucy Morris, a young and rather plain governess who is as loyal and virtuous as she is penniless. When Lizzie, besieged by the family lawyer seeking the return of the Eustace Diamonds, can find no champion for her interests, she turns to Frank, who chivalrously takes up her cause. Their close proximity during the time Frank helps and counsels her causes him to give at least passing consideration to the expediency of marriage to his wealthy cousin. Lizzie makes her best effort to seduce him away from Lucy Morris, but ultimately she fails. The combination of his personal integrity and his love for Lucy keeps Frank from subverting his affections and principles simply to advance his career.

Lucy Morris

Lucy Morris, the governess to the Fawn family and a childhood friend of Lizzie Greystock Eustace. She is in every significant aspect the polar opposite of Lizzie. A favorite in the Fawn household, she is as highly regarded by Lady Fawn as one of her own daughters. Though not a striking beauty like Lizzie, Lucy, according to the narrator, has a smile that makes all the old and middle-aged men fall in love with her. She is dutiful, sweetly social and genial, bright, and energetic. In short, she is a paradigm of the young Victorian woman. When she discovers that she has fallen in love with Frank Greystock, she is resigned to the fact—or so she believes at the time—that someone with Frank’s bright future will never marry a governess. Nevertheless, she knows that she can never love anyone else. Her role in the novel is to be an example of the virtues of constancy and fidelity.

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