(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

The citizens in the community of Hogglestock are upset because Mr. Crawley, the curate, has been accused of stealing a check for twenty pounds. In Archdeacon Grantly’s home, where there is concern that Henry Grantly might marry Grace Crawley, the curate’s schoolteacher daughter, emotions are running high.

Bishop Proudie and his wife are set against the unfortunate Crawley. Mrs. Proudie, who exerts great power over her husband, persuades the bishop to write a letter to Mr. Crawley, forbidding him to preach in his church until the case is settled one way or another. When Mr. Crawley refuses the injunction in a letter of reply, Mr. and Mrs. Proudie quarrel regarding his answer. Mr. Proudie then sends for Mr. Crawley, asking him to come to the bishop’s palace at once. Mr. Crawley arrives, hot and tired from his very long walk to to the palace, and simply repeats what he has stated in his letter. He then departs, leaving the bishop and his wife amazed at his boldness.

Mr. Crawley is not kept from performing his duties at the church on Christmas morning. Because he cannot recall how he came into possession of the money in question, he tells his wife that he believes he must belong either in jail or in Bedlam (an insane asylum). At last, Henry Grantly decides to ask Grace Crawley to marry him even though to do so is to go against his parents’ wishes. At the same time, Lily Dale, Grace Crawley’s friend, is being wooed by young John Eames, a clerk in the Income Tax Office in London and a suitor, once rejected, whom Lily’s mother favors. Eames is the friend of a London artist named Conway Dalrymple, who is painting a portrait of Miss Clara Van Siever, a mutual friend, in the sitting room of Mrs. Dobbs Broughton. Meanwhile, the aged Mrs. Van Siever is engaged in forcing Dobbs Broughton to pay money he owes to her.

Not long afterward, John Eames meets Henry Grantly. Neither likes the other at first. Eames meets Lily in Lady Julia de Guest’s home, where Grace is also visiting, and he discusses his unfavorable meeting with Henry Grantly in front of Grace. When Henry proposes to Grace, she refuses him and returns home to be with her father during his trial. Lily tells Eames that she plans to die an old maid, her heart having been broken by Adolphus Crosbie, a former suitor.

Mr. Toogood, a distant relative, is to defend Mr. Crawley in his trial regarding the stolen check. John Eames is brought into the...

(The entire section is 1002 words.)