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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 410

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When Reverend Josiah Crawley, is accused of theft, the people of tiny Hogglestock quickly take sides about his guilt or innocence. By the end of the novel, the reader learn that it was all a misunderstanding, but Anthony Trollope reveals the workings of social pressure and the ripple effects emanating from this small town’s “crime.”

Reverend Crawley uses a check to pay his bill at the butcher’s, but later cannot explain how he got the check. As the news of the alleged theft spreads, the Church authorities decide to act against him. The Bishop of Barsetshire, based in the city of Barchester, is constantly goaded into righteous zeal by his ambitious wife. Bishop Proudie forbids Reverend Crawley to hold services until the case is settled, but Crawley refuses. This complicates the situation because even some of his supporters criticize Crawley for arrogance.

The situation weighs heavily on Grace, the Crawleys adult daughter. The man she loves, Major Henry Grantly, sides with her father and against his own father, who is the archdeacon of Barchester. Henry proposes to Grace, who cannot imagine accepting while her father is under a cloud. Legal charges are now being pursued, and Josiah must stand trial.

Meanwhile, the other townspeople go about their business. A romance is brewing between John Eames, Grace’s cousin, and Lily Dale, her friend. John works in London and socializes with a smart set including an artist who is painting a rich woman’s portrait. When Mr. Toogood is hired as Josiah’s attorney, he recruits John to help with investigations for the defense. The Arabins, from whom Josiah had obtained the check—although he has forgotten that fact—are traveling abroad, so Toogood sends John after them. Josiah remains in limbo as the clerical commission will not reinstate him until the civil proceedings are resolved. The sub-loot with the portrait painted grows more complex, including the suicide of the man in whose house the painting was being done.

Once John locates the Arabins, Josiah’s situation is resolved. Mrs. Arabin had forgotten to tell her husband about receiving a check and giving it to Josiah. Now that he is fully exonerated, Grace consents to the engagement with Henry, and his father withdraws his objection. John and Lily do not get together, however, but his artist friend marries the young woman whose portrait he painted. The Church authorities transfer Josiah to a more lucrative post in a different town.


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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1002

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 Crawley case by Mr. Toogood, who wants Eames to go to Florence and attempt to persuade Mr. Arabin, an influential clergyman, to come to Mr. Crawley’s rescue. There is another reason Arabin should return to England: Mrs. Arabin’s father, Mr. Harding, is ailing and growing weaker each day.

Conway Dalrymple works on Miss Van Siever’s portrait, which is still a secret from Dobbs Broughton, in whose house it is being painted. Broughton has ordered the artist out of his house, but Mrs. Broughton wants the picture painted, regardless of her jealous husband’s reactions.

The clerical commission summoned by Bishop Proudie reaches no decision concerning Mr. Crawley. The commission members resolve that nothing should be done until the civil courts have decided his case. Archdeacon Grantly tries to engage the help of Lady Lufton to prevent the marriage of his son to Grace Crawley, but Lady Lufton refuses. The archdeacon finally promises that he will no longer oppose the marriage if Mr. Crawley is found innocent of any crime.

Dobbs Broughton is being pressured for money by old Mrs. Van Siever. Clara Van Siever is to marry Musselboro, Broughton’s former partner, but Dalrymple is still hoping to marry Clara. He is putting the last touches to Clara’s portrait when Mrs. Van Siever enters the Broughton house; at her word, he destroys the painting. Over Clara’s objections, Mrs. Van Siever announces that her daughter is to marry Musselboro. After the Van Sievers leave, Musselboro arrives with news that Dobbs Broughton has killed himself that morning. Clara and Dalrymple resolve to face Mrs. Van Siever’s wrath together.

Mrs. Proudie continues her fight to have Mr. Crawley removed. After a quarrel with her husband, she retires to her room and dies there of a heart attack. True to the resolution imposed on him by Mrs. Proudie before her death, Mr. Crawley preaches a final sermon in his church and never again enters it as curate.

On the Continent, John Eames learns from Mrs. Arabin the cause of Mr. Crawley’s troubles. Mrs. Arabin, who had received the check from a tenant, had turned it over to Mr. Crawley without telling her husband, the dean, of the transaction. She has only recently heard of the charges against Mr. Crawley, and she is hurrying home to England to do what she can to straighten out the matter. In the meantime, Mr. Toogood traces the theft of the check to the tenant who had forwarded it to Mrs. Arabin.

Mr. Toogood and Henry Grantly take the good news to Mr. and Mrs. Crawley. When she hears their story, Mrs. Crawley, who has defended her husband from the beginning, breaks into tears. The messengers have to explain the situation carefully to Mr. Crawley, who cannot at first believe that his innocence is about to be proved. When Mr. Harding, the aged incumbent vicar of St. Ewold’s parish, dies, Archdeacon Grantly offers that position to Mr. Crawley as a recompense for all he has suffered. In midsummer, Grace Crawley becomes Mrs. Henry Grantly.

John Eames does not marry Lily Dale after all, for Lily is unable to make up her mind about him; Dalrymple, however, marries Clara Van Siever as he had planned. Musselboro, after losing Clara, proceeds to marry the widow of his old partner, and Mrs. Broughton’s sorrows are thus brought to an end.