Thursday, 1 September 2011

Barry Lyndon Plot Summary, Chapter 19

  • Barry declares that this final chapter shows how his fall is brought on by what he calls ungrateful scoundrels.
  • He buys Bryan a horse. In contrast to Bullington, Bryan's rebelliousness is described in a favourable light. The horse turns out to be quite wild, and when Bryan disobeys his father and rides the horse, he falls off and dies. The sorrow brings Barry and Lady Lyndon together for a few months.
  • Barry sells the ancient oaks of Hackton Castle for a pittance to raise money, then loses it gambling.
  • Barry confines Lady Lyndon to the Castle under the watch of his mother. Now, close to destitution, he describes his mother in a more positive tone than at the height of his career. He intercepts letters written in lemon juice from Lady Lyndon to her former lover Sir George Poynings. Through Barry's secretary, Redmond Quin (the son of Nora and Captain Quin), she plans to escape but Barry finds them out.
  • In constant need of money, Barry is given an offer on his mines from a London firm. They need Lady Lyndon to approve in person at their offices, and so Barry and Lady Lyndon goes to London in spite of Bell Brady's misgivings.
  • The meeting turns out to be another scheme of Quin's. Barry is, after some roamings, thrown in the Fleet Prison where he lives out his days under the care of his mother.
Thackeray's commentator, G.M. Fitz-Boodle wraps up the narrative as follows.
  • After an unsuccessful gambling career on the continent, Barry tries to blackmail Lord George but fails. He tries to get Lady Lyndon to flee with him, but is thwarted in this endeavour by Bullington, the rumor of whose death was false: "Bullington assaulted his step-father [...] and administered to him a tremendous castigation in the Pump-room" (OUP 2008, 308).
  • After this encounter, Barry is sent from prison to prison, living on an annuity through Lady Lyndon. When she dies, this annuity is discontinued. Bullington dies in the Napoleonic Wars and all the Lyndon property passes on to Lord George, heir of the Tiptoffs.
  • Barry dies from delirium tremens brought on by alcohol abuse.

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