Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*England. Peregrine’s home and the scene of many of his adventures. Most members of the genteel society in which Peregrine prefers to move, spend the great majority of their time in London and at various country estates, entertaining and visiting friends. Smollett’s setting is England before the Industrial Revolution. For Peregrine, the great metropolis of London does not significantly differ from the rural counties, with lovers and scoundrels to be found in both places, and ruination or advancement equally likely to happen in either.

Very much a writer of his time, Smollett is unlike the Romantics of a later generation in that he does not use location as an organic or emotional backdrop for his characters and their actions. The landscape is a knowable quantity, as it had been for centuries. Thus when Peregrine visits London the first time, he is not overwhelmed by new sensations. New places merely represent new opportunities—usually for mischief.

*Continental Europe

*Continental Europe. The grand tour of Europe was requisite for all gentlemen of fashion. Peregrine is sent on a journey through France and the Low Countries (future Belgium and Holland) with the idea of improving his education and exposing himself to the niceties of French society. Being a spirited young man, however, he tends to devote his energy to wooing women, getting in fights, playing pranks on his companions, and avoiding the law. He dutifully sees the various tourist sights of the day, usually at the instigation of his tutor or a local person, but he is far more interested in the people he meets, as Smollett’s aim is to critique society’s follies, not...

(The entire section is 696 words.)