Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Scotland. Roderick’s Scottish home is sketchily described, but, as his grandfather is a landowner, the house and estate must be somewhat grand and extensive. After Roderick is driven out by the malice of his relatives, that home becomes a kind of lost and found Eden, for, as an adult, he will return to it, rich, happily married, and reunited with his lost father.


*London. Capital of Great Britain and leading city of England where Roderick’s first visit becomes a descent into a kind of slapstick hell. For though the novel’s tone is comic, Tobias Smollett nevertheless emphasizes the poverty, degradation, physical dirtiness, and viciousness of the city. It is a dark place, physically as well as morally unlit, with narrow, dangerous streets. It is no surprise that many of Roderick’s mishaps take place at night. Smollett, perhaps unintentionally, makes a savage indictment of the abuses of the class structure. However, Roderick, although a critic, is not a revolutionary. London’s lower classes are usually presented not merely as victims but also as violent and evil in themselves; they are quite willing to steal from, cheat, and physically attack other poor people. Roderick, resentful of being treated like a member of the lower class, insists upon his status as a gentleman, while he has no shame in using and mistreating his schoolmate Hugh Strap.

Roderick’s later adventures in...

(The entire section is 530 words.)