Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


Barsetshire. Fictional English county based, according to Trollope, on Somerset. A peaceful rural environment where families have lived for generations, Barsetshire is emblematic of traditional English values: respect for class differences, propriety, time-honored religious observance, and honest agricultural labor.


Barchester. Principal city in Barsetshire and the cathedral city for the Diocese of Barchester, a governance area established by the Church of England. Barchester attracts a wide variety of people whose lives are tied to the church and whose social and economic ambitions focus on its preferments and opportunities. As a center of religious and economic activity, Barchester is a place where newcomers and outsiders challenge the privileges and power of the establishment.

Bishop’s palace

Bishop’s palace. Official residence of the bishop of the Diocese of Barchester. The grandiose appellation of “palace” is a traditional term for a bishop’s residence and is more suggestive of the religious and social prominence of its residents than of their personal wealth. When two longtime parish clerics pay their first call on the new bishop, his wife, Mrs. Proudie, harangues the visitors with niggling complaints about the palace’s dilapidated condition. This scene throws light on Mrs. Proudie’s personality, revealing her to be a vulgar, social newcomer with little sense of propriety or grace. A further comment on Mrs. Proudie’s character may be adduced from the fact that she has converted a bedroom, a study, and the bishop’s sitting room into a suite of drawing rooms and a boudoir for her own particular use. As a result of this renovation, the bishop must work in a back parlor and conduct his clerical meetings in the dining room.

The palace is also the site of Mrs. Proudie’s first big party. It is a notable example of one character’s driving another from the room. In this scene, the beautiful, seductive, and disreputable Signora Neroni places herself on a sofa in a prominent position in a drawing room. As gentlemen jockey for position around the sofa, Mrs. Proudie’s dress is ripped, and she is forced to...

(The entire section is 913 words.)