Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Crotchet Castle

Crotchet Castle (kroh-SHAY). House in England’s Thames Valley. Not a true castle, it stands on the summit of a hill whose slopes are wooded, overlooking a grassy valley punctuated with juniper bushes. The hill still bears slight but clear traces of ancient Roman occupation. The opinion that it was once a military station or castellum—a theory robustly defended by the Reverend Dr. Folliott—provides a further excuse for its misleading name, although it is commonly referred to in the text as a mere camp.

Within the house the breakfast room is the arena of the first of the philosophical discussions conducted in the text, whose principal focus is—as is usual in Peacock’s fictions of contemporary manners—the inexorable march of social progress. Subsequent discussions take place in the main dining room, the library, and the music room. The library houses a large collection of books, both ancient and modern (the older ones carefully sorted by Dr. Folliott), while the music room is equipped in a similarly egalitarian spirit with the scores of classical operas and more fashionable tunes.

The reader is told neither the name of the village adjacent to Crotchet nor the name of the inn where Dr. Folliott is taken to see the Charity Commissioners after his violent encounter with ruffians in the vicinity of the Roman camp. This unusual vagueness is symbolic of the judgment that Crotchet Castle and its surroundings are typical of social changes that have overcome the whole of England. The past is retained, in the Roman camp, the library, and the music...

(The entire section is 659 words.)