Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Castle Bunthorpe

Castle Bunthorpe. Fictional castle setting that gives W. S. Gilbert the opportunity to dress up his burlesque of English sham. The chorus of twenty-six lovesick maidens with lutes and mandolins hearkens back to the Pre-Raphaelites, and the appearance of Patience the milkmaid in a costume copied from a painting by Sir Luke Filde suggests the kind of decorative taste and sentimentality prevalent in Victorian society. The opera ridicules affectation, nowhere more so than in the fleshly figure of Bunthorne, who has a languid love of lilies and who appears to be an all-purpose amalgam of Oscar Wilde, Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, and Dante Gabriel Rossetti.


Glade. Site of the pastoral scene that opens act 2, with the Lady Jane (one of the Rapturous Maidens) playing on a violincello as the chorus is heard singing in the distance. The libretto specified a small pond in the center, a tree stump, and a rock. The tree stump is an essential part of the action; for Bunthorne, it is a surface on which to scribble a poem, a rest stop during the floral procession at the end of act I, and an obstacle in his attempt to evade Lady Jane after their duet. For her, it is a cello stand. Thus, an ordinary piece of stage decor becomes a means to further farcical action and to mock certain attitudes.