Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*London. Unlike the British capital city of Phineas Finn, this London is focused in a political and legal sphere. Phineas seeks to return to the House of Commons, and he joins the Universe Club as part of reestablishing his ties with fellow Whigs. Not all the members are his friends, though, and one evening a political rival is murdered just outside the club. An eyewitness, also a club member, claims to have seen Phineas committing the crime. Phineas is arrested, imprisoned in Newgate, and tried in the Old Bailey. Most of his former friends expect he is guilty, and do little to support him through this experience.

This mirrors the assassination attempt upon Mr. Kennedy in Phineas Finn which Phineas foiled. Where that was followed by political acceptance and success in the House, Bonteen’s murder is followed by rejection and disillusionment in Newgate and the Old Bailey. The shift of place reflects the shift of fortune; being on trial in the Old Bailey is an inversion of making a speech in the House of Commons. The public galleries in the Old Bailey are filled with morbidly curious crowds that Phineas does not know. The galleries in the House were rarely filled except by an onlooker with a compelling interest.

Ultimately, Finn is proven innocent by evidence that Madame Marie Max Goesler obtains in Prague. His subsequent popularity prompts his party to offer him his old position (Phineas Finn) in the Foreign Office, a post he declines because of the party’s opportunism and disloyalty.

Harrington Hall

Harrington Hall. Home in which Lord Chiltern...

(The entire section is 675 words.)