*St. Petersburg. Capital of Russia at the time this novel is set. The entire story takes place in this city; Leonid Andreyev never mentions it by name, but its identity is obvious. There are no glimpses of the city itself. Andreyev uses it simply because it was the capital and nerve center of the country. He also implies that the Russian government was unjust in its treatment of those who disagreed with it. Andreyev does not take political sides; as a matter of fact, political issues are hardly mentioned. It is clear, however, that he portrays the revolutionaries with sympathy. Other locations are mentioned in passing, such as the unnamed villages where two of the condemned men committed their crimes.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, Russia was troubled by the unrest of workers who demanded better living conditions. This was manifested in the revolutions of 1905 and 1917. The Seven Who Were Hanged depicts the death sentences and hangings of five revolutionaries and two common criminals in St. Petersburg. The revolutionaries are branded terrorists by the authorities, though there is no proof of their crime.
Prison. Fortress building in which the accused prisoners are held. Their alleged crime was not Andreyev’s main concern. Rather, he wanted to show the behavior of the unjustly condemned facing death. The prisoners languish in their cells in a fortress, where they can only sense that spring is coming and everything is ready to burst to life except for them. The only external sound they hear is the striking of a steeple clock, especially at night. The ticking is symbolical of their lives literally eroding by the minute. The final scene is placed in a forest, where the hanging takes place. Amid the soft snow and the balmy forest the lives of seven young people are snuffed away.
Courtroom. Nondescript government building in St. Petersburg which seems to have one purpose only—to convict people and sentence them to death. The novel’s action takes place mainly in this room.