Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

King Arthur’s Court

King Arthur’s Court. The public and private rooms in the legendary King Arthur’s castle are the settings for most action in this play. Through a series of scenes in which characters move on and off stage quickly, Fielding illustrates the petty jealousies that drive many in authority to carry out policies that affect the future of the state. Fielding uses the setting as a means of calling into question the social values espoused by the writers of Arthurian romance.

Knights and ladies of the court use Arthur’s main hall and the various bedchambers and hallways of the castle as sites for plotting to eliminate rivals either for love or for political power. No character is exempt from the dramatist’s satiric, even savage, wit: King Arthur himself is unfaithful to his beloved wife (here called Dollallolla), and only Tom Thumb—a dwarf in physical stature—demonstrates the high moral character expected from a knight of Arthur’s Round Table.

Plain outside the court

Plain outside the court. Site of the battle between the forces of Tom Thumb and those of his archenemy, Lord Grizzle. The battle scene parodies those found in works such as Homer’s The Iliad, Vergil’s Aeneid, and other epic poems, as well as many found in traditional Arthurian romances. Fielding uses the scene to highlight the ludicrous nature of the Romance tradition.