These opening lines from The Warden begin with a mention of Trollope's protagonist but immediately turn to the place in which the narrative is set — the fictional cathedral town of Barchester.
The Rev. Septimus Harding was, a few years since, a beneficed clergyman residing in the cathedral town of ------; let us call it Barchester. Were we to name Wells or Salisbury, Exeter, Hereford, or Gloucester, it might be presumed that something personal was intended; and as this tale will refer mainly to the cathedral dignitaries of the town in question, we are anxious that no personality may be suspected. Let us presume that Barchester is a quiet town in the West of England, more remarkable for the beauty of its cathedral and the antiquity of its monuments, the west end of Barchester is the cathedral close, and that the aristocracy of Barchester are the bishop, dean, and canons, with their respective wives and daughters.
Why does Trollope choose to invent a fictional town rather than one of those he names — Wells or Salisbury, Exeter, Hereford, or Gloucester — and why does he emphasize that the clergy form the "aristocracy of Barchester"?
As one might suspect from such an opening, Trollope's placement of The Warden within a cathedral town leads to a story involving Church of England clergy.
How do the narrative events of this novel, particularly its conflicts, differ from other Victorian novels in which Anglican clergy appear — for example, Gaskell's North and South and Brontë's Jane Eyre?
How does Trollope's treatment here differ from that in his later, non-Barchester novels and from that of Dickens's dissenting ministers?
Last modified 1998