Asterisk denotes entries on real places.
The maison is the novel’s main focal point, since all the principal characters live there and have links to the highest reaches of financial and aristocratic society, through family or love connections. Their paths thus crisscross each other in a complex, but plausible, pattern.
Hôtel de Beauséant (oh-TEL deh BOH-say-ant). Elegant mansion in Paris’s upper-class Faubourg Saint-Germain des Prés district. As the home of one of the noblest families in France, this fashionable residence is the setting of brilliant balls. This explains why the nouveau riche Delphine de Nucingen, who was born a commoner, would go to any lengths to receive an invitation to at least one exclusive and sumptuous reception, including becoming the mistress of Eugène, a distant cousin of Madame de Beauséant.
Restaud home (ray-STOHD). House in the solidly bourgeois Chaussée d’Antin neighborhood. Although it does not have the cachet of the Beauséants’, it is still fancy enough to embolden its staff to snicker at an ill-dressed Eugène, who comes calling on Countess de Restaud, for arriving on foot instead of in a carriage.
Eugène’s apartment. Bachelor home of Eugène de Rastignac, the young law student, in another part of the Chaussée d’Antin. Paid for by Delphine’s father, the financially strapped Père Goriot, this exquisitely decorated place is to serve as the lovers’ nest and also as Goriot’s refuge in a quasi-incestuous relationship. Furthermore, in so willingly accepting such a generous gift, Eugène shows that he is in the process of implementing lessons he has learned from Vautrin and his cousin.
*Père-Lachaise (la-SHAYZ). Famous cemetery in eastern Paris. Completely abandoned by his two daughters and their rich husbands, the destitute Goriot is buried here by an equally penniless Eugène. From the heights where the cemetery is located, the young hero sees in the distance the column in the center of Place Vendôme and the golden dome of the Invalides. These two famous landmarks symbolize for him the topographic limits of a world of wealth and privilege, which he defiantly and grandiosely challenges.
*Théâtre-Italien. Paris opera house, also called Italiens and Bouffons, located on the rue de Louvois. In their desire to see and be seen, members of high society feel the need to attend the opera; this is true as well for other select theaters. Indeed, it is at the Italiens that Eugène, escorting Madame de Beauséant, first sets eyes on Delphine and is encouraged by his cousin actively to pursue her, rather than the prettier–but unwinnable–Madame de Restaud. Vautrin, in contrast, takes Madame Vauquer to the Gaîté, a theater specializing in lowbrow entertainments.
*Paris. France’s capital city is often compared to the American wilderness, to a jungle, to a battlefield, and to a mudhole. Through cunning, strength, and moral accommodation, however, ambitious men and women may not only survive but actually emerge victorious.