Places: Phineas Redux

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First published: serial, 1873-1874; book, 1874

Type of work: Novel

Type of plot: Political

Time of work: Mid-nineteenth century

Asterisk denotes entries on real places.

Places Discussed*London

*London. Phineas ReduxUnlike 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 and Violet live now that they are married. Chiltern is Master of the Brake Hounds, gainfully employed in a position that suits his character and principles. Chiltern and Violet establish an ideal domesticity at the Hall. They are active in their family pursuits, welcoming and loyal to their friends, and disinterested in pursuits outside their domestic sphere. Chiltern’s outrage over dead foxes in a nearby woods, which are under the control of a cabinet member’s uncle, is the closest political matter to the Harrington Hall residents. Encountering Madame Max there, outside the usual London political circles, enables Phineas to see her in a nonpoliticized setting and therefore as free from the perverted values of political life.


Loughlinter (LAKH-len-ter). Scottish estate of the wealthy parliamentarian Mr. Kennedy. Initially a beautiful and warm home in Phineas Finn, Loughlinter is now changed into a solitary and drab refuge in which Kennedy sequesters himself as he declines into madness and religious obsession. When Phineas goes there on Kennedy’s request, he is struck by Loughlinter’s air of desolation and neglect. Similarly, Macpherson’s Hotel, in which Kennedy stays when he visits London to confront Phineas, is also a forlorn and isolated place. Both places reflect Kennedy’s increasing mental illness and dourness.


*Dresden. East-central German city in which Lady Laura and her father live in self-imposed exile after she separates from Kennedy. Like Loughlinter, their home in Dresden is chilly and cold, and dramatic changes come over both Lady Laura and her father while living there. Both lose their vivacity, chilled in their souls as much as in their home. Their return to Portman Square in London after Lady Laura is widowed does not restore them.


Tankerville. Borough in which Finn campaigns to recapture a seat in Parliament after his Irish borough loses its seat. Although the borough’s vote initially goes against him, he disputes its results on the grounds that his corrupt conservative opponent, Browborough, has bought votes. This development represents the shift from the old style of “pocket boroughs” to a theoretically more independent electorate. Although there are cries for him to resign, Phineas holds this seat while he is being tried for bigamy. He resigns the seat after he is acquitted, but the borough’s voters proudly reelect him, demonstrating on a borough level the sentiments of other political friends, who distance themselves from him during troubled times and claim him during good times.

BibliographyHall, N. John. Trollope: A Biography. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1991. The standard critical biography of the novelist. Reviews the publication history of Phineas Redux and analyzes its political background; points out ways in which Trollope allows his characters to grow as the story progresses.Morse, Deborah Denenholz. Women in Trollope’s Palliser Novels. Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1987. Examines Trollope’s ambivalent attitude toward women in the Palliser series. A chapter on Phineas Finn and Phineas Redux analyzes portraits of the three Englishwomen whom Phineas loves, all of whom are strong and articulate.Pollard, Arthur. Trollope’s Political Novels. Hull, England: University of Hull, 1968. Analyzes the influence of Trollope’s life on the Palliser novels, in which he dramatizes political issues in Great Britain. Describes ways in which Phineas Redux reveals the novelist’s disillusionment with the political system of his country.Super, R. H. The Chronicler of Barsetshire: A Life of Anthony Trollope. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1988. Critical biography by a distinguished scholar; praises Phineas Redux as being the novel most “firmly embedded in contemporary British politics” of all those Trollope wrote. Notes the confusion caused by the author’s introduction of the murder and trial, which distract readers from political issues.Walton, Priscilla L. Patriarchal Desire and Victorian Discourse: A Lacanian Reading of Anthony Trollope’s Palliser Novels. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1995. Although somewhat specialized in its approach, a chapter on Phineas Redux illuminates Trollope’s attitudes toward feminist issues.
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