Asterisk denotes entries on real places.
*Fleet Street Prison. London institution in which Mr. Pickwick is incarcerated after losing a trumped-up breach of promise suit to Mrs. Bardell. The prison scenes contribute to the thematic concerns of spurious litigation and social abuses and highlight Dickens’s own remembered horror and shame over the period in his youth when his father was imprisoned for debt.
As Mr. Pickwick travels about and attempts to uphold the law and bring justice to all those who deserve it, he is manipulated into a legal situation from which his pride will not permit him to extract himself. It is only in the depths of the Fleet, where his kindness and sympathy know no bounds, that Mr. Pickwick is able to put aside his pride and set himself free in order to save Sam Weller and Mrs. Bardell, who have joined him there. The suggestion is clear: The welfare of others is easily considered when one’s own will is being fulfilled, but only deep in the prison of the ego, where one is compelled to act out of concern for others at the expense of pride, can altruism and compassion be realized.
*Dingley Dell. Country location of Mr. Wardle’s Manor Farm, which nurtures the comic romances that pervade the novel. “Who could live to gaze from day to day on bricks and slates, who had once felt the influence of a scene like this?” asks Mr. Pickwick on his first morning at the farm. The natural world of the country stands in innocent contrast to the fallen world of the cities, particularly London and Birmingham. Though tainted at times and thrown into confusion by the machinations of city types like Jingle or even local politicians and newspapermen, the country and small towns possess a resiliency that restores them from apparent hurts and assaults from the fallen world. When the Pickwick Club is officially disbanded, it is noteworthy that Mr. Pickwick settles in Dulwich, a town near London that possesses the trappings of country living.
*Bath. Resort city in western England, noted for its hot springs, to which the Pickwickians repair after Mr. Pickwick is convicted of breach of promise. The sojourn at Bath promotes the romance between Mr. Winkle and Arabella Allen, but the health spa is not beyond the reach of the city law courts, as Mr. Pickwick’s retreat is broken by a subpoena calling him back to London for refusing to pay damages to Mrs. Bardell. Bath, like Ipswich and Bury St. Edmonds, functions to remind the reader of the discrepancy between appearances and reality. Jingle is found lurking in Bury St. Edmonds, and he is foiled in Ipswich.
*Rochester. Town southeast of London that is the first destination of the Pickwick Club, whose journey begins with Alfred Jingle’s insinuating his way into the company, foreshadowing the conflict between idyllic intentions and chaotic circumstances that marks the comic nature of the novel. In this first journey Dickens demonstrates his skills at using travel and destination as devices to advance and complicate the plot, a technique he would employ throughout his literary career.