Places: The Eustace Diamonds

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First published: serial, 1871-1873; book, 1873

Type of work: Novel

Type of plot: Social realism

Time of work: Late nineteenth century

Asterisk denotes entries on real places.

Places DiscussedMatching Priory

Matching Eustace Diamonds, ThePriory. Ancestral home of the Palliser family, in the county of Yorkshire. Its owner, Plantagent Palliser, is devoted to politics. Matching Priory is the scene of political and social gatherings, and its description is sparse, save for a mention of one room, which is “small warm [and] luxurious.”

Portray Castle

Portray Castle. Castle in Scotland owned by Lizzie Eustace, who has inherited it from her husband. It is a large stone building, “really a castle,” with battlements, tower, and gateway. The public rooms are magnificent but uncomfortable, and the bedrooms are “small and dark.” The grounds are “sombre, exposed, and in winter, very cold.” The castle is formal, showy, and stiff. This impressive but comfortless place is an apt setting for Lizzie, whose outward beauty masks inward selfishness, and who is herself disastrously influenced by people who are glib, rich, or titled but whose morals and manners are debased. A superbly funny moment at Portray occurs when Lizzie gazes out of a window at the sea and gushes to Miss Macnulty that the shining water reminds her of her dear, deceased husband. Miss Macnulty utterly fails to respond to Lizzie’s affected romanticism, muttering that the “light is too much for my poor old eyes.” The castle’s name suggests a “portrayal,” in particular one that is all surface show with little true substance or genuine worth.

*London

*London. Characters in The Eustace Diamonds ricochet between their own or their friends’ country homes and London houses. In contrast to the country, where entertaining, riding, and lovemaking are the focal activities, London is a center of business, law, and politics. Many scenes of conflict are set in London. The lawyers who are employed to recover the diamonds from Lizzie are located in London, and it is from London that Lizzie flees in order to try to keep the jewels. Furthermore, it is to London that the steward of Portray Castle, Andy Gowran, travels in order to denounce Lizzie for her loose behavior at the castle. Anthony Trollope says nothing about the appearance of London; it is, rather, a blank canvas upon which he paints the story’s action.

Fawn Court

Fawn Court. Country home of the Lady Fawn, her son Lord Fawn, and Lady Fawn’s unmarried daughters. Lizzie Eustace visits Fawn Court after becoming engaged to Lord Fawn. Some important moments in Frank Greystock’s courtship of Lucy Morris also take place at Fawn Court.

*Naples

*Naples. Italian port city to which Lizzie and her first husband, Sir Florian, travel and where he dies of consumption. Lizzie states that it is in Italy that he gives her the valuable diamond necklace, which his family wishes to have returned after his death. In several of Trollope’s novels, Italy is portrayed as a place where shady dealings take place. Lizzie speaks with great sentimentality about her Italian sojourn: “I always think of those few glorious days which I passed with my darling Florian at Naples.” However, it was in Italy that Florian realized that his wife was “utterly devoid of true tenderness.”

BibliographyCecil, David. Victorian Novelists: Essays in Revaluation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961. A classic work in Victorian studies. Still the best basic introduction to Trollope, it establishes the quality of his work in comparison to his literary contemporaries.Glendinning, Victoria. Anthony Trollope. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1993. A thorough biography particularly helpful in its treatment of the relationship between Trollope’s attitude toward women in his personal life and the genesis of heroines such as Lizzie Eustace.Harvey, Geoffrey. The Art of Anthony Trollope. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1980. Excellent analysis of character and psychological motivation, particularly in the commentary on the fox hunting chapters as a metaphor for social forms of maneuvering and entrapment.McMaster, Juliet. Trollope’s Palliser Novels: Theme and Pattern. New York: Oxford University Press, 1978. A thorough analysis of Lizzie Eustace’s penchant for lying and her preoccupation with pseudoromanticism. Discusses the influence of other contemporary literary heroines, particularly Thackeray’s Becky Sharp and Blanche Amory, in the development of Lizzie’s amoral character.Tracy, Robert. Trollope’s Later Novels. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978. Examines the role of the recurring character in later Palliser novels, particularly Lizzie Eustace’s reappearance in The Prime Minister. Tracy draws an effective and helpful character analogy between Lizzie and Lady Glencora Palliser, whom Lizzie both admires and, to some degree, imitates.
Categories: Places