Asterisk denotes entries on real places.
*Notre Dame. Cathedral on the Ile de la Cité in the heart of Paris. For Nick, this magnificent cathedral, built over the course of several hundred years, represents the beautiful, a work of art that is “done,” completed. James presents the cathedral as a work of art rather than as a religious institution and likens the exterior of the cathedral to a “huge dusky vessel,” “a ship of stone, with its flying buttresses thrown forth like an array of mighty oars.” It is the catalyst that inspires Nick to tell Gabriel Nash, an aesthete, of his desire to become a painter.
*Théâtre Français (tay-ah-tra frahn-say). Now called the Comédie-Française, the national theater, located near the Palais Royal in the heart of Paris. A box seat in this theater becomes Miriam Rooth’s acting school as she and her mother attend the theater nightly. A second step in her schooling is admission to the foyer des artistes, the room backstage where the players can meet select members of the audience between acts. Peter Sherringham escorts her to this room, which, like a temple, is filled with pictures and relics of past thespians. Ironically, Peter proposes to Miriam here, asking her to sacrifice her career. After refusing, Miriam is admitted to a famous actress’s dressing room. The description of the stairs and hall as austere, “monastic,” and conventlike reveal the devotion and possible hardships on the way to success as an actress. The dressing room is success itself–“an inner sanctuary,” which appears “royal.” The descriptions of the various parts of the theater reflect Miriam’s progress from inexperienced to consummate actress.
*London. Great Britain’s capital city is the place to which the British visitors in Paris return to work out their destinies. Under the influence of family and friends in England, Nick dutifully proposes to Julia and runs for Parliament, temporarily ensuring the financial security of his mother and sisters, then resigns to pursue his painting. In a London theater, Miriam Rooth establishes herself as a successful actress. Nick’s studio, on the fictional Rosedale Road, and Miriam’s home, the fictional Balaklava Place, represent the world of artistic exploration and bohemian life in London while Julia’s elegant apartment on the fictional Great Stanhope Street exemplifies the elegant lifestyle of the British upper class.
Harsh. Fictional location of Julia Dallow’s estate in England. There, Nick and Julia row to an island in the lake where, in a small replica of a temple dedicated to Vesta, Nick turns his back on art and proposes to Julia, professing his intention to run for Parliament and become a public man, thus bowing to the wishes of family and friends. Associated with the private and public hearth, this vestal temple is an appropriate place for Nick to dedicate himself to a private home and family and to public service.
Abbey. Ruined old church in Beauclere, the fictional English hometown of Mr. Carteret, Nick’s benefactor and his late father’s best friend. Nick’s changing perception of this old, ruined abbey mirrors his changing attitude toward his career. After he has won a seat in Parliament, Nick visits Beauclere and associates the abbey with incompleteness, in contrast with Notre Dame, and with images of religious and English history, confirming his patriotic decision to serve his country. On a later visit, when Nick has decided to resign his seat in Parliament and pursue a career in art, he sees only the abbey’s beauty.