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Saturday, May 8, 2010

Setting of The Trumpet-Major

The novel take place in England around the time of the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.  The book begins on a hot summer day in the English countryside of Overcombe, which is on the Wessex coast.  The main characters are the widowed Mrs. Martha Garland and her daughter Anne.  They live in the apartments of a miller in Overcombe Mill.  The house was once a manor-house, though the current inhabitants, including the miller, were certainly not members of the wealthier class.

The novel, like Vanity Fair, deals with Napoleonic England, though taking place a decade earlier.  Whereas Waterloo was a land battle in Belgium, Trafalgar is a naval battle off the coast of Spain.  Nevertheless, much of the action happens in the rural setting.  Hardy uses the background of war to show the effect of the conflict on the lower classes.

The above painting is Battle of Trafalgar (1823-24) by J.M.W Turner.

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