The religious characters that are at the centre of these stories are really devices above all: although they are real, fleshed out men, they function almost as invisible narrators, allowing the reader to wander at leisure over a cast of other characters, where the 'real' action is going on. Thus, for example, the tale "Mr Gilfil's Love Story", while superficially being the story of the one great love of the Reverend Gilfil's life, really belongs to the girl he loved: it's her story. Likewise the Reverend Tryan is ostensibly the centre of "Janet's Repentance", but in fact the story is a beautiful portrait of a female-dominated community, with at its centre, an incredibly moving and powerful tale of an abusive marriage and a wife who finds her salvation in doing good. It is fundamentally a Christian book: but it's much more than just a book about Christians, which is why this book is still in print and hasn't faded into insignificance.
Hazlitt's ideas about many of the plays have now come to be valued as thought-provoking alternatives to those of his contemporary Coleridge, and Characters of Shakespear's Plays is now viewed as a major study of Shakespeare's plays, placing Hazlitt with Schlegel and Coleridge as one of the three most notable Shakespearean critics of the Romantic period.
Anthony Trollope was well aware that the seemingly parochial power struggles that determine the action of Barchester Towers – struggles whose comic possibilities he exploits to hilarious effect – actually went to the heart of mid-Victorian English society, and had, in other times and other guises, led to civil war and constitutional upheaval.