What are the characters, themes, and setting in News from Nowhere?

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Published in 1891, William Morris's News from Nowhere begins and ends in London in the late 1800s, but the majority of the novel takes place in what was then the far-distant future, London in the twenty-first century. This time travel is accomplished in the vision experienced by the novel's protagonist and narrator, who is known as the Guest within the vision. The narrator goes to sleep in his home and "wakes up" in another century. At the end of the story, he wakes up in reality, back in his own time.

The major characters in the story include the narrator/Guest; Dick Hammond; Hammond's grandfather, Old Hammond; Clara, Dick's fiancee; and Ellen, the Guest's romantic interest.

The novel employs a utopian plot, and its themes are those of cultural progress and social enlightenment. Life in Nowhere, England, as the Guest observes it, represents a society that has returned to nature, eliminated the evils of industrialization, freed itself from government institutions, and achieved individual freedom, responsibility, peace, and success. Critics identify the Guest as a thinly-veiled portrait of the author himself, an English socialist dedicated to the advancement of social conditions that recognize and protect the individual. News from Nowhere develops the theme that life can be much more enriching and fulfilling than perhaps we can even imagine, a vision worth seeking.

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News from Nowhere

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