Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


Offendene. Modest home of Gwendolen Harleth’s mother, Mrs. Fanny Davilow; located in Wessex (name of the early kingdom of the West Saxons that grew into modern England). Gwendolen sees Offendene as boring; the place reinforces her narrow perspective and values, identified as a nervous susceptibility, an overwhelming sense of dread, and illusions about the degree of control she can exert over others, while her own life, in fact, is governed by chance, not choice. At the end of the story, after Gwendolen has learned more about herself, she finds Offendene an attractive place to which to return.


Leubronn. German resort where Deronda first meets Gwendolen at a gaming table. The novel opens in the middle of a scene in which Gwendolen becomes dependent on Deronda as a spiritual mentor when he redeems a necklace she has pawned and admonishes her for gambling. Leubronn is a place of escape for Gwendolen, who is trying to avoid Grandcourt’s proposal of marriage, and establishes her character as that of a gambler. It is also the place where she learns of her family’s lost fortune. (Eliot based the fictional resort on Homburg, Germany, which she visited in 1872.)


*Genoa. Northern Italian seaport in which the lives of both Gwendolen and Daniel reach their crisis points. As explained in the story, the “grand” city and harbor are significant for their history of...

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