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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(Great Characters in Literature)

Caron, James. “The Rhetoric of Magic in Daniel Deronda.” Studies in the Novel 15, no. 1 (Spring, 1983): 1-9. Reprinted in The Critical Response to George Eliot, edited by Karen L. Pangallo. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1994. Argues that Eliot’s techniques and rhetoric support her theme of characters moving toward ideal humanity, and that she uses such elements from romance as evil, witches, sorcery, and divination to fuse ideas and actions.

Pell, Nancy. “The Fathers’ Daughters in Daniel Deronda.” Nineteenth Century Fiction 36, no. 4 (March, 1982): 424-451. Pell reviews the theme of inheritance and family relations, as well as women’s difficulties in establishing cultural and social legitimacy within a patriarchal society.

Swann, Brian. “Eyes in the Mirror: Imagery and Symbolism in Daniel Deronda.” Nineteenth Century Fiction 23 (1969): 434-445. Swann interprets the novel as a drama of damnation and salvation and of the acquisition of selfhood and the establishment of standards and values.

Weisser, Susan Ostrov. “Gwendolen’s Hidden Wound: Sexual Possibilities and Impossibilities in Daniel Deronda.” Modern Language Studies 20, no. 3 (Summer, 1990): 3-13. Weisser examines the treatment of restraint and self-interest in relation to sexuality.

Zimmerman, Bonnie. “Gwendolen Harleth and ‘The Girl of the Period.’” In George Eliot: Centenary Essays and an Unpublished Fragment, edited by Anne Smith. Totowa, N.J.: Barnes & Noble, 1980. This analysis of Gwendolen’s role describes her as the culmination of Eliot’s theory on women; she is Eliot’s most rebellious and egoistic heroine and receives the most dreadful punishment.