Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

The Crossways

The Crossways. Redbrick country house in Sussex, England, that is home to the protagonist, Diana Antonia Merion. The Crossways, which she has inherited at her father’s recent death, is her only source of income, through rentals to tenants. The house takes its name from being near the crossroads to Brasted, London, Wickford, and Riddlehurst; it also symbolizes the transitional, or crossroads, period in Diana’s life.

Keeping the Crossways is an important part of Diana’s marriage agreement with her first husband, Augustus Warwick. When he loses money on the railroads, he attempts to pressure her to sell the house, but she instead arranges a government position for him because of her friendship with the influential Lord Dannisburgh. That relationship leads to accusations of adultery and Diana’s separation from Warwick. She escapes to the Crossways when the pressures of the divorce case become too great. In the end, her attempt to become a novelist fails, and she is forced to sell the Crossways. Until near the end of the novel, she is unaware that she will be able to keep the Crossways, after all, for the man she is about to marry, Thomas Redworth, is the secret purchaser of the house.


Copsley. Country home of Lady Emma Dunstane, Diana’s surrogate mother figure, located in Sussex, near the Crossways. Diana socializes at Copsley, where she experiences the love and friendship of Lady Emma. Lady Emma’s feelings about nature are contrasted to Diana’s because she is an invalid and because she does not enjoy living in a secluded rural setting. Symbolically, she has no need for the sublime qualities of nature because she is already married and thereby, in Victorian terms, fulfilled. In contrast, Diana is still seeking marital happiness and fulfillment. Various characters, including Diana, walk the grounds and sail the property’s lake, which gives...

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(Great Characters in Literature)

Conrow, Margaret. “Meredith’s Ideal of Purity.” Essays in Literature 10, no. 2 (Fall, 1983): 199-207. Explores Meredith’s definition of the ideal of sexual purity and his double standard. Examines the Lugano scene in Diana of the Crossways.

Daniels, Elizabeth A. “A Meredithian Glance at Gwendolen Harleth.” In George Eliot: A Centenary Tribute, edited by Gordon S. Haight. Totowa, N.J.: Barnes and Noble Books, 1982. Like George Eliot, Meredith did not wish to overturn Victorian marriage, but he was sharply critical of the callous nature of the male ego and believed that society needed women with fuller psychic development.

Deis, Elizabeth J. “Marriage as Crossways: George Meredith’s Victorian-Modern Compromise.” In Portraits of Marriage in Literature, edited by Anne C. Hargrove and Maurine Magliocco. Macomb: Western Illinois University, 1984. Discusses Meredith’s position on marriage as a transitional one.

Elam, Diane. “‘We pray to be defended from her cleverness’: Conjugating Romance in George Meredith’s Diana of the Crossways.” Genre 21, no. 2 (Summer, 1988): 179-201. Meredith’s text self-consciously thematizes romance, employing it not only as a process of structuring the novel but also as a subject of the narrative. Shows that reality outside the novel is also a narrative construction.

McGlamery, Gayla. “In His Beginning, His Ends: The ‘Preface’ to Meredith’s Diana of the Crossways.” Studies in the Novel 23, no. 4 (Winter, 1991): 470-489. A close reading of the difficult opening chapters, with their contorted stylistics and philosophical pronouncements, as a demonstration of all that Meredith hopes to achieve in the rest of the novel. Notes the new direction in his handling of identity and in his relationship to the reader.