Felix Holt, the Radical Places Discussed

George Eliot

Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Transome Court

Transome Court. Vintage Queen Anne mansion that is home to the life-defeated Mrs. Transome, who married thirty years earlier to meet social expectations about money and position. The unscrupulous lawyer who is the unacknowledged father of her son and mismanager of her estate has drained her both of energy for daily living and of funds necessary to keep up Transome Court. Mrs. Transome’s enfeebled husband also lives here, occupying himself with relics and specimens of minerals and insects he once studied meaningfully.

From a distance, with her romantic dreams, Esther Lyon thinks of Transome Court as a joyful center of luxury. However, after she discovers that she is the estate’s legal heir and visits it for several weeks, she becomes aware of the pain and despair within, of the uselessness and purposelessness as well as the dead but still agonizing souls there. The court thus represents the past feudal mansion that nineteenth century England is outgrowing.

Malthouse Yard

Malthouse Yard. Name of the chapel of the independent church in Treby Magna presided over by the Dissenting minister Rufus Lyon, whom Esther grows up believing is her father. Lyon is actually her stepfather. It is these early ties, Eliot’s insistence on one’s true roots, that define radicalism as presented in Esther and in Felix Holt, opposed to the more common political radicalism that argued for sudden changes in...

(The entire section is 581 words.)