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Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

*London

*London. Great Britain’s capital city, in which Maurice Hall grows up and works. His suburban house is “near London, in a comfortable villa among some pines.” The location may well be southwest of London in Weybridge, in Surrey, where Forster lived with his mother from 1904 to 1924. Surrey is also the location of Windy Corner, the home of the Honeychurches in A Room with a View (1908). London suburbs are growing rapidly in the early twentieth century, particularly in middle-class detached houses. Mr. Hall is able to commute easily by train to his job in the city, as Maurice will do after him. As Forster says, Maurice’s suburban surroundings are exasperating in their very normality. Maurice works in the area of London known simply as the City, which is the oldest part of London and its financial center. The offices of Hill and Hall are here, and this location stands in stark contrast to Cambridge and even suburbia. The values of the City are symbolized by money, and it is no accident that Maurice and Clive’s relationship suffers once they leave Cambridge and that Maurice and Alec have trouble making a connection in the City and in the British Museum, that warehouse of empire.

*Cambridge

*Cambridge. City north of London that is the home of Cambridge University, one of England’s two great “ancient universities.” In the early twentieth century, the city had a mix of medieval and classical architecture. Cambridge was Forster’s alma mater, and he lived there for several years at the end of his life. Maurice attends Cambridge following attendance at his public school, Sunnington. Both Cambridge and Oxford were bastions of middle-and upper-class men, although each had a college for women. Cambridge is located on the River Cam, and the image of male undergraduates punting (propelling a flat-bottomed boat with a long pole) on the Cam is a familiar one in the English academic novel. The surrounding countryside is rural and provides an opportunity for Maurice and Clive to escape from the confines of their rooms within the college walls for their grand day out.

Penge

Penge. Country manor that is the home of the Durham family. Located in the west of England on the border between the counties of Wiltshire and Somerset, the house has been in the family for four generations. Penge is a symbol of the English gentry and their economic situation in the early twentieth century. The Durhams’ fortune has dwindled, needing to be replenished by a wealthy bride, and the estate is in a stage of “immobility” preceding decay. The house itself stands in the midst of a vast park, the former common lands of the village, and a wood. The estate also includes an array of indoor and outdoor servants, tenant farmers, and responsibilities for the squire. It is here that Maurice meets Alec, the estate’s under-gamekeeper.

The Greenwood

The Greenwood. Edenic spot in a mythical England where Maurice believes he and Alec might live together in peace. Maurice...

(The entire section is 3,174 words.)