Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

*Harley Street

*Harley Street. London street on which Margaret Hale has spent nine years living in a town house as a companion to her cousin Edith, who is about to be married as the novel opens. The house is to be shut up as Edith, her husband, and her mother, go abroad, and Margaret is to return home to the country parsonage where her parents live. The novel reveals little about the house at 96 Harley Street, other than a series of public and private rooms and, at the top of the house, a nursery, where Margaret spent much of her early life. The life of the house has been formal, with children eating apart from their parents.

Helstone vicarage

Helstone vicarage. Home of Margaret’s parents in New Forest, Hampshire, that Margaret regards as her true home, despite having been away from it for many years. There she is happy to live an outdoor life, visiting local people and walking in the forest. Her mother, however, is discontented; she regards Helstone as one of England’s most out-of-the-way places and would rather live at 96 Harley Street. She dislikes the trees and lack of nearby society and yearns for everything her daughter has happily given up.

The interior of the vicarage house is not seen from Margaret’s point of view. It has a drawing room, a dining room, a library, and other rooms not seen. Readers see the drawing room from the point of view of Henry Lennox, a visitor, who sees that the family is not well off, noting the room’s old carpets and faded chintzes. Readers later see the vicarage from the point of view of the next incumbent and his wife, who are renovating and expanding the house to accommodate a growing family. Elizabeth Gaskell does, however, offer...

(The entire section is 709 words.)