Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


Hestviken. Home of Olav Audunsson’s family, that is the primary setting of the novel. The estate is near an icy fjord, where ocean waves throw up spray against sheer cliffs and rock promontories, which, with fog, block the view in many directions. Physical features of Hestviken symbolize the moods of Olav and his wife, Ingunn. When they begin their life together there, both are optimistic, their feelings buoyed by the beautiful sights and smells of the summer farm. The fragrance of lime trees reminds Olav of his childhood. Ingunn feels healthy and beautiful as she surveys the pleasant scene. However, she soon notices other things that reinforce her downward spiral into depression, such as the monotonous booming of the ocean’s waves in the fjord and the seemingly endless rains.

Manor house

Manor house. Ancestral dwelling at Hestviken that has replaced an earlier and finer house that burned down. The rustic replacement is dark and sparsely furnished. Undset uses her extensive knowledge of medieval home furnishings to give a historically accurate depiction of the home layout and contents. In the dark rooms of the house, the lonely Ingunn torments herself over having borne an illegitimate child, leaving the child with strangers, and failing to be a strong helpmate for the morose Olav. Her plight reflects the difficult lives led by most women in the Middle Ages, lives made up of endless toil with few...

(The entire section is 565 words.)