The Wings of the Dove Places Discussed

Henry James

Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Lancaster Gate

Lancaster Gate. Large London estate belonging to Mrs. Maud Lowder that symbolizes the vulgarity of wealth with power but without taste. Merton Densher describes the estate as immense but ostentatiously vulgar and, because Mrs. Lowder controls Kate’s prospects for the future, a place much like a prison. The vulgarity of Lancaster Gate symbolizes the vulgarity of the position of Mrs. Lowder’s niece, Kate Croy, as her ward. Kate must marry for money and position in order to inherit her aunt’s fortune and fulfill her obligations to her impoverished family.


Matcham. Estate in England belonging to Lord Mark, one of Milly Theale’s suitors. Clearly historic, the house is adorned with armor and tapestries. In contrast to the vulgar Lancaster Gate, Matcham is elegant, tasteful, and unostentatious, but its seamless elegance begins the seduction of Milly, whose innocent American eyes see it as if it were a highly idealized and romantic painting by the early eighteenth century painter Antoine Watteau. The estate symbolizes Milly’s naïve perceptions of Great Britain and Europe.


*Venice. Famous northeastern Italian city made up, in large part, of islands and canals. To James’s contemporary readers, Italy was an exotic land of sumptuous palaces, handsome noblemen, and a mysterious religion—Roman Catholicism—and Venice was an essential stop on the Grand Tour of Europe—the capstone of a young person’s education. Sunny Italy was also...

(The entire section is 631 words.)