Chapter 4 analyses The Excursion’s images of dwelling, which, like trees, are grounded in ‘the very world’ into which the characters seek to reintegrate the Solitary. Focus is given to a cluster of ‘ideal’ cottage images – as well as relevant images such as flowers, light, hermitages, and temples – to show how they are iconographically constructed to counterpoise the Solitary’s present Lakeland cottage. These images recall the Solitary’s pre-revolutionary, Edenic Devon cottage; they are intended to demonstrate to the Solitary the possibility of belonging after all in the post-revolutionary world. The Solitary’s Devon cottage, the post-revolutionary cottages of the ‘wedded Pair’ and of the Widower, and the metaphorical ‘Cabinet for Sages built’ all assume an iconographical significance through resonating with Eden and with the ideal hermitages and cottages in Georgian Britain. But the ‘ideal’ appearances of these images also betray a dark side, recalling rural poverty and industrial houses. The interplay of these iconographical incongruities renders the images of dwelling unstable, eventually undermining their capacity to console the Solitary and to ‘correct’ his despondency.
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