Study Guide

The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh Setting

By A. A. Milne

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The Forest

For Realsies

Thanks to Disney and modern vernacular, we're accustomed to saying that all the Pooh characters live in the Hundred Acre Wood. To get persnickety (a big word meaning exactly what it sounds like), the Hundred Acre Wood is a part of the overall setting of the Winnie-the-Pooh books. There is also the swamp, the meadow, and, in the last chapter, the enchanted place called Galleon's Lap.

The landscape is based pretty faithfully on a real place, Ashdown Forest in England, where the Milne family spent a lot of summers and afternoon teas. But Milne generically labels the fantastical world "The Forest." This simple name has a great deal of creative merit, allowing the audience to draw from their own experiences and associations in imagining the setting in the book. Sure, it's based on a real place in England, but it could be anywhere. Every reader can relate to it.

For Themes-ies

Spoiler alert: the setting is a metaphor. Here's how we know. In and of itself, the Forest is not remarkable. It's actually a very common kind of forest. The only "magical" element about it (save the talking, thinking, singing stuffed animals) comes in the very last chapter, and is dubbed "enchanted" because for some reason, no one has ever been able to count the exact number of trees in the glen. In short, it's no elven kingdom. But it's very nice.

The commonplace nature of the, um, nature in the Forest is actually quite central to its function as an overarching metaphor for the world of childhood. Children like Christopher Robin encounter very real, very mundane environments in their everyday lives. What makes these places "magical" in the eyes of adults (Milne is, after all, an adult recreating an imaginary world that his son has built in real life) is the fantasy that children create from natural settings. Any setting for that matter. How often do you see a child pick up a stick and turn it into a sword, a wand, a friend, a shield, a spoon...we could go on. Use your imagination.

What makes this wood so clearly a metaphorical space is, most explicitly, the last chapter. Here, we learn that as Christopher Robin gets older, he has to physically leave the forest. For good. Bummer. For more on this, check out "What's Up With the Ending?

The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh Setting Study Group

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