1/ Middlemarch (Kerry McSweeney):
- p.3: Caleb Garth, like Adam Bede, is based on George Eliot's father.
- p.7: "It would be of great interest to know the precise circumstances and reasons that led George Eliot to fuse the 2 stories into 1."
- p.8: ".. the common thematic thread was the need for Fred, Lydgate and Dorothea to discover and realise their vocations"; the dominant link can also be "high inspiration versus domestic reality".
- p.16: "The greatest benefit we owe to the artist, whether painter, poet, or novelist, is the extension of our sympathies. Appeals founded on generalisations and statistics require a sympathy ready-made, a moral sentiment already in activity; but a picture of human life such as a great artist can give, surprises even the trivial and the selfish into that attention to what is apart from themselves, which may be called the raw material of moral sentiment." (George Eliot)
- p.27: "If elimination of egotism were the goal, then Farebrother, Caleb Garth and Mary Garth would be the moral exemplars of Middlemarch".
- p.60: Quotes Hillis Miller's discussion of the narrator in Victorian novels- not an omniscient narrator, which sounds like a detached sovereign spectator who sees all, knows all, judges all from a distance. Instead, the narrator talks as if confronting it directly, as if telling an authentic history.
- p.66: Intrusive narrator- "judgements on characters, remarks on how they story is being told, direct addresses to the reader, and generalisations and miscellaneous observations on a variety of subjects".
Compares to Flaubert and Henry James.
- p.67: Rosamond brings out the worst in the narrator. Unkind author, "literary malice". Example: the sentence about Rosamond's sadness when Lydgate avoids her.
- p.69: Intrusive, obtrusive narrator. Infelicities and embarrassments. She lectures and hectors us, lacks tact and wit.
- p.75: Not all characters are fully recognised. E.g: James Chettam, Celia...
- p.78: James describes Caleb as "being drawn with the touch of a chastened and intellectualised Dickens".
Mary's made middle-aged before her time.
- p.81: 7 major characters: Ladislaw and Fred Vincy, Casaubon and Bulstrode, Lydgate and Rosamond, and Dorothea. The 1st pair are weakly characterised.
- p.84: "Will's emotions must be unflawed to make appropriate the great good of his final union with the equally idealised Dorothea. [...] He is too much the exemplar of quality and breadth of emotion to be an interesting characterisation in his own right."
- p.85: Similarities between Casaubon and Bulstrode.
- p.91: Rosamond and Lydgate are the best characters.
- p.96: Rosamond isn't submissive. She masters her husband. Torpedo fish.
- p.99: Dorothea- idealised or realistically drawn? Irony. Inconsistent? Ambivalent?
- p.102: Dorothea vs Daniel Deronda.
- p.105: Even though her ideas about marriage at the beginning seem unconnected with passion or sexuality, there is a sensuous emotional side to Dorothea's nature.
- p.108: The marriage must be frustratingly unconsummated or unsatisfactorily consummated.
- p.109: 2 strands in Dorothea's development: "the passage from subjectivity to objectivity through sorrow, sad experience and the recognition of an equivalent centre of self in others" and "the primacy of the feelings and the importance of emotional fulfilment".
- p.141: David Cecil's view: Petty, drab, provincial. Philistine. Can't stand a comparison with Tolstoy.
2/ Romantic Imprisonment: Women and Other Glorified Outcasts (Nina Auerbach):
- p.256: Grandcourt refuses to act.
- p.257: George Eliot's an actress long before she's a writer and a diva.
- p.260: Hetty Sorrel, Rosamond Vincy, Gwendolen Harleth- "these anti-heroines do not stand for the morally repellent deceit of acting, but simply for acting that is bad".
Notes "the essential theatricality" of Dinah Morris and Dorothea Brooke.
- p.262: "Dinah is a successful performer and Hetty, a conceited amateur".
- p.266: "Throughout the novel, Dorothea glorifies herself by the clothes she pretends not to care about".
The mutual murder of the Dorothea- Casaubon marriage.
3/ Critical Essays on George Eliot (Barbara Hardy):
+ "Middlemarch: A Note on George Eliot's Wisdom" (Isobel Armstrong):
- p.119: readers' sharp dissent. If only George Eliot managed "the Jamesian conjuring trick of the disappearing author". Moralising and preachy.
Still on the whole, these comments are satisfying.
- p.120: George Eliot consistently asks for readers' assent/ collaboration before she proceeds.
- p.132: "everything is below the level of tragedy", Casaubon's tragedy is that he is not a tragedy.
4/ The Critical Response to George Eliot (Karen L. Pangallo):
+ Saturday Review (1872):
- p.148: "The quarrel with humanity in Middlemarch is its selfishness, and the quarrel with society is its hollow respectability".
+ Bert G. Hornback:
- p.161: "The insistence on social morality and charity is the main thematic emphasis of Dorothea's story; and it is this, rather than George Eliot's realism, or her carefully precise psychological insight, which creates the feeling of beauty and of life in the novel". She doesn't accept circumstantial evidence.
- p.163: Lydgate's a social character and a character caught in society. "Through most of the novel Dorothea, in contrast, has little to do with other people." The attention is on her when she's with other characters, who are only her supports or foils.
- p.164: "Dorothea's myopia finally means that, lost in her own world, she is piously selfish and naively egoistic." "As the novel progresses, Dorothea begins to see more clearly both the world and her own place in it."
- p.165: "But as many readers and critics have long said, her reward is only Will Ladislaw: a weak, unworthy, unsatisfactory, and unreal or unrealised creature with a rippling nose and coruscating hair."
Will's attached to historical fact. "Through this attachment, he is associated with a certain set of aesthetic, imaginative, and philosophic values which, as they are shared with Dorothea, become a kind of morality for George Eliot and provide the novel's resolution."
- p.166: The association with Pre-Raphaelitism gives Will a set of basic values from which to develop his personal identity.
- p.167: "The simplest analogue" is the story of Fred ("generous irresponsibility" "on the side of pleasure") and Mary ("goodness" "bound to duty").
- p.168: 3 parallel tests of generosity- Dorothea, Mrs Bulstrode and Rosamond.
+ Robert Coles:
- p.179: "In certain respects Bulstrode is the most powerfully drawn character in Middlemarch- the strongest person, the one we struggle with most, perhaps the one from whom we learn the most." Dorothea never lives up to her possibilities. Lydgate wins our admiration but later disappoints us, "or we cover up our impatience toward him with pity". Ladislaw is weakly portrayed. Casaubon isn't easily dismissed, but he becomes pitiable. "In contrast, Bulstrode seems to appear out of nowhere and ultimately vanish with no trace left- yet he is unforgettable, even haunting."
- p.180: Bulstrode's "bluntness and candor contrasts with the deceit that social prominence can cover up".
- p.182: "Bulstrode was not Middlemarch's only liar or crook dressed up in good clothes and married well and able to intimidate people not only financially but morally".
After a while we lose him as an object of scorn and begin to sympathise with him.
- p.186: "he concurrently begins to win us over, not as admirers, but as fellow sufferers".
+ R. H. Hutton:
- p.190: "There is in this tale more of moral presentiment, more of moral providence, and more of moral subordination to purposes higher and wider than that of any one generation's life, than in any previous story of this author's..."
Gwendolen's fear of the dead face; presentiment.
+ R. R. Bowker:
- p.196: Daniel Deronda is built upon the question of life and death.
The 2 centres are Gwendolen and Mordecai.
Daniel- "unreal and objectionable prig"?
+ Arlene M. Jackson:
- p.199: Weakness of vacillation of will.
Comparisons between Dorothea and Daniel- desire to perform some great good.
- p.201: "the disease of sympathy"- "Daniel is paralyzed by a particular attitude toward life, for he could always see 2 sides of a problem or question, see the disadvantages and advantages of so many things that he finds it difficult to take sides".
- p.202: "Through 'communication', through recognizing the needs of Mirah and Gwendolen and overcoming his distaste at becoming involved in the confusion of their lives, Daniel Deronda discovers 1 part of both his psychological and social identity; and though this 1 level of discovery does not solve all his fears, though it has certain restrictions, it brings Daniel a happiness he had never before experienced".
+ James Caron:
- p.208: "The goal of Grandcourt's power is to control those into whom he sees and to subdue them to his will. Gwendolen is his chief victim, and his effect upon is mesmeric."
- p.209: rhetoric of magic, "evil and benevolent sorcerers".
"her knowledge is of a reflected kind".
- p.210: Gwendolen is superstitious and mistakes this habit "for an active power of will". Immature.
Mordecai's the apex of sorcerer figures.
- p.212: "Grandcourt completes Gwendolen's passivity through a total abrogation of her will".
Daniel's chronic passivity.
5/ George Eliot: The Critical Heritage (David Carroll):
+ R. H. Hutton:
- p.287: "It seems to us somewhat unnatural that a girl of Dorothea Brooke's depth and enthusiasm of nature should fall in love with a man of so little vital warmth and volume of character as Mr Casaubon [...], without any apparent reason beyond her thirst for an intellectual and moral teacher. That want is usually very distinctly separable from love, and only glides into it..."
We are disposed to take her "sentiment of love" on George Eliot's authority as a matter of fact. However it's "hardly adequately accounted for"- unnatural and repellent. Artistic deficiency.
- p.290: "It is the 1 and almost the only respect in which we prefer her poetry to her prose- that in her poetry she does not put forth, at least in her own person, the biting power of this acid criticism".
- p.294: "Middlemarch is not only a sketch of country life, connected by a story, but a running fire of criticism as well. Sometimes the reader feels that the author is unfairly running down 1 of her own characters- that she has conceived in her imagination a much more pleasant character than her party-spirit, as it were, chooses to admit. For instance, it is quite clear that George Eliot decidedly dislikes the type of pretty, attractive, gentle, sensible, limited young ladies so common in modern life, and loses no opportunity of plunging the dissecting-knife into them. Celia Brooke and Rosamond Vincy are the 2 representations of this species in the upper and middle spheres of Middlemarch society, and Celia Brooke and Rosamond Vincy are, to use an expressive, though rude, schoolboy phrase, 'always catching it' from the authoress, till we feel decidedly disposed to take their sides."
- p.295: Quotes the sentence George Eliot mocking Rosamond's sadness over Lydgate, and says "Now, that is not an additional touch of the artist's; it is a malicious stab of the critic's, which makes us distrust our author's impartiality, and feel rather more disposed to take Rosamond's part than if the attack had not been made".
"George Eliot has favourites and aversions, and deals very hardly by the latter."
- p.296: Dorothea and Mary on 1 side, Celia and Rosamond on the other.
- p.297: We all grumble at Middlemarch and say that the action is slow and "there is too much parade of scientific and especially physiological knowledge" and "the bitterness of the commentary on life is almost cynical" but we all read it and feel that there's nothing to compare with it at the present in English literature.
- p.301: George Eliot "takes side gallantly and nobly with the power that wars against evil". "She sees evil, and sees it not seldom unmixed with good in the hearts around her, and scoffs at the attempt to suppose that they are better than they seem. She sees narrowness so oppressive to her that she is constantly laughing a scornful laugh over it, and despairing of any better euthanasia for it than its extinction. And all this makes her bitter." A melancholy teacher.
- p.302: No writer who aims as high as George Eliot "can be free from visible defects". Compares to Jane Austen.
"She has a speculative philosophy of character that always runs on in a parallel stream with her picture of character, sometimes adding to it an extraordinary fascination, sometimes seeming to distort it by a vein of needless and perhaps unjust suggestion. Her characters are so real that they have a life and body of their own quite distinct from her criticism on them; and one is conscious at times of taking part with her characters against the author..."
- p.303: "... one is apt to set down that unkind hit at Celia to personal antipathy on the author's part. [...] Celia had not only been accused of want of feeling for seeing through Mr Casaubon, but her criticisms on her sister's blind idealism, which were in the main just, had been likened to those publicly passed as 'Murr the cat' on our human life; and this certainly looked like an animus against Celia, for which the reader was bound to allow. One knows perfectly well that practical girls of this far from dream type do often exhibit the warmest affections, and so one is not prepared to accept absolutely George Eliot's rationale of Celia's clear-sightedness as arising in coldness of heart, and is prepared to distrust even decidedly asserted facts which appear to be at all unreasonably depreciative of her."
- p.304: Again quotes the Ariadne sentence (Rosamond's sadness). "Now, that is palpably an unkind author's criticism not founded on truth". Rosamond's grief is perfectly genuine. "Literary malice".
- p.307: Dorothea's mistake in marrying Mr Casaubon may be due to defective education, but "there is little or no attempt to trace the connection in this book"; "the attempt of the 'prelude' and the final chapter to represent the book as an elaborate contribution to the 'Woman's' question, seems to us a mistake..."
- p.308: "there is no carefully drawn-out relation between the perverted public opinion of the day about women, and the fatal mistake which Lydgate commits".
"It is her disguised selfishness, not her ignorance, which ruins Lydgate's life."
"Hence we cannot accept George Eliot's apparent wish to make of Middlemarch a contribution to the formation of a better opinion as to the education of women..."
- p.311: "Lydgate's complete subjugation by the constant attrition of his wife's soft, selfish obstinacy, of his total inability to govern her, and his utter defeat by her".
Rosamond's "the finest picture of that shallowness which constitutes absolute incapacity for either deep feeling or true morality, we have ever met with in English literature".
- p.312: The Dorothea- Rosamond scene reminds of some of the great scenes between Dinah and Hetty.
Not convinced by the way Bulstrode, with his type of mind, is "entirely unoppressed" by guilt until disgrace comes upon him.
- Yet it's a great book, and George Eliot is "by far the greatest of English authoresses".
+ Sidney Colvin:
- p.335: Dorothea's greatness and Rosamond's smallness.
- p.336: Some points are coarsely invented and handled: Casaubon's moles, Dorothea's blind sacrifice, Ladislaw's birth, Bulstrode's guilt...
"... does not the author seem a little unwarrantably hard upon some of her personages and kind to others?". Kind to Fred but not to Rosamond.
+ A. V. Dicey:
- p.340: Dorothea "is always trying to escape from little commonplace ways and thoughts, and in the hurry to do so is constantly overlooking things which are commonplace enough, but which, unfortunately, are also true."
- p.341: In spite of everything, Dorothea "has little taste for knowledge". "Her admiration for Casaubon's supposed learning really arose, as George Eliot is more careful to point out, from the idea that his wide knowledge would give her an insight into the problems of life which affected her personally. How to make and act upon to a noble theory of life for herself was what she thought she wanted to achieve. [...] But for knowledge in itself she cared as little as was possible for any person gifted with keen intelligence."
- p.343: "The flaw in Lydgate's nature, and the ultimate source of his fall, is a certain 'commonness' in his views of everything unconnected with his science": "his liking for respectable appearances", "his original underestimate of Miss Brooke", "his immediate admiration for Rosamond"....
+ Henry James:
- p.353: Middlemarch is 1 of the strongest and 1 of the weakest of English novels.
"'Concentration' would doubtless have deprived us of many of the best things in the book".
- p.354: "Her novel is a picture- vast, swarming, deep-colored, crowded with episodes, with vivid images, with lurking master-strokes, with brilliant passages of expression..."
- p.355: The Casaubon marriage "is analyzed with extraordinary penetration" but it's "treated with too much refinement and too little breadth", "the situation seems to us never to expand to its full capacity".
Will's a failure. Vague. A dilettante.
- Lots of praise for Dorothea, Casaubon, Lydgate and Rosamond.
- p.358: Mr Garth and Mr Brooke are "drawn with the touch of a Dickens chastened and intellectualized".
- p.359: Fielding's didactic, George Eliot's philosophic.
+ R. H. Hutton:
- p.365: blemishes- laboured, forced, feeble...
- p.367: "Whatever the blemishes of the story, no one who can appreciate Art of the higher kind will deny that the history of Gwendolen's moral collapse and regeneration, and of Deronda's mother, and her eventual submission to that higher spirit of her father which, by its want of breadth and sympathy with her own individual genius, had utterly alienated her, in the brilliancy of her youth, till she strove with all her might to ignore what was noble and even grand in it, is traced with a sort of power of which George Eliot has never before given us any specimen."
- p.368: "so much pains has been expended on studying rather than on painting [Daniel]" and throughout 3/4 of the story "we are rather being prepared to make acquaintance with Deronda than actually making acquaintance with him".
Not satisfied with Mirah.
+ George Saintsbury:
- p.372: Gwendolen's "self-willed youth; the curious counterfeit of superiority in intellect and character, which her self-confidence and her ignorance of control temporarily given her; her instant surrender at the touch of material discomfort; the collapse of her confidence in the presence of a stronger spirit; the helpless outbursts of self-pity, of rage, of supplication, which follow that collapse; the struggle between blind hatred and almost equally blind glimmerings of conscience; the torrent of remorse and final prostration of will- are all imagined with a firmness, and succeed each other with an undoubted right of sequence, which cannot but command admiration."
"Gwendolen is at heart a counterfoil of Dorothea, animated by an undisciplined egotism instead of the fanaticism of sympathy."
"the soul of Casaubon clothed with the circumstances and temperament of a fine gentleman would animate just such a personage as Grandcourt".
- p.373: Daniel is "intolerably dreadful" and the minor characters are less individual and less elaborate than those in George Eliot's previous books.
+ R. E. Francillon:
- p.385: "In Gwendolen we see at once not a soul, but only the possibility of a soul- not an actual, but only possible battle-field of the good genius and the evil".
- p.386: "She is not only 'the spoiled child', but is narrowed and grooved by spoiling."
"She had no exceptional powers or affections or passions or ambitions."
- p.387: Gwendolen contrasted with Maggie Tulliver.
+ A. V. Dicey:
- p.403: "Another result of George Eliot's habit of analysis is that there exists occasionally a great difference between the portrait of a hero which George Eliot presents to the public and the effect which the hero's character makes on the author's own mind": Ladislaw and Deronda.
Daniel's incurably weak. Slave to circumstances.
+ Henry James ("Daniel Deronda: A Conversation"):
- p.423: "The subject is a noble one. The idea of depicting a nature able to feel and worthy to feel the sort of inspiration that takes possession of Doronda, of depicting it sympathetically, minutely, and intimately- such an idea has great elevation. There is something very fascinating in the mission that Deronda takes upon himself."
- p.424: Deronda's a failure, a brilliant failure.
- p.426: "What can be drearier than a novel in which the function of the hero- young, handsome, and brilliant- is to give didactic advice, in adverbial form, to the young, beautiful, and brilliant heroine?"
"The function of Deronda is to have Gwendolen fall in love with him, to say nothing of falling in love himself with Mirah."
- p.427: 2 elements in George Eliot- spontaneous and artificial.
- p.428: "the cold half of the book".
- p.429: Gwendolen "was afraid of her misdeed- her broken promise,- after she had committed it, and through that fear she was afraid of her husband".
"It must be remembered that Gwendolen was in love with Deronda from the first, long before she knew it. She didn't know it, poor girl, but that was it."
- p.430: Gwendolen is "the perfect counterpart of Dorothea".
"vulgarly, pettily, dryly selfish", "personally selfish". The 2nd Gwendolen doesn't belong to the 1st.
- p.431: "Gwendolen is a perfect picture of youthfulness- its eagerness, its presumption, its preoccupation with itself, its vanity and silliness, its sense of its own absoluteness".
"Her conscience doesn't make the tragedy [...] It is the tragedy that makes her conscience."
"What is [life] made of but the discovery that each of us that we are at the best but a rather ridiculous fifth wheel to the coach, after we have sat cracking our whip and believing that we are at least the coachman in person? We think we are the main hoop to the barrel, and we turn out to be but a very incidental splinter in 1 of the staves. The universe, forcing itself with a slow, inexorable pressure into a narrow, complacent, and yet after all extremely sensitive mind, and making ache with the pain of the process- that is Gwendolen's story. [...] She is punished for being narrow and she is not allowed a chance to expand. Her finding Deronda preengaged to go to the East and stir up the race-feeling of the Jews strikes one as a wonderfully happy invention. The irony of the situation, for poor Gwendolen, is almost grotesque, and it makes one wonder whether the whole heavy structure of the Jewish question in the story was not built up by the author for the express purpose of giving its proper force to this particular stroke."
- p.432: Grandcourt "is the apotheosis of dryness, a human expression of the simple idea of the perpendicular."
Casaubon's also very dry.
Rosamond and Gwendolen "are very much alike". Disagreeable.
- p.433: "In life without art you can find your account; but art without life is a poor affair."
+ Edward Dowden:
- p.442: "A Grandcourt whose nature is 1 main trunk of barren egoism from which all the branches of fresh desire have withered off, is recognized forthwith to be human. But Deronda, sensitive at every point with life which flows into him and throughout him, and streams forth from him in beneficent energy- Deronda is a pallid shadow rather than a man!"
+ Leslie Stephen:
- p.480: "Casaubon is a wretched being because he has neither heart nor brains- not because his reading has been confined to the wrong set of books."
- p.481: Dorothea "hardly seems to grow wiser even at the end; for when poor Casaubon is as dead as his writings, she takes up with a young gentleman, who appears to have some good feeling, but is conspicuously unworthy of the affections of a Saint Theresa. [...] As it is, we are left with the feeling that [...] Dorothea was all the better for getting the romantic aspirations out of her head".
6/ George Eliot- Voice of a Century: A Biography (Frederick R. Karl):
- p.493: "Her mockery of Casaubon's effort to create a key to all mythologies was not only ridicule of this limited man writing that capacious book; it was also a scornful view of any kind of overall design which tried to explain human behavior".
- p.497: George Eliot gives Rosamond "a role characteristic of what women like her confront: desire for a comfortable, bourgeois existence, some hope of a husband providing rich and famous connections, a way of entering better society and achieving lifelong security through marriage".
"Rosamond's fate is to be contrasted with the one near perfect creature in the book [Mary], and to be shadowed by another stalwart figure, Dorothea herself."
- p.508: "... her view of society, while still based on the comity of a contract, allows for several contaminating elements to poke through. The political system is itself highly charged with irregularities and patterns of misbehavior, or simply stupidity; the economic system seems to work on the basis of deception and hypocrisy; religion is itself little more than a shield behind which hypocrisy can function; the family may be stalwart or, as with the Vincys, divisive and disruptive, based on class and caste ideas; the professions, as in medicine, are riddled with compromises, the desire for soft berths, distancing oneself from patients' concerns".
"The parallel marriages, Dorothea with Casaubon, Lydgate with Rosamond, as well as the Garths, Vincys, and Bulstrode- the very structure of the novel- indicate that behind closed doors the power game, not love, not mutual support or understanding, valorizes the relationship".
- p.509: "Dorothea's mistakes, to some extent, can be attributed to the foolishness of her guardian." Except for the Garths, "parental figures are either absent or emotionally and intellectually missing".
- p.510: "The husband who cannot consummate the marriage uses his money as a threat and as a form of empowerment; the suitor, who lacks money, offers sexuality, which Dorothea embraces and, as a consequence, forfeits the money".
"In marrying an impotent Casaubon, Dorothea fulfills the Victorian 'ideal' of a woman above sexual desire. But by being attracted to Will Ladislaw, she reveals a dirty secret which might well cheapen her: that his maleness is irresistible and that beneath their bantering romance is little more than sex."
- p.519: After Middlemarch: gamblers, aristocrats, common people with faith, arrivistes...=> material for Daniel Deronda.
- p.533: "... the 2 marriages- Gwendolen and Grandcourt, Dorothea and Casaubon- are of the same kind. Casaubon's emotional abuse is not much different from Grandcourt's psychological cruelty; and both women marry because of advantages that prove illusory. Each in her pride and delusion thinks she will prevail- Dorothea through her intellect and desire to give, Gwendolen through her manipulative powers; and both come away crushed by the experience."
- p.569: Gwendolen's modeled on Rosamond.
"Like a theater troupe which recycles actors and actresses according to the parts they fill, she created and re-created them, so that they recur and reemerge, transmogrified as need be, but nevertheless recognizable."
7/ "Selfishness and Self-Affirmation in Rosamond Vincy and Gwendolen Harleth" (Sonia Bicanic)
- p.2: In many respects Gwendolen seems to have grown straight out of Rosamond.
Self-interest, physical similarity, lack of interest in moral life or anything outside themselves.
However: Rosamond- selfishness, Gwendolen- "self-fulfilment"/ "self-affirmation".
- p.4: The flower powerful: natural and delightful for Rosamond, repugnant for Gwendolen.
Gwendolen embodies possibilities of development.
- p.5: Gwendolen rides for competition and excitement, not to be seen.
- p.6: Difference in sensitivity to outside standards. Rosamond's "undisturbed by any perplexities concerning aesthetic or intellectual superiority".
She doesn't doubt herself. Gwendolen's sensitivity to values beyond her makes possible her expansion.
- p.12: Gwendolen's character is strong and generous, not weak and demanding.
8/ "The Education of Gwendolen Harleth" (Laurence Lerner):
- p.2: Gwendolen's more complex than Hetty and Rosamond. Vulnerable.
- "The chink in Gwendolen’s egoism can be seen in her fitful sensitivity to the feelings of others."
- "This burst of self-reproach reveals that she is not yet totally possessed by her egoism." - Conversion.
9/ "Isabel, Gwendolen and Dorothea" (George Levine):
- p.2: Gwendolen+ Dorothea=> Isabel.
Grandcourt+ Casaubon=> Osmond.
The Portrait of a Lady.
- p.4: Gwendolen's only alternative if she doesn't marry Grandcourt is to become a governess. Dorothea's choice is free of external pressures.
- p.7: Dorothea marries Casaubon partly because he doesn't seem to fit the general pattern of intellectual and spiritual impoverishment that she sees in the people around her. People's reaction "reinforces rather than shakes her decision".
- p.8: 3 books- submissiveness leads to further antagonism; husbands turn everything sour.
- p.10: Leavis says that Isabel is Gwendolen seen by a man. But Isabel may be a better person than Gwendolen?
- p.11: "Gwendolen gets what she deserves. I do not think it sentimental to suggest that Dorothea and Isabel do not."
George Eliot tries to make it clear that "even altruism can be a form of egotism".
- p.12: George Eliot places her heroines against the background of larger events, which has effects on the structure and meaning. Middlemarch and Daniel Deronda.
- p.14: James shuts all the doors and there's no 2nd chance.
10/ "Contrasting Pairs of Heroines in George Eliot's Fiction" (Constance Marie Fulmer)
- p.2: Contrast between 2 young ladies.
- Dorothea vs Celia. Mary vs Rosamond.
- Mirah vs Gwendolen.
- The Mill on the Floss: Maggie Tulliver vs Lucy.
Romola: Romola vs Tessa.
- "For example, Rosamond Vincy in Middlemarch has a "nymph-like figure. . (I, 128-29). When Gwendolen Harleth first appears, she is referred to as a "Nereid in sea-green robes. . ." (I, 8). Later at the archery meet, Gwendolen "felt herself . . . moving about like a wood nymph. . ." (I, 195)."
11/ Ghosts of the Gothic: Austen, Eliot& Lawrence (Judith Wilt):
- p.173: "In Austen's novels the sublime fates of death and marriage function mostly offstage, and the condition of common life is, in softer phrase, anxiety: only by taking the considerable risk of using that double-edged tool, the imagination, does one enter that intenser realm of reality paradoxically and crucially perceived as the 'happiest dream', where dread waits, and also love. In George Eliot's more spacious worlds the sublime thrusts constantly at the common, breaking dynamically through those wadded layers of 'stupidity' and chatter with which humans protect themselves from 'the roar which lies on the other side of silence'."
- p.174: "No one in whom George Eliot takes an interest is safe from the formidable claim of an intenser life upon the mind's eye and ear: always the claim is inseparable from dread: dread is the infallible sign."
- p.177: "Gwendolen's soul becomes the battleground of the 2 powers the the Gothic tells us are at the bottom of each of us, the immediate ego-preservation that will murder if necessary and the apprehension of larger, less personal values that 1st makes itself known as dread..."
- p.182: "For Eliot, vision proceeds from terror, and imagination is triggered, as it was in Austen, by dread."
- p.209: "Having 'rescued' Bulstrode from the worst consequences of his murder by activating grace through marriage and having discovered in her characterization of Rosamond her own ambiguous antipathy to and anxiety for the classic English murdering beauty, Eliot sets out to rescue her in Daniel Deronda. This time in the single character of Gwendolen Harleth, the demon behind all those murderous impulses will be fully explored."
- p.213: "Gwendolen's story [...] is a complex amalgam of Dorothea's and Rosamond's in outline."
"But Gwendolen's self-display is less innocent than Rosamond's, and therefore, less powerful..."
Like Dorothea, she wants to lead, but "has all of Rosamond's spoiling attention and none of Dorothea's complex acquaintance with religious theories of the uses of humility and duty and discipline in the fight to become 'remarkable'."
- p.216: "... Grandcourt attracts Gwendolen by his smooth blankness- and not only because she feels able to manage it. At some fatal level, he represents that perfect freedom from dreads and pertubations, that perfect security from humiliations and the touch of other people, that she wants for herself, the quintessence of dead 'ladyhood' because he is the ultimate gentleman".
12/ The Novels of George Eliot: A Study in Form (Barbara Hardy):
- p.47: "After Adam Bede, all the novels, except Silas Marner, are primarily concerned with the tragic heroine instead of the hero, and the choice of a heroine has several consequences."
- p.49: Dorothea's lack of education contributes to her illusions and "combines fatally with her theoretic mind, her inexperience and youth, and her social ardour." Unrealistic.
- p.50: "Gwendolen is not unintelligent, but she too is the product of the same kind of sketchy female education, though she is complacent about it."
- p.58: "The process of rescue by the hero is appropriately designed in each case. The hero is not only the male who is superior in education though with the same problems of feeling, but the lover with a particular understanding of the heroine's predicament, and often with an implausibly detached moral view of it. Most of George Eliot's readers would probably agree that she is not unreservedly successful in the way in which she tries to assimilate the moral interpretation of the heroine to the presentation of the human relationship."
- p.68: "All George Eliot's characters are shown as egoists. [...] If there are the egoists who emerge from moral stupidity, like Dorothea, there are also those who never emerge, like Casaubon, and there are those who emerge too late, like Arthur Donnithorne, after egoism has found its tragic conclusion in the betrayal or the destruction of another life."
- p.69: "Grandcourt is shown as the product and not as the process of deterioration".
- p.75: Casaubon, like Tito, is unredeemed, though he is not shown as developing, and our sympathy for him depends on the moving point of view which controls the form of the whole novel."
- p.76: "Fred is almost a parody, or at least a gentler version, of the blind absorptions of Casaubon and Bulstrode."
He has several mentors: Mary, her father and Farebrother.
- p.77: "Fred is a good example of a character whose story is infected by the seriousness of its context. He is not merely part of a pattern of contrasts and opposites which makes a generalization, allowing for the variants, but he is also part of George Eliot's attempt to discriminate different kinds of moral endurance. [...] in his less culpable egoism he gives us a standard for observing Rosamond and Bulstrode, just as in his less admirable progress, he throws some light on Dorothea."
- p.80: Dinah, Felix Holt, Daniel- "dramatic failures", "charmless characters", no vitality or personality.
- p.100: "Dorothea is much less and much more than a moral example"- unlike Dinah and Felix and Deronda.
- p.101: She doesn't have "a vast converting influence". People remain the same, her words/ actions only have brief effects.
- p.110: Daniel "is an extreme image of the novel's theme. He lacks the mixed and tentative errors and successes of Adam and Dorothea- characters who share his rectitude but not his woodenness."
He is "simply and wholly stamped and shaped" by the main theme.
- p.115: Dorothea vs Rosamond- "human extremes of warmth and chill, selflessness and selfishness".
- p.136: "In a sense, all her novels overlap with each other in a way which shows them to be explorations of what she calls 'the sameness of the human lot'. The recurrence of the moral situation is less striking than its versatility, and yet we can see a constant process of attempted and rejected variants bearing some resemblance to each other".
"Dorothea is a more complicated Esther, Gwendolen is a less successful Esther..."
- p.143: "George Eliot has a simple and not very varied moral scheme but her novels are never schematic or rigid in their generalizations about human beings. The human examples are always variations of the theme rather than examples which fit it perfectly."
- p.214: "this kind of reduction to childish sweetness and innocence is often a weakness in her treatment of sex".
- p.221: Dorothea's vision of Casaubon's "labyrinthine extension". "The labyrinth begins as a compliment to unknown knowledge and turns into an image of imprisonment."
- p.226: "Grandcourt in Daniel Deronda is a masculine version of Rosamond."
- p.227: "Like Rosamond's, his is the egoism which grasps, encloses and paralyses".
13/ George Eliot and Her Heroines: A Study (Abba Goold Woolson):
- p.76: "She gives us many fine, ardent, sympathetic young women [...] but we see none of them in love, that is, desperately in love, like the heroines of Charlotte Bronte and George Sand".
14/ George Eliot (Walter Allen):
- p.149: Gwendolen, like Maggie Tulliver and Esther Lyon, is "a princess in exile". Dorothea isn't.
- p.155: Casaubon "is a terrifying figure of futility haunted by consciousness of itself".
- p.157: "George Eliot had little love for pretty girls as such; indeed, she saw prettiness, sexual attractiveness as qualities dangerous to the moral nature of those who possess them". Rosamond.
- p.159: "For the Garths, George Eliot has only uncritical admiration [...] As a foil to Rosamond, Mary Garth is a failure; her liveliness does not compensate for George Eliot's inability to render her in depth. She suffers, like her parents, from the monotony of goodness."
- p.171: "Except as anti-type, Gwendolen herself is not the young woman one associates with George Eliot [...] She is cold, calculating, arrogant, self-willed, where what one thinks of as the typical George Eliot young women, Maggie and Dorothea, are warm, impulsive, self-sacrificing to the point of masochism. What she has in common with them is intelligence, but she has, as well, a flashing brilliance, a wit, an inordinately high degree of self-valuation as a unique being, reminiscent of Jane Austen's Emma. These are factors that remove her from anything but remote kinship with Rosamond Vincy."
- p.173: Gwendolen's "besetting weakness is not selfishness or calculation but ignorance, ignorance of the world outside her small family and social circle".
Grandcourt is "a man as seen by a woman novelist; a male novelist, James himself, would have seen and portrayed him differently and, in doing so, would have robbed him of a certain sexual magic".
- p.174: "the demonic quality of the incompletely understood".
15/ "The Traffic in Men: Female Kinship in 3 novels by George Eliot" (Patricia Vigderman)
- "In the marriages that bring to a close Adam Bede, Middlemarch, and Daniel Deronda, the brides are all paying off debts to men. In Bede, within the Poyser kinship system, Dinah makes up to Adam (and perhaps to all of Loamshire) for the loss (and disgrace) of Hetty; in Middlemarch, Will Ladislaw, impoverished because his grandmother fled her wealthy family, gets the lovely and clever Dorothea, formerly married to the dusty cousin who got all the family wealth; in Deronda, the marriage of Daniel to Mirah certainly seals his inheritance of the phallus of Judaism (that circumcised and circumscribed inheritance his mother had tried to keep from him)."
- "Her dark woman and her fair one are each one at the center of her own plot, and each reads the world according to her own quite different lights. When these two lights merge briefly, they radically affect the vision of both women and allow the narrative as a whole to conclude. The medium of these very intense exchanges is in each case a man, for in the separate plots, the handing over of a man from one woman to another resolves the tension. These novels construct a traffic in men, in which the "heroes," in crossing the boundaries between plots, also express the links between women's lives."
- "In fact, this beseeching style, so touching to her hearers, is almost too abstract to be truly compelling: Dinah's goodness seems diffuse and disconnected. Her preaching brings rough men and frivolous girls to tears, but it doesn't do much for the narrative."
- "In Middlemarch a similar pattern emerges, in the self-forgetting Dorothea Brooke Casaubon and the vain, small-souled Rosamond Vincy Lydgate."
- "Rosamond Vincy, on the other hand, has a beauty that is both more worldly than Dorothea's and more complicated than Hetty's. Her charms have a studied innocence; she's a baby duck from a finishing school who has a predictable effect on the local swains. Unfortunately for them, because she shares Hetty's confusion of personal charm with social mobility, she hopes that her small hands and feet, her forget-me-not blue eyes, and wondrous blond hair will get her out of Middlemarch."
- "Once again a woman with a mission enters into an overwhelming intimacy with a fallen woman and comes out of it with a man. In her eagerness to save Rosamond from a loveless marriage, Dorothea confesses also. In speaking brokenly of the pain of her own loveless marriage, she shares Rosamond's trial as Dinah shared Hetty's. As the two women, strangers to each other, come even closer than Dinah and Hetty, Rosamond is moved to consummate the relationship by handing over Will."
- "The transcendence that Dorothea and Rosamond achieve over a female culture that is too often a matter of gossip, smugness, and triviality is only possible because of Will Ladislaw, and their achieved kinship leads directly to his exchange. Neither sisterhood nor rivalry, their mutual recognition is an exchange of a phallic object that opens the moral world to Rosamond and the erotic world to Dorothea."
- "Like Dinah, Dorothea has been imprisoned in her own sense that she is living for others."
- "In Daniel Deronda a traffic in men takes place three times. Most similar to the pattern in the other books is Gwendolen Harleth's yielding of Daniel to the woman he actually loves, Mirah Cohen. Then, there is a negative traffic, in which the flesh of Henleigh Grandcourt expresses a dreadful communality between Gwendolen and Lydia Glasher. Lastly, and most subversively, there is an intrapsychic traffic between Gwendolen and Daniel in which Gwendolen ends up with rights to herself, however inconclusive these may be."
- "She is obviously more like Rosamond or Hetty than Dorothea, but Gwendolen's character has an additional strand. Her desire for her own way has a recklessness (and, until her marriage, an effectiveness) more commonly seen, we are told, in men than in women."
- "Taunted by her husband with gossip about Deronda's relationship to "the little Jewess," Gwendolen goes to visit Mirah, who revives her faith in Daniel's goodness. Although these few moments are quite intense for Gwendolen, Mirah doesn't quite get what is going on. She is, of course, also unaware of the final scene between Daniel and Gwendolen, in which the good man Mirah unknowingly gave Gwendolen in their one interview is returned to her. Therefore, this traffic does not really connect Gwendolen and Mirah because Mirah is not the woman who is analogous to Dorothea for Rosamond or Dinah for Hetty."
- "Clearly Gwendolen has not done well in the traffic in men. Having had to return both men, she is still disconnected from ordinary woman's life."
- "In making the leap into Daniel's reality, Gwendolen is doing something more than giving up her "masculine" willfulness and becoming "feminine" or maternal."
16/ "Binding the Will: George Eliot and the Practice of Promising" (Melissa J. Ganz):
- "Egoists such as Tom Tulliver and Edward Casaubon attempt to pressure others into making promises that require them to act in self-defeating ways. Individuals such as Stephen Guest, Rosamond Vincy, and Gwendolen Harleth, by contrast, refuse to honor their own commitments, evincing a complete disregard for the ways in which other people construe their words and actions."
- "Like Mr. Tulliver and his son, Edward Casaubon and Rosamond Lydgate attempt to use promises to impose their wills on others and to restrict others’ actions. Rosamond refuses to limit her own freedom, though, by making pledges to other people. Unlike Maggie, she fails to consider the expectations that she creates in other minds and refuses to acknowledge such expectations as binding."
- "Unlike Dorothea, Rosamond Vincy refuses to bind herself even when she ought to do so."
- "Through her willful heroine, Gwendolen Harleth, Eliot holds out hope that even egoists can come to perceive the justice of this view of promising: Gwendolen eventually acknowledges the importance of attending to others’ perspectives and accepts responsibility for breaking an implicit pledge."
- "Like Eliot’s other headstrong heroines, Gwendolen puts her own needs above everyone else’s."
- "Although Gwendolen is willful and selfish, she is not completely immoral."
- "Gwendolen suffers for breaking her word."
17/ "'A Difference in Native Language': Gender, Genre and Realism in Daniel Deronda" (Sarah Gates):
- "Gwendolen completely lacks that instinct for self-sacrifice, Deronda, the egoism."
- "It is tempting to consider Gwendolen’s role in the Grandcourt plot line to be a more flamboyant version of Rosamond Vincy’s role in Middlemarch.12 Their vanities and pettinesses, their selfishness, their love of luxury, and their role-playing all point to such a conclusion. So, too, do the bare outlines of their stories: the pragmatic playing at romance heroine gains them good establishments that completely disappoint their expectations. But in fact, Gwendolen is a “Rosamond” turned inside out. She is completely helpless before her husband, while Rosamond engages in effective subterfuge against Lydgate on several occasions. Since Gwendolen would rather be the hero, she considers the role of romance heroine a tiresome form, a bore, which must be endured if she is to marry herself into power and freedom, while Rosamond thinks of romance as an ideal state of happiness. Of course, cynicism always betrays a sense of injured idealism, and so even in their deeper psychologies the two characters reverse each other: while Rosamond’s earnest embracing of romance dresses up a basically materialistic and pragmatic frame of reference, Gwendolen’s stance of cynical materialism conceals a deeper allegiance to romance. We learn quite early that, unlike Rosamond, realistic pragmatism has never been her “native land.” The narrator laments that what has “been wanting in Gwendolen’s life” is a solidly realistic childhood: the “well-rooted” “tender kinship” to “the face of the earth” and “the labours that men go forth to”; “that early home” among “neighbors,” the “blessed persistence” of which leads to the “sympathy” Eliot so earnestly sought to teach; and the “sweet habits of the blood” that characterize “good,” moral, adult citizens (18). Gwendolen has no “sweet habits of the blood.” In fact, it is even doubtful whether she has blood: her bloodless complexion is the aspect of her appearance noted most obsessively by both narrator and characters throughout the novel. (As Sir Hugo remarks, “She is certainly very graceful. But she wants a tinge of colour in her cheeks: it is a sort of Lamia beauty she has” .) This lack of “blessed persistence” in childhood, of blood in womanhood, and of affectionate connection to the world and its human activities, argues that she has a different native land altogether (since, despite these lacks, she is not immoral or bad)."
- "For example, in Becoming a Heroine: Reading about Women in Novels (New York: Viking, 1982), Rachel Brownstein considers Gwendolen to be a Rosamond presented with “sympathy” (215); Judith Wilt remarks incisively: “Having . . . discovered in her characterization of Rosamond her own ambiguous antipathy to and anxiety for the classic English murdering beauty, Eliot set out to rescue her in Daniel Deronda” (Ghosts of the Gothic: Austen, Eliot, and Lawrence [Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1987], 209); and Gillian Beer notes that “George Eliot makes restitution to those earlier figures such as Hetty and Rosamond excluded from her full sympathy because they could never succeed in fully sympathising with others,” in George Eliot (Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press, 1986), 219."
18/ George Eliot's Middlemarch: A Casebook (Patrick Swinden):
+ Edith Simcox:
- p.45: "Rosamond can be almost honest for once at little expense, but she can no more change her character than her complexion or the colour of her eyes, or than she can unmake the whole series of circumstances which have made her life less negatively innocent than Celia's."
+ Leslie Stephen:
- p.95: Dorothea "attracts us by her perfect straightforwardness and simplicity, though we are afraid that she has even a slight touch of stupidity".
Her misguided adoration is natural but painful.
- p.97: "Rosamond Vincy is a model of 1 of the forms of stupidity against which the gods fight in vain".
+ W. J. Harvey:
- p.130: "The Garths are the 1 solidly happy family in the book and as such provide a standard whereby the failings of the other marriages can be measured."
Mary's a kind of deputy for Dorothea. "She is used here so that the direct contrast of Rosamond and Dorothea- they have already been linked in Lydgate's mind- need not be introduced too early in the novel [...] But Mary is in many ways a minor analogue to Dorothea; she is very much to Fred (and Featherstone) what Dorothea is to Will (and Casaubon)."
+ Arnold Kettle:
- p.162: "George Eliot's view of society is in the last analysis a mechanistic and determinist one. She has an absorbing sense of the power of society but very little sense of the way it changes. Hence her moral attitudes, like her social vision, tend to be static."
"All the main characters, save Dorothea and Ladislaw and Mary and Fred, are defeated by Middlemarch, and Mary and Fred are undefeated only because they have never fought a thorough-going battle with the values of Middlemarch society."
- p.164: "And like all mechanistic thinkers George Eliot ends by escaping into idealism".
The 3 rebels, Dorothea, Ladislaw and Lydgate, "stand for, and wish to live by, values higher than the values of that world".
- p.166: Ladislaw is "a mere dream-figure, a romantic idealisation of the kind of man she deserves".
+ Quentin Anderson:
- p.173: The Bulstrode strand "functions in part to provide a standard by which the others may be placed and judged".
+ Lawrence Lerner:
- p.233: David Daiches says that the moral centre is Mary, not Dorothea.
- p.235: Fred's "self-reproach is laced with self-pity".
19/ "George Eliot's Conception of 'Form'" (Darrel Mansell):
- The unifying principle of Middlemarch is the principle of analogy.
20/ "George Eliot's Problem With Action" (Stefanie Markovits):
- Rosamond's selfishness is the antithesis of Dorothea's benevolence, but it also anticipates Gwendolen's selfish willfulness.
George Eliot intensely hates Rosamond.
- Mirah is passive like Fanny Price.
- Catherine "drops from sight" when she marries.
21/ "Feminine Passivity and Rebellion in 4 Novels by George Eliot" (Christine Sutphin):
- "Both resistance to passivity and willed submission are evident" in Maggie, Esther, Dorothea and Gwendolen.
- Dorothea's defence of Lydgate is her way of asserting herself and finding something worthwhile to do.
Dorothea's will to act vs Rosamond's passivity.
- She is, however, passive in her relations with Will.
- Rosamond's passive resistance.
- Moral blank- "incapable of acknowledging responsibility for the suffering she creates or of feeling any real sympathy for others."
- "Dorothea's and Rosamond's situations are significant precursors to Gwendolen Harleth's struggle in Daniel Deronda." Rachel M. Brownstein calls Gwendolen a Rosamond presented with sympathy but her situation is like Dorothea's marriage to Casaubon.
- Gwendolen resists Grandcourt even when she submits.
- Mirah, albeit seeming passive, also asserts herself in a way.
- "Like Rosamond, Gwendolen learns her most painful lesson when she discovers that she is not the center of the universe."
In George Eliot, disillusion=> progress.