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The Quilty Reader

Lawyer, mother, avid reader. Game host extraordinaire! Partner in crime to Obsidian Black Plague! My bookish weaknesses include classics, fantasy, YA, and agreeing to read more books than is even remotely possible.


Reading progress update: I've read 37%

Daniel Deronda (Barnes & Noble Classics) - George Eliot, Earl L. Dachslager, George Stade

Here There Be Spoilers.


The titles of the first 3 books of Daniel Deronda are 1. The Spoiled Child, 2. Meeting Streams, and 3. Maidens Choosing.


The book is called Daniel Deronda, but so far I would assert that it should be named Gwendolen Harleth. Gwendolen is young, a bit impetuous, and vain. She lives in a time when, as Eliot tells us:


"Marriage is the only true and satisfactory sphere of a woman, and if your marriage with Mr. Grandcourt should be happily decided upon, you will have, probably, an increasing power, both of rank and wealth, which may be used for the benefit of others. These considerations are something higher than romance! You are fitted by natural gifts for a position which, considering your birth and early prospects, could hardly be looked forward to as in the ordinary course of things; and I trust that you will grace it, not only by those personal gifts, but by a good and consistent life.”


Gwendolen, nonetheless, does not particularly wish to marry. She is being pursued by Henleigh Grandcourt, a wealthy man with fine expectations, but 


“I am very sorry to cause you annoyance, mamma, dear, but I can’t help it,” said Gwendolen, with still harder resistance in her tone. “Whatever you or my uncle may think or do, I shall not alter my resolve, and I shall not tell my reason. I don’t care what comes of it. I don’t care if I never marry anyone. There is nothing worth caring for. I believe all men are bad, and I hate them.”


It is difficult to know what to make of Gwendolen. She is frivolous, but wounded. She is shallow and mercenary, but chooses flee from Grandcourt after learning that he has been maintaining a mistress with whom he has had an illegitimate son. She is not self-sacrificing, yet at the end of Book III, she agrees to marry Grandcourt, not because she loves him, nor even because she wishes for a comfortable affluence, but because she cannot bear the thought of her mother being forced into penury.


“Yes,” said Gwendolen, in the same tone, and with a quickness which implied that it was needless to ask questions. “Everything is settled. You are not going to Sawyer’s Cottage, I am not going to be inspected by Mrs. Mompert, and everything is to be as I like. So come down with me immediately.”