Reviewers from time to time criticized Eliot for an excess of description over enactment. They also felt the character of Deronda was a bit ponderous--more designed to be admirable than admirable. One, Francillon, suggested that Deronda was her least realistic book, a wonderfully plotted romance (Daniel's rescue of Mirah suggests Caponsacchi's of Pompilia in Browning's The Ring and the Book). It's a religious romance, in which the handsome hero brings deepened morality to the heroine! Some reviewers also objected to the Latinate and evaluative diction as too ponderous.
In 1850 there were approximately 20,000 Jews in London and a smaller number in the provinces; ninety per cent were native-born and the remainder had immigrated from the continent. Mass immigration began in the 1870s (shortly before the appearance of Eliot's novel), and by 1914 there were 300,000 Jews in Britain. Although Catholics had gained civil emancipation in 1829 (that is, the right to vote and hold office), Jews were still denied electoral rights. Parliament was thus closed to them, as was access to the bar and service in the army, and they were not permitted to matriculate at Oxford or Cambridge. In 1858 Lionel de Rothchild was permitted to become an M. P. without takng the oath "by the true faith of a Christian," and in the 1870s Jews were first granted admission to Oxbridge. By 1890 civil disabilities for Jews were removed when they were permitted to assume the last posts which had been closed to them, lord chancellor and lord lieutenant for Ireland.
Eliot had long been interested in Jewish history, but the plot's concern with Jewish nationalism and Zionism reflects her friendship with Emanuel Deutsch, whom Eliot met in 1866. Born in Silesia and educated at the University of Berlin, Deutsch had emigrated to London in 1855 and worked as a cataloguer in the British Museum. He was interested in tracing the historical origins of Christianity in Judaism, and became convinced of the desirability of creating a Jewish homeland. Shortly after visiting Palestine in 1869 he developed cancer. Eliot visited him several times before he sailed for the Near East, but he died on the way in Alexandria in 1873. Clearly Deutsch's visionary character, learnedness and untimely death influenced Eliot's portrayal of Mordecai. She also gathered information about Palestine from Lady Strangford, the editor of Deutsch's papers and the widow of the eighth Viscount of Strangford, said to be the original for Disrael's Coningsby. She and Lewes visited synagogues in Mainz, Frankfurt and Hamburg and talked of journeying to the Near East to gather background for her novel, but decided that her health was unequal to such a trip.
1. Why was this title chosen? (Similar to male character titles of her other novels, Adam Bede and Felix Holt. Despite the title, is Gwendolyn Harleth equally a protagonist?
2. What are some features of the novel's organization? (8 books, 4 volumes) How may these have reflected the circumstances of publication?
3. How would you characterize the eight book titles? What lessons do they seem to imply?
4. Does the narrator change, and if so, in what ways?
5. How does the narrator of Daniel Deronda differ from that of Middlemarch? Are her interpretations less forced? Does she offer more or less sympathy to her characters?
(Page numbers are from the Harper Colophon edition, 1966.)
I. "The Spoiled Child"
What is the effect of beginning in medias res?
How are our perceptions of Gwendolyn controlled by the narrator in the opening chapter? (unrest. . . evil. . . associated with gambling; scene seen through Daniel's view; narrator assumes one cannot see Gwendolyn with indifference 3; she's affected by sense of his criticism 4; loses when viewed; her vanity stressed)
What is the significance of the allusion to Lamia? 5
What is Gwendolyn's response to Deronda? What is the effect of the sense of ruptured possibility?
What do we learn about her circumstances and character from her response to her change in fortune? (sense of entitlement, narcissism, 8; lack of concern with family, 10; narcissism--kisses mirror, serpentine, 10; pawns chain of her dead father, 11; disproportionately upset when necklace returned, assumes others have humiliated her; strange lack of self-esteem, 12; lacks gratitude; hastens home.)
What do we learn in the eighteen chapter flashback which follows? (She lacks a rooted home 12, compare Prelude) What has been Gwendolyn's past and education? (at watering places, two years at "showy school," maternal grandfather had been West Indian (slave trading?), unbearable step-father 14-15, waited on by all, had killed ister's bird, 15)
What is the significance of the fact that Gwendolyn sees herself as St. Cecilia? (16) What is shown by her fear on opening a cabinet with a dead face? (16) What attitude do she and her mother take toward her appearance? (obsessed with it, 17)
How are we expected to respond to her declaration of her determination to be free of interference? (18) Her contempt for her sister Alice?(18)
How is Mr. Gascoigne represented? (19ff) How does he resemble Eliot's earlier clergypeople? (worldly and ambitious; Gwendolyn drawn to him, but finds Anna his daughter naive, 21, Anna no conversationalist; Gascoigne pays his curate nothing! 22 willing to finance the horse on which she visits)
What do you think of the narrator's attitude toward Gascoigne? (as so often, rationalizes and damns at the same time, 14-15; undercutting descriptions, 15, morally damning)
What is Gascoigne's attitude toward financially disadvantageous marriages? (25)
What are Gwendolyn's views on marriage? (26)
What are her ambitions?
--wishes for admiration, 26
--intends to conquer circumstances
--harbors "great expectations"
What are some of her traits of character?
--possesses "sense of superiority," 27
--is disagreeable when crossed
--inherently contradictory, 28
Throughout the narrator intrudes heavily; we cannot like Gwendolyn.
Iin the opening scenes, we again see how men admire Gwendolyn. She gushes insincere interest in her hostess Mrs. Arrowpoint, an author. When she sings, Herr Klesmer criticizes her songs for their lack of 'sense of the universal," 33, and the narrator seems to approve of his hostility. Gwendolyn makes quite sarcastic remarks about those she has met, 35. Miss Arrowsmith is tactful and hospitable to her, a natural foil, 33-35.
The narrator gives a lengthy analysis of Gwendolyn's ambitions, 36. (She is a more formidable and upper-class Rosamond).
What are Gwendolyn's responses to her own abilities? Her attitudes toward other women, and toward the ideal of femininity? (Gwendolyn is dissatisfied with her talents, dislikes reforming women, 36. Even so, she expresses bitterness about the constraints on women, and admiration of the ideal of femininity, 38; she wishes to triumph through her acting; wishes world of romance and fictive goals, without relevance to reality).
How does her relationship with Rex contribute to the development of the plot? (compare Sir James in Middlemarch)
Gwendolyn is contemptuous of Mr. Middleton, but arranges charades when Rex arrives home, one of which is of Hermione from "The Winter's Tale." What is the significance of the tableaux vivante from the Winter's Tale? (acts Hermione)
What startles Gwendolyn? What do you make of the opening of the panel with the dead face and the touch of music? How do you interpret her near hysterical reaction?
What do we learn about her temperament from this scene? (superstitious but dislikes religion; liable to fits of spiritual dread, 44; hates sublimity, 45; feels the possibility of winning empire; fears her insignificance in void)
It seems that their family fortune is based on colonial property, 44.
Rex is attracted to Gwendolyn, rides after the hounds with her. The narrator expresses regret that these two could not have been a loyal pair, 48. Gwendolyn states her goal, to do what pleases her, 49, complains of the restrictions of girls' lives.
In response to Rex's query of what she does desire, what kinds of fantasies does Gwendolyn seem to have? (49, views marriage as a constriction, dislikes thought of sex) How do she and Rex debate sex roles? (49; "fierceness of maidenhood" in her, 50; never afraid when with others, "in action and companionship," 50) In some ways she resembles Rosamund in Middlemarch, and her interest in riding is criticized as "consciousness of power."
When Rex is thrown by his horse, he is aided by the blacksmith's son Joe Dagge (compare Bob Jakin in The Mill on the Floss). What traits of character does he exhibit? (thoughtful, fears Gwendolyn may have had an accident) About hers? (doesn't think of him, laughs at account of accident)
At home Rex tells his father of his attachment, and Mr. Gascoigne discourages the suit, probably for financial reasons; he visits Gwendolyn to observe she is unconcerned about her cousin. He lectures her about riding, which as a conventional man of his day he feels is unsuitable for an unmarried woman.
To her mother Gwendolyn exclaims, "But men are too ridiculous," 56. When Rex courts her, she is repelled, "Pray don't make love to me! I hate it," 58. What do you make of her response, and the fact that she is unable to forsee it?
Gwendolyn weeps in her mother's arms at her own inability to love, 59; seems overattached to her mother, but others repel her.
In response Rex wishes to emigrate to Canada or "the colonies," and Anna to accompany him, but their father is quite severe in insisting that he should finish his education rather than emigrate. Rex feels guilty at the desire to leave and loyal to his home ties, 64, emotions of which Eliot approves. Anna is disappointed, for she had no other prospects.
What consideration is given to Anna in all this? (none; she would have preferred greater freedom from convention)
When Sir Mallinger Grandcourt arrives at nearby Diplow Hall, for what do all in the area hope? (relatives see him as a potential mate for their daughters, 65; Mr. Gascoigne represses what he knows of Grandcourt's past, 67; Mrs. Davilow considers ominously that Gwendolyn could marry without love: "It would not signify about her being in love, if she would only accept the right person."
How does Gwendolyn tease her mother about her meeting with Grandcourt, 69? The latter is distressed when reproached by Gwendolyn for her own loss of innocence, 69-70, an allusion suggesting the regrets of Gwendolyn's life.
What is Gwendolyn's anticipatory description of Grandcourt? (he has the face of a magnified insect, 69) What aspect of her mother's own upbringing evokes nostalgia? (its innocence--why did you not bring me up in this way? 69)
What symbolism is associated with the Gwendolyn's attendance at the archery contest? (metaphor of sold slave, 72, Diana with bow wins rural honors, 78). The Arrowpoints bring Klesmer at Anna's instigation, Gwendolyn awaits Grandcourt, She delights in being the object of gazes, 77 (compare Diana of the Crossways), needs praise, 78, is viewed by Grandcourt and Klesmer.
Who is Klesmer and how is he presented? (dignity, 74)
What is Gwendolyn's response to Grandcourt? (desires to impress, 77; "the desire to conquer is itself a sort of subjection," needs admiration, 77-78; vanity ill at ease)
The book ends ominously with her introduction to Grandcourt. Are there parallels between the endings of books I and II? (Gwendolyn meets Grandcourt; Mirah meets Daniel; both Daniel and Gwendolyn are seeking a life-role and adult sphere of action and relationships)
II. "Meeting Streams"
Which streams meet? (Gwendolyn and Grandcourt, Gwendolyn and Mrs. Glasher, Deronda and Mirah, Deronda and Grandcourt, Sir Hugo and Grandcourt, Hans Meyrick and others)
How is Grandcourt described? (not animated, 79; not ridiculous, 80; cruel, 81, likes pig-sticking; Gwendolyn describes her restlessness, 81, feels he is not likely to interfere with his wife's preferences, 80--a mistaken view; lacks eagerness in the dance)
Why is Gwendolyn attracted to him? (She is only drawn to his negative traits; feels a cold man would be less disagreeable as a husband, 80; notes his absence of eagerness, 87; feels restrictions of her ability to command, 81; she does however feel he is adventurous.)
What views of her own sex are ascribed to Gwendolyn? (dislikes them, 83) The narrator notes a moment of stasis before change, 84, ominous, refers to Sir Joshua Reynolds.
How is Grandcourt contrasted with Klesmer? (Klesmer criticizes her speech, 85, comments on her face and figure--seems a bit intrusive to me.)
What is the narrator's response to Gwendolyn's assumption of an offer of marriage? (89, narrator refers to her as "poor child"; she resembles Rosamund in imagining a male response which doesn't exist; the narrator notes her triviality, 89-90, in the context of wider world issues and sacrifices) What do you make of the assertion of the separate legacy of the sexes?
What is the significance of Gwendolyn's reaction to Mr. Lush? (he repels her, in "one of the strongest of her antipathies," 88; he is compared to a muddy hound, 89, she's unconscious of murky depths, 89, she refuses to accept her burnous from him.) What is the narrator's reaction at this point? (Gwendolyn is reproved for her failure to seek great action, 89-90.)
How is Grandcourt's relationship with Lush explored? How does he treat Lush and his dogs? (Lush is a man of general convenience to Grandcourt, treated with hateur. Grandourt is petulant to his dogs, who follow him nonetheless; "a gentleman's dogs should be kicked for him," 93).
When the men discuss marriage, why does Lush believe he should marry Miss Arrowpoint? (Lush is generally eager for luxury, 93.) Grandcourt tells him of his intention to marry Gwendolyn, 93 (compare the conversation between Gwendolyn and her mother; compare Pride and Prejudice).
During the horse race, Gwendolyn and Grandcourt ride together. Gwendolyn intends to assert her fredom, not "do as other women did," 96, and Grandcourt invites her to leap over a channel, and is irritated at her rebuff, 96. Ominously, she feels afraid of him, 97, prefers his eyes to have no expression in them. She complains of women's lack of freedom; they cannot go in search of adventures, 98. He is described as one of the lotus-eaters, 98. When he suggests she will marry, she states she's uncertain, drops her whip but regains it, and he believes next time "she will come down," 99.
What are some implications of the horse imagery? (associated with sexuality) What are other forms of imagery in this scene? (flower imagery associated with women, the whip an image of freedom and self-control)
What are her motives for marriage to him? (99, 100) Ominously, she cannot forsee her own preferences, 99, and falsely assumes, without evidence, that she can manage him after marriage. To her, he "seemed as little of a flaw in his fortunes as a lover and a husband could possibly be," 99, and she falsely anticipates marriage will bring freedom, 100. Grandcourt is compared to a lizard, 100.
Gwendolyn feels no curiosity about his earlier life, 100. She wishes to marry him because he suited her purpose, 100. Her uncle's callousness to Grandcourt's past is again reemphasized, 102; though he has heard something of his previous entanglements, he urges her to marry Grandcourt without triffling. What is most shocking, of course, is that Guedolyn will share his view. Thus Gwendolyn's male advisor fails her at a crucial time. Even he is startled by her bleak response to the idea of marriage, 104.
A psychologically determining fact is that Gwendolyn makes up her mind before she meets Mrs. Glasher. Meanwhile Lush meets Grandcourt's mistress Lydia Glasher, a prematurely aged woman of about thirty-seven, with two of their four surviving children, and plans for her to meet Gwendolyn.
Gwendolyn is described as a lily, Grandcourt as courting a wood-nymph, 106. Gwendolyn wishes to postpone the decision. At this point, she receives a letter from Mrs. Glasher, and feels, "It is come in time." The letter contains an invitation to meet at the Whispering Stones. Meanwhile Grandcourt himself disappears from the party.
What are significant aspects of her interview with Lydia Glasher? She is the mother of five children, the eldest now dead, four by Grandcourt, and asserts the right of her son to be heir, 111. Mrs. Glasher is a vision, "I am woman's life," 112. Gwendolyn responds coldly, but later she tells her mother that she will not marry Grandcourt, but will not tell her reasons, 113.
What do you think is her motive? Here, if she does tell her reasons, she will be bound to keep her resolve. Her mother wearily accepts her daughter's choice, 114.
Grandcourt arrives at Leubronn shortly after Gwendolyn has left, and meets his uncle from whom he may hope for a money settlement in return for permission for Mrs. Mallinger and her daughter to live at Diplow after the latter's death.
The contrast between Grandcourt and Daniel Deronda is emphasized--Grandcourt cannot bear to exert himself to be amused, 118; Daniel is full of the intensity of life, 119. Sir Hugo and Daniel discuss Gwendolyn's possible marriage to Grandcourt, and Sir Hugo suggests that Daniel could be a favored suitor, 120.
What have been the essential features of Daniel's upbringing? Though brought up by Sir Hugo, whom he believes may be his father, he does not know his own origins and yearns for gentlemanly status. His face as a child had suggested a painting of the boy Christ, 22-23; he is like a girl in mindset, 123. He feels he cannot decide on his future when he doesn't know his prospects, 133-34. Daniel is sensitive to slight, and to the suggestion that he might become a singer--later will marry Mirah. He admires Sir Hugo's habits and bearing, 127, and the cultured background of his upbringing, and his experience of uncertainty gives him sensitivity, 130.
Daniel's personal preferences include an abstract desire for great leadership, 128, in the tradition of Pericles and Washington. Sir Hugo is unconcerned about the effect of Daniel's ignorance about his past on him 129, but tells him he will have seven hundred pounds annually, and the choice of his future, 130. They discuss the limitations of Oxbridge education, and Daniel expresses his desire for a wider education, 132--knowledge rather than academic success, 133. His friendship with Hans Meyrick causes him to tutor his ill friend at the expense of his own studies, 135, and he fails the competition for senior fellowship.
He decides he wants to study abroad, to see other places, to get rid of a "merely English atittude in studies," 136. Sir Hugo advocates moderation in generosity--still he's a much better counsellor than Gascoigne, 136.
In this pause of inactivity (compare Ladislaw), as Daniel rows on the Thames, he meets a suicidal Mirah and rescues her (compare Danby painting), a contrast with Grandcourt's courtship of Gwendolyn. A comparison is made with a painting of Titian, 137; Daniel's hands exhibit "the combination of refinement with force." He is not seraphic but manly, 138, of an appearance which "can afford to acknowledge his poor relations."
At this juncture Mirah apears, 139, short and handsomely dark; they gaze at each other, 139, and he loses the sense of his own center, 140. He reflects that he doesn't want to join an English profession. She has heard him singing--compare Maggie's response to Stephen and Phillip. He rescues her from drowning by offering assistance; he thinks of his mother, 141, and takes her to Hans Meyrick's family. Her features give "fuller meaning for him to the human face," 142, and she gazes at him as at an angel, 143. She confesses her Jewishness, 143. He has come to a new phase in life, and found a fellow creature, 145.
In contrast to Gwendolyn's haughty response to the prospect of life in a cottage, the Meyricks are happy in their relatively threadbare house, which is presented as a domestic idyll (yet their condition is described as poverty! 145). They read together, and Mab wishes for great and good actions--compare Dorothea. At this moment appropriately Mirah arrives. She responds with "placid reverence" to her new situation, 149, blesses her rescuer, 150, and her words echo the New Testament.
Book III: Maidens Choosing
Which maidens make which choices?
Daniel seeks romance among the facts of everyday life. He is concerned about Mirah's past, feeling an indefinable unease, and doesn't tell Sir Hugo and his wife what he has done, an omission which emphasizes his emotional separation from them.
No shoes in the house are small enough for Mirah! 154 Mirah (like Will Ladislaw's mother) has rejected the sordid aspects of her past (compare the account of her past with that of Miriam in Aurora Leigh). She dislikes the life of the stage, reads great poetry and plays, dislikes the falsity of praise for her singing, dislikes acting, 157 (an obvious contrast with Gwendolyn), and is compared with a bird.
She tries to rejoin her mother (compare Gwendolyn's bond with hers), and identifies with the suffering of the Jewish people. She resents her father's mockery of their fellow Jews, 159 and his gambling. She recounts her father's attempts to sell her to a count, who propositions her, 166. In this episode, she has the feeling of being taken to a madhouse, 162, realizes her father may have arranged for this assignation, feels entraped and escapes by flight--compare Gwendolyn's flight. As she leaves she sees the figure of the count and turns back, 162, showing herself preternatually alert to protect herself, will not be sold (another contrast with Gwendolyn).
In her desertion she goes to London and stands by the river--compare the waters of Babylon--and by the river feels a senses of eternity, 166, and gathers strength. Mrs. Meyrick feels Mirah's goodness has come from her mother. The point is made that she reveals no trace of her theatrical training, 167 (that is, that she is unaffected and natural). Daniel wishes to hear Mirah sing, but feels a tasteful reluctance to ask her to perform. Daniel does at last tell the Mallingers of Mirah's situation. Sir Hugo feels the search for Mirah's relatives is misguided. Both Daniel and Mirah are searching for their mothers, though he searches on her behalf, and thus only indirectly for his own inheritance.
At home, Gwendolyn is offended by the thought of life in Sawyer's Cottage, where an exciseman had lived. She writes Klesmer a letter to arrange an interview for inquiry about a possible career, without any sense of fatality or rejection. She is repelled at two offfers of sixty pounds each for teaching and serving as a companion--dislikes the thought of teaching (their servant Jocosa has offered them three hundred pounds--compare As You Like It). What would have been her alternatives? (possibly to marry Rex, move to the colonies, rent a small farm? no alternatives are offered)
The Arrowsmith-Klesmer courtship forms a contrast with that of Gwendolyn-Grandcourt, for it is based on daily association and shared interests. Klesmer is angered by Mr. Burt's imperialist remarks, 179 (compare Deronda); he compares himself to the Wandering Jew, 179. Catherine argues with her mother against the "duty" of rank, 183, an interesting inversion of Gwendolyn's interview with Gascoigne. Music as always provides symbolism, 181. The Arrowsmiths oppose the courtship from prejudice, because Klesmer is foreign, 184 (compare Ladislaw; reference to Poles, 179, compared to a Jew, 183). Although they threaten disinheritance, she and Herr Klesmer continue their plans for marriage, their engagment to each other, 185. The Arrowpoints have no other heir, 185. All this is an inset Dorothea-Ladislaw plot, as it were. The narrative also satirizes the authoress who encounters romance in real life.
Gwendolyn tries for independence from marriage, 187. She wishes to bcome an actress and singer, 188.
What is Klesmer's advice? Does he provide concrete suggestions? What do you think of his motives, as represented by the narrator? 191 (described as not cruel) Possibly it was not necessary to see acting as solely a form of artistry--and she could have learned. He tells her that she cannot earn for a long while, 191. The result would not be worth much, and she would need discipline, 191. Acting was possible, though not easy, 193.
Do you think Gwendolyn would have been a suitable actress? His offer of help is of course embarrassing, but does provide an option for her, 194. He offers to arrange for her training. A balance of judgment and sympathy is evident here. Gwendolyn's sense of superiority is subdued, 196, and she accepts the thought of a position with the bishop's daughter, 197.
Gwendolyn's fortunes fall, those in other plots rise.
The Gascoigne family has turned cheerfully to adjusting to circumstances. Gwendolyn is horrified at the prim tone of the bishop's family, as described to her. She feels the desire to be a lady, not an actress, 202.
The experiencing of a sudden economic reversal was a common Victorian event, in life and fictional plot (203), and the narrator offers tempered sympathy.
Her mother suggests the sharing of their problems, and in rejecting this a real possibility is lost, 205. Gwendolyn had always disregarded the silent testimony of her mother's life, though she feels irrational dependence. (There is a psychological realism to this scene.) Gwendolyn's step-father had stolen her mother's jewels and she desires to save the necklace she has been given, feels dread and hope, 206,
Lush knows generosity is Grandcourt's least probable trait, 210, but calculates that the news that Gwendolyn knows of his past will deter him from proposing, and tells him of their encounter, with a warning. Grandcourt responds by immediately writing a letter (his letters are always evil).
Gwendolyn feels despair, depressed, 215, but feels triumph and terror on receiving the letter, 217. Does she lie to herself about her motives in seeing him?
What are Grandcourt's and Gwendolyn's contrasting motives in choosing each other? (his is mastery, 224). She is not willing to discuss Mrs. Glasher with him, an ominous sign. Gwendolyn is ignorant of the real conditions of her future, and fantasizes that she will have mastery, and also that she may still reject him, 222. Alternately she wishes control over her own fate, but drifts toward a decision--fears his absence, 223, 225, and his distance, shares with him a sense of negatives, 224, and wishes rescue from subjection to her lot. When she jokes on their distance from each other, 226, he deflects her concern, 226. We learn that he wishes to break her as he has Mrs. Glasher, and that his past has been sealed with his elimination of Lush. The chapter ends ominously, in Gwenolyn's declaration that "everything [is] to be as I like," 227.
Has the narrator's tone in describing Gwendolyn changed?
Book IV: Gwendolyn Gets Her Choice
72 pages, 7 chapters. Also a book in which Daniel begins the search for his vocation.
Grandcourt's estate is worth twelve thousand pounds a year, plus the Mallinger estate. As she contemplates marriage Gwendolyn sleeps in her little white bed, 230, feels a sense of fear and also of vengeance at the loss of other than a hedonistic purpose, the need to take "food with the taint of sacrilege upon it."
Her mother states she would rather not be dependent on her son-in-law. Gwendolyn rationalizes her relation to Mrs. Glasher's family, hopes to have no children (an unnatural preference in Victorian ideology). Once again, she assumes she will have "indefinite power" over Grandcourt, 233. His egotistic courtship is described, 233. Theirs is a strange relationship, as each deflects the response desired by the other, 233-34. Gwendolyn desires not to be as other women, and he experiences pleasure in enforcing submission, 237, believes that she will become more enamored of him than he of her. He exhibits a mild sadism in his choice of partner.
Mallinger and Daniel visit Grandcourt. Daniel feels the inclination to tell upon lives of others, 240, but is divided in his thoughts upon the two women, 241 (contrast Ivanhoe plot).
Gwendolyn takes to needlework, 241. She likes Grandcourt's air of deprecating others, 242, but is distressed when he kisses her on the neck, 242. She feels another holds the reins, 243, but would not jump off in the eyes of world. Though satisfied with Grandcourt's coolness, the arrival of Deronda sugests contrasts, 245, and she admires his voice. The racism of others is ontrasted with Deronda's tolerance, 245, and she feels his superiority of judgment. Her consciousness of her own error has caused internal development, 246. She also sees Daniel as an excluded potential heir. Again she pursues Deronda, worred at his possible negative view of her impending marriage, 249, and she offends Grandcourt by speaking to him, 250.
Grandcourt visits Mrs. Glasher. Grandcourt has been much given to the pursuit of women, but had loved Mrs. Glasher above the others, 252. She desires marriage for her children's sake--we see that Gwendolyn's act deeply affects her. Grandcourt is less dominant with Mrs. Glasher, 254. Great emphasis is placed on her physical decay, 255, and we see that the children dislike their father, 256. Mrs. Glasher's defeat is admirably described, 27. Diamonds will become an object of symbolic importance and quarrel (compare Tennyson's Idylls of the King, The Moonstone). She cries and pleads, and the chapter ends with their anxious and estranged truce, 262. She hasn't mentioned her son, and he feels imperfect mastery.
Gwendolyn plans out her wedding from ambitious vanity, 263; metaphors of gambling occur, with the implication that she will lose, 263 to the strength of marriage. Gwendolyn bids farewell to her mother, assumes the later's primacy in her life, 265--compare scene in which she had slept with her mother. The wedding guests note her paleness. She sees herself as the heroine of a play, 266, yet feels a sense of dread, 266, and that her life is a show, 266.
What is the content of the letter she receives with the diamonds? 267 Lydia Glasher is the grave in which her hopes are buried, and the curse affects her. She quickly burns the letter to protect herself, 267 (compare the burning vest of Glauce--she shrieks, surrounded by jewels; compare her ealier reactions).
Mirah possesses a perfect voice, 269, "like the thoughts of what has been," 269. Mirah is unconcered about women's subordination, 269, a traditionalist, 270, who feels deep ties with the religion of her past, 270. Affected by Mirah, Deronda begins to read about Judaism, 270, and visits a synagogue. Eliot here ascribes to Deronda her own temperament, 271-72.
He pauses before making the choice of life, wants to care for something (compare Ladislaw). He is attracted to Judaism by a sense of the sublime, 274, a sentiment which is contrasted with the pragmatism of Sir Hugo, the strongest difference between the two men, 275. In what will be revealed as a premonitory incident, a stranger asks his name in the synagogue, 275.
Mirah is described as an angel in a Christian painting, 275; has found a surrogate home (compare Jane Eyre), and expresses love for Christians, 276-77. She feels a deep response to voices, 277. She is described in reiterated bird imagery, compared to a nightingale, and her song is symbolic of her response to Deronda, "don't say goodby." She hopes he is Jewish, keeps forgetting he isn't, 280, and declares loyalty to her mother's people, 281, an unusual choice in the plots of the time.
Mirah is seen as a child, is physically small, 282. His pleasure in having rescued her creates attachment, perhaps one tinged with condescension, 282. He can't marry her because of her Judaism, he thinks, for marriage to a non-Jew would alienate her, 282, but it is he who decides what would trouble her. (Contrast the ending of Scott's Ivanhoe, in which of course the hero makes the opposite choice, but feels lifelong ambivalence.) His delay in seeking her parents is excused, 283, but the reader is forced to be suspicious.
Daniel walks through the Jewish districts of London. He senses poetic energy, whereas the unimaginative would exalt solid fact, 284. Daniel avoids this aspect of life for a while, and concentrates on seeking for Ezra Cohen.
Daniel debates politics with Sir Hugo, whose views resemble those of Mr. Brooke in Middlemarch. Daniel doesn't want to enter Parliament, 287, expresses distaste for egotism and concealment. He meets a reading Jew, an enthusiast for his tradition, 288, who experiences indirect satisfactions through his beliefs.
The Jews whom he meets seem hopeful that Deronda may be Jewish, 289, and Moredcai asks him his origins. He mentions Mrs. Cohen's daughter, 292, and meets the Cohens, but feels Mirah will dislike them, 294. (Why? They are nice people, even though "in trade.") He kisses the daughter, trades with the son, 294. (Like Will, he relates well to children.) He debates the desirability of honesty, but decides on openness, 294.
Why doesn't he take Mirah with him?
Daniel brings a ring to pawn and joins the family's Sabbath supper, where he asks about the mother's husband, 298. Mordecai begins to be a conscience figure as the book ends--compare Deronda for Gwendolyn, 299. Mordecai is repeatedly particularized and contrasted with Ezra and his wife Addy.
Book V: Mordecai
81 pages, 6 chapters
What is the significance of Mordecai's name?
Daniel meets Gwendolyn and Grandcourt again when they visit the Abbey, and feels pity for Gwendolyn. Gwendolyn wears the diamonds, 304, and Daniel perceives her as womanly, 304, with a tender appealing charm. The Klesmer-Arrowpoint marriage is discussed, and Gwendolyn avoids the issue of evaluation, 305. She dislikes mention of ghosts of the past, 305, in contrast to Mirah, who seeks to learn of her past. Deronda sees that her manner has changed, 307, and is newly artificial. They gaze at each other, she with sadness, 307. She speaks of boredom, 308, he sees the fault in oneself, 308.
Grandcourt observes these reactions obliquely, a sleepy-eyed animal on watch for its prey, 308. The narrator describes Gwendolyn as "poor thing," 310. Deronda becomes part of her conscience, 311. They debate over the merits of historical restoration, 312, which Grandcourt dislikes, 312, to which Deronda responds with fine opinions on the need to balance the new and the old, 312. He gives his ideas on human sympathies, on chapels and churches, 314, and his Ruskinian views on design, 316.
How is Grandcourt able to assume mastery? 317-18 He is described as a crab or boa-constrictor. Gwendolyn is forced into secrecy, afraid of openness with Grandcourt, 318. Her fears of his will are emphasized, 319; she feels a moment of threat over the diamonds, 320. She senses his delight in her unhappiness, 320, knows that she will be made to quail, and has a sense of sicknened appetite, 322. Deronda will be the herald of her conversion, 323; she wants to be better, and he is educated by her trust, 323.
Meyrick has taken over Deronda's lodgings and is painting Mirah as Berenice--what is the significance of this choice? (Berenice was a Jewish heroine, the lover of Titus, who was cast off as was Mrs. Glasher).
Why is Daniel offended at this? (He feels she's made to act out of part, 345). He wants Hans to desist in painting her, wants to protect her, 347. Can't Mirah decide for herself?! Worse, Meyrick is anti-semitic, 349, yet proclaims love for her, and Daniel chides him, 348, dislikes his egotism, 349.
Mirah is an idealist, 351, and Daniel defends her. He believes her mother has been seen, and wants her to conceal her real name, 352 (but her mother is in fact safely dead, we will learn). Daniel longs for an identity and for a male confidant, 353, i .e. Mordecai--no thought of a female equal! 354.
Mordecai has been waiting for the Messiah, has prophetic powers, 355. What does he think are necessary traits for this ideal? (He must be wealthy and handsome!) Mordecai has sought in vain for him in the National Gallery, 355, 357, sees him against the golden sky, 356. The passionate current of ideal life seeks its beloved, 357, one who needs to give to others, 357. Mordecai has written Messianic Hebrew poetry of a utopian historicist sort, 358, recites to Jacob but receives little response, sees Deronda as his ideal type.
His response to Deronda is in part a physical response! He awaits Deronda's return, and the narrative evokes imagery of a bridge and water (suggestive of transition, death, emigration).
Mirah likes the thought that Klesmer will scold her, 363 (fear of success!); instead he calls her a true musician, 364, but one who must confine herself to drawing rooms (thus eliminating the possibility of a professional career). Mab complains of suspense, 366, and Kate complains that Hans is favored, 367. Hans wishes Mirah to be more Christian, 367. When he seeks Mirah's approval for his suit, Mirah wishes to do what Deronda would prefer.
Mordecai goes to the bridge and meets Deronda in a boat (seems symbolic of a transition); the latter has been waiting for him, 371, and feels dependence. Deronda thinks of a sunset, of death and rebirth, and sees Mordecai as a manifest power, 372, invested with the divinity of poetry or a painting (seems an arbitrary set of associations without full plot motivation), 372. The narrator evokes Biblical echoes of John and Elizabeth, who heralded the advent of Christ (and as we will see, Mordecai conveys his messianic vision to Daniel, a future prophet of Zionism).
In this scene of male bonding, Mordecai is compared to a mother! 372 Daniel feels receptiveness, and Mordecai will come to substitute for his real mother! Mordecai's learning is medieval, 374. He offers Daniel a (spiritual) inheritance, 376, and demands that he not make his trust in him an illusion, 378, which seems quite a demand! Moreover, he will not stoop to tell him the history of the Cohens! 380, a refusal which of course extends the plot's suspense.
Daniel promises to return, and they clasp hands (compare the imagery of "In Memoriam"), the first physical touch to end a book. The next book will also end with a clasping of hands.
Book VI: Revelations
9 chapters, 80 pages
41 Daniel debates the nature of the fanaticism he has met, but we don't yet know what that is, that is, that Mordecai is a Zionist. We are told that Mordecai is the sculptor, Deronda the image, 385, and comparisons are made with Columbus and an artist, 386. Daniel realizes that he would not be reluctant to consider himself a Jew, and holds in suspension the possibility that he may come to share Mordecai's ideas; still, he delays "hastening" the disovery, 387. Four days pass before he can again visit the Cohens and the "Hand and Banner."
The sufferings of the Jews are alluded to, 388. Daniel visits, and they join "The Philosphers Club," a group of partial foreigners, 392-93, including Scots and Celts. What are they debating?
--the importance of the idea of nationalism, 394 (and by nationalism a separate Jewish nation seems to be meant)
The Jews we meet are Mordecai, Miller, Pash, Gideon. Pash opposes nationalism and favors assimilation, 395, Mordecai is an organicist, sees Jewish history as a form of growth, 395, 397 (compare Carlyle). Gideon states that Jews have political equality, and favors assimilation. Daniel feels Mordecai may be quenched among these men, 396. The Scottish member of the group, Buchan, seems less interested in the issue, revealing prejudice and ignorance of Jewish history, 399. Mordecai remarks that Zionism will create a renewed intelligence, 400.
Again, Mordecai is viewed as a parent figure, 401. Gideon favors a rational Judaism (the position later taken by reform Jews). In contrast Mordecai enunciates a utopian vision, 402, and offers as precedents Italian unification, 403, and the establishment of the United States, 404 (with analogy to Columbus as visionary).
When Daniel and Mordecai are left alone, Mordecai reveals that his real name is Ezra Cohen, and that he had caught tuberculosis in attempting to rejoin his mother, 407. The two men pray together for Mirah. Daniel clasps his hand (again, Tennyson), 408, and sees in Mordecai elements of greatness, 409; Mordecai is compared to Copernicus.
What is the significance of the name Ezra?
Gwendolyn thinks of Deronda and his ideas, but without grasping their nature (she is compared to a lap dog, 411). She visits her family with new appreciation and affection, and goes through the outer forms of her social life.
Mirah sings "O patria mia" at a musical party at Lady Mallinger's. Daniel is jealous and angry when others admire Gwendolyn, 420, and the narrator interjects,"Pray excuse Deronda . . . ." Her song achieves "the godlike end of manifesting unselfish love." She's chiefly concerned to please Daniel, 421. Gwendolyn praises her, and she sees perceptively that grand ladies may play tragic parts, 421.
"Poor Gwendolyn" pumps Mirah on her relationship with Deronda, and condescends to her, 422. Mirah's sad answers have the effect of concealing from Gwendolyn Daniel's possible interest in her. He is offended when she describes Mirah as "a complete little person," 423. When she asks why, he speaks in generalities, 423.
Gwendolyn then asks that he continue to take an interest in her moral life, 424, abrogates her own responsibility. Daniel forsees competing claims, 424, thinks of [himself as] a vessel bound from shore for a far-off coast. Then he modestly assumes there will be no problem, evading the issue, 425.
Hans sees Grandcourt as the Duke in Lucrezia Borgia! Grandcourt tells her Lush will join them at dinner; she is afraid to protest, but forsees fingers on her throat, 425.
Daniel obtains lodgings for Mordecai. Mrs. Meyrick reveals herself as opposed to the latter's fanaticism, 426-27, and Daniel defends Mordecai as an enthusiast, 427. Daniel visits Mordecai to tell him of Mirah's existence; he's overjoyed, and informs Daniel that he's unrelated to the shopkeeper Cohen's family. Even after learning of his sister, Mordecai still is not satisfied, for he wants Daniel to be Jewish, 431: "our souls know each other."
No one seems to question that Mirah will wish to care for her brother, whom she's never met! Ezra Cohen is concerned chiefly over whether Mordecai's relation has money! 432 The women state they will miss Mordecai. An allusion is made to the orthodox men's Sabbath prayer of thanks that they are not women, 433. Mordecai is not certain Mirah should visit the Cohens, and he still holds out for Daniel's Jewish identity, 434. Daniel presses his hand.
Mordecai seems very demanding!
Hans is sorry to hear that Mirah's brother has been found, 455. Kate resents his selfishness, 436. Daniel asks Mrs. Meyrick to give Mirah the news, and she meets Mordecai clad in poor garb, 437. The siblings discuss their memories, 437. He's a head taller than she, 438, and calls her "dear child"; she speaks in bird-notes, 439. The two are left alone to live together.
Unlike Daniel, Grandcourt pays no heed to social issues, 439, is passively snobbish. He's content with a marital relationship of command, 440, but when Gwendolyn wishes to engage Mirah for singing, he implies that the latter is Deronda's mistress. This galls Gwendolyn sufficiently so that she visits Mirah and presses her about Daniel's actions, but in the vaguest terms, 444-45. "Jewish defiance" prompts Mirah's pride in answering, 445.
The narrator reminds us that Grandcourt would have severely repressed a colony, 446. Grandcourt shrinks from explicitness in personal matters, 447, and tells her Lush will communicate to her the import of his will, 449 and kisses her farewell. Lush gives her a written description of the conditions of the will--Henleigh his heir if there is no issue of his marriage. She wishes to leave Grandcourt, but can't imagine the necessary scenes, 453. Lydia appears to her, a Medusa-like effect, 456.
Gwendolyn wishes the release of death--foreshadowing, of course, 456--and imagines his fingers on her throat. Her situation is compared to seeing a ghost. She demands a visit from Daniel, and solicits advice from him in simplistic fashion, 459. Grandcourt enters and orders her to accompany him to the Mediterranean, 460.
Daniel plans to leave the area, though he neglects to mention this to Gwendolyn. Sir Hugo gives him a letter from his mother, and tells him his father is dead.
What is Daniel's response? He feels mingled joy! and pain, 462. The two men clasp hands "for a moment," a contrast with his brotherly clasp with Mordecai. (And after all, Sir Hugo has raised him!)
Book VII: The Mother and the Son
8 chapters, 66 pages
His mother the Princess Leonora (lioness) Holm-Eberstein. As he leaves, he is more concerned with Mirah and Mordecai than his mother, for they are his new family, 465, and he hopes that in fact the new revelations may be of Jewish ancestry, 466. Although he feels unease on Gwendolyn's account, 466, he hopes for a life of devoted service, among other emotions, 468. He waits restlessly for his mother, who will receive him at 7 p. m.
She has whitening hair, 469, evokes an allusion to Melusine. He had wanted to comfort her, 470 (not to know her). She speaks of herself; she hadn't much affection to give, 470. He is pelased to learn he is Jewish, 471, whereas she sees this as the resurgence of the spirit of her father. She's about to die, has told him from a sense of duty to the dead--to her father, not to herself.
The Princess gives a powerful speech, 472-73. She's obeyed only from duress and fear, a comparison with Gwendolyn, 474. She describes her father, accepting his assumption that she had wronged the dead, but utimately she had feared and deferred to her own father, 475. Daniel's response is revulsion, 475, doesn't want to hear all she has to say.
The Princess had wanted not to marry, 476, but did so under pressure three weeks before her father's death, and her husband in fact had been a devoted husband.
She repels Daniel's tenderness in a painful scene, 476, perhaps not completely believable. Alcharisi became a famous name, and Sir Hugo had wanted to marry her and raise Daniel as an English gentleman, and she gave Daniel to him in part to nullify her own father's plans.
Allegedly an obstinacy of race prompts Daniel's disagreement with her! 477. Like Gwendolyn, she is driven by the guilt of memories, 478, has hidden what was Daniel's, wishes the remains of her self to return. Like Gwendolyn, she fears the ghosts of her past.
In his condemnaton, Daniel never considers that her resistence may have had a point. (He himself was raised by an indulgent foster parent.) She'd given away her father's chest to Joseph Kalmynos, with a lie that her son was dead--but the latter had seen Deronda andd reproaches her. Though respect for a father's heritage is central to this scene, no mention is made of the heritage of her mother.
According to the narrator, Daniel feels compassion for her, 480, but does he? She has a husband and five other children, though she doesn't speak of the children! She had married from a sense of failure in her career--very like Gwendolyn, 480. Daniel is sorry he can't work for her, 481, but doesn't probe her need for dignity nor her artistic drive, even though his visit does bring her some comfort, 481.
(An amazing parent!)
A letter comes from Hans describing his visits to Mordecai and Mirah, and sending news of Rex Gascoigne, the Klesmers, and Gwendolyn. He also mentions that Mirah seems melancholy. Mirah expresses her sadness likewise to Mrs. Meyrick, 488, telling her that she fears she has seen her father, 489. She doesn't want her father to shrink before Ezra, 490--feels shame for her father.
Also she is worried about Gwendolyn's relationship with Daniel, 491, though she has never thought of him as a lover for herself. Mirah hears a conversation associating Daniel and Gwendolyn, likens the latter to the Princess of Eboli in Don Carlos, and she worries about Deronda's future fate. (She should have told him of her father!)
There are many comparisons between Daniel's mother and Gwendolyn:
--both are unmotherly and cold;
--both are Gentiles in spirit;
--both are ruled by fear, and alternately rebel and submit.
Gwendolyn feels guilt at her choices and the death of her husband, 507. Daniel seems a softened version of his parents, more moderate and less quarrelsome than either, as in Wuthering Heights. His passionate pity for Gwendolyn has no concrete results, 522
Gwendolyn's repressed desire for violence against her husband suggests Tess of D'Urberville's murder of Alex.
Book VIII: Fruit and Seed
What are connotations of the title? (suggests future)
Gwendolyn has been chastened by the year; Rex is an enthusiastic future lawyer. The family circle at Mrs. Davilow's is anti-Semitic; even Rex is heedless of the social implications of prejudice. News of Grandcourt's drowning arrives. Rex is happy that Gwendolyn may be free again, 534, and feels passionate stirrings--the narrator gives a long disquisition on love, 535. Rex still remains in ignorance of the wretchedness of Gwendolyn's marriage, 536.
Gwendolyn is to receive two thousand pounds annually and the house at Gadsmere, a bequest which Sir Hugo finds cheap. He would have done better, he claims (thinks of parallel in his own case). Daniel feels that Grandcourt should not have married a second wife, 539.
Daniel tells Sir Hugo that his Jewish heritage will affect his life. Sir Hugo hopes he will not "go into any eccentricities!" (thus trivializing the issue of religion), 591. Daniel is to receive six hundred pounds annually plus capital plus sixteen thousand pounds! (i. e., thirty thousand pounds, or one thousand five hundred pounds annually!) Sir Hugo is mildly irritated. Possibly he had hoped Daniel would mary Gwendolyn: "Daniel will set a dead Jew above a living Christian."
Daniel visits his grandfather Daniel Charisi's friend, Rabbi Joseph Kalonynos, in the latter's home in Germany. Kalonynos is a great believer in the law, 543, and he describes Charisi as having been gifted with foresight and unique in his Zionism. When Kalonynos asked if he will follow the faith of his forefathers, Daniel responds that although he will be a Jew, at the same time he will not believe exactly as his foreparents, 545. Kalonynos gives him a final blessing as his friend's grandson, approving him for being independent-minded as his ancestor had been.
Why aren't his daughter's other children his grandchildren? (Jewishness passed through the mother).
Hans Meyrick thinks that Gwendolyn may marry Deronda, 547. Mirah is upset and angry, and she too is convinced that he will do so, 551. She is not exactly aware of the tie between him and Mordecai, 551. Mordecai is overjoyed to receive a letter from Deronda, 553. He preaches renunciation to Mirah, 553, for a woman should be absolutely selfless.
Mirah's father reveals himself, to her disgust. She tells him of Ezra's noble character, and will not give him money because she's promised others she won't do so. Even so, she feels it's worse to deny him than attempting to drown herself! 558, and gives him her purse.
Daniel realizes his love for Mirah, a "beloved type," 561, which had preserved him from responding to Gwendolyn. The plot reverses the stereotype in which a male character moves from love of an evil dark woman to that of a fair good one. Daniel returns to tell Mordecai and Mirah of his Jewishness, feels he has been drawn to his new fate by the gradual accord between his mind and Mordecai, 565. Mordecai speaks of the marriage of souls, 566, wants him to publish his writings as his own! 566
In declaring his love for Mirah, Daniel feels the delicacy of a benefactor, 567. She feels happiness and hope, 568, and the narrator uses imagery of natural leaves.
Gwendolyn's family learns the news of the will. She resolves to ask Daniel if she should accept money for her mother, 572. Sir Hugo is annoyed to think that Daniel may not wish to marry her.
Daniel's view is that otherwise she could have renounced the money, but that taking it could help the fuure influence of her life by avoiding revelations about her past, and so she should abide by the provisions of her husband's will and take the money. She's not sure what else to do--he feels pain, 579. He suggests she tend to others' needs, 580.
Mr. Lapidoth comes to live with Mordecai and Mirah, as a result of her dutiful pleading.
Daniel's interview with Hans provides the good news that he is loved.
Mr. Lapidoth steals his ring; Daniel proposes to Mirah.
Gwendolyn seeks Daniel's continuous attentions. Hans suggests Rex as a possible candidate for her hand. Daniel takes a painful farewell, she feels a dislodgement of self, 607, promises future virtue, 609, and though she feels bereft, tells her mother that she will live.
Why is there a need for such scenes as Daniel and Gwendolyn's final interview? What psychological purpose do they serve?
Daniel and Mirah marry; the novel closes as Mordecai is dying and the wedded couple plan to leave for the Holy Land.
Elements of final sequencing:
--distancing of gentile plot, with the assignment of reasonable bequests and realignment of attitudes as the final denoument approaches
--revelation of secrets in Mirah's and Daniel's pasts; identity is a threatened and delicate matter.
--Hans and Deronda reconcile, Rex again suggested as a possible mate for Gwendolyn, Gwendolyn is assigned moderate prosperity over extreme wealth, Mirah is freed from her father
--farewell between Daniel and Gwendolyn offers a moral sublimation for their relationship, as a balance to the fulfillment of Daniel's marriage
--another kind of sublimation seems to occur in the attention to Mordecai's death, which succeeds as a symbolic picture, suggesting the death of Christ
How is the novel's conclusion prepared for? How effective is its closure? Are there any plot elements which you believe have not been fully resolved?
Does Eliot intend for her novel to serve a didactic purpose? What is the purpose of its scrutiny and criticism of its characters?
Deronda is a massive novel of conversion and brooding insight, illustrating Eliot's conviction that our capacities or failures in empathy and dedication have a power for good or evil to those around us. The adducing of an alternate English Jewish heritage forms a relatively convincing counterbalance to English Protestant provinciality and national chauvinism.
To an impressive degree, Eliot makes wholehearted selflessness credible; one feels gratification that Daniel has found an overarching, complexly worthy purpose in life, and some relief that Gwendolyn has been jolted from thoughtless egotism to reality, even if knowledge of the latter requires an anxious vulnerability.
The author's massive care in presentation of character, commentary, and incident authenticates the evolution of character--as the reader's view shifts in his or her perception of Gwendolyn, Rex, the Reverend Gascoigne, or Deronda's situation and prospects, so too do the characters' views of themselves and each other alter under the force of circumstances.
I find it unpersuasive that a person of Gwendolyn's conscious cattiness and hauteur, as presented in the opening sections, should alter to the meek and passionately self-reproachful heroine of the novel's close. In fact, Gwendolyn seems closer in character to Daniel's unrepentent mother, and I believe she would have taken greater pride in her role and power as the wife of a staggeringly rich man. I doubt whether a sense of fear can in itself serve as a moral force. The shifts in the narrator's view of Gascoigne, Rex, and Meyrick also serve conveniently the author's didactic purposes. (Other Victorian novels which tame an interesting and willful heroine are Meredith's Diana of the Crossways and Hardy's Jude the Obscure).
It seems good that the novel leaves in suspension the issue of whether Gwendolyn remarried, and if so, whether the future husband is Rex (it doesn't seem too likely a prospect to me). It would also have been too sentimental and unrealistic to assign her to an Anglican deaconessship or life of social service--the Florence Nightingale solution to female redundancy.
What happens to Gwendolyn after her other-directed repentance? Eliot perhaps evades the issue because she doesn't know. Must one go to the Holy Land to find a life purpose?