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Expulsion and the Nineteenth-Century NovelThe Scapegoat in English Realist Fiction$
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Michiel Heyns

Print publication date: 1994

Print ISBN-13: 9780198182702

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198182702.001.0001

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A Peculiar Compassion: George Eliot and Gwendolen Harleth

A Peculiar Compassion: George Eliot and Gwendolen Harleth

(p.136) Chapter 3 A Peculiar Compassion: George Eliot and Gwendolen Harleth
Expulsion and the Nineteenth-Century Novel

Michiel Heyns

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers George Eliot's last novel and last heroine as a manifestation of duality. In Daniel Deronda, Gwendolen Harleth is a participant in a conflict of which she is ultimately the victim: that is, her spiritual struggle is part of a larger debate in Eliot's fiction, and her ‘conversion’ is the defeat and attempted nullification of those realist values which give her fictional identity. In discovering the smallness of her own world and her own self, Gwendolen is reduced to a ‘speck’ against the visionary horizon of Mordecai and Daniel Deronda, which Eliot attempts to dramatise as a higher reality. Gwendolen can find no place in Eliot's narrative community other than as the wistful outsider, trying to understand the scale of values that has reduced her to insignificance.

Keywords:   George Eliot, duality, Gwendolen Harleth, Daniel Deronda, reality, narrative, community, fiction

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