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Curious SubjectsWomen and the Trials of Realism$
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Hilary M. Schor

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199928095

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199928095.001.0001

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George Eliot and the Curious Bride

George Eliot and the Curious Bride

Ghosts in the Daylight

(p.189) Chapter 7George Eliot and the Curious Bride
Curious Subjects

Hilary M. Schor

Oxford University Press

In England in the 1870s, in the midst of feminist agitations for the vote and debates over property laws for women, George Eliot invokes John Stuart Mill’s political vision to reinflect the curious heroine and bring a ghost story to life. Eliot’s “novelization” of John Stuart Mill blends his politics with a generous borrowing from the Bluebeard tale, that other mixture of curiosity, marriage, law, and mystery. For the curious heroine, unlike Mill’s political thinker, choosing often comes before knowledge, yet only by choosing to move forward, by choosing to know, can she acquire the forbidden knowledge that is the promise and threat of the marriage plot, and only such acts of curiosity can bring about the change in moral vision that Eliot’s novels seek. The political language of knowledge, choosing, and contract returns in Middlemarch and Daniel Deronda as a problem of plot—or as hallucination, romance, and vision.

Keywords:   George Eliot, Middlemarch, Daniel Deronda, law, curiosity, marriage plot, vision

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