Gender Roles In Daniel Deronda

877 Words4 Pages
One last aspect she focuses on is the idea of social and individual power. She investigates these traits particularly in her last novel Daniel Deronda. In this narration, women seem to hold a lot of power. Gwendolen is beautiful and smart, but also particularly aware of the fact that the only way to have a role in society is through marriage. However, this does not stop her from trying to be independent and resist to an already written fate. Mirah also presents an example of powerful woman. Thanks to her talent, as a singer, she can provide for herself economically. Additionally, Daniel feels attracted to her because of the idea of stability and balance that she emanates. In fact, Mirah’s only desire is to conform to the ideal of good wife…show more content…
She is a retired opera singer, who has acquired a great fame in her career. However, to seek her dreams she had to give up on her role of mother. In fact, George Eliot seems to present these two aspects as completely incompatible, and perhaps this was the point of view of Victorian society on the matter.
Women’s role and expectations in Daniel Deronda can be summarize in the following lines:
Women seek power and mastery, but within the argument of the book are permitted to achieve it only as instrumentality or negation. The powers of Catherine Arrowsmith and Mirah are those of the executant, subdued to their instrument. Gwendolen achieves mastery briefly and circumscribed as an archer, safe in her Diana chastity, but she loses it immediately in marriage (Gillian and Levine 215).
Furthermore, Eliot also discusses the importance power and the need of an occupation for a man. In fact, she presents two very different kind of men. Mr. Grandcourt and Daniel are juxtaposed throughout the narrative. The first, is the portrayal of pure evil. He is a powerful and violent man. He does not have a real occupation, but thanks to is inheritance he does not have to concern himself about frugal things such as money. He is a cruel man and most of the time he acts out of
…show more content…
On one hand, the first acts cruelly because of the pleasure he has from controlling and manipulating others. On the other, Daniel acts moved by his need to know who he is, but he eventually finds out that he is destined for great things.
Finally, it is possible to state that George Eliot investigates three main institutions in Victorian era (education, marriage and occupation) to explore the possible roles of women and men in society. In fact, Eliot seems to understand that that gender, more than any other trait in human nature, is influenced by the environment one lives in.
Throughout the novels, one may notice some patterns repeating themselves. First of all, the idea of beauty. As Emig points out, when a conventionally beautiful woman is introduced, readers expects her to be spoiled and superficial, like Rosamond (Emig 106). However, this is not equally applied to men. In fact, beautiful men are usually expected to accomplish great things, such as in the case of Daniel. Moreover, the appearance of unconventionally beautiful women often mirrors their nature and temperament. These women do not fit in the Victorian ideals of ideal woman and therefore are a threat to the stability microcosms that surrounds
Open Document