George Eliot

George Eliot



George Eliot

George Eliot  1819-1880


Born Marian Evans

Childhood at Arbury Farm, Warwickshire  (rural Midlands)
father was supervisor and land agent.
At 21 (1840), moved to Coventry, broke from Christianity,
At 31  (1850)moved to London, became editor of Westminster Review
Edited by John Stuart Mill ( Utilitarian philosopher)
Meets George Henry Lewes, literary critic, he leaves his wife and children for her,
divorce is illegal, live together until he dies 1878 – excluded from society, brother Isaac refuses to speak to her again

Writes first novel, Adam Bede, at 40, Mill on the Floss at 41, Middlemarch at 53

Norton describes her as the greatest English realist

Particular interest in moral choice and  the position of women in society

Mill on the Floss most autobiographical, Maggie, modeled after herself



  • Smart “The little un takes after my side, now:  she’s twice as ‘cute as Tom.  Too cute for a woman, I’m afraid…”(1323)
  • Romantic, non-conformist “wanderin’ up and down by the water, like a wild thing:  she’ll tumble in some day.” (1323)
  • Doen’t match the contemporary standards of beauty”  But her hair won’t curl all I can do with it…”  1324
  • An oddball – too smart, not feminine enough “this small mistake of nature”
  • Foreshadowing”  where’s the use o’my telling you to keep away from the water?  You’ll tumble in and be drownded some day, an then you’ll e sorry you didn’t do as mother told you.”  (1324)
  • Logical, strong opinions – on quilt making “It’s foolish work tearing things to pieces to sew ‘em toether again.”
  • Too smart for a girl “she understand what one’s talking about so as never was.  And you should hear her read – straight off, as if she knowed it all beforehand.  And allays at her book.  But it’s bad – it’s bad..”a woman’s no business wi’ being so clever;  it’ll turn to trouble, I doubt.”  1327

Maggie’s story about the witch  p.1327

Maggie and her doll  13324

Maggie and Tom  ch 5
What use was anything if he didn’t love her?”  1340  I love you so  Tom….I don’t love you Maggie

  • Devoted to Tom:  When he grows up I shall keep his house, and we shall always live together.  I cant ell him everything he doesn’t know. “  1336
  • O tom, please forgive me – I can’t bear it – I will always be good – always remember things – do love me – please, dear  tom.”  1342



  • Hopes of the family rest on him  “What I want is to give Tom a good eddication;  an eddication as’ll be a bread to im.”  1321
  • Not too smart “what I’m a bit afraid on is, as Tom hasn’t got the right sort of brains for a smart felow.  I doubt he’s a bit slowish.  “  1323


  • Needs an education to get on  “I shall give Tom an eddication an’ put him to a business, as he may make a nest for himself, an’not want to push me out o mine.  1326
  • Rigid:  Under these average boyish physiognomies, that she seems to turn off by the gross, she conceals some of her most rigid, inflexible purposes, some of her most unmodifiable characters, and the dark-eyed, demonstrative, rebellious girl may ater all turn out to be a passive being compared with this pink and white bit of masculinity with the indeterminate features.”  1338


  • Arrogant:  “I always have half-sovereign s and sovereigns for Christmas boxes, because I shall be a man and you only have five shilling pieces, because you’re only a girl.”  1339
  • Cold “he was particularly clear and positive on one point – namely, that he would punish everybody who deserved it;  why he wouldn’t have minded being punished himself, if he deserved it;  but then, he never did deserve it.”  1341


  • Still he was very fond of his sister, and meant always to take care of her, make her his housekeeper, and punish her when she did wrong.”  1342



Source: http://occonline.occ.cccd.edu/online/ldanzige/285_Eliot.doc

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George Eliot


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George Eliot