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Sunday, November 6, 2016

The least enthusiastic acceptance of a proposal in all of world literature?

At the end of section 4 (?) of Daniel Deronda Gwendolen accepts the marriage proposal from Grandcourt - but in all of world literature is there a less enthusiastic acceptance? He follows her back from the continent to her little place in Wessex and sends a message, via a servant, that he'd like to speak w/ her the next day. After a great deal of hand-wringing and delay (the servant is waiting to take back the reply to Grandcourt, but why not keep the poor guy waiting, that's what being a servant is all about) she tells her mother she will refuse any marriage offer from Grandcourt. Mom is kind of upset by this - marriage to the wealthy Grandcourt could solve all their financial problems - Mother and 4 children won't have to move into the shabby "sawyer's cottage," and Gwendolen won't have to take a job as a nanny to 3 bishop's daughters. Gwendolen spends a nearly sleepless night, Grandcourt arrives promptly at 2 p.m., sits a few feet away from her, and eventually, after some bantering, she accepts and he kisses her hand. These two have nothing in common, nothing between them, and Gwendolen completely knows that - she's marrying him for two reasons: he's such a dullard that she can be married and maintain her independence (or so she thinks) and they really need his money. Marriages have been built on weaker foundations of course, but don't you just want to reach into this novel and grab her by the shoulders and shake her awake? Life isn't all about horseback riding and playing roulette. She will be miserable and probably make him miserable as well. She, who has never know want or suffering, cannot bear the idea that she might have to work to earn some money, that she might not be able to marry into an "upper" class - but with her wit and beauty, her life is before or, or could be, and she's shutting the door by accepting this dullard with, by the way, a shaky history in past relationships, if the Mrs. Gresham (?) story (Grandcourt has two children by her but refuses to marry her, or so she says) is something we should believe.

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