Saturday, November 26, 2016
Will Eliot give in and make Daniel Deronda a conventional comic romance?
The last 100 or so pages of Daniel Deronda will test the mettle of George Eliot - will she succumb to convention and end her novel as a conventional romantic comedy with the main characters nestled together a a set of married couples, each, through trial and trib., finding the best possible mate - which would be Deronda married to Mirha, and Gwendolen married to her cousin Rex: for at least three of them (Gwendolen the exception) this would constitute the fulfillment of long-suppressed desire. As we approach the conclusion, we see Mirah for the first time admit to herself her protective jealousy toward Deronda, rising to his defense when her brother, Hans, reproaches DD and suggests that he is now free to marry the widowed Gwendolen. And of course we know that the biggest obstacle between DD and Mirah has now been obliterated - she doesn't know it yet but DD is soon to tell her that he was born a Jew. All that said, I hope that Eliot can stay true to the darker forces that her novel reveals - that each of these characters, wiser but damaged, will pursue their own course through life - atonement for Gwendolen, pursuit of the law for Rex, serving her brother's memory for Mirah, becoming a champion for the Zionist movement for DD. For could either of these marriages really work? Mirah is saw lost in the devotion to her brother Mordecai/Edward (by far the least credible character in the novel - there's not a passage of his dialog, or monologue as the case may be, that sounds anything like the parlance of a human being) that it seems she will be a dead weight around DD or anyone else she marries. DD himself is so lost and confused - could her really become a good husband or father? Gwendolen is so damaged by her horrible marriage, her loss of pride, her trauma, and her guilt; and Rex is seems like a little puppy beside the powerful and sharp-witted Gwendolen - she could never look up to him or respect him as anything other than her kid cousin. Do we trust Eliot to be true to these facts - or to bow to convention and obliterate all she has created?