Date of Graduation
This dissertation seeks to articulate the extent to which George Eliot engages in an active dialogue with contemporary scientific thought, particularly in respect to England's Jewish and Gypsy populations. I examine The Spanish Gypsy and Daniel Deronda to determine Eliot's position in relation to ideologies on race, gender, and class. Eliot's texts manage to expose some of the contradictions regarding these two "domestic others" within the dominant discourses of the Victorian period. Chapter one sets out my critical and methodological framework and foregrounds the discursive proximity between the Gypsies, the Jews, the working classes, and women in the Victorian period. Chapter two examines the ways in which norms of health and disease were established upon gendered and racialized assumptions and how Gypsies and Jews figured in the discourse of race science. Chapter three explores the stages of George Eliot's ideological development regarding issues of race and national inheritance as reflected in her letters, essays, and early works. Additionally, I examine the complex figure of Benjamin Disraeli whose self-fashioning enabled him to become the living embodiment of the combined Judeo-Christian tradition. Chapter four argues that Eliot revives the Romantic "matter of Spain" in The Spanish Gypsy to work out issues of masculine, feminine, racial, and national identities which would receive greater treatment in Daniel Deronda. Chapter five argues that in Daniel Deronda Eliot works out her resolution to the English masculinity crisis by redefining the masculine through her vision of Judaism and Jewish national identity. The dissertation argues that both works reflect and address the fundamental ambivalence and anxiety about issues crucial in the construction of modern consciousness, specifically gender, race, class, nation, and sexuality. George Eliot's intention in The Spanish Gypsy and Daniel Deronda is to disrupt the complacency of readers and expose the serious failings and limitations of the English nation which is in dire need of revitalization.
Godlewski, Christina E., "George Eliot and the anxious construction of the domestic other: Racial inheritance, radical femininity and masculinity, and national identity in "The Spanish Gypsy" and "Daniel Deronda"." (2006). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 8918.