Daniel Deronda, Book Two

Serial Reading Guide for Daniel Deronda: Book Two (chs. 11-18)
Page numbers are indicated for the Barnes and Noble edition (2005) and the Penguin Classics edition (1995). For example, “107bn/123p” refers to page 107 in the Barnes and Noble edition and page 123 in the Penguin edition.

1. Themes and issues that the novel is already working through:

– What does marriage mean?
– Risk and gambling as business, as play, and as character.
– What is the basis of our knowledge?
– What is the importance of a home, roots, or native place? (consider this in terms of physical spaces as well as emotional and spiritual conditions)
– Fathers.
– The importance, value, and/or effects of watching, looking, studying.
– The relationship between public and private worlds.
– What defines and/or creates a conscience?
– Control and management (of self as well as others).
– Inheritance (of wealth, name, philosophy, etc.)
– Change and growth from youth to maturity—is it possible?
– The idea that some people can get away with bad behavior (because of wealth, beauty, or station), while others cannot.
– The relationship between ideals and reality (or between expectation and consequence).

2. Note how closely the narrator brings us into its confidence, suggesting that the narrator takes us seriously, wants us to recognize its own voice at times, and expects us to understand irony. Two examples from chapter 11: The narrator’s remarks on ladies and gentlemen dining apart, and the aside, “but we know that she was not in the least fond of them” (99-100bn/116p).

3. Notice throughout Book 2 (and beyond) how the characters are shown carefully moving, watching, and being strategic, particularly as they engage in conversation. In chapter 11, it’s even a sort of “dance” before the dance.

4. Oh my what an exchange—“A man who forgave this would have much Christian feeling . . .” (107bn/123p).

5. Note a classic example of George Eliot’s style: the concluding paragraphs of chapter 11.

6. Identify a specific passage or two that helps you understand Grandcourt’s character.

7. identify a specific passage or two that helps you understand Gwendolen’s thoughts about marriage (chs. 13 & 14 in particular).

8. Nice epigraph to chapter 16. It’s a big chapter, too—prepare for some background. Notice the specific images and characteristics associated with the character being discussed.

Next: Daniel Deronda, Book Three (chs. 19 – 27) >

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© Steven J. Venturino 2018