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Daniel Deronda | Quotes


To be ... sued or hopelessly sighed for as a bride was ... an ... agreeable guarantee of womanly power.

Narrator, Volume 1, Book 1, Chapter 4

Gwendolen is thinking she will be obliged to marry at some point and realizes marriage is the fulfillment of a woman's ambition. Still, she doesn't fantasize or dream about marriage, which is "a vexatious necessity" in which a woman must wear "domestic fetters." Rather, she sees the courting phase as the most agreeable for a woman—before she becomes the consummated object of man's desire.


Under his ... self-repressed exterior ... was a fervor which made him ... find poetry and romance among the events of everyday life.

Narrator, Volume 2, Book 3, Chapter 19

The narrator comments on Deronda's motivation. She says that while it would be incorrect to call him "a romantic," he was open to the poetic and romantic side of everyday life. Thus, he finds his rescue of Mirah "heart-stirring," and he sits up half the night thinking about the episode by the river. Further, both Deronda and Mirah have lost their mothers, which connects them, and he thinks he will help her in the search to find hers. At the same time he is anxious for her, as he is anxious about finding out more details about his own heritage.


I remember my mother's face better than anything; yet I was not seven when I was taken away.

Mirah, Volume 2, Book 3, Chapter 20

Mirah's recollection of her mother, one of the first things she tells Mrs. Meyrick about her story, establishes her irrevocable ties to her. Mirah is ripped from the protection of this loving parent by her selfish reprobate of a father, and no amount of time can dim her recollection of her mother's face and voice. Thus Mirah announces a minor theme in the novel—of children who lose parents and suffer for their absence.


She will never be an artist: she has no notion of being anybody but herself.

Signora, Volume 2, Book 3, Chapter 20

Signora, the woman who lives with Lapidoth and Mirah when they come to America, is teaching the young girl acting and singing. Signora declares Mirah will never become an artist because she cannot lose herself in a role. Mirah has talent, but she would not have chosen her profession if she had been given a choice—and she doesn't have a burning passion for art. She puts on a role dutifully, rather than inhabiting the role. This is why she will never be an artist.


The honor comes from the inward vocation ... there is no honor in donning the life as a livery.

Herr Klesmer, Volume 2, Book 3, Chapter 23

A minor theme in the novel is the life and character of the true artist. Herr Klesmer is a famous musician who serves his art as if she were his goddess. When Gwendolen asks him if she can become an actress or singer—since she has no other road to take to avoid the fate of becoming a governess—he tells her she has little talent.

Nonetheless, to pursue art as a true vocation is itself honorable, regardless of the outcome. Likewise, it is dishonorable to pursue art simply to make money.


What friend have you besides me?

Grandcourt, Volume 2, Book 4, Chapter 30

Grandcourt visits Lydia Glasher to tell her he will marry Gwendolen. Lydia's husband has recently died, and she has been expecting Grandcourt to marry her and make their children legitimate. When she hears Grandcourt's news, she is bitter and reproaches him but he answers he has always provided for her and the children. She then says he could leave the children in beggary if he chose, to which he advises her to not make a scene. Thus, his question is a reminder that he is the only one to whom she can turn, so she had better not irritate him.


The man you have married has a withered heart. His best young love was mine.

Mrs. Lydia Glasher, Volume 2, Book 4, Chapter 31

Lydia convinces Grandcourt to allow her to send his mother's diamonds to his new bride. These diamonds were given to Lydia during the height of his passion for her, and now he wants his legitimate bride to have them. Lydia intends to get her revenge on Gwendolen, who promised not to marry Grandcourt. Thus, she curses their union with the terrible note she encloses with the diamonds. She reminds Gwendolen that Grandcourt belonged to her first and informs her he once loved her. What Gwendolen has received—along with the outward trappings of Grandcourt's wealth—is the inner poverty of a man who cannot love. Whatever love he was capable of has already been spent.


Of course I was not going to let her live like a gamekeeper's mother.

Grandcourt, Volume 3, Book 5, Chapter 35

Gwendolen tries to focus on what is positive about Grandcourt, and she thinks at least he is not "mean about money." When she thanks him for troubling himself over her poor relations, he cannot accept her gratitude since he is solely motivated by outward appearances. If he allows Mrs. Davilow to live poorly, it will reflect badly on him, which is his only concern.


Do you forget what I told you when we first saw each other? ... I ... [am] not of your race.

Deronda, Volume 3, Book 5, Chapter 40

Deronda says this to Mordecai after Mordecai tells him he is to be more than a hand to him but also a soul. He expects Deronda to continue his work and his vision and become a leader of the Jews to help them build a national identity. Deronda reminds him, however, that he is not a Jew. At this point he still doesn't know about his heritage, even though Mordecai intuits his new friend is indeed a Jew.


My lady winces considerably. She didn't know what would be the charge for that superfine article, Henleigh Grandcourt.

Mr. Thomas Cranmer Lush, Volume 3, Book 6, Chapter 48

Lush has this private thought after Grandcourt leaves him with Gwendolen to tell her the details of his will—which are meant to further crush and humiliate her. While Lush knows Gwendolen hates him, he is not by nature cruel or vindictive. Thus, he is not overly pleased to be Grandcourt's hammer. At the same time he tells himself Gwendolen knew what she was getting into. Gwendolen certainly has given Lush no reason to feel sorry for her. Still, he can't help but think she really had no idea what Grandcourt would be like.


You can never imagine what it is to have a man's ... genius in you, and yet ... suffer the slavery of being a girl.

Leonora, Volume 4, Book 7, Chapter 51

Leonora makes this statement to her son, Deronda. She didn't want to be a wife or a mother, but only an artist. Pursuing a vocation or career along with marriage and family was virtually impossible in Eliot's time. Further, women were often held back from anything but wifehood and motherhood. Leonora is forced into marriage, even though she has the "genius" in her. The reader cannot help but wonder if Eliot herself shared the same sentiment.


Take us all into your heart—the living and the dead ... Take my affection.

Deronda, Volume 4, Book 7, Chapter 51

Deronda shows his sentimentality and even his wisdom when he begs his mother to accept not only his affection but also the affection of those who are already dead—particularly his grandfather, Daniel Charisi, whom his mother is still holding a grudge against. Her answer to him, however, is that she has no love to give. She does not have his gift for loving.


Let us go, then ... Perhaps we shall be drowned.

Gwendolen, Volume 4, Book 7, Chapter 54

When Grandcourt sees Deronda in Genoa, he immediately knows his wife will contrive to see him. For this reason he plans to keep her in his sight while the yacht is being repaired. He insists they either go out sailing together or stay at the hotel. Because of the heat, she relents and says they will go out on the boat, but she tells him bitterly she hopes they will drown.


I could have given up everything in that moment, to have the forked lightning ... strike him dead.

Gwendolen, Volume 4, Book 7, Chapter 56

Gwendolen says this to Deronda. She feels guilty for Grandcourt's drowning because she has wished him dead and has been wishing him dead for some time. She had even thought of killing him. When he falls overboard, she hesitates for a moment and doesn't throw him the rope, but then she jumps into the sea to try to save him. Deronda tells her she could not have saved him even with the rope, but she wants to tell the entire truth—she wished him dead when he forced her to go sailing.


No evil dooms us hopelessly except the evil we love, and desire to continue in, and make no effort to escape from.

Deronda, Volume 4, Book 7, Chapter 57

Deronda says this to Gwendolen, who wishes for redemption and calls herself wicked. He reassures her even if a person commits wicked deeds, they can be saved if they wish to change and become better. Deronda believes Gwendolen can change and become an exemplary person by allowing herself to be instructed by the results of previous bad behavior.

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