Literature Study GuidesDaniel DerondaVolume 1 Book 1 Chapters 7 10 Summary

Daniel Deronda | Study Guide

George Eliot

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Daniel Deronda | Volume 1, Book 1, Chapters 7–10 : The Spoiled Child | Summary



Chapter 7

Anna adores her brother Rex and is worried Gwendolen may break his heart. He goes riding with his cousin one day because she wants to see the hounds "throw off" (begin the hunt). When Rex approaches Gwendolen, she puts him off. In the excitement of the hounds setting off, she follows the chase and Rex follows after her. He soon gets left behind on his father's poorly conditioned horse, who falls and breaks his knees, throwing Rex over its head. Mr. Gascoigne is upset about the horse but even more concerned when his bruised son confesses his love for his cousin. When he tells his niece what has happened to Rex, she makes jokes about his fall once she knows he is not in danger. Her attitude and subsequent conversation with Mrs. Davilow clearly indicate Gwendolen has no interest in Rex as a potential husband. The Rector is relieved and gives his son permission to see her before he leaves for college. The next morning, Rex tells Gwendolen he loves her, and she abruptly rejects him. Later, a shaken Gwendolen tells her mother, "I shall never love anybody. I can't love people. I hate them." She clings to her mother and says she can't bear to have anyone else near her.

Chapter 8

Rex falls into a depression over Gwendolen's rejection. He is thinking of quitting school, and he and Anna talk about moving to the Canadian wilderness. Mr. Gascoigne tells Rex his troubles will pass and proposes he miss a term at Oxford rather than throw all his prospects away. He agrees and Anna agrees not to raise the subject with her cousin.

Chapter 9

Chapter 9 takes place eight months later, at the end of June. Diplow Hall, which belongs to Sir Hugo Mallinger, is being opened for tenancy by his nephew, Mr. Mallinger Grandcourt, the "presumptive heir to the baronetcy." Since Sir Hugo has no sons, his title and property will pass to his nephew. On his mother's side, Grandcourt has the possibility of inheriting the title of baron and peer. Gwendolen easily guesses her mother is thinking of the 35-year-old bachelor as a possible suitor and jokes about it. She continues to be defiant about marriage, especially since her cousin Anna can't help but show some resentment on behalf of her beloved brother.

Chapter 10

The Archery Meeting held in July at Lord and Lady Brackenshaw's park is an occasion for Gwendolen to show off her beauty and archery skills. All the gentry are in attendance, including the new neighbor, Grandcourt, who arrives late but asks to be introduced to Gwendolen.


Chapters 7 and 8 reveal two important things about Gwendolen: first, she has no remorse about breaking a suitor's heart; and second, she has a modesty that seems akin to prudery in her dealings with the opposite sex. She uses her cousin Rex, whom she likes well enough, to go out riding with. She is well aware he is in love with her, as is Mr. Middleton, her uncle's curate. But for her this is simply the fulfillment of her fantasy in which men pine after her. She doesn't think about their real suffering since she herself has never had "the slightest visitation of painful love herself." The narrator says Rex has a handsome face, but "there was nothing corresponding to the undefinable stinging quality ... which made some beholders hesitate in their admiration of Gwendolen." In addition to not reciprocating Rex's feelings, Gwendolen objected "with a sort of physical repulsion, to being directly made love to ... there was a certain fierceness of maidenhood in her." When Rex ardently declares himself, she asks him to stop, saying she hates when a man makes love to her. Upon returning home, Gwendolen bursts into tears, no doubt upset because she senses a lack in herself and an aversion toward physical contact with a man.

The next two chapters build up to Gwendolen's introduction to the heir apparent of Sir Hugo Mallinger's estates, Henleigh Grandcourt. He is an aristocrat with his own estates and the most eligible bachelor once he arrives in town. Gwendolen jokes the other young women at the archery meet have no chance next to her, and her "arrow will pierce him before he has time for thought ... [and] declare himself [her] slave." This comment turns out to be the height of dramatic irony since Gwendolen does end up with Grandcourt, but under adverse circumstances. He enslaves her rather than vice versa. Given his sadistic nature, the reader can't help but wonder if in the sexual realm he confirms Gwendolen's worst fears.

Grandcourt's connection with the abuse of the patriarchy extends to his inheritance of Sir Hugo's property. English law does not allow women to inherit. Sir Hugo has no sons, and according to his father's will his title and property must pass to his nearest male relative, which leaves his wife and daughters with nowhere to live in the very likely event he will die before any of them. The laws of male inheritance are harmful to women and reflect their status as male property.

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