Literature Study GuidesDaniel DerondaVolume 2 Book 3 Chapters 25 27 Summary

Daniel Deronda | Study Guide

George Eliot

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Daniel Deronda | Volume 2, Book 3, Chapters 25–27 : Maidens Choosing | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 25

Grandcourt makes an effort to be amiable with the Mallingers. He believes Deronda is his uncle's illegitimate son and is pleased by this supposition. Lush continues to communicate with Sir Hugo about Grandcourt's affairs and his possible need for ready cash since Sir Hugo would like to buy back Diplow Hall for his family and has saved money for the occasion. He has been waiting for the right opportunity to offer Grandcourt a deal. Lush wants Grandcourt to marry either Miss Arrowpoint or Mrs. Glasher since neither are likely to interfere with his own comfortable situation, while Gwendolen is likely to try to push him out of Grandcourt's life. Back in Diplow, Grandcourt informs Lush he intends to renew his courtship of Gwendolen. Lush warns him about the family's recent misfortune. Clearly, there is no room to "shilly-shally." Lush also admits he has engineered a meeting between Lydia Glasher and Gwendolen, warning that she will be unlikely to accept his renewed advances. Nonetheless, Grandcourt sends a note to Gwendolen.

Chapter 26

Mr. Gascoigne stops by to tell Gwendolen he has set up her interview with Mrs. Mompert for the following week. After he leaves Gwendolen gets a note from Grandcourt asking if he can call, and she can't tell if she feels triumph or terror. After some hesitation, she writes back to say she will be at home the next day.

Chapter 27

Gwendolen gets little sleep turning over the pros and cons of marrying Grandcourt. She thinks she will not accept him, not only because her "maidenly pride and jealousy" have been aroused but also because of "the shock of another woman's calamity" being thrust in her face. Worst of all, her conscience shrinks in terror from such a deed. Still she thinks about how others would view the situation, remembering that people are generally indifferent to the fate of illegitimate children and do not necessarily punish their fathers. While she doesn't love Grandcourt, he is sufficiently dignified and enamored of her. She also thinks about how her mother's situation would improve by such a marriage.

When he arrives, Grandcourt proposes with equal measures of restrained passion and lordliness, and Gwendolen accepts after some hesitation, which further piques his desire and interest. After Grandcourt declares Gwendolen will have whatever she likes, she asks him to get rid of Lush. She thinks, "He [is] likely to be the least disagreeable of husbands."

Analysis

The narrator further explores the motivations of characters, particularly Gwendolen and Grandcourt, and demonstrates how easy it is to rationalize a bad or immoral choice.

Sir Hugo dislikes his nephew but has good reason to stay on cordial terms with him, since he would like to buy Diplow back from him and knows, as does Lush, that Grandcourt doesn't always do what is in his best interest when he has the opportunity to vex another person. Lush is happy to feed Sir Hugo the latest gossip about Grandcourt since he knows the baronet is discreet and will not get him into trouble with his boss. Lush likes to accommodate people who are kind to him, and he also enjoys rubbing elbows with people like Sir Hugo who are easygoing about differences in class.

Grandcourt is further revealed as someone whose primary motivation is to exercise his will over others and whose enjoyment comes from making other people uncomfortable. He imagines himself an object of Deronda's envy since he will inherit Sir Hugo's property. He hasn't the least idea about what motivates Deronda since Deronda's state of mind is so different from his own. Even Lush, who knows Grandcourt better than anybody, can't figure out why he would wish to pursue Gwendolen after learning she has seen Mrs. Glasher and knows the truth about his past. But rather than discourage him, this fact of Gwendolen's knowledge makes him even more determined to win her. When Gwendolen hesitates again on the brink of proposal, Grandcourt asks her deliberately if a man stands between them, knowing full well it is a woman but that Gwendolen will never dare say so. After Gwendolen accepts his proposal, Grandcourt promises she will do as she likes, although he has no intention of keeping this promise any more than he has kept his promises to Lydia.

Gwendolen has brought herself to accept him through the strength of his persistence as well as her own hatred of poverty. While she feels terror in the idea of deliberately injuring another (Mrs. Glasher and her children), she calls upon the prevailing patriarchal view to bolster her justification for turning a blind eye to his past—men can't help having illegitimate children and society does not punish them for it. She is also tempted by the thought she can make her mother's life easier, and Gwendolen does love her mother. On his side, Grandcourt wishes to master her "piquant combination of maidenliness and mischief." Gwendolen feels Grandcourt's "homage" as a balm on her wounded pride. He could rescue her "from helpless subjection to an oppressive lot." Thus, the proposal and its acceptance are both based on the belief the spouse will be easily mastered. The marriage will not be a meeting of the minds but rather a battle of wills in which only one person can prevail.
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