Literature Study GuidesDaniel DerondaVolume 4 Book 8 Chapters 58 61 Summary

Daniel Deronda | Study Guide

George Eliot

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Daniel Deronda | Volume 4, Book 8, Chapters 58–61 : Fruit and Seed | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 58

Chapter 58 begins with an extended commentary by the narrator on how the actual days are a poor measure of how far life has advanced. Within a year the "brilliant, self-confident Gwendolen Harleth of the Archery Meeting" has been turned into "the crushed penitent impelled to confess her unworthiness." The scene opens in Offendene, with a telegram from Mr. Gascoigne about Grandcourt's drowning. Mrs. Davilow rushes to get ready to leave for Genoa.

Chapter 59

Deronda will not leave Genoa until Sir Hugo arrives. Sir Hugo can't help but feel happy he now has his estates back and can leave them to his daughters. He tells Deronda the provisions of the will, which is that Gwendolen without an heir will get 2,000 pounds a year and the house in Gadsmere, Grandcourt's least desirable property in coal country where Mrs. Glasher currently lives. Sir Hugo is disgusted by Grandcourt's disrespectful treatment of his widow. Deronda confirms what Sir Hugo has heard from Lush—there was no love lost between the couple, but he doesn't say whether she knew about Grandcourt's "family under the rose." He predicts Gwendolen will be happy with the disposal of Grandcourt's property. Deronda also tells Sir Hugo his new knowledge about his background will have "a momentous influence on [his] life." Deronda will have his fortune, Sir Hugo says, over and above the interest he has been living on, once he makes up his mind about his profession or vocation. He adds: "I hope you are not going to set a dead Jew above a living Christian," but Daniel does not answer.

Chapter 60

When Deronda arrives at the banking house in Mainz to retrieve the chest of papers his grandfather left him, Joseph Kalonymos is waiting for him. Kalonymos describes himself as a wanderer, although his prosperous children live in Mainz. He also describes his relationship with Daniel Charisi, Deronda's grandfather. Deronda learns his grandfather traveled widely and was a physician by profession. He stood "bitterly against" the Jews "losing themselves among the Gentiles," and insisted "the strength and wealth of mankind depended on the balance of separateness and communication." Deronda tells Kalonymos he will call himself a Jew but not necessarily "profess to believe exactly as [his] fathers have believed." He will do what he can to restore or perfect the "common life" of the Jews, which will become his vocation.

Chapter 61

When the Meyricks learn of Grandcourt's drowning, Hans makes a joke that "The Duchess"—as he refers to Gwendolen—is now free to marry "a man with a fine head of hair, and glances that will melt instead of freez[e] her." Mirah, who is giving a music lesson to Mab Meyrick, scolds Hans severely, saying he is wrong to make jokes about life and death. Further, she does not want to see Deronda taken away from her brother. "Mr. Deronda would not call that lucky to pierce my brother's heart," she says. Hans is quite embarrassed and finally believes Mirah might care for Deronda. He knows Gwendolen has a passion for his friend and his friend is susceptible, which he takes as a "sign of concealed love." Nonetheless, it now appears Mirah may have feelings for him as well, whether or not they are returned. When Mirah is alone she now admits her jealousy is a sign she is in love with Deronda, but she doesn't imagine he feels the same for her.

Analysis

When Sir Hugo arrives in Genoa, he and Deronda have time to discuss his own future now that he knows about his background. Like Hans, Sir Hugo fears Deronda's new consciousness of being Jewish will come between them, which is why he makes the offensive remark about not setting a dead Jew above a living Christian. While Sir Hugo truly loves Deronda, he lacks imagination, never realizing how much suffering Deronda has undergone in remaining in the dark about his background. Further, he doesn't take responsibility for agreeing to perpetrate a large and consequential lie on the child he took responsibility for. In a sense he colludes with Leonora in making Deronda an instrument, just as Daniel Charisi made an instrument of his daughter. Leonora wished to get rid of her son and avenge herself on her father, although she claims she wished only to make her son free by freeing him from Judaism. Sir Hugo was a love-smitten bachelor, and by taking on Deronda he was able to have some piece of Leonora since she would not give herself to him. In truth, Sir Hugo has as much to answer for as Deronda's mother, whom he has been in communication with for years. But Deronda goes as easy on his guardian as he did on Gwendolen. He thinks the baronet "had no clear knowledge concerning [his] mother's breach of trust." He does not respond to Sir Hugo's questionable comment, focusing instead on the good Sir Hugo has done for him.

When Deronda arrives in Germany and meets Kalonymos, he remarks that Deronda looks like his grandfather, yet he doesn't see his "iron will" in the young man's face. "Better, a wrong will than a wavering; better a steadfast enemy than an uncertain friend; better a false belief than no belief at all," were Charisi's watchwords, but they are not Deronda's. Leonora's claims her father was dictatorial and inflexible seem confirmed, but once again Deronda looks only for the positive and coaxes Kalonymos to say his grandfather had a broad knowledge base and didn't make decisions lightly. In another instance of twinning, it appears Kalonymos was to Charisi what Deronda has become to Mordecai—one a spiritual teacher and the other a disciple. Like Mordecai, Charisi had wished for his people to retain their heritage and not simply melt into the populations among which they lived. Kalonymos articulates the "separateness with communication" prescription of Charisi, which is an embrace of the value of ethnic and religious identity. In embracing his ethnic identity, for the first time Deronda now knows what work he can do to make his life worthwhile. He articulates that he will work toward restoring and perfecting the common life of the Jews and maintain his grandfather's notion of multiculturalism even if he does not ascribe to all the beliefs of his Jewish forefathers.

Back in England, Mirah finally admits to herself her true feelings for Deronda after Hans makes a joke about the path now being cleared for his friend to marry Gwendolen. After she scolds Hans, even he cannot remain obtuse enough to think he has any chance with Mirah. For her part, Mirah thinks her love for Deronda is misplaced, and she discounts herself in thinking "she who had received all and given nothing should be of importance where she was of no importance." Nonetheless, the burning jealousy she feels with regard to Gwendolen is destroying her peace.

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