Literature Study GuidesDaniel DerondaVolume 4 Book 8 Chapters 68 70 Summary

Daniel Deronda | Study Guide

George Eliot

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Daniel Deronda | Volume 4, Book 8, Chapters 68–70 : Fruit and Seed | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 68

Deronda is now eager to confess his love and hopes to defend Mirah in the future against her father's bad behavior. In fact, Mr. Lapidoth is becoming more restless in the house. When Deronda comes to work with Mordecai one day, he takes his heavy ring off and puts it aside. Mr. Lapidoth steals the ring when no one is looking and walks out of the house. When Deronda realizes the ring is missing, Mirah helps him look for it, immediately suspecting her father has stolen it. Deronda realizes her distress, and he spontaneously proposes, saying she should let Mr. Lapidoth be his father as well so that they can share disgrace, sorrow, and joy: "I have had to hide my love so long. Say that now and always I may prove to you that I love you with complete love." She answers by offering her lips for him to kiss.

Chapter 69

Sir Hugo has decided to spend the autumn at Diplow and is gaining popularity in the neighborhood. He is vexed, however, when he receives a letter from Deronda about his marriage and career plans. Lady Mallinger is quite put out that Deronda will not end up with Gwendolen and is instead choosing to go "altogether with the Jews." Deronda comes twice to Diplow to visit and settle his financial affairs with Sir Hugo and still doesn't tell Gwendolen of his impending marriage because she still seems overwrought. On the third visit, Hans is on hand since he is painting Sir Hugo's daughters. He needles his friend, saying he perhaps wishes Gwendolen to pine for him forever, and this spurs Deronda to speak to Gwendolen about his upcoming marriage and his new identity as a Jew. He assures Gwendolen they will remain friends and that he will write to her always. Gwendolen cries for a day and a half, but finally tells her mother not to worry: "I shall live. I mean to live."

Chapter 70

Deronda marries Mirah in the Jewish rite. Gwendolen sends a note to Deronda, ending with "It is better—it shall be better with me because I have known you." After the wedding, Deronda, Mirah, and Mordecai depart, but Mirah's brother succumbs to his illness before they begin their voyage. He dies happily knowing Deronda will carry on his work.

Analysis

The last three chapters settle Deronda with the Cohens and put Gwendolen on a new life trajectory. In stealing Deronda's ring, Mr. Lapidoth becomes the catalyst for Deronda's proposal to Mirah. But Deronda still has the task of informing Gwendolen about his upcoming plans and his decision to move to the East for a while. His delay is primarily caused by his reluctance to create pain for a woman he genuinely cares about. Although he knows neither she nor he can avoid the pain of separation, he keeps putting it off until Hans shames him into getting it over with. Perhaps in Deronda's procrastination is also the reluctance of giving up the role of savior and facing up to the fact that choosing one woman entirely excludes any meaningful relationship with another. Of course, Gwendolen takes the news badly, but she is committed to moving on with her life and making the most of what has been left to her. Once she agrees to take Grandcourt's money, she is able to provide for her family to live comfortably at Offendene. Her desires and expectations, due in part to Deronda's influence, have been both enlarged and attenuated—enlarged because she now craves more subtle satisfactions, and attenuated because she no longer expects the world to shape itself to fit her egotistical desires. She resigns herself to losing Deronda and reiterates she intends to live a better life than the one to which she had become accustomed.

The story ends happily for the Mallingers as well, despite their bittersweet parting with Deronda. He will remain in their lives, but now that he has owned his Jewish heritage, they are bound to drift further apart. Certainly, they would have been much more satisfied if Deronda had ended up with Gwendolen, but it was inevitable that Sir Hugo's lie would catch up with him. Still, his life is much improved now that he retains ownership of his lands and may dispose of them as he chooses since there are no additional male relatives lurking around. Thus, through the marriages of Sir Hugo's second-tier female offspring, he will no doubt eventually get a male heir to carry his name and title.

In the final chapter, Deronda marries Mirah and the reader is left on the threshold of their life together, full of expectation. In effect, Deronda has married both brother and sister. "Where though goest, Daniel, I shall go. Have I not breathed my soul into you? We shall live together," Mordecai says on his deathbed. After Mordecai dies, Deronda and Mirah head East, but the narrator does not clearly say where East is located. As critic Alan Levenson points out, Eliot was aware of Jewish settlements in Eastern Europe and on the borders of Russia. Deronda tells Gwendolen, "I am going to the East to become better acquainted with the condition of my race in various countries there." He wishes to help create a Jewish nation as a political entity but does not specifically mention Palestine—which roughly corresponded in the 19th century to the modern state of Israel—as the ultimate site for such a country. Levenson notes Eliot's vagueness in referring to the "East" might reflect her "multifaceted view of Jewish authenticity." What is most important is that the hero has embraced his destiny as a Jew, and the heroine (Gwendolen) has been chastened and refined by suffering.

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