Daniel Deronda

Women as Performers

In George Eliot's Daniel Deronda, a theme of subjugation through observation becomes a unifying tie between Jews and women, two primary categories of characters in the novel. Eliot's female characters provide a complex commentary on the performance demanded of women in their public lives, a quality of society that exceeds boundaries of race and religion. The direct use of acting and singing as career choices for the Jewish women illuminates this idea, and inspires a natural comparison with the behavior expected of women in English culture. In 1876, when the book was published, critics and public alike were scandalized by Eliot's attempt to draw the Jewish element (including these female performers) into fine English literature. Eliot's critique on her society is clear in the novel's attempt to consider the Jewish woman beyond the stereotypical role of performer. In fact, the role of professional actress begins to defend itself. As an art form, it is an honest level of posing, as opposed to the false premises of the married life offered to English ladies. In its language, and mode of description, the novel manages to make even more unique conclusions about these two groups. Essentially, Eliot shows us English...

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