UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A critical study of character-analysis in the novels of George Eliot Williamson, Lillian A. 1926

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A CRITICAL STUDY OF CHARACTER-ANALYSIS IN THE NOVELS OF GEORGE ELIOT. by L i l l i a n A* W i l l i a m s o n . A Thes i a s u b a i t t e d f o r t h e Degree of MASTER OF ARTS i n t h e Depar tment of ENGLISH. THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA A p r i l , 1926. TABLE Off CONTENTS. I« Growth of Character - P o r t r a y a l i n f i c t i o n up t o 1855. I I . George E l i o t ' s Phi losophy. I I I . The C h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n of t h e Novels as I t i s inf luenced by her Phi losophy. IV. The Humor of t h e Novels as a Means of Charac te r -Ana lys i s . V. George E l i o t ' s Use of S e t t i n g . VI. Concluding Est imate of George E l i o t ' s Power of Charac t e r -Ana lys i s . CHAPTER I. The Growth of Character-Portrayal in Fiction up to 1855. Although the intensive analysis of character— analysis-such as we call "psychological"— has become an inherent part of the twentieth century novel, it is an element of comparatively recent growth. In the prim-itive stages of fiction, man had been content to "hold the mirror up to nature," and with dear and vivid strokes, draw what he saw there. But when science In its research began to change the whole scheme of life, philosophy also came hand in hand with It, probing into the mystery of the individual to•find the ultimate reason for his being. It was not enough to describe what he felt, but why he exper-ienced those feelings and what processes of thought were involved. Interest was beginning to centre upon the causality of things. This psychological aspect which began with Richardson was more fully developed in the novels of George Eliot. In the carefully prepared development of her themes, she has shown the new scientific attitude to life that has widened and clarified down to the present day and is reflected in the works of Meredith and Hardy. In the following study I shall attempt to show how the portrayal of human nature has developed in flotion from ^ mere objective description to accurate psychological - 2 -analysis of character, and what specific contributions were made to it by George Eliot. In the early history of story-telling, the interest in character did not hold a place of very great importance. The folk-lore, handed down from one generation to another, and recreated within the tribal group, was primarily a history of the whole tribe in its origin and struggles for supremacy. It consisted of a series of heroic exploits culminating in the success of the warrior in the pursuit of a worthy cause. In the Odyssey we find the oldest and fin-est collection of tales of adventure in which a hero is finally favoured by the Gods and arrives in safety at his Kingdom of Ithaca. Yirgil followed the same theme when he traced the wanderings of Aeneas until he succeeded in found-ing the city of Eome. His opening line in which he speaks of "arms and the man" as his subject is significant;the in-cident is exalted far above the individual. The Early Anglo-Saxon traditions and sagas were in the same manner preserved in "Beowulf," a series of magnificent scenes of duels and battles. The people delighted in heroic action, while the hero was often merely a type, and the embodiment of physical or military prowess. A ohange in point of view came into English literature shortly after the Conquest when the French brought in their own legendary romances. The Arthurian and the Charlemagne .' cycles, created in France by the troubadours, were translated - -3 -into English became fused with British and Welsh folk-tales. The early epics exalted valor; the romances added to this the elements of love and religion. The period of conquest was over, and as English life was settling down, and Uorman and Saxon were growing into one nation, they were able to make a more intimate study of human nature. The difference in national culture and customs had forced them to a keener Observation of differences in personality. Man was only dimly aware of his potentialities, but he began to take a keener delight in expressing the more intimate emotions of his heart. A new spirit in human nature was revealed, and gave rise to the Middle English lyrios, exquisite for their naivete of expression and depth of emotion. In the 14th century, Chaucer used the material of both mythical and legendary tales, and delineated popular figures of his day with unfailing accuracy. The characters of his pageant are clear-cut pictures of real men and women. Every lineament of feature carries with it an unobtrusive lineament of charaoter. He is the genial philosopher who sees man and his motives, and probes the thin surface of conventional sham. Tfeie art lies in disguising art. By the subtle suggestion of a well-chosen phrase or word, he is able to carry the external facts of sense perception into the recesses of the heart, where they are given a deeper significance. - 4 -The following century saw the revival of the early n romances by ftalory. He has gathered them into a series of the most charming stories in our literature, The restraint and simplicity of his thought and style has the same moving power of the ballad. Se is the first to create the prose romance, portraying the Knightly ideals of his age in a form that is invariably picturesque and fresh. There was all the material in his romances for a modern novel, and we shall see how it was gradually developed. The 16th century was essentially an age of creative genius and daring exploit which expressed itself in dramatic and lyrical poetry. Geographical discoveries and scientific invention had set the current of individual achievement, and man was beginning to see that life held untold possibil-ities for him yet unexplored. He was breaking the confines of old customs, and unconsciously widening the scope of his own individuality. But prose was not yet ready to portray the spirit of the times. The Elizabethan Age saw the flower-ing of the drama, which could take a cross-section of life and reproduce it at a moment of action best calculated to reveal the characters. The drama was limited in time and place, but vigorous and incisive in its criticism of human nature. It could gather within its compass the lyrical effusions of romance, and the grim foreshadowing of the drama. But the prose of the period, with a few exceptions,** lacked both precision and power. It was gathering its - 5 -material from French literature and was rather uncertain in form. Where the trend of thoughtwas more philosophic in nature, the style became more precise, as evidenced in Bacon. Sir Philip Sidney's pastoral romances were doubtless a copy from L'Astree, the forerunner of the French novel, and which, in spite of its beribboned sheep and tuneful shepherds, had a wealth of philosophy under its artificial verbiage. The pastoral romance was at times satirizing sooiety while it pretended to entertain it. Sidney is remembered more for his lyrlos than for his romances. It was he who gave the impulse to the sonneteers by his art in the expression of the individual emotions in verse, which is the inherent quality of lyricism. The only other prose of note in this period was "Euphues" which gave a careful transoript of court life and manners, and became almost a "code-book" for good form in manners and in speech. The individual was not drawn any more clearly than before, but the type was elaborated. We have found that in the Elizabethan Age the drama was most powerful in characterization. The code-books and the "humors" of the drama had been developing "types," and now the interest focussed more direotly on the "characters." These demanded a more intimate study of the individual, in order to reproduce all his whimsicalities and foibles. The vogue was also spreading all over Europe, *• and in France it had many peculiar traits. In their novels, - 6 which by this time had acquired considerable precision in theme and form, the "portraits" as they were called, held a very important place; they were always put in as a pre-fatory pageant before the story opened. Sometimes, from the longest of Mile, de Soudery's novels, these portraits were extracted and published separately as codes of de-portment and dress. In England it had become the custom to publish the biographies and diaries of men in social and political circles, giving at the same time a sketch of the times and manners. Such naive and charming records as it "Samuel Pepys* Diary, which was not discovered and deciphered until 1825, give a very intimate and faithful revelation of the man's personality and of the virtues and vices of his social circle. Eot infrequently, as in the case of the Duchess of Newcastle, around whom a group of literary people had gathered in the fashion of the French salon of Mde de Eambouillet, fictitious letters were compiled, where-by the author had unlimited scope in character-portrayal. The "diaries" show a definite effort to catch the real personality, not as a "humor" or type, but with the de-finite strokes of a Ghauoer and on a wider canvas. It was not only the man they sketched, but the milieu in which he moved. (1) cf. "La Prinoesse de Oleves" and "Clelie." - 7 -During this time, the essay was gradually becoming more popular for every kind of subject. Montaigne had popularized it and shown how adaptable it was, and from the latter part of the 17th century it gained great pro-minence in England. The essayists took up the work of the diarists in an effort to bring to perfection the "character." One of the finest sketches in our literature is that of Sir Roger de Coverley, the famous figure who appeared in the Spectator of 1711-12. Here the character is given a more dynamic quality by presenting him in a variety of scenes in London and provincial life as the central figure of the series. He is shown at home and at church, at the assizes and at the theatre, and entertaining his friend 'Will Wimble' at his country seat. The sketch even gives, incidentally, a retrospective view of his life, and tells with infinite pathos the story of his death. It is the finest effort to portray all the facets of a character without a plot. In the meantime the incident story had also been developing, and it would seem as if the two streams of AST. character and inoidentAfiction had as yet little inter-relation. The success of the essayists in drawing their characters to the life was unquestioned. The incident story, on the other hand, retained its interest because of its wealth of adventure and farce. It had been copied from the Spanish and French picaresque novel, and gave - 8 -full scope to broad humor and horse-play. But there was l i t t l e variety in the chief character; he was always the typical pioaro, f a l l i n g into disgrace and out of i t again with the same careless J e s t s . In these s to r i e s the novelty of incident soon exhausted i t s e l f because of the submergence of character. The in te res t in human nature , however, was gradually and inevitably developing. Some wr i t e r s found themselves expanding the characters in the picqresque novel so tha t they became more closely a part of the incident . Cervantes revel* in the adventure s tory , depicting l i f e in i t s general aspects , but he also excelled in pa r t i cu la r i z ing h i s character . Swift had l e f t the essay form in h i s la ter l i f e , and in h i s Gul l iver ' s Travels was seeking with more vigorous and in-cisive strokes to reveal human nature . Bunyan fees- also succeeded in individual izing some of h i s types, so that they become real+characters . His work, however, i s admirably Bur-passed by the autobiography of Defoe, who succeeds in pre-senting his characters with t rue " r e a l i t y , " maintaining the i l lus ion throughout the book with ingenious invention. His a r t l i e s in disguising a r t , for amongst a l l the great c re-a t ive pieces of na r ra t ive , i t c a r r i e s the impress of naive t ru th . The personal aspect of the drama of l i f e , which had been originated by the d i a r i s t s , was picked up again and developed* by Richardson, the f i r s t creator of the character-novel. - 9 -The difference of his prose from what preceded lies not so much in theme, as in point of view, method and intention. The letter form was popular, and afforded him greater in-timacy in details. Tw& making the characters reveal them-selves from their own lips. For the first time in prose fiction, the interest centres upon the mind of the char-acters, and there is a definite attempt at psychological analysis. In intent it has all the heart-searchings and elements of tragedy that the French novel displayed a oentury before in the "Prinoesse de Cleves", and with astonishing subtlety of detail. His oharaoter analysis is a slow, gradual process, developing by the accumulation of petty detail into a great moving force in the book. Richardson started the vogue of the sentimental novel, which elaborated the analysis of feeling and the casuistry of love. His novels were translated into French almost as soon as they came off the English press and were read and imitated with great enthusiasm. It is here interesting to note the stream of fiction which had come from the contin-ent for about two centuries, now reversed, developing along more extreme lines. The most important figure in this new cult of senti-mentalism was Rousseau. He seemed to divest emotionalism of either moral or religious restraint and based his philosophy upon the supreme importance of the individual - 10 -and the inherent goodness of h i s nature. The "Nouvelle Heloise" of 1761 and the Emile the following year, in whioh he explains h i s .cult for freedom and expansion of the in-dividual, were met with great applause a l l over England. Impractical as much of h i s theory was, he undoubtedly star ted a great movement for individualism, which extended i t s influence e* the French Revolution and a l so to a group of social reformers led by Godwin in England. Through the force of his ideas, man became more conscious of himself and of his value in r e l a t i on to society. He sounded the f i r s t def ini te note of a l t ruism which was to re-echo more clearly in the next century. The early wave of sentimental ism in England was modified by the r e a l i s t i c novels of the same period. Fielding i s the consummate r e a l i s t of the century. His characters stand out as rea l "f lesh and blood" people, seeing l i f e"as i t was and not as i t ought to be . " The v i r i l i t y and accuracy of his character por t rayal , h is humor, and his easy manipulation of character and incident, have won for him a high place amongst nove l i s t s . We find the same energy of del ineat ion in his disciple Thaokeray, although the style of the l a t t e r is greatly modified and h i s development more subt le . The aim of r e a l i t y , which.was the ohief cha rac te r i s t i c of Fielding 's work, was manifest in the Vicar of Wakefield. Here there i s l i t t l e act ion , and the characters are naive - 11 -and simply drawn, suffused in genial humor and unobtrusive philosophy. The contemplative qual i ty of t h i s novel is much more valuable to the development of character-analysis than the e ro t i c wave of sentimental ism that was coming from France. As we have noted, one outgrowth of sentimentalism was the cult of individualism tending towards social reform. Another branch, however, which gained considerable populari ty during the l a t e r 18th century, developed in the Gothic romances. They deal t with the supernatural and were wri t ten to sa t i s fy a t a s t e for mystery and horror . This pa r t i cu la r phase of the novel had not appeared before except to some sl ight degree in Moll Flanders. But linked with sentimen-talism, i t grew apace in the hands of Horace Walpole and Mrs, Radcliffe. The plot was cleverly worked up with melo-dramatic force to a tense climax, but the characters had no real personal i ty . They were a l l erot ic types, swayed by the emotion of tiie moment, and they developed no other charac ter i s t ic , because of the nature of the p l o t , except super-sentimental ism. Ho healthy point of view could be maintained in such an atmosphere, and a strong react ion was inevi table . Jane Austen came in " l ike a draught of pure a i r , " says Mr. Phelps, "and blew out the candles, bringing daylight back to English f i c t ion . " With her delightful sense of humor, her keen - 12 -observation of men and manners, and her realistic burlesque of the excesses of sentimentalism, she revived the novel of manners. As we have seen, this type of novel had been intro-duced by Goldsmith and it was further developed by Fanny Burney. Her works, although they have not the mark of the first quality, are important historically, as they stand in a direct line of development from the essays in the evolut-ion of the character-sketch. In Miss Austen's books we find plain, everyday people, and there are hardly any but "rose-water and rose-leaf revolutions, ' recalling the genial diffuseness of the Vicar of Wakefield. Ehe plot sinks into the background, but the characters in their felioitOus de-tail are amongst the masterpteoes of literature. During this period, an entirely new genre of novel was originated by Sir Walter Scott, arising direotly out of his own personality and training. From his earliest years his mind was filled with "Border" legends and romances which became vividly real to him. In hiB historical romances, therefore, he depicts his native country with aotual scenes and actual people. His characterization is broad and vivid, laoking the subtle analysis of Richardson, the realism of Fielding, or the satire of Jane Austen. Yet he proves that both realism and romanticism are complementary, and that the romantic implication can be drawn from everyday facts. Over the character and (1) Saintsbury: History of English Literature. - 12 -scenes of h i s novels he e a s t s a glamor of romance which wi l l hold, I think, in sp i t e of many opinions to the con-trary at the present time, a permanent i n t e r e s t . By the insight and gonitis of h i s own personal i ty , he has penned some pictures of Scott i sh character that w i l l never grow dim, for In the s impl i c i ty of their words and act ions there i s warmth and i n t e n s i t y , and in the ir s i l e n c e , tragedy. For the next twenty years after the Waverley novels had ceased, Diokens was producing in rapid succession h i s most popular books, a l l dealing with social problems. Diokens was himself a nan of the populace, and was keenly aware of i t s r e s t r i c t i o n s and abuses. He was wri t ing In the in teres t s of the Individual, and no writer has ever done more for s o c i a l reform by the appeal of his char-acters . His drawing of c h i l d - l i f e , when It i s not over-sent imentaliaed, i s true to the tjqpe of soc i e ty in which he worked, and carries a sincere note of pathos. The pageantry of h i s characters i s colorful and vigorous, and he has the peculiar art of present ing them In an atmos-phere to which they belong. Even the rooms and the pleoee of furniture seem to have a "personality." But, In the minute analys i s of character he takes l e s s interest and tends more towards dramatic Incident. He hlmetlf brought h i s characters before the public by giving readings from h i s books, and so r e a l i s t i c were they that h i s audefnce - 14 -was always deeply moved. There is little in his contemporary Thackeray how-ever that would invite dramatic presentation; he is, like Fielding, too fond of bringing his chair up to the proscenium arch and taking the audience into his confidence. In his satire and burlesque of the shallow conventions of a society to which he himself belonged, he has never been surpassed. He is unflinching in his realistic presentation of character and motive; not the slightest movement escapes his notice or interpretation. He is not content with the broad lines of Scott, or with the minute detail of Dickens; his satire probes into the very heart of society. Now,finally the interest in character and motive was worked out in a different way by George Eliot. In the mass of varying influences upon the novel up to this time, one fact stands out, - the growing interest in personality and its motivation. From the essayists down to Thackeray, the portrayal of character had been gradually developing into something more subtle and significant. The delineation of Sir Roger de Goverley is just as clear-cut as that of Colonel Newoome, but there is a very great difference. In the former no attempt is made to analyse the feelings of the character. Human nature is essentially the same from age to age, but the portrayal of it has become a finer art. Never before had the author looked so intently into the complexities of the feelings. "The perfect photograph of life," says Bliss - 15 -Perry, "is not sufficient; the subjective element in it modi-fies, selects and adjusts and gives the highest value to art." This subjective analysis is the peculiar method of George Eliot who from the publication of her first book in 1855 gave greater power and scope to the psychological novel. Her interest was primarily with the interior drama of human life the intricate blending of psychological processes that go to create thatelusive thing( called "personality." In this kind of novel she is distinguished alike from the great sentimentalists and the sweeping satirists. She was writing at a time when traditional beliefs were being uprooted, but in the midst of it she worked out a philosophy of her own, which controlled her life and her writings. The following chapters will explain this philosophy and deal with the characterization in her novels as it is developed by her philosophy, her humor, and her use of setting. - 16 -CHAPTER II. George Eliot's Philosophy. (1) "The author of a hook," says Henry Van Dyke, is not an algebraic quantity, but a human being with a certain life history." This thought is particularly applicable to George Eliot. Unlike Scott, she has projected her own personality into that of her characters, so that the two are {inseparably bound together. In estimating her work, therefore, there are two elements to be considered. The character of the author herself, by the standards of which she interprets all other characters, and the great intell-ectual movements of her age by which her opinions have been strongly influenced. George Eliot's life shows three distinct phases - the early period from 1819 to 1840, spent in the heart of the provinces, the period of study until 1855, during which she became both translator and journalist, and finally her mat-urer years as novelist when she produced some of the best along with some of the worst novels of our literature. Her early life was spent near the little village of Griff in Warwickshire, where her father, Robert Evans, had a small farm. It is from this vicinity that she draws much (1) Henry Van Dyke: Companionable Books, P. 138. (Charles Scribner & Sons, ITew York, 1922. - 17 -of her setting for her early novels. Her mother was a woman of great vivacity and energy of mind, and from her George Eliot inherited her sprightly humor and keen perception. She was later to choose her as a model for Mrs. Poyser in Adam Bede. Marion Evans, who was later to become the "George Eliot" of the novels, lived in this part of the country for about the first twenty years of her life. She loved the country, and the beauty and silence of it made a great im-pression upon her child-mind. She seemed to have absorbed its tone and temper, so that she was able ±n later life to interpret the chraoter of the peasants who had spent all their lives there. She was accustomed to continuous and solitary brooding upon the things around her, a habit which developed q.uite early into a habit of questioning and theorising. At the age of twelve, she was sent to a private school at Coventry, where she was educated on strictly Methodist principles. The religious ideas of these early years, so firmly impressed by the most orthodox of teachers, had a lasting influence all through'her life. Positivist as she inevitably became through her later studies, she never openly asserted her belief, or attacked the simple faith of others. She respected their forms of religion although she could not hold it, and because of this respect could create a character like Dinah Morris (1) Misses Franklin, cf. Cooke: George Eliot, Samson Low & Rivington, London, 1883, P. 7. - 18 -with true sympathy and understanding. After three years of training at Coventry, she had to re-turn home where she continued to study eagerly whatever books were within her reach. That her reading was promiscuous is evidenced in one of her letters to her friend and tutor, Miss Lewis. "My mind presents a chaotic assemblage of disjointed specimens of history, ancient and modern; scraps of poetry picked up from Shakespeare, Cowper, Wordsworth and Milton, newspaper topics, morsels of Addison and Bacon, Latin verbs, geometry, entomology and chemistry, reviews and metaphysics -all arrested and petrified, smothered by the fast thickening (1 anxiety of actual events and household cares and vexations.1*1 It was then she developed her taste for probing into the thoughts of the pasi - a taste which finally led her to formulate her own peculiar philosophy of life. Throughout these early years we can see the original Maggie Tulliver, impulsive, impressionable, absorbing an extraordinary amount of varied knowledge. Of these early impressions, the one which is most clearly stamped in her books is her love and understanding of the peasants and their surroundings. The second period of her life opened with the friendship of Charles Bray and his circle of transcendentalists. She was keenly interested in his theory. He believed in the "unity of the universe, the oneness of matter and mind, the evolution of all forms of life and being from the lowest, the universal dominion of law and necessity, and the influence of (1) J. W. Cross: George Eliot»s Life, Blackwood & Sons, 1885, Vol.1, P. 60. - 19 -nature upon man.™'1' After many discussions of possible theories with Mr. Bray, she read Hennell'8 Inquiry Conoern-(2) ing the Origin of Christianity. As Hennell was Mrs. Bray's brother, the book was fully discussed in that household, where George Eliot frequently visited. She was profoundly interested (3) in the book. Hennell rejected ' the miraculous and the super-natural and regarded Christianity as the natural development of Jewish history. The cause of the greatness of Jesus, he said, lay in a long course of events which had come to a crisis at the time of his appearance, and his personality derived its power from the accumulated force of many gen-erations. Hennell was a thorough rationalist, valuing highly the moral teaching of Christ, but discarding the myth which had been rapidly accumulating around it. The impression his thoughts made upon George Eliot is expressed in another letter to Miss Lewis. She writes, "My whole soul has been engrossed in the most interesting of all inquiries for the last few days, and to what result, my thoughts will lead, I know not - possibly to one that will startle you; but my only desire is to know the (4) truth, my only fear to cling to error." (1} G. W. Cooke, George Eliot, P. 19 (2) Book publ i shed 1838. Read by George E l i o t , 1841. (3) G. W. Cooke, George E l i o t , P . 20 (4) J . W. Cross, Life of George E l i o t , V o l . 1 , P . 103. - 20 -Stirred by the influence of both Charles Bray and Charles Hinnell, she zealously applied herself to further study which led her to German literature. Germany at this time was greatly in advance of the rest of Europe in scientific and philosophic research, consequently German books on the "new thought" *tas it was called, were being translated in great numbers into both French and English. George Eliot's first translation was Strauss1 Leben Jesu, a long, strenuous piece of work not of her own choosing, but undertaken for Mr. Bray who was not versed in German. The work completely disillusioned her, striking at the very roots of her orthodoxy and shaking her religious beliefs. She complained in her letters of being "Strauss-sick" at the time of completing the translation, for the book had offered .much destructive criticism, leaving grave doubts in her mind. But the introduction which Strauss had given her to German thought, aroused in her a desire to search further for an answer to her recurring doubts. By 1854 she had completed a translation of Feuerbach»s Essence of Christianity. This book proved very stimulating to her mind. Feuerbach, like Kant, took as his premise the subjective element of all knowledge. He postulated that religion was a product of the human mind, embodying the wants and aspirations of the soul, but having no objective facts corresponding to it. God (1) G. W. Cooke, George fliot, P. 26. - 21 -existed, he said, only in the mind of man, as a perfect type of his own nature, and as an aspiration in his life. To George Eliot this doctrine came as a great inspiration. According to this theory the individual took on greater importance and dignity, having the power within himself to shape his life and give it its fullest expression. At a time when rationalism was disintegrating every form of religious faith, she conceived how great would be the influence of this philosophy upon the char-acter and conduct of man and upon the ultimate welfare of humanity. While she was thus deep in the study of German philosoph-ical thought, the great Tractarian Movement was at its height in England. It was a momentous struggle between liberalism and orthodoxy not only amongst clericals but in the mind of every thinker. The liberals insisted upon applying scientific methods of investigation to their religious faith, to test its truth. The orthodox minds, on the other hand, continued to base their faith upon antiquity and utterly distrusted scien-tific investigation. At the time, George Eliot was reading widely on both sides of the question. "What a pity," she writes, "that doctrines infinitely important to man are burled in a charnal heap of bones, over which nothing is heard but the barks and growls of contention."*2) She is speaking in 1841 when the famous Tract 90 had been issued, and doubtless she has in mind the pathetic figure of John Henry Uewman striving (1) cf. (Cardinal Uewman: Apologia. Note on Liberalism, P. £85. Longmans, Green & Co., London, 1890. (2) J. w. Cross, Life of George Eliot, Vol.1, P. 103. - 22 -to find the ultimate truth in a mass of man-made creeds. Her thrusts at "dogmatic schemes" of religion are very pointed. She strongly discounts the mass of legend growing around .the principles of Christ's teaching, and what Arnold aptly called the "aberglaube" of religion. In an article in the Westminster Review she voices her indignation. "Fatally powerful as re-ligious systems hage been, human nature is stronger and wider and although dogmas may hamper, they cannot repress its growth; build walls around the living tree as you will, the bricks and mortar have by and by to give way before the slow and sure operation of the sap.B She is here undoubtedly joining with the liberals in an effort to apply scientific principles to the investigation of orthodox faith. This liberalism which she adopted implied a thorough understanding and appreciation of scientific thought. This she had acquired from various sources and to an extraordinary degree for a woman of her time. She was moving in a circle of literary people who were all keenly interested in advanced thought* By 1851 she had been appointed sub-editor of the Westminster Review, one of the foremost papers in scientific and philosophic theories. It became the organ of such men as John Stuart Mill, Spencer, Emerson and Lewis, besides pub-lishing from time to time articles on German philosophy and literature. For this work she had to read very extensively and rapidly; it was heavy work but she applied herself to it (1) Westminster Review, Oct, 1855. Evangelism and Dr. Gumming, P. 436. - 23 -with great energy and success. Although the mass of the work was great, her interest in it spurred her on. She was always eager for discussion with those who contributed articles to the Review. With Lewis she would spend hours theorising upon possible developments in science and philosophy. Lewis was working on the Biographical History of Philosophy at the time, and discussed his material at great length with George Eliot. In science Huxley was working on an evolutionary theory hy experiments in comparative anatomy. Herbert Spencer in philosophy, also championed evolution, believing in the collective life of the race and linking the past with pre-sent and future in his theory. Thus we find she came into direct contact with scientists and philosophers through her Journalistic work, and was well versed in the advanced thought of her day. During this second period of her life, there had been three distinct influences at work. She was trying to piece together Charles Bray*s theory of the "unity of mind and matter, Feueroach1s theory of the subjectivity of all Knowledge, part-icularly of religion, and the growing belief in evolution ex-pressed by Huxley and Spencer and discussed at length by Lewis. The result was that she discarded her early religious faith definitely, regarding religion as a purely subjective force, urging the individual towards perfection. She also began to put emphasis upon conduct in the building up of character, showing that if the past is inevitably linkftd up with the / - 24 -present and future, each individual is responsible to posterity for his actions. These ideas were to be further developed during the third period of her life, and applied in her novels. It was in 1865, two years after her union with George Lewis, that the Journalist turned novelist under the pseudonym of "George Eliot." Within the following six years she pro-duced her four most charming novels. They picture the simple beauty of Warwickshire where she spent her childhood, and where she says, "Leisure still dwells."* ' "Fine old Leisure! Do not be severe upon him and judge him by our modern standard; he never went to Exeter Hall, or heard a popular preacher, or read Tracts for the limes or Sartor Resartus." It seems as if she delights in living over again her childhood days, when life had no complexities and presented no problems. She has no ur-gent theory to propound in her first two books, merely present-ing life as it appears to her, describing it and commenting upon it. But the same year in which she published Adam Bede was to see the beginning of a change in her philosophy. The great scientific discovery of the century to which all research and discussion had been leading for several years, was the evolutionary theory. We have seen how Spencer and Huxley had championed the theory in philosophy and science. Then came the simultaneous publication of the "Origin of Species" theory by Darwin^1* and his fellow-scientist Wallaee in 1859, (1) Mam Bede, Ch. 52, P. 532. (2) G. T. Bettany, Darwin, P. 75. (Walter Scott, London 1887. - 25 -by which they affirmed what had already been conjectured. They showed by hundreds of experiments how the higher forms of organic l i f e had evolved from lower species, with several v a r i a t i o n s . These var ia t ions they traced back t o the influences of heredity and environment. This was the part of the theory which was eagerly seized upon by the philosophers, and developed extensively. At tha t time i t was f e l t that science had the power to explain every "unknown." Sc ien t i s t s had made such rapid advances in knowledge that they thought they might be able to probe the secre t s of the universe. Religious dogma was again and again subjected to s c i e n t i f i c analysis with d ras t i c r e s u l t s . Ho balance could be found between science and re l ig ion , re l ig ion and philosophy. During the l a t t e r years of George E l i o t ' s l i f e England was disturbed with grave doubts and torn between the extremes of rat ionalism and dogmatism. I t was to be many decades before the s c i e n t i s t s rea l ized t h a t , even with i t s ever-widening c i rc le of in -fluences and p o s s i b i l i t i e s , science has i t s l imi t a t ions . In recent years the fact has been very def in i te ly s ta ted by Professor J. A. Thompson in h i s Outlines of Science. " I t i s the aim of sc ience ," he says, "to inquire into the formulation of th ings as they a r e , and a s they have come to be, and to gather data concerning the i r nature , or igin (1) J . A. Thompson: Outlines of Science, George Hewnes Ltd . , London 1923, P. 782. - 26 -and behaviour. Science does not inquire into the "why" of things, the purpose or s ignif icance of the cosmos." Philosophy attempts the answer by binding science and re l ig ion . Such a balance was not yet in the minds of the p h i l -osophers of George E l i o t ' s day. By far the greater s t r e s s was la id upon science, while the s p i r i t u a l was almost los t sight of. George E l i o t , he r se l f , had discarded her r e -l ig ious be l i e f s and began to adopt the theories of the school of thought t o which Charles Bray belonged. She had read Car ly le ' s theories and from him inevi tably turned to Goethe whom he admires and. quotes continually. In th i s study she was greatly helped by George Lewes who had made a thorough invest igat ion of Goethe's l i f e and works and had published a c r i t i c a l biography in 1855. She was impressed by the brooding note of sadness in a l l Goethe's work. He makes renunolatlon the keynote of l i f e , asser t ing that out of pain and suffering r i s e s greater good. So deeply did she feel the t ru th of t h i s bel ief that she introduces i t r e -peatedly into the theme of her novels. There i s no solut ion for Maggie or for Romola except in renunciation of the i r individual des i res for the common good. The same theory she found in Car ly le ' s works,, the same gloom of renunciation, together with the grim philosophy of work and duty. Both philosophers saw the need of Individual sac r i f i ce for the - 27 -sate of the greater good to society - a philosophy from which George El iot developed her doctrine of humanitarianism, ^Art thou nothing other than a Vulture, then," says Carlyle, "that f l i e s t ghrough the Universe seeking a f t e r somewhat to eat ; and shrieking dolefully because carrion enough i s not given thee? Close thy Byron; open thy Goethe,"*1 ' and with these words he closes out individualism and individual insp i ra t ion , while he makes al truism h is re l ig ion . George El io t has qpplied t h i s doctr ine in Romola with such deaden-ing effect , that she gives no plaoe to the sp i r i t ua l in f lu -ence in l i f e , an influence outside rat ional ism and uncon-t ro l led by i t . All the ideas on the evolutionary theory, on environ-ment and heredi ty , and on the claims of humanity upon the individual , which she had gathered from these above-mentioned sources, George El io t found c rys ta l l i zed in the philosophy of Auguste Comte. George Lewes made an intensive study of the man and his philosophy for several years , t r ans la t ing his books and bringing his theories before English students of philosophy. Comte's ideas ;which George Eliot studied with great enthusiasm, made a deep impression mpon her. Writing from B i a r r i t z * 2 ' , she says, "My grat i tude increases continually for the i l lumination Comte has contributed to m$ l i f e . " (1) T. Carlyle: Sartos Resartus, Oxford Univ. Press , , London, t. 164. (2) J.W. Cross, George E l i o t ' s Life, V o l . I I I . , P. 3, - 28 -The foundation of Comte's pos i t ive philosophy was in no way peculiar to him, nor did he claim to be the or ig in-ator of i t . I t i s his presentat ion of i t which i s new and car r ies with i t a ce r t a in conviction. He originated the three-stage philosophy of thought. *' The f i r s t he ca l l s theological , in which man accounts for phenomena by the vo l i t ions of a rea l or imaginary in te l l igence . The second stage of thought he c a l l s metaphysical, which ascribes phenomena not to a God, but to a force or power whioh i s occult and abs t rac t . In the th i rd s tage, these two modes of thought have step by step given place to a posit ive philosophy which explains fac t s by the discovery of an increasing number of invariable laws. This three-stage development had been previously s ta ted by others , as a logical sequence in the h i s to ry of the physical sciences. Comte's own contribution was that he believed the same development took place in every c lass of human conceptions. I t is in te res t ing to note here that George E l i o t ' s own thoughts had passed through these three stages, from the theological mood of her childhood to the pos i t ive bel ief of her l a t e r years. She was grappling with the posi t ive conception when she found Comte's pa r t i cu la r explanation which strengthened her eonviations. She seized upon h is bel ief in invariable laws, from which came her theory of (.1) of. J ,S .Mil l , Auguste Comte and Positivism, Zegan and Paul & Co., London 1891, P. 9. (2) Ibid. P. 12. - 29 -the inevitableness of r e t r i bu t i on so frequently introduced Into her novels. Ti to , Arthur Donnithorne and Godfrey Cass are a l l victims of th i s law. But there i s another aspect of Comte's philosophy which great ly in teres ted her . Comte was looking for a middle course between the two extremes of philosophy. The Cartesian doctrine had fteld that man was only conscious of himself as a part of and absorbed in nature. The other extreme was held by Locke, who exalted the power of the individual, bel ieving tha t a l l Knowledge was a product of the human mind, and man was the centre of the Universe. Comte saw that both theories were untenable and formed a theory similar to that of Kafct.*1' I t s ta ted that both nan and nature were in themselves abs t rac t ions and tha t man could not know himself except in r e l a t i o n to something e l se . "Mothing i s rea l bpt humanity," he sa id , and in the l a t e r years of h is l i f e he made t h i s doctrine h is r e l ig ion . Kant, Goethe and Carlyle had already recognized the claims of humanity but Comte' ' went much further. He in s t i t u t ed the wo'rshlp of al tr lusm as a r e l ig ion , with a v i s ib le church . and d ign i t a r i es over whom he held the pos i t ion of High P r i e s t . He was followed in these extreme be l ie fs by few. The power of h i s theory l i e s in the impetus he gave to the study of (1) Encyclopaedia Brit. Vol. VI., P, 818. (2) - 30 -sociology by s t ress ing the claims of society upon the in-dividual . George El iot came tee f ee l also that al truism was not only the f i ne s t , but the only worthy aim in l i f e . Doronda i s the l iv ing embodiment of i t , Felix Holt preaches i t , and Dorothea sacr i f ices her l i f e fo r i t . In her l a t e r years , George El io t was obsessed by the theory, and as a resu l t , her l a t e r novels almost became philosophic t r e a t i s e s , and JLack the freshness and r e a l i t y of the four ear ly books. Throughout the three periods of her l i f e , Geor&e El io t was moving s tep by step from orthodoxy to posi t iv ism. The fa i th which she had accepted in her childhood was shattered by the ra t ional ism of s c i en t i f i c and philosophic thought. The crowning influence came from Auguste Comte's philosophy from which she accepted the theory of positivism based upon invar iable laws, and the cul t of a l t ru ism. The main theor ies which she introduces into her books may be summed up in the words renunciation, r e t r ibu t ion , environment, heredi ty , and al t ruism. Her methods in applying these in the development of her characters w i l l be the subject of the following chapter. - 31 -CHAPTER I I I* The Characterization of the Hovels as Influenced by her Philosophy* The por t rayal of character in f i c t i on , as we have seen, has been gradually growing in de ta i l from the time of the e a r l i e s t epic* Along with the growing consciousness in man of h i s own p o t e n t i a l i t i e s , we can t race the evolution of a l i t e r a r y form which reveals more adequately a l l these new sub t l e t i e s of h is nature* Dramatic a r t portrays a cross-sect ion of l i f e a t a moment of act ion which can most c lear ly reveal charac ter t while nar ra t ive ar t progresses in a more l e i su re ly manner, using greater de ta i l and show-ing longer processes of character development. In ei ther case, the purpose i s the same - to del ineate r e a l i t y in human nature in a way that wi l l c a l l up an involuntary response in the reader ' s or spec t a to r ' s mind* The question then a r i s e s as to what cons t i tu tes a "real" character in f i c t i on and how far George Eliot succeeds in portraying that r e a l i t y . Clayton Hamilton has said that "the novel is t i s the soc ia l sponsor for h i s own f i c t i t i o u s characters , and must be responsible for t he i r success with his r eade r s . " They must be l i k e A r i s t o t l e ' s t rag ic hero, neither too good nor too bad, but with enough human f r a i l t y to arouse sympathy. Super-men and super-woman are unnatural because they do not exis t except in theory. (1) Clayton Hamilton: A Manual of Prose Fict ion, p . 77. Doubleday, Page & Co., Hew York, 1918* - 32 -Some novel i s t s have used "types" as t he i r characters , and with a f a i r amount of success . Bunyan brought Christ ian and Greatheart amazingly near r e a l i t y , even i f h is minor characters are less na tu ra l . Again Jonson characterized the "humors", taking only one p a r t i c u l a r qual i ty and de-veloping i t as a whole persona l i ty . Dickens also overs t ress -ed individual t r a i t s , u n t i l he produced mere ca r ica tures , while H. G. Wells continually loses the individual in the ideal type . The essen t i a l power of a great novel is t l i e s in fusing the type and the individual c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s . The t rue character of f i c t ion must possess supereminently a l l U the qua l i t i es of the type, and at the same time te individ-ualized l ike Tito Melenla in Romola, so that he cannot poss-ibly be confused with any o ther of the same type. In drawing her charac ters , George El iot has been ful ly aware of the necessi ty of t h i s fusion. Although she has adopted a t ru ly s c i e n t i f i c method in gathering rea l facts from observation, her characters are more than a mere t r ansc r ip t from the l i f e . She has infused in them something of grea te r power and permanency than the average person possesses . Speaking of Adam Bede'1 ' she says, "I wi l l not pretend that h i s was an ordinary character among workmen; and i t would not be a t a l l a safe conclusion that the next man you may meet with a basket of tools over his shoulder has the strong conscience and the strong sense, (1) Adam Bede, Connoisseur Ed., Univer. Lib. Assoc -P n i l . P. 2£0. - 33 -the blended s u s c e p t i b i l i t y and se l f command, of our friend Adam." Thus she s t r i v e s to make her characters more thor-oughly representat ive of t h e i r c lass than actual pern pie would be, while she individual izes them by r e a l i s t i c de-t a i l , using "the suggestions of experience and working them up into new combinations." In her choice of character , and method of por t raya l , George Eliot i s determined by her philosophy. As we have seen in Chapter I I , her theory of l i f e which i s based on posi t ivism, s t resses the themes of renunciation, r e t r ibu t ion , environment, heredity and a l t ru ism. She believes also in the three-s tage development of thought from idealism to rat ionalism. All these ideas her characters have been created to i l l u s t r a t e , , and as a resu l t she has adopted a pa r t i cu l a r method of de l inea t ion . She makes a lengthy survey of the l i f e of her character in order to include every d e t a i l , and to unfold the gradual changes that are brought about. The change is taking place in t he mental a t t i t ude of he r character who i s inevi tably shaped by some of these fo rces . Her chief characters , therefore are Kinet ic , working towards the development or l imi ta t ion of the i r own l ives by the power of t h e i r wi l l over circum-stances . They stand in contrast to a great number of the Dickens and Thackeray characters who do not change in t h e i r mental outlook upon l i f e . Mioawber never learns his lesson, MrB. Niokleby never sees the humor of her loquacity, Beoky - 34 -i s worldly from the beginning to the end of her l i f e , and Beatrice i s always a coquette* These characters are por-trayed by an "exterior" method, while t ic se of George Eliot are revealed by the subtle analysis of t h e i r thoughts* The study of mind i s more important to her than the study of ac t ion . Her characters , motivated by/the ideals of re -nunciation .and al t ruism, or pursued by the fate of heredity or t he inevitableness of r e t r ibu t ion , must necessar i ly be subjective and drawn from within* The mental development of her characters i s the one essen t ia l in the i l l u s t r a t i o n of her theory, and to th i s end her method i s a careful and detai led psychological ana lys i s . l e t us consider now with what success George Eliot appl ies these theor ies in her charac ter iza t ion . The graund-tone of a l l her novels i s renunciat ion, a drab ascet ic sort of self-effacement sometimes, which lacks insp i ra t ion while i t crushes out the l a s t spark of individualism. In the case of Maggie* one i s impressed more by the pi ty of her renun-cia t ion than by i t s beauty, because ne i the r Lucy nor Stephen i s worthy of the sacr i f ice she i s making. The f i r s t s truggle in her mind between duty and impulse occurs just a f ter the reversal of the family fertunes. The impulsive g i r l r e -a l i zes that she can hage no more education, and that there seems to be nothing before her but the dull monotony of her home l i f e . Just at the moment of doubt as to a possible - 35 -escape from these conditions she receives the parcel of books from Bob Jakin, her old school fellow and peddlar. She i s a r res ted in her reading by the words of Thomas a Kemp i s , which come l ike a voice from the past to guide and i n s t r u c t . Up to t h i s time she knew l i t t l e of sa in t s and martyrs, but the sound of the name seems famil iar to her* "Estrange t h r i l l of awe passed through Maggie while she read. . She went on from one brown majfk to another where the quiet hand seemed to poin t . 'Know that the love of th$y self doth hurt thee more than anything in the world Resign thys&lf, and thou shal t enjoy much inward peace." Comforted by t h i s thought, her child mind begins t o apply i t wi th deadening r e s u l t s . She does not allow herse l f to think of the pleasures she cannot have, and wi l l not give way to the desi res for a fu l ler l i f e . In t h i s mistaken renunciation she finds peace u n t i l Phi l ip Wakem shows her that t h i s asceticism i s unnatural and tha t she i s depriving herse l f of the power of se l f -express ion. The second c r i s i s of her l i f e comes when Tom exacts a promise from her to renounce her friendship with Ph i l i p . Again she chooses the path of renunciation, out of re-spect for her f a t h e r ' s wish by which Tom i s bound, and because she has learned to subordinate her own desires to those of her brother . But she has not yet learned the t rue meaning of renunciation. She i s keeping her promise - 36 -to the l e t t e r but not in the s p i r i t for she meets Phi l ip frequently at her cousin ' s home, and allows h is friendship to continue. At the same time she i s dimly aware that her affection for Stephen i s growing daily* yet she has not the resolut ion to face the s i tua t ion squarely. Her youth has been so empty of affections or admiration that she welcomes th i s romantic episode insp i te of i t s danger. Whenever her resolut ion to adjust the s i tua t ion asser t s i t s e l f , some new incident , as i f conspiring against her, drives her nearer to her temptation. In the th i rd c r i s i s of her l i f e , , when she must choose between her own happiness and that of other two people, Maggie learns the fu l l meaning of renunciat ion. I t i s George Eliot speaking when she says, "Many things are d i f f i cu l t and dark, but I see one thing c lear ly - that I must not , I cannot seek my own happiness by sacr i f ic ing others ."* ' Again she says, "Iknow th i s bel ief is hard; i t has slipped away from me again and again; but I have f e l t that i f I l e t i t go forever, I should have no l igh t through the darkness of t h i s l i f e . "* ' The mental struggle which Maggie experiences upon her re turn to St . Oggs i s portrayed at great length and with intense pathos and vividness . She pays the fu l l p r i ce of renunciation, (1) Mill on the Floss , P. 480. (2) Ib id , , P. 511. - 37 -which i s sweetened at the close of the book by the recon-c i l i a t i o n between brother and s i s t e r . George El iot i s continually proving the refining power of s e l f - s a c r i f i c e upon human character . She does not choose the dramatic sacr i f ice of a Sidney Carton. Her i n t e r e s t l i e s in the gradual development of the character by a se r i e s of small incidents by which the w i l l i s strengthened and f o r t i f i e d . In Rompla about one th i rd of the book i s devoted to the preparat ion fo r her f inal s a c r i f i c e . She i s shown in her home under the calm re-s t r a in t of her scholarly f a t h e r . Ut ter ly absorbed in h i s books, De Bardi has no thought of the na tu ra l impulses of the g i r l , and as a resu l t she has learned to suppress them. She vigorously d isc ip l ines her mind to grapple with the books he loves and to be able to help him in h i s comment-a r i e s . Into the midst of t h i s dul l existence comes Tito with his charming graoe and learn ing . Eomola's mind seems to open out l ike a flower to the sun in her simple t r u s t of him. But soon she begins to rea l ize T i to ' s in -s ince r i t y , as day by day he shows some new t r a i t of self ishness or c rue l ty , and she decides to leave her f a t h e r ' s house and seek peace elsewhere- Then cones the scene between Romola and Savonarola where he condemns the pagan teaohing which exa l t s individualism, self-expression and cultured ease. He rtiows her where duty l i e s , and tha t - 38 -she cannot forsake i t without suffering*1 ' "Sorrow without duty - b i t t e r herbs and no bread with them." She i s loyal t o her f a the r ' s teaching, and pleads that a l i f e that i s res t ra ined cannot give of i t s best to the world. But he scorns her "dead wisdom," and holds the cross as the only way to freedom and blessedness. "My d a u b e r , sodrrow has come to teach you a new worship; (2) the sign of i t hangs before you."1 ' And so Bomola learns to go back to her duty, and finds peace in i t . To Lil lo she expresses the theme of the whole s to ry . "I t i s only a ppor sort of happiness tha t could ever come by caring very much about our own narrow p l e a s u r e s . " ' : George Eliot has thus worked into the texture of the novel the significance of the struggle between cu l ture and re l ig ion - the one developing individ-ualism while the other represses i t in the i n t e r e s t s of humanity. Her theory is c lea r ly i l l u s t r a t e d in the character of Romola who, even i f she has been f i l l e d with the s p i r i t of Greek l i t e r a t u r e and has enjoyed a much more l i be r a l education than Maggie, yet chooses renunciation as the only solut ion to her l i f e . (1) Romola, P. 381. (2) Ib id . p. 38. (3) lM*.y:., P . 209. - 39 -In Adam Bede, the problem i s somewhat different and allows of no choice. Along with Adam's "strong conscience and calm self-command," we find him capable of very deep emotions. His love for the "flower-like" Hetty i s the strongest influence of his l i f e , and causes his g rea tes t suffer ing. The pain which t h i s love brings into his l i f e i s gradually deepening from the f i r s t discovery of Arthur 's deceit to the f i n a l t r a i l scene. Bevenge gives place to despair , so that you could hardly recognise the same Adam in tha t upper room at Stoniton before the t r i a l day, with sunken eyes and unkempt h a i r . The mental b a t t l e which he has been f ight ing for days had le f t i t s mark, but in time i t gives way to calm res ignat ion. ' "Deep unspeakable suffer ing," says George E l io t , "may well be cal led a baptism, a regeneration, the i n i t i a t i o n into a new s t a t e . " In l a t e r years his love for Dinah has none of the fervor of youth; i t Is Mnged with a sadness which Adam can never forget , yet i t i s a l l the fu l l e r because of tha t sorrow. George Eliot i s convinced tha t^ 2 ' "the f u l l e r l i f e which a sad experience has brought us i s worth our own personal share of pain, we can no more wish to return to a narrower sympathy, than a painter or a musician can wish to return to h i s cruder manner, or a philosopher to h is (1) Adam Bede, Connoisseur Ed., P. 440, g2. (2) Ibid . P. 547 g3 - 40 -less complete formula." In the development of the character of Adam Bede, therefore , we see the strengthening and deep-ening process of suffering and res ignat ion. In Middlemarch. we find a different type of character whose l i f e shows potent ly t h e power of renunciation. Dorothea is introduced as a modem Theresa l iv ing in a society where there i s no pa r t i cu l a r demand for S t . Theresas. Her n a t u r a l love of renunciation i s noticeable from the time when she gives up the most beautiful pieces of her mother's jewelry to her younger s i s t e r . She shows a worshipful ad-miration for Casaubon's erudi t ion, and feels that in marry-ing him she can devote her whole l i f e to him and h i s work and so be of great service to the world. I t i s not u n t i l af ter h is death that she ful ly rea l izes she has sacr i f iced her l i f e for the sake of a hopeless ego i s t . The experience, although b i t t e r , develops in her a wider and deeper sympathy than she had previously known and a g rea te r oapacity for saor i f ioe . The influence of her f ine s p i r i t upon the lyd— gate household i s able to divert the impending tragedy and bring about a d e a r e r understanding. Even the hard-heatted se l f i sh Rosamund must admire her. That Dorothea has no b e t t e r destiny than to become the wife of her shallow and impulsive cousin i s somewhat to be deplored. The high ideals of her early years seem to have come down to a rather prosaic level* ?et George Eliot shows that even i f her idealism is res - 41 -t rained by t he demands of conventional society, her un-obtrusive influence has very far-reaching e f fec ts . The sac r i f i ce and pain of her early l i f e has turned aimless idealism into p rac t i ca l helpfulness and sympathy. With equally great power of por t rayal , George Eliot shows the r e t r ibu t ion that follows those who do not choose the hard path of renunciat ion. She has an ext raordinar i ly keen ins ight into the moral issues of l i f e and presents them with unfal ter ing prec i s ion . She chooses those char-ac ters who have no vicious t r a i t s , and because they have never developed t h e i r w i l l power, f a l l victims to the in-variable laws of l i f e . That these laws are invariable and uncompromising she i s convinced by science, and so she ex-pounds her doctrine of re t r ibu t ion with a l l the unrelenting vigor of the Greek dramat is ts . Tito i s the most careful ly drawn character who i l l u s -t r a t e s th i s p r i n c i p l e . "A youth of splendid grace, who seemed fluite without v ices , as i f tha t beautiful form re -presented a v i t a l i t y so exquis i te ly poised and balanced tha t i t could know no uneasy des i res , no unrest - And t hen the quick t a len t to which everything came readi ly from philosophical systems to the rhymes of a s t r ee t ballad caught up a t a hear ing ."* 1 ' There we have grace and charm together with i n f in i t e p o s s i b i l i t i e s for good or ev i l - qua l i t i e s typ ica l of his pagan inheritance and (1) Romola, P. 107. - 42 culture* Tito has not t he s l i g h t e s t power of curbing h is de s i r e s . The eas ies t path i s to him always the bes t . From he the moment when . se l l s Baldassarre1s ring u n t i l he publicly disowns him at the f eas t , George El iot shows him committing one small act of indifference a f t e r another, and gradually incriminating himself u n t i l there i s no possible with-drawal from his pos i t ion except by an open avowal of his crime. Tito has not the s t rength of character for t h i s . He spends hour a f t e r hour t rying to si lence what sparks of sentiment or conscience he has l e f t . "Having once be-gun to explain away Baldassarre ' s claim, T i to ' s thought showed i t s e l f as act ive as v i ru len t acid, eating i t s rapid wayfthrough a l l the t i s sues of sentiment." Throughout, a l l the development of h is character we fee l that the cloud of r e t r ibu t ion i s hanging over h i s head. Romola has become aware of his decei t , the Florentine government i s suspicious of him, and Baldassarre i s gloomily biding h i s t ime. He s a t i s f i e s h i s revenge when he eagerly grasps Tito in the Arno and crushes out h is l i f e amongst the reeds . But i s jus t i ce done? The author shows that the evi l deeds of men bring consequences that are hardly every confined to themselves. There i s no re t r ibu t ion , she says tha t does not spread beyond i t s mark in pulsat ions of unmerited pa in . (1) Homola, P . 1£5. - 43 -A somewhat d i f f e r e n t 1jrpe of cha rac t e r i s p resen ted in Arthur Donnithorne. Unlike T i t o , he has a keen sense of honor and i s w e l l aware of the consequences of l a x i t y in moral p r i n c i p l e s . But he i s e a s i l y inf luenced by circum-s t a n c e s , and a l l h i s f ine r e s o l u t i o n s of yes te rday are put to f l i g h t by t h e power of h i s impulse today . From one ac t of weakness he goes on to t h e n e x t , r e c o n c i l i n g each in the l i g h t of t h e previous one, and d r i f t i n g g radua l ly away from h i s o r i g i n a l p r i n c i p l e s of i n t e g r i t y . ' 1 ' "Our deeds determine u s , " says the au tho r , "as much as we determine our deeds There i s a t e r r i b l e coerc ion in them which may f i r s t t u r n t h e honest man in to a dece iver and then r e c o n c i l e him to the change . " By a c a r e f u l psycholog-i c a l s tudy of h i s mind, George E l i o t shows wi th consummate s k i l l t h e g radua l change t a k i n g p lace sub t ly and almost impercept ib ly in A r t h u r ' s v i ew-po in t . I t i s not u n t i l Adam d i scovers h i s dece i t and exposes h i s conduct in i t s t r u e l i g h t , t h a t Arthur becomes f u l l y aware of what he has (2) done. "Nemesis can seldom forge a sword fo r h e r s e l f out of our consc iences ; t he r e i s r a r e l y enough metal t he re to make an e f f e c t i v e weapon. Our moral sense l e a r n s the manners of good soc ie ty and smiles when o t h e r s smi le ; but when some rude person gives rough names to our ac t i ons she i s apt t o t a k e p a r t aga ins t u s . " She l e v e l s her b i t t e r e s t (1) Adam Bede, P . 324. (2) I b i d , P . 322. - 44 -s a t i r e against the smug complacency of the evildoer who thinks that grace and good nature can disarm punishment. Arthur returns at the end of the s tory , subdued and saddened having sacr i f iced the best par t .of his l i f e because he would not recognize the simple t r u th of Adam's words, "There's a sort of wrong tha t can never be made up for*" The same grim t ru th i s ut tered by Si las Marner to Godfrey Cass, when he comes to claim Eppie as his own ch i ld . As a boy, Godfrey had been ful ly aware of the l ine between honor and dishonor, but he i s the victim of a wasci l la t ing w i l l . At one moment he decides upon making an open confess-ion to h is fa ther , a t the next he can see nothing but i t s ev i l consequences. Like Arthur he feels misgivings, but he succeeds in si lencing them by new acts of dece i t . He hopes against hope that some chance wi l l turn the current of his t rouble , but in vain . He has to suffer the agony of r e t r ibu t ion , for the old inevitable law of cause and effect works i f s w i l l . "The ev i l p r inc ip le , deprecated i n that re l igion of Chance i s the orderly sequence by which the seed brings for th a crop a f te r i t s own k i n d . " ' 1 ' Godfrey achieves a ce r ta in amount of worldly prosperi ty but in h i s mind there i s no t rue happiness, only the path-e t ic rea l iza t ion that the ev i l consequences of his past act ions s t i l l l ive and demand redress . (1) Si las Marner, P. 289. - 45 -The b i t t e rness of t he punishment, George El io t em-phasises , l i e s in the ind iv idua l ' s inward sense of wrong-doing* Throughout the g rea te r par t of Mrs. Transome's 1 i f e , she conceals the secret of her youth, and because s he cannot confide in anyone, the burden of i t oppresses her almost beyond the point of endurance. I t traces furrows in her face, and in her very soul , and every day i t brings a new reminder to her . The to r tu re of Gwendolen Har le th ' s mind af te r her husband's death, for which she held herself responsible, is also very vividly portrayed. She has only t h e one thought ~ to get away from the scene which contin-ual ly reminds her of the tragedy. "For what place, though i t were the flowery vale of Enna, may not the inward sense turn into a c i r c l e of punishment, where the flowers are no b e t t e r than a crop of flame - tongues burning the soles of our f e e t ? " ^ The th i rd great pr inc ip le which George Eliot incul-cates in her del ineat ion of character i s the law of environ-ment and heredi ty . The two elements are so c lose ly connected in the formation of character that they can be t rea ted most adequately together . By the recognition of t h i s law she is" able to explain much of the so-cal led mystery of some char-i a c t e r s , and at the same time make our judgmentpf them a l i t t l e less severe. For Tom Tull iver - the man - we can (1) Daniel Deronda, P . 370. - 46 -undoubtedly show more tolerance when we have known him as a boy, and understand h i s parents and the environment in which he developed. As a boy he has a strong sense of jus t ice which makes him reprimand poor Bob's falsehoods in n o uncertain terms. He wi l l not shield Maggie when she is in the wrong; even in his tenderest moments he cannot re -frain from point ing out her mistakes. He has inheri ted the obstinacy and pr ide which drove h i s father to the "law" and f ina l ly to d i s a s t e r . He i s bound by h i s promise to h i s father to revenge himself upon lawyer Wakem and win back the family for tunes, and to t h i s end he devotes hisufaole career . I t i s duty alone which he obeys, and cHugs tenaciously to i t in order to a t t a i n h i s goal . The pride he f ee l s when he i s f ina l ly able to retrieve the family honor, pay off his f a t h e r ' s mortgage and buy back his old home i s the inheri ted family pride of the Dodsons. Prom his mother, a l so , he i nhe r i t s a cer ta in dullness and lack of su scep t ib i l i t y which leads to a complete mis-understanding of Maggie. He d i s t ru s t s her impulsiveness as he had deplored i t in his fa ther , and feels that her display of emotion i s a deplorable weakness. He exacts from her a promise to break off her friendship with Ph i l i p , regardless of what i t may cost her . Of the power of deep emotion he has not the leas t conception. Therefore when Maggie r e -turns to S t . Oggs af ter her f l igh t with Stephen, he has only one standard by which to measure her conduct - the - 47 -standard of S t . Oggs where he has always l ived. To him an act i s e i ther r ight or wrong, and th i s case i s so obviously wrong, he thinks , tha t he r e l en t l e s s ly turns Maggie from his door. Even Mrs. Tu l l i ve r ' s protect ion of her is the i n s t i nc t ive action of a mother, ra ther than the understanding of a sym-pathet ic hea r t , for she cannot understand the mental s t ruggle which Maggie has passed through. She cannot see tha t what i s conventionally wrong i s often morally r i g h t . That Maggie i s r ight Aunt Grlegg does not believe fo r a moment, but her family pride asse r t s i t s e l f more strongly than ever i and a f te r a day spent with Baxter ' s "Saints ' Rest ," she i s fo r t i f i ed against any c r i t i c i sm that S t . Oggs may venture against her n i ece . All three are so thoroughly control led both by environment and inheri tance, that t h e i r a t t i t ude to Maggie i s inevi table* Tom has been accustomed to see only the more obvious fac ts of l i f e , as h is mother and a l l the other Dodsons had done, so that he could conceive of no subt le r force underlying them. j Only when he i s alondwith Maggie on the flooded r iver does he begin to understand a g rea te r force than reason. "It came with so overpowering a force - i t was such a new r e -velat ion to h i s s p i r i t of the depths in l i f e that had l a in beyond his v is ion, which he fancied so keen and c lear -that he was unable to ask a Question."' ' (1) Mill on the Floars, ?• 556. - 48 -The forces of heredity so c lea r ly displayed in Tom's character may sometimes, however, be very puzzling and may direct the character in opposition to his environment. Such a complex s i tua t ion i s created in Daniel Deronda. Daniel i s brought up as the ward of an English baron whom he imagines to be h i s uncle . He i s educated a t Cambridge according to the t r a d i t i o n of his c l a s s , and grows up in the bel ief that his l i f e w i l l be very much l i k e that of h is indulgent uncle . His environment has developed in him a love of ease and well being, and the assurance that he also w i l l be a "gentleman by inher i t ance . " The suspicion tha t th i s inheritance i s not to be his i s aroused by Sir Hugh's suggestion about a stage career for him. He knows well that that i s not the career of a gentleman and he begins to wonder why Sir Hugh could have thought of i t . As his mind expands, he begins to long for some idea l , some Knight-errantry which w i l l t e s t h i s courage and endurance. He is l iving in a convention-al ized society which l imi t s his scope, and he longs to enter a broader l i f e where he may accomplish some real work. Prom incident to incident he gradually draws nearer the f ina l goal of h is l i f e - to perpetuate the glory of the Jewish race whose greatness i s vested in t r a d i t i o n and heredi ty . His na tura l a f t r ac t ion fo r the Jewess, Mirah, whom he rescues from the banks of the Thames, his in t e res t in her family history leading to the subsequent search for her r e l a t i v e s , - 49 -and the joy in the discovery of the visionary Mordecai who i s her brother, a l l point towards the f inal event . When he learns from the l i p s of h is own mother t h a t he is of Jewish parentage, h is dream is r ea l i zed . His yearning for an ideal is s a t i s f i ed in the adoption of Mordecai's v i s ion . "You have given shape," Deronda t e l l s him, "to what I believe was an inher i ted yearning, the effect of brooding, passion-ate thoughts in many ancestors - thoughts t ha t seem to have been intensely present with my fore fa thers . " One must admire the s k i l l in minute de ta i l by whjch the character of Deronda i s a t f i r s t developed in harmony with the laws of heredity aid environmnet. By heredity comes his idealism, and from his environment, the manner of and breeding of a gentleman of b i r th* But as the story approached the climactic statement of i t s thes i s , the character loses i t s r e a l i t y and becomes merely t heo re t i ca l . The power of his Jewish blood, which would incl ine him to -wards his own race, would not , I th ink, lead him into such an impractical scheme as that of whi ch Mordecai dreamed. In the character of Tom Tull iver we have seen that the forces of heredi ty and environment do not conf l i c t . His business a b i l i t y , slow mentali ty and passionless nature are a l l the natura l product of St . Oggs and the Dodson family. Consequently he pursues his way, thinking tha t l i f e i s an open road on which the t r ave l l e r needs only energy and i n t e g r i t y . But in the l i f e of Deronda the two ( l ) Daniel Deronda, P. 366. - 50 -forces do conf l ic t , fo r conventional society crushes out idealism. The same theme i s developed in the del ineat ion of Romola, Dorothea and to some extent lydgate . I sha l l deal only with Bomola where the author shows greater care of de t a i l in the preparat ion of her heroine for the climax. Romola i s a t rue product of the f i f teanth century in I t a l y , influenced a l i ke hy the l iberalism of Renaissance l i t e r a t u r e and the^sce t ic discipl ine of the church. She i nhe r i t s the i n t e g r i t y , depth and dnconquerable pride of her f a t h e r ' s na ture . Growing up as his sole companion through her impressionable years , she is ent i re ly control led by h i s wishes, and d isc ip l ines herse l f to his moods. While he i s absorbed day af ter day in the t rans la t ion and annot-at ion of h is Greek manuscripts, she s i t s by him, s t i f l i n g her weariness and pa t i en t ly searching and reading wherever he demands. Her mind absorbs the ideals of the ancient l i t e r a t u r e , which teaches that l i f e comes to i t s f ines t f ru i t ion through l i be ra l cUfc.]0ire and sel f -express ion. In Romola there i s a curious mixture of wisdom and naivete'', for wStcla. her fa ther has t ra ined her in the philosophic thought of the Greeks, he has kept her jealously from the "debasing influence of her own sex with t he i r sparrow-like f r i v o l i t y and enslaving supe r s t i t i ons . "* 1 ' Her cousin Brigida, a very rea l and animated "modern" character , is her only l ink with Florentine l i f e . (1) Romola, P. 59. - 51 -In the l igh t of t h i s inheritance and environment, i t i s easy to conceive of the effect of T i t o ' s love upon her . His grace and learning a t t r a c t s her at once, while his youth and love awakens a deep responsive affection in her heart* To her he i s the l iv ing embodiment of her idea l s , worthy of her deepest t r u s t . When she r ea l i ze s h is de-ception, her pride wi l l not a How her to question him. Her love turns to b i t t e r ha t red . Not knowing the sordidness to which human nature wi l l stoop, or i t s capacity for e v i l , she cannot understand him; yet her mind for a time i s fo r t -i f ied by her inher i ted pride and she tf.ll not admit the f a i l -ure of her romance. l a t e r when despair reaches a climax, she feels that i t i s impossible to remain in subjection to T i to ' s heartLessness and egoism. She has never learned to bow to any obligation apart from personal love and reverence, and the i r love being dead, she reasons that she has no fur-ther duty to.him. The influence of her brother who had turned monk, and of Savonarola whom she meets in her f l igh t , bring her to understand tha t there i s something stronger in l i f e than the ca l l of the individual for freedom - and that i s the recognition of a moral obl iga t ion . Once convinced of t h i s , her natural i n t eg r i ty drives her back to perform her duty to the end, - a duty which is illuminated by the idea l for which i t s tands . And so Romola meets the c r i s i s of her l i f e with for t i tude because she had been endowed with - 53 -greatness of mind and trained by severe d i s c i p l i n e . At f i r s t Romola seems a ra ther unnatural character , perhaps because of the labored attempt to give her an adequate background. Oscar Browning says, and with some t ru th , t ha t in Homo la the characters are "nineteenth century people in f i f teenth century costumes."*1 ' But upon r e -reading the book we feel that Romola gains in in tens i ty of feeling and in r e a l i t y , and tha t i t is the pecul iar circum-stances of her l i f e that gives point to the denouement. Final ly , in the worship of altruism George Eliot has found the crowning theme of her nove ls . She has shown the the workings of the invariable laws of nature by which the past influences the present , and counsels the supreme im-portance of conduct. "If the past i s not to bind us, where can duty l i e? We should have no law but the inc l ina t ion of the moment. "*2^ She has also i l l u s t r a t e d the purifying power of renunciation upon the human soul . How she proceeds to explain why such se l f -d i sc ip l ine i s necessary. Man can no longer be considered as a being apart from the rest of hu-manity. He i s a par t of society, influencing i t and being in turn influenced by i t . His struggle towards perfection i s not for h i s own sake - for the individual , as such, i s a mere abst ract ion according to positivism - but in the (1) Oscar Browning: Life of George E l io t , P. 86. (£) Mill on the Floss , P. 508. - 53 -in t e re s t s of humanity. The i d e a l t ha t man has been s t r iv ing a f te r is discovered to b e in his midst - i t i s the love of humanity. George Eliot i s convinced tha t there i s no f iner , broader or more inspir ing ideal and that i t i s the only log ica l and p r ac t i c a l solut ion to l i f e . Leading to t h i s so lu t ion i s the three-stage development of thought, from theology through metaphysics to positivism which George Eliot has applied to her charac ters . She shows the fervor with which Maggie prac t ices her ear ly se l f -den ia l , only to rea l i ze at l a s t tha t she i s l imi t ing her p o s s i b i l i t i e s and helping no-one. Maggie finds that renunciation in and for i t s e l f has no meaning. In the second stage of her thought she is looking behind the ideal fo r the reason of i t . Through grea te r suffering she is able to see why renunciation i s necessary. "The long past came back to her , and with i t the fountains of self-renouncing p i t y and affect ion. The words that were marked by the quiet hand in the l i t t l e old book that she had learned long ago rushed to her l i p s . " At las t she learns t h e i r meaning, and r ea l i z e s t ha t renun-c ia t ion i s our inheri tance fromthe past and our duty to the fu ture . The th i rd stage is reached when she r i s e s from pi ty of her own s i tua t ion to consider the needs of others , and in her venture on the swollen r iver to save her brother and Lucy she proves to us the triumph of a l t ru ism. (1) Millon the Floss, P. 550. - 54 -George Eliot shows us another aspect of a l t ruism in Si las Marner*. I t i s a study of the power of society to bring the individual back to the enjoyment of l i f e and fr iendship. Si las has los t fai th in his God, his friends and in himself. He comes into R^yeloe, a s i l en t s i n i s t e r -looking f igure , down-cast andmisunderstood. For a time his l i f e has no meaning for him. Then the work at h i s loom with which he f i l l s every moment of h is waking hours in order to exclude thought, becomes an end in i t s e l f . His nature , s t i l l groping for something to love, turns to the mater ia l , and g loats over the growing pi le of golden guineas In the absence of hu man companionship, he feels the bright faces of the coins becoming almost human to him, and he is obsessed by the frenzy of a miser in t he i r accumulation. All his des i re centres in the pot of gold. Then by some cruel t r i ck of f a t e , h i s gold i s s tolen, and he i s once more crushed and bewildered by cirumstances$. Just when the very springs of h i s l i f e seem to have dried up into a th in t h r i ck l e , there appears the l i t t l e helpless f igure of Eppie at h i s hearth as i f by magic "Gold, his own gold -brought back to him as mysteriously as i t had been taken away. He leaned forward a t l a s t , and stretched forth his hand, but instead of the hard coin with the familiar r e s i s t ing ou t l ine , his fingers encountered soft, warm c u r l s . " * 1 ' From th i s point in the story the change tn (1) Si las Marner, P. 329. - 55 -Si las is gradually percept ible - a sl.ow and uncertain awakening to the r e a l i t i e s and the affections of l i f e . The child f i l l s his l i t t l e dul l room with the warmth and gladness of youth, and day hy day she<sreates a l ink between his old l i f e and the outer wo rid» The impulsive kind-hea»te#ed Dolly Windthrop i s the f i r s t to come to S i las , with offers of help . Hot only does she minister to his physical wants, hut unasked for , she gives him much s p i r i t u a l advice which, i f amusing, has a t l e a s t the merit of s i n c e r i t y . From the moment of the the f t , S i las becomes a figure of in t e res t to the frequenters of the Rainbow. In spi te of t h e i r slow s tup id i ty we are made to rea l i ze that they have warm hear t s . Following the i l l - fo r tune of S i l a s , they begin to take a f r iendly i n t e r e s t in him, and help him in t he i r blunt way whenever they can. Si las i s a t l a s t recognised in the community which has helped him to gain back his se l f - respec t . The fine in tegr i ty and depth of emotion which he displays in that las t dramatic s cenetetween Eppie and her acknowledged father proves just how much the a l t r u i s t i c s p i r i t of Raveloe has done to develop kv* the best qua l i t i e s of Hea? na ture . In ffeli-r Holt the author preaches the doctrine of altruism unfal ter ingly as the only solut ion for p o l i t i c a l unres t . Although the theory i s on the whole sound, Felix himself i s an unnatural f igure . With h i s high idea ls and breadth of v i s ion , he does not seem to be the true son of his parents , the one weak and super s t i t i ous , the other a - 56 -compounder of quack medicines. He has imbibed his ideas at a Scottish University which he attended for a short time, and i s eager to put them into p rac t i ce . He fee ls tha t the acquis i t ion of the vote i s of l i t t l e importance to the working man un t i l he i s su f f i c i sn t ly educated to use i t . Educate public opinion, he says, in order to give i t the power to dis t inguish between right and wrong. What i s the TBlue of a vote to the whole population (he i s speaking be-fore the Reform B i l l of 1867) i f i t i s abused by bribes and ignorance. The solut ion of the p o l i t i c a l question, he says, l i e s in spreading the s p i r i t of a l t ruism u n t i l every members of society l ives and works in the i n t e r e s t of his fellow-men. "This world i s not a very fine place for a good many of the people in i t . But I have made up my mind that i t shan ' t be the worse for me, i f I can help i t . " * 1 ' With the a b i l i t y to earn for himself mater ial wealth and ease, he s te rn ly chooses the harder path , l iving as a workman and experiencing a workman's hardships* In the end .Felix Holt effects nothing. The book lacks the s p i r i t of a po l i t i oa l novel - i t i s the expression of a mind that can theor i se , far away from the movements of the world. We are aware of our author moving h e r puppet around from place to plaoe, making him say what she wants him to say. We are much more a t t r ac t ed to the Transome story of passion (1) Pel ix Holt, the Radical, P . 65. rf • - 57 -a nd re t r ibu t ion which is developed with considerable s k i l l , than in the wooden figure of .Felix Holt in whom the theme of the book i s so lamely i l l u s t r a t e d . In both t h i s novel and Daniel Deronda the author has attempted to weave her a l t r u i s t i c theory into a l iving p lo t , but the two continual ly separate and in the end we fee l that she has made her theory too impract ical . in reviewing the character iza t ion of George E l io t , we find that she i s doing something more than portraying the simple emotions of human na tu re . That haa. been done success-fu l ly centuries before her day. What she does see more than any other novel is t before her i s the complexity of man's nature developing out of a more highly c iv i l i zed soc ie ty . At f i r s t the characier i s described by h i s ex ter ior appear-ance. Then by a ser ies of small ac t ions be begins to reveal h i s personal i ty step by s t e p . He creates a sphere of inf lu-ence around himself, e i ther for good or bad, which ult imately becomes so strong tha t i t reacts upon himself and controls his w i l l power. Her in te rpre ta t ion of l i f e thus develops into a study of the individual mind in a l l i t s aspec ts . George Eliot i s a psychologist in he r power of revealing the thoughts of her characters with s c i e n t i f i c penetrat ion, but she i s also a novelist in the ar t of catching the throb of l i f e in pages which are s t i l l fresh with the s t i r of human emotions. In a l l the novels except the two l a s t - and in these the Transome and Grandcourt s to r ies are excel lent ly - 58 -presented - she has i l l u s t r a t e d her philosophy of l i f e with s i n c e r i t y , and has reproduced the more intense experiences of the soul with a breal th of sympathy and understanding that no other author of her century surpassed* - 59 -CHAPTER IV. The Humor of the Novels . Although George E l i o t i s p r i m a r i l y a psychologica l n o v e l i s t who can d e l i n e a t e c h a r a c t e r by the i n t e n s i v e an-a l y s i s of mental p rocesses , she i s not confined to t h a t method of c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n . I t i s , as we have seen, the d i r e o t r e s u l t of her phi losophy which deals w i th mind r a t h e r than wi th a c t i o n . But t h e r e i s another element i n her p e r s o n a l i t y whioh comes not from t r a i n i n g but from i n h e r i t a n c e and experience , and which she U3es to advan-tage in he r c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n - t h i s i s her sense of humor. She i n h e r i t e d i t from h e r mother, a woman of g r e a t v i t a l i t y and shrewd common s»n3e who never lacked a ready answer. George E l i o t was doub t l e s s accustomed to hear much poin ted and humorous c r i t i c i s m of the people amongst whom she l i v e d . I t was n a t u r a l , t h e r e f o r e , that she sirould develop a keen sense of humor and t h a t in the l i g h t of i t she should i n t e r -p r e t human na tu re a c c u r a t e l y and with genuine sympathy fo r i t s whims and f o i b l e s . She i s no longer t h e o r i z i n g ; she is merely drawing from the f a c t s of her exper ience , and through the power of her humor reaches amazingly near r e a l i t y . The type of cha rac te r which she p r e s e n t s through her humor i s e n t i r e l y d i f f e r e n t from tha t d iscussed i n Chapter I I I . For her psycho log ica l s t u d i e s she chooses c h a r a c t e r s of a romantic t ype , having i n t h e i r n a t u r e , to some extent - 60 -at l e a s t , the qua l i t i e s of in t rospect ion, se l f -analys is and suscep t ib i l i t y ; in every case there i s the imminent poss-i b i l i t y of tragedy in the i r l i v e s . In drawing t h i s type of character George Eliot i s undoubtedly at her bes t . She seems keenly aware of the ever-present tragedy in l i f e and l ike Hardy, becomes readily vocal to i t . Whether the charact-ers are of the unlet tered c l a s s , l i ke Hetty and Si las Marner, or from the cultured society of Tito and Romola, t h e i r minds are quickly responsive to the subt les t influences. Mental s truggles do inevi tably take place which t h e psychol-ogical method alone can revea l . But there are those who do not experience a mental s t ruggle ; who have iiot the habit • / of introspect ion or the capacity for a deep/emotion. They deal with f ac t s rather than fancies, and believe in the p o s s i b i l i t y only of the v i s i b l e . These are the characters which George El iot protrays most successfully through her humor. Here i t i s necessary t o define George E l i o t ' s humor. I t may be contrasted a l ike with the broad coarse humor of the picaresque s tory , the s ly humor of Jane Austen, the rol l icking humor of Dickens, or the piquant humor of Thack-eray and Heredity. Sometimes, i t i s t rue , she displays the incision and the s t ing of s a t i r e when she is exposing the manners and morals of socie ty . I t i s an, en t i re ly different kind of s a t i r e from Heredi ty 's and frequently - 61 -j u s t as e f f e c t i v e ; i t i s imaginat ive r a t h e r than i n t e l l -e c t u a l . Lowell has drawn a very c l e a r d i s t i n c t i o n between the two. " I n t e l l e c t u a l s a t i r e g e t s i t s force from pe r sona l and moral a n t i p a t h y , and loves to say Thou, po in t ing out i t s v i c t i m . But imaginat ive s a t i r e , warmed through and through wi th t h e g e n i a l leaven of humor, smiles ha l f sadly and murmurs This ve in of humor o r imaginat ive s a t i r e in the novels i s one of t h e i r most p l e a s i n g a s p e c t s , con-t r a s t i n g wi th t h e p sycho log i ca l element and e f fec t ing by the c o n t r a s t an a r t i s t i c i n t e r p l a y of l i g h t and shade. I t i s sliow and shy, i n s i n u a t i n g i t s fun i n t o your hea r t as fa r as your a p p r e c i a t i o n w i l l allow i t to e n t e r . The humorous c h a r a c t e r s may be divided into two groups d i s p l a y i n g conscious and unconscious humor. The l a t t e r ex i s t i n a s o r t of mist of s o l i d s t u p i d i t y , puzzled by the wor ld ' s ways and hemmed i n by i t s t r a d i t i o n s and conventions t h e o t h e r s , of more c r i t i c a l bent , are inc l ined towards broad jokes at t h e expense of t h e i r d u l l - w i t t e d ne ighbours . George El io t h e r s e l f t akes keen de l igh t i n poking fun a t both groups . In the f i r s t group, she has succeeded in po r t a ry ing human na ture from th ree d i f f e ren t po in t s of view. We have the opinions of Bob, the pedd la r , of the shrewd f a rmer ' s wi fe , Mrs. Poyser , and of the acidulous Mrs. Oadwallader, one\ the "gentry" of Middlemarch - a l l in i' (1) J. R. Lowell: My Study Windows, Houghton & Mifflin, Hew York. P. 284. r - 62 widely different walks of l i f e . Bob, with his snub nose, his close-curled red hairr, his gl ib tongue and na tura l cunning, has a very broad sense of humor. He enjoys the s tory of his "brond thumb" by which he worsts the as tu te -ness of the women of St . Oggs in a bargain. "1 clap my thumb at the end o1 the yard, and cut on the h i ther side of i t , and the old women a ren ' t up to i t ye t . " He goes through l i f e with a twinkle in his eye, i s not impressed by the shams of society and in his humorous c r i t ic i sm of i t comes s ingular ly near the t r u t h . Of Mr. Kelfn he says, "He i s n ' t one o' them gentlefolks as go to cry a& watering-(X) places when the i r wives d i e . " when he is questioned about his church-going, he r ep l i e s , "Lor, Si r , a packman can do wi ' a small allowance of church. I t t a s t e s strong, and t h e r e ' s no ca l l to lay i t on t h i ck . " Once s ta r ted , h i s ga r ru l i ty knows no bounds, but i t has the saving qua l i t i e s of humor and freshness. He gives a frank unvarnished p ic ture of human nature as he sees i t from his s ta t ion in l i f e , and with a knowing smile which takes the reader into h i s confidence a t once. Mrs. Poyser, more del ibera te and incis ive in her humor i s one of the f ines t of her type that George Eliot or any one e lse ever created. I t i s said that she has many of the cha rac te r i s t i c s of the author ' s mother of whom we have (1) Mill on the tfloss, P. 521. - 63 -a l ready spoken. Mrs. Poyser is ready to supply a running commentary upon every occas ion, colored by t h e f r e shness and piquancy of her n a t i v e w i t . Her conversa t ion i s packed with concre te i l l u s t r a t i o n s of her t h o u g h t s , those famous "Aesop's f ab l e s i n a sen tence" which Mr. Irwin admired so much. Of t h e se l f - impor tance of the Scotch gardener at t h e Chase, she remarks, "He i s l i k e the cock who thought tha t the sun had r i s en on purpose to h e a r him c r o w . " ' 1 ' She seems to have l i t t l e admirat ion f o r t h e man. " I t was a p i t y , " she con t inues , " tha t he cauld not be hatched over (2) again , and hatched d i f f e r e n t . " Her tongue was not l e s s keen than her eye , and when any of the se rvants came wi th in earshot,, "She seemed to take up an unf in ished l e c t u r e , as a b a r r e l - o r g a n takes up a t une , p r e c i s e l y a t the p lace where i t had l e f t off*" ' She has no pa t i ence with the s t u p i d i t y of some people who would hold a s ieve under a pump and expect to ca r ry away the wate r . "There a re some f o l k s , " she s ays , " ' ud stand on t h e i r heads, ( 4 ) and then say t he f a u l t was in t h e i r boots ."* ' She l i k e n s Hetty to a peacock which s t r u t s a l l day i n t h e sun admiring i t s own beau ty . Her axioms on l i f e in which she reveals unf l inch ing ly t h e f o i b l e s of human na tu re a r e c l e a r and c r i s p , and make one of the f i n e s t c o l l e c t i o n s of shrewd (1) Adam Bede, P . 368. (2) I b i d . , P . 213. (3) I b i d . , P . 75 . (4) I b i d . , P . 195. - 64 -native wit in our l i t e r a t u r e . The most humorous passage which port rays Mrs. Poyser to the l i f e i s t he Chapter e n t i t l e d , "Mrs. Poyser 'has her say ou t 1 " . The old Squire has been exercising a l l h is t ac t to urge her to assume new dut ies on the farm, but she soon probes h is s t ra tegy . Her words continue to pour forth in a steady stream, and as the. Squire recedes before i t , she follows him to the door with a fresh charge. The scene over, she turns back into her k i t -chen, beginning to kni t with l ightning speed. She knows, f u l l well tha t t h i s outburst wi l l be the means of turning M r out of her farm, but for t h i s she has no r eg re t . She has "had her say ou t , " and w i l l res t the eas i e r for i t . "There's no pleasure i 1 l iv ing i f you're corked up for ever, and only dribble your mind out by the s ly , l ike a leaky b a r r e l . " Thus inthe portrayal of Mrs. Poyser, George El iot has given us one of the best humorous characters in f i c t i o n . She has drawn " rea l i ty" wi th-c lear , unf l i l ing precision and by the quick perceptive power of her humor. In th i s way, through the l i p s of her character she has been able to at tack more def in i te ly the weakness of human nature as they are seen from the v i l l a g e r ' s point of view. The th i rd aspect of conscious humor in the novels i s found in the character of Mrs. Cadwallader, the wife of the genial r ec to r . "A lady of immeasurably high b i r th , (1) A4ttAiBeae;7£% 361.: -- 65 -descended as i t were, from unknown e a r l s , dim as t he crowd of hero ic shades - who pleaded pover ty , pared down p r i c e s , and cut jokes in the most companionable way, though with a t u r n of tongue t h a t l e t you know who she w a s . " * 1 ' She has a weakness for goss ip , and f e e l s i t her duty to give her dictum on every th ing t h a t p a s s e s . Through her we ge t some rap id and e x c e l l e n t Vigne t tes of the o t h e r c h a r a c t e r s . For those who come under h e r d i sp l ea su re she r e se rves a very c a u s t i c w i t . Poor Casaubon, the drab scholar who has given h i s l i f e of the compiling of a "Key to Al l Mythologies" draws no respec t from h e r . He i s as dry and dus ty , she says , a s the f o l i o s in which he r eads . "He has no red blood in him," says S i r James Chettan one day, i n v i o l e n t i nd igna t i on , to which she r e p l i e s b i t i n g l y , "llo • Somebody put a drop under a magnifying g l a s s , and i t was a l l semi-(2) colons and p a r e n t h e s e s . n l ' She has no i l l u s i o n s with regard to Mr. Casaubon's s c h o l a r s h i p , and speaks of him "crunching dry bones i n a cavern."She t h i n k s Mr. Brooke's pamphlets need no dry ing , and would recommend them to the lady wi th the dropsy. Although she possesses the a r t of f i x i n g t h e c h a r a c t e r of he r neighbours wi th in a few c r y p t i c ph rases , she lacks the v i v a c i t y and the c o l o r f u l language of Mrs. Poyser and the spontane i ty of her w i t . Hers i s not the pure , homely (1) Middlemarch, P . 52 . (2) I b i d . P . 72. - 66 -humour which leaves no s t ing . She i s opinionated and some-times b i t t e r , s t r ik ing off her cr i t ic isms with deadly effect . At times, however, ^ r s . Cadwallader does not sustain her humor cons is ten t ly , and we fee l that she i s t rying to. say something which fades in the making. I t i s evident t ha t in the more caustic kinds of humor, George Eliot i s not successful. But inspi re of these defects , she shows, in the del ineat ion of her characters , be they peddlars, pea-sants or gentry, a keen observation of a l l s ta t ions of l i f e , linked with a ready wit which can seize a s i tua t ion in a phrase. In these sketches the author introduces her humor indi rec t ly through her charac te rs . In the next group, the characters themselves are unconscious of the humor of the i r s i tua t ion , while the author draws you aside into a corner to enjoy i t with her . She i s leve l l ing her humor expecially at the slow s tupidi ty of the v i l l a g e r s , t h e i r supers t i t ions , t he i r l imi t ing t rad i t ions and t h e i r r e l ig ion . One of her t e s t scenes i s at the Rainbow Inn - a scene which in. execution i s only r iva l led by the famous tavern scenes of Shakespeare. We enter the inn in the evening, and the con-versat ion in the room i s slow and in t e rmi t t en t . "The pipes began to be puffed in si lence which had an a i r of severi ty; the more important customers, who drank s p i r i t s and sat nearest the f i r e , s ta r ing at each other as if a bet were depending upon the f i r s t man who winked; while the beer-- 67 -drinkers in fustian kept t h e i r eyelids down, and rubbed t he i r hands across the i r months, as if t h e i r draughts of beer were a funereal duty, attended with embarrassing (1) sadness ." She i s also great ly amused by the smug sa t i s fac t ion of these bucolic minds in the i r accomplish-ments, as we find i t in the v i l l age choir . "The greates t triumph was when the s l a te announced an anthem, with a dignified abstinence from pa r t i cu la r i za t ion , both words and music lying fa r beyond the reach of the most ambitious amateur of the congregation - an anthem in which the key-bugles always ran away at a great pace, while the bassoon (2) every now and then boomed a f lying shot a f t e r them."1 ' But the individual who i s most cleverly and humorously drawn is Mrs. Tul l iver . She seems to have a genius for missing the point of every conversation and saying the wrong things* "She i s l ike an amiable goldfish which, a f te r running i t s head against the same res i s t ing glass for t h i r t een years , wi l l go at i t again today with un-dulled a l a c r i t y . " ^ While Mrs. Tulliver i s puzzling over Tom's education, she is engrossed in her china, her s i lve r teapots and her Holland sheets . Her mind refuses to fasten i t s e l f upon e i ther Tom or her husband, and returns again to the shee t s . "And i f you was to die tomorrow, Mr. Tul l iver , they ' re mangled beautiful and a l l fl) Silas Marner, P. 258. (2) Scenes of Clerical Life, P. 5. (3) Mill on the Floss, P. 79. - 68 -ready, and smell o ' lavendar, as i t 'ud be a pleasure to lay them o u t . " But Mr. Tull iver , not being a susceptible man, i s not g rea t ly perturbed by th i s grim spectacle of "laying ou t . " He continues, "But what I'm afraid on i s , Tom's a b i t slowish. He takes after your family, Bessie. " ^ "Yes, that he does," said Mrs. Tull iver , accepting the l a s t proposi t ion en t i r e ly on i t s own meri ts ; "He's wonderful for l ik ing a deal o1 s a l t in h i s broth. That was my b ro the r ' s way and my f a t h e r ' s before him." And so he oontinues through her rambling conversation, gravely unaware of e i t h e r her s tup id i ty or her d ro l l e ry . In del ineat ing charac ters , l ike t h i s , George El iot cannot r e s i s t poking fun a t t h e i r supe r s t i t i on . Her humor, however, i s s t i l l genial and sympathetic. While she smiles at the i r s tup id i ty , she p i t i e s t he i r l imi ta t ions . She t e l l s IK. us of Mrs. Glegg's bel ief in the possession ofAmutton bone to prevent rheumatism, of the l i t t l e bags which the women of Rayeloe wore round t h e i r necks as charms, and the red threads they t i ed around a c h i l d ' s toe to drive away e v i l . Reveloe was enmeshed in supers t i t ion , so that the appear-ance of S i las , who makes known his knowledge of herbs, has something s i n i s t e r in i t f o r them. "When a weaver who came from nobody knew where, worked wondeis with a bo t t l e of brown waters, the occult character of the process was evidenlT4d (1) Mill on the S'loss, P . 9 . (2) S i l a s Marner, P. £30. - 69 -Their be l ie f s frighten S i l a s , and he denies any such power, but they shake t he i r heads and think tha t "he i s worth speaking f a i r , i f only to keep him from doing them a mis-chief." Step by s tep , and with a s l y , insinuating humor, George Eliot puts before us the dullness and the appaling l imi ta t ions in which these people are l iv ing , while at the same time she i s in t e rp re t ing the i r characters in her most sympathetic way. With somewhat more vigor, she at tacks the slavish worship of t r a d i t i o n , and pokes fun a t every phase of i t in her charac ters . The four Dodson s i s t e r s were enchained by t h e i r family t r ad i t i ons , which develop into a var ie ty of whims and e c e e n t r l c i t i e s . Mrs* Glegg i s the most amusing of the four. We see her f i r s t at Mrs. Tulliveafe, with her heavy gold watch in hand, waiting impatiently for her other s i s t e r s to a r r i v e . She i s in a pa r t i cu la r ly i r a t e mood, presaged by her bonnet being wom indoors, pushed back from her "best" set of curls at a menacing angle. She despises the advantages of d ress . "Occasionally indeed Mrs. Glegg wore one of her th i rd-bes t lace fronts on a week-day v i s i t , but not at a s i s t e r ' s house, expecial^y not at Mrs. Tu l l ive r ' s , who had hurt her s i s t e r ' s feel ings great ly by wearing her own ha i r . -"'But Bessie alway was weaki n They had always followed t r a d i t i o n in t h e i r dress , and with the Dodsons a new dress or bonnet was an "event" - 70 -in l i f e . Maggie never forgot her f i r s t v i s i t to her Aunt Pullet when the famous bonnet was shown - the solemn pro-cession along the corr idor , the locked 4oor, the furniture in while shrouds, the del ic ious scent of rose leaves , and the s i l ve r paper, u n t i l Maggie quite expected something supernatural . "Mrs. Pul le t maintained a s i lence , char-acterized by head-shaking, unt i l they had a l l issued from the solemn chamber, and we re in her own room again. Then, beginning to cry, she said , ' S i s t e r , i f you should never see tha t bonnet again t i l l I'm dead and gone, j tou ' l l re-member I showed i t you t h i s day. ," '"L ' This hab i tua l melancholy in the s to l i d peasant mind Goerge Eliot brings out very frequently. The Dodsons seem to glory in the number of funerals they have had in t h e i r family, and the "laying out" which they have done. Next to tha t comes t h e i r in te res t in sickness. I t i s almost a f e t i sh with Mrs. Pu l le t , who doubts the respec tab i l i ty of a household which has not a family doctor . Her great ambition i s to f i l l the th i rd shelf of her cupboard with empty medicine bo t t l e s before ihe d i e s . She moves about her daiikened rooms with a funereal a i r , and sheds tears on a l l occasions. By a great variety of such t r i f l i n g inc idents , George Eliot shows the l imited and inconsequent l ines these people are lasd ing . They at tach such importance to t r i v i a l i t i e s (1) Mill on the Ploss , P. 96. - 71 -that they never see the real things i n l i f e . They are matter-of-fact and uncompromising. They are so bigoted in t h e i r t r a d i t i o n a l be l i e f s that there i s no room in t h e i r minds for any new ideas* Yet, because she has lived amongst these people, and sees t h e i r good qua l i t i e s a lso, her humor has more p i ty than censure* Fina l ly , when she has revealed t h e i r s tupid i ty , t he i r supers t i t ion and t h e i r l imi t ing t r ad i t i ons , she pokes fun gently at the i r r e l i g ion . I t i s an easy comfortable re l ig ion, which does not disturb the i r every-day l i ve s , and cons is ts chiefly in church-going and psalm-singing. But in some inexplicable way, th i s t r ad i t i ona l fai th seems to have a definite influence for good in t h e i r l i v e s . When we read Dolly Windthrop's exhortation to Si las Marner about church-going, there i s more tenderness than humor in the words. "I feel so set up and comfortable as niver was, when I 've been and heard the prayers and the s i n g i n g . . . . . . . and i f a b i t o' trouble comes, I feel I can put up with i t , for I 've looked for help in the right quarter, and i f we've done our pa r t , i t i s n ' t to be believed as Them as are above us ' u l l be worse nor we a re , and come short o ' The i r 'n . " A strange philosophy, and yet somehow bringing comfort to her soul and developing her into a s incere , good-hearted woman. The re l ig ion of the Dodsons, l ike the i r family love, w$s based on precept and t r a d i t i o n . If t he i r Bibles , (1) Si las Marner, P. 300. - 7£ -opened more easi ly a t some par ts than others , she says, i t was because of dried tujiip leaves. All these characters of her early memories are f lesh-and-blood r e a l i t i e s . Her quiet humor, a l l i ed to her keen observation, has exposed the l imi ta t ions , the shams and the incongruit ies of l i fe* I t has dissected the falseness of society in MIddlemarch and sympathised with the dull s tupid i ty of St. Oggs. Although she has r idiculed the s to l i d gravi ty of her characters , her humor i s never fan-ac ica l , but a curious mingling of tenderness and amusement. Her humorous vein, tempered by her philosophy, helps her to view the bel iefs and ins t inc t s of the ignorant peasant people with a desire to appreciate and sympathise. She shows genuine p i ty for the aspi ra t ions of t he i r muddled and limited i n t e l l e c t s . In the f i r s t group, the humor seems to belong to her ent i re conception of the character from which i t cannot be separated any more readily than from i t s s e t t i n g . I t i l luminates the prosaic , l i f t i ng i t into the l igh t of i n t e r e s t , and covers the grotesque and the crude with genial sympathy. - 73 -CHAPTER V. The Use of S e t t i n g as an Influence upon Charac te r . There i s a f i n a l element of i n t e r e s t i n t he novels of George E l i o t t ha t is n e i t h e r in c h a r a c t e r , nor in a c t i o n , but i n sepa rab ly bound up wi th both - namely the s e t t i n g . She has made a very d e f i n i t e use of i t in t h e p o r t r a y a l of he r o h a r a c t e r s , g iv ing i t the pov/er to p r o j e c t i t s mood i n t o t h e i r s and in f luence t h e i r thoughts and a c t i o n s . " I t i s the h a b i t of my imag ina t ion , " she s a y s , "to s t r i v e a f t e r as f u l l a v i s i on of the medium in which a c h a r a c t e r moves, as of the c h a r a c t e r i t s e l f . " Consequently we f ind she i s not content wi th the in t ens ive psycholog ica l ana ly s i s of the mind, but i s eager t o recognise a l s o the mysterious force of enivronment. In he r ea r ly novels the c h a r a c t e r s and t h e i r surroundings are so s k i l f u l l y fused toge the r t h a t n e i t h e r iS f u l l y comprehensible with out the o t h e r . S i l a s could never have ex i s t ed in any o the r v i l l a g e t h a i Raveloe, o r Adam Bede apar t from Hayslope. They are i nd i spu t ab ly a product of t h e i r environment* THe use of s e t t i n g has undergone a g rea t v a r i e t y of changes in f i c t i o n , ranging from almost complete i n s i g n i f -icance to a d e f i n i t e c o n t r o l of the a c t i o n . Clayton Ham-i l t o n H a s made an i n t e r e s t i n g comparison between the evol -u t ion of background i n p a i n t i n g and f i c t i o n . The e a r l i e s t (1) Clayton Hamilton: A Manuel of Engl i sh F i c t i o n . , P -99 . Doubleday, Page and Co. , New York, 1922. - 74 -frescoes, he says, were a l l foreground, presented on a blank wall which had no re la t ion to the figures of the s tory . Then I ta l i an a r t madd an advance upon the Greek, and introduced an a r t i s t i c background in drapery o r landscape which blended in tone with the p ic tu re , but in no sense bore any re la t ion to the f igures . The th i rd stage brought in a de ta i led background, l i k e the Dutch genre p ic tu res , repre-senting by i t an in tegra l part of the l ives of the characters , and lacking i t , t hey lost some of the i r color and s ignif icance. A similar evolution of se t t ing has taken place in f i c t i o n . From the early folk t a les which were seldom local ized, down to t he pas tora l novels with t he i r conventionalized landscapes, t he se t t ing was e i t h e r vague or a r t i f i c i a l and very obviously independent of the' theme. When the romantic novel is t s d i s -covered the p o s s i b i l i t i e s of se t t ing , they ran r io t in pages of word-pictures when the harmony betwean nature and man was sentimentalized and strained to extravagence. In Mrs. Radoliffe 's mystery novels, the se t t ing acquired a chameleon-l ike nature ready to re f lec t the immediate color of the charac te r ' s mind. I t was against t h i s unnatural use of se t t ing tha t Buskin wrote h i s t i rade on the "pathetic f a l l acy . " He made i t c lear that although man wi l l read into na tu re ' s mood his joys and sorrows, nature herse l f remains the same unemotional and unconsoious of man's mind. George Eliot also comments on t h i s po in t . "If i t be true that nature at cer ta in moments seems charged with a presentiment - 75 -of one individual l o t , must i t not also be t rue that she seems unmindful of another? For there i s no hour tha t has not i t s b i r t h s of gladness and despair, no morning br ight -ness tha t does not bring new sickness to desolat ion, as well as new forces to genius and love.'"-1-' In the works of regional wr i t e r s , l i k e Scott and George E l i o t , therefore, the pathet ic fal lacy has en t i re ly disappeared, and a new and ra t ional a t t i t ude towards na tura l s e t t i ng i s apparent. The se t t i ng they choose i s a very rea l par t of the l i f e they a re depict ing. Their peasants have grown up in i t ; i t represents t he i r world and i t s l imi ta t ions are t h e i r s . I t colors thei r mind, yet i t has l i t t l e color of i t s own- without t he i r presence. The man and his milieu enter into a l iv ing re la t ionsh ip . This milieu or atmosphere i s produced, not so much by giving eYary d e t a i l , l i k e the Dutch p ic tures already mentioned, but by a s t r i c t select ion of de ta i l s pervaded by some common qua l i ty . For thi s to be done successfully, the author much possess a very intimate knowledge of the l ives of those whom she portrays, l ike Thomas Hardy, George Eliot knows her nat ive county thoroughly and makes use of i t in the develop-ment of character in i t s subt ler aspects , giving true local co lor and r ea l i t y to her novels . (1) Adam Bede, P. 302. » - 76 -In estimating her use of s e t t i ng , as m. influence upon the charac te r s , there are only four of the novels to be considered, t h e Mill on the Floss , Adam Bede, Silas Mamer and Romola- The plots of the o thers , being more theore t i ca l , might have been developed anywhere, but these four have each a speci f ic atmosphere of the i r own and depend upon i t for t h e i r t rue s ignif ioance. The t ragic power of the r iver Floss, the romance of flowering English hedgerows, the fragance of Mrs. Poyser 's diary are a l l found the re . Or again we see the s i n i s t e r slopes of the Stone P i t s and the lonely cottage of the weaver at the edge . Or we are taken back into med-ieval h is tory^ into the gray sunless l i b r a ry of De bardi, the scholar . In each case, howevsr, we shal l see that George El io t has made a greater use of t h i s medium for fu l l e r character-por t rayal than any of her contemporaries attempted to do. In her early years spent in Warwickshire, she seems to have absorbed the very temper of the landscape, and becomekeenly sens i t ive to a l l i t s phases. The pic tures have remained so r ea l in her mind that she can reproduce them again with extraordinary vividness . She i s no t yet obsessed by the idea of a moral to be taught; she i s merely drawing upon t he material of her youth, and describing i t with t ru th and r e a l i t y . In the opening chapters of "The Mill on the Floss there i s a true l y r i c a l qua l i ty . The , - 77 -r iver rushing down to the great f reight ships , the red-brown s a i l s against the green hedge-rows, and the moist brown earth just turned over, - a l l are painted in with fresh color in language tha t i s simple and adequate* The whole tone of the book i s set by the description of the impetuous r iver which i s to^jome inevi tably woven into the tragedy. I t rushes on past the Dorlcote Mil ls , oblivious of the human joys or sorrows there, a symbol of the great unheeding world. And then a t the end of the picture th i s ingenious touch of r e a l i t y occurs - "Ah, ray arms are rea l ly bemumbed, I have been pressing my elbows on the arms of my chair , and dreaming that I was standing on the bridge in fronTof Dorl-cote Mi l l . " Another cha rac te r i s t i c descript ion which seems not only to il luminate the character of Maggie but to fore-shadow the tragedy tha t is to occur i s in the chapter on "The Red Deeps." The place i s fu l l of awe for her , and yet i t holds a wild freedom where she can indulge her vagrant imagination. "It had the charm for her which any broken ground, any mimic rock and ravine, have for the eyes that r es t habi tual ly on the l e v e l . " Maggie's nature, reslaained and confined by a fa lse sense of r e -signation, i s easi ly lured by t he charm of the unusual. Here, nature seems to be sa t is fying her longings, aid (1) Mill on the Floss , Ch. 1, Btal-, P. 48. - 78 -al laying a vague sense of uneasiness and doubt. "She seems to have a sort of Kinship with 1he grand Scotch f i r s a t which she i s looking as i f she loved them w e l l . " ' 1 ) The Red Deeps, with i t s ominous cloven t r e e , seems to be the motive of tragedy in her l i f e , a motive that brings to her the extremes of joy and of pa in . The r iver , too, shares in the tragedy, and as she f loats along in the boat with Stephen, i t s presence seems to break through her conscious-ness l i ke an over-powering fate in which her wi l l is sub-merged. The r ive r comes in again at the close of the novel with great dramatic force to reconcile the brother and the Bis te r . They are swept along by a power mightier than themselves, to forget pet ty differences, and find peace in an act of se l f - renuncia t ion . There could be no f i t t e r ending fo r the impetuous Maggie than in the storm swollen waters of the Floss . In the descr ip t ive passages in the Mill on the gloss , the Round Pool where the children used to f i sh from the bank of willows, the Ripple where the purple-topped reeds grew, the pond with the pike in i t a t Garum F i r s , and the meadow where the gypsies encamped - in a l l these George Eliot shows a l ightness of touch and a genius for romantic se t t ing which i s en t i r e ly absent from her l a t e r books. In these the dominance of her philosophy, which was repressive (1) IKUUon the Floss, P. 49, Ch.l , Bk.V. - 79 at the bes t , has en t i re ly crushed out these pure t r ansc r ip t s of nature , and i t i s a decided loss to English l i t e r a t u r e . The nature se t t i ng in Adam 3ede i s more elaborated than in the Mill on the g lo s s . I t i s fresh and charming, "preserving a piece of that old vanished England, with i t s scents of the dairy and of the flowery copse at evening, with i t s p r i s t i n e housewives and labourers . "'-*-' Every page breathes the f ree , wholesome a i r of the broad expanses of the country meadows, where men like Adam grow up close to Nature. She i s describing the England of her youth, with i t s manor houses and i t s peasants, i t s generosity and fideli ty^ i t s s i lvan content in the midst of great movements and revolu t ions . For Adam 3ede appeared in 1859, the year of the publication of the "Origin of Species" which was to open the way to a newer and wider s c i en t i f i c understanding of the universe. I t was wr i t t en , too ,a t a time of p o l i t i c a l unrest when the lower s t r a t a of society were urging for a suffrage which the ruling classes averred they could not use. At the same time, however, i t is t rue that there were hun-dreds of v i l l ages l ike Hayslope, more remote from the storm centres , where l i f e continued i t s even tenor, undisturbed e i the r by s c i e n t i f i c or p o l i t i c a l questions. At every turn we come upon "some fine old country-seat , crowning the slope, some homestead with i t s length of barn and i t s c lus te rs of (1)E. Dowden: Survey of English Li tera ture , Vol . I I , P.258. - 80 -golden r i cks , some gray steeple looking out from a pre t ty confusion of t rees and thatch and dark-red t i l e s . " Some of the chapters in Adam Bede are almost en t i re ly word p i c tu re s , possessing a t rue poetic qua l i ty . We find such rapid brush-strokes as - "the level sunlight lying like t ransparent gold among the gently curving stems of the feathered grass and the t a l l , red s o r r e l . " With the scene there often ar i ses a very def ini te personal atmosphere, so that we f ee l i t is the only s e t t i ng which would f i t the event that i s to take p lace . The best of these i s the descript ion of the Peast Day, celebrating the young h e i r 1 s twenty-f i rs t bir thday. Everything had been prepared for the entertainment of the tenants , from the shady seats under the t rees and the long tables laid out in the old stone c l o i s t e r s of the ruined abbey, to the gay s t r iped marquees erected in from of the Chase mansion for games. "It was a pre t ty scene outside the house, the farmers and the i r families were moving about the lawn, among the flowers and shrubs, or along the broad s t ra ight road leading from the east front , where a carpet of mossy grass spread on each s ide , studded here and there with a dark, flat-boughed cedar or a grand pyramidal f i r , sweeping the ground with i t s branches, a l l tipped with a fringe of paler green." Thus, by a profusion of such scenes, (1) Adam Bede, P . 17. (2) I b i d . , P . 289. - 81 -George El io t gives a very def ini te tone of calm and strength to the background which i s ref lected in some of her characters-Some times the se t t ing c lear ly suggests the mood of the scene that ensues. "It was a s t i l l afternoon - the golden 1 ight was l ingering languidly among the upper boughs, only glancing down here and there on the purple pathway and i t s edge of f a in t ly sprinkled moss - an afternoon in which des-t iny disguises her cold awful face behind a hazy, radiant v e i l , encloses us in warm downy wings, and poisons us with a v io le t -scented breath."*-1-' George El iot sk i l fu l ly works into the story the langorous effects of these scenes upon two temperaments, susceptible to every exter ior influence and having no anchor or balance within themselves. "Such young unfurrowed souls r o l l to meet each other l ike two to) velvet peaches that touch softly and are at rest."' ' In the scene where Hetty appears, the setting is powerfully drawn, exercising a very definite influence over her weaker nature. She is carried away by vague expectations as formless as the sweet languid odors of the garden at The Chase, which had floated past her as she walked by the Gate."'3' Together with the drowsy perfumes of the garden, she feels the hypnotic influence of this carefree, nonchalant young squire. Arthur himself, while (1) Ibid., P. 133. (2) Ibid., P. 136. « (3) Ibid., P. 139. - 82 -struggling with his passion, seems also super-sensitive to h i s surroundings. "These beeohes and smooth l ines - there was something enervating in the very sight of them; but the strong knotted old oaks had no bending languor in them -the sight of them would give a man some energy."*-'-' At other times George Eliot uses her nature se t t ing as a d i rec t contras t to the mood of her charac ters . One chapter opens with a bright windy day in the middle of August, a day which seems to s c a t t e r gladness and high hopes. "The sun was hidden for a moment, and then shone out warm again l i k e a recovered joy; the leaves, s t i l l green, were tossed off the hedgerow t r ee s by the wind; around the farm houses there was a sound of clapping doors; the apples f e l l in the orchard; and the stray horses on the green sides of the lanes and on the common had the i r manes blown about t he i r faces and yet the wind seemed only part of the general g ladness ." ' ' Then, step by s tep , she proceeds to the discovery about Hetty and the gloom and b i t t e rness of s p i r i t that the news brought to Adam. She succeeds ad-mirably in bringing into s t r ik ing contrast the brisk hope-fulness of the opening scene of the chapter and the black despair a t i t s c lose . This contrast between the mood of nature and of man seems to have been deeply impressed upon George E l i o t ' s (1) Ib id- , P. 142. ' (2) Ib id . , P. 301. - 83 -mind. She loves the beauty and joyous freshness of nature, but her own mood becomes eas i ly sad and clouded. She reca l l s tha t in a European landscape there is a constant reminder of the pain in l i f e . I t may be by the side of a sunny cornfield or in the midst of a s t re tch of fragrant apple-blossoms, but there i s something that reminds her she i s not in Loamshire; "The image of a great agony - the agony of the C r o s s . " ' 1 ' But even without t h i s reminder she i s conscious of the under-tone of sadness* "The sound of the gurgling brook, if you come close to one spot behind a small bush, may be mingled (2) for your ear with a despairing human sob." ' ' Having thus prepared the mood of the reader, she goes on to t e l l of Het ty ' s lonely journey from Hall Farm, t a s t ing the b i t t e r e s t of l i f e ' s b i t t e rnes s for the f i r s t time in her short and thoughtless career . Throughout the novels there i s evidence of a fondness for using the same scene under different circumstances as a kind of s i l e n t witness of the human tragedy that i s being enacted. In Adam Bede she chooses the Hermitage as the scene of different phases of the tragedy, in the same way as the r ive r is introduced in the Mill on the gloss and the Stone P i t s in Si las Marner. I t i s to the Hermitage, t h i s rus t ic summer lodge at the edge of the woods of the Chase Estate that Arthur f i r s t comes to s e t t l e the problem (1) Ib id . , P . 375. - 84 -of his affect ion for Hetty. There also he has many secret meetings with her, and i t i s to this place that Adam takes him a f t e r the duel in the woods. To Arthur, the Hermitage must hold many memories which rush with s t i l l keener poignancy into his mind when he i s seated there face to face with Adam's grim indignation. The place i t s e l f seems to accuse him, and h i s complacency i s shaken by i t s mute appeal. In a l l th i s por t raya l of se t t ing George El iot i s a t rue r e a l i s t . She ohooses signif icant d e t a i l , analyses i t and draws i t in to her p ic ture with clear prec is ion . But in her choice of s e t t i ng , she is both romantic and r e a l i s t i c . We have seen what a profusion of scenic des-cr ip t ions there are in Adam Bede alone, done with the fresh limpid t i n t s of a water-color, and f u l l of romantic suggestion. But she also loves the commonplace scene, with no romantic glamor, and draws i t with sincere f i d e l i t y . "Paint us an angel i^ you can, with a flouting v io le t robe, and a face paled by the c e l e s t i a l l igh t ; but do not banish from the region of ar t those old women sdfeping carrots with t he i r work-worn hands, those rounded backs and stupid, weather-beaten faces that have bent over the spade - those homes with t he i r t in-pans , t he i r brown pi tchers , the i r rough 4 i r 8 r and the i r c lus te r s of o n i o n s . " ^ She i s moved by (1) I b id . , P . 184. - 85 -the commonplace things in l i f e , and sees even in the i r drabness a ce r ta in glamor. The descr ip t ion of Mrs. Poyser 's kitchen with i t s rows of br ight pewter on the shelf, i t s shining t ab les , i t s spot less f loor , i t s bust l ing maids ironing, spinning and butter-making a l l to the sound of an occasional scold-ing, can t e l l much about the owner even before we have been introduced to her. She pic tures vividly too the bam scene, where the great doors are thrown open, and the "whittctws" are a l l seated busily mending harness and exchanging the gossip of the neighbourhood. But the most successful in the blending of character with se t t i ng is the description of the farmyard. "You might have known i t was Sunday if you had only waked up in the farmyard. The very bull-dog looked less savage, as i f he would have been sa t i s f ied with a smaller b i te than usual . The sunshine seemed to ca l l a l l things to r e s t and not to labor; i t was asleep i t s e l f on the moss-grown cow-shed; on the group of white ducks nes t -l ing together with t he i r b i l l s tucked under t h e i r wings; on Alick, the shepherd, in his new smock-frock, taking an un-easy s i e s t a , h a l f - s i t t i n g , half-standing on the granary s t e p s . " George Eliot also makes a specific use of the d e t a i l in the se t t ing by showing i t s effect upon an overwrought mind. Hetty i s trudging along the road to Stoniton, ex-- 86 -hausted with weeping and anxiety, and too timid even to ask a r ide from the approaching wagoner, when she notices a l i t t l e spaniel beside the wheel. "It was only a small white-and-l iver colored spaniel which sat on the front ledge of the wagon, with large timid eyes and an incessant trembling in the body. Hetty oared l i t t l e for animals, but at t h i s moment she f e l t as i f the timid creature had some fellowhip with her, and without being aware of the reason, she was less doubtful about speaking to the d r ive r . " The powerful effect of environment upon t imidity of character i s more fully i l l u s t r a t ed in Silas Marner. Silas comes to Rayeloe just a f t e r his b i t t e r experiences in Lantern Yard, and with the wish to withdraw from human soc ie ty . He confines himself BO closely to his cottage and h is loom that he seems to have no confidence apart from them. "Strangely Marner's face and figure shrank and bent them-selves into a constant mechanical re la t ion to the objects of h is l i f e , so that he produced t h e same sort of impression as a handle or a crooked tube, which has no meaning standing apa r t . "* 2 ' The sol i tude of his surroundings growa upon him, u n t i l he i s almost afraid of the sound of his own voice. His mind loses i t s power; and in the grip of his surroundings, his l i f e narrows and hardens i t s e l f into a mere pulsat ion of des i re and sa t i s fac t ion in hoarding (1) Adam Bede, P. 384. (2) Silas Marner, P. £32. - 87 -guineas. F ina l ly in Romola. there is an ent i re ly different environment governing the characters . Goerge Eliot has l e f t her native scenery, and gone back to the Florence of the Renaissance. One i s astonished at the mass of h i s to r -i ca l d e t a i l tha t has been gathered for i t . George Eliot admits that i t was an exceedingly laborious task extending over many years . She began i t , she says, as a young woman, and finished i t an old woman. Oscar Browning, in his c r i t -icism of Romola doubts very much if the accurate observation of Florentine l i f e during her v i s i t of six or seven weeks would be useful in ge t t ing the real atmosphere, especial ly that of some three centuries before. At times the h i s t o r i c a l se t t ing seems too consciously inser ted , and becomes detached from the main p l o t , which af ter a l l deals with a modern man and a modern problem. The success fo T i to ' s delineation i s not in any sense dre to the medieval s e t t i ng . However in the case of Romola and Tessa;' they gather the i r richness of character d i rec t ly from the i r background. The ha l f - rec l in ing s i e s t a of Tessa, in the market-place, the rows of marketable f ru i t freshly displayed, the br ight ly colored kerchiefs on the heads and necks of dark, bright-eyed contadinos, the scolding of the obese Mona l i s a -a l l these are part of the easeful, unthinking l i f e of Tessa-Each day brings i t s t roubles and t e a r s , but nothing more than a prayer and a few qua t t r in i wi l l wipe away. All - 88 -t h i s background isjvital ly important in order to explain Tessa 's par t in the p l o t . Romola, on the other hand, belongs to a class of society at the opposite extreme from Tessa. Her se t t ing i s described with long and elaborate d e t a i l . In order to know her, we must know Florence of the f i f teenth century, and the De Bardi home in p a r t i c u l a r . Florence is presented in a se r i e s of pictures from the l i ve ly scenes in Hel lo ' s shop, and the Carnival moving uproariously through the s t r e e t s , to the p o l i t i c a l quarrels of the Duomo and the 1 earned discussions of the l i t e r a r y pedants. Then the author takes us into the De Bardi l i b r a r y . I t i s f i l l e d with row upon row of Greek and Latin texts with t h e i r commentaries and annotations for which De Bardi has given up his whole l i f e . "Here and there , on separate stands in front of the shelves, were placed a beautiful feminine torso ; a headless s t a tue , with an uplifted muscular arm wielding a bladeless sword; rounded, dimpled, infantine limbs severed from the trufck, invit ing the l ips to kiss the cold marble; some weH preserved Roman busts; and two or three vases from Magna G-raecia. A large tab le in the centre was covered with antique bronze lamps and small vessels" in dark pot te ry . The color of these objects was chiefly pale or sombre; the vellum bindings, with t h e i r deep-ridged backs, gave l i t t l e re l ie f to the marble, l i v i d with long bur ia l ; the once splendid patch-of cajrrpet - 89 -a t the fa r ther end of the room had long been worn to dimness; the dark bronzes wanted sunlight upon them to bring out t h e i r t inge of green, and the.sun was not yet high enough to send gleams of brightness through the narrow windows that looked on the Via de Bardi ." Nothing more need be said about her accuracy of descr ipt ion. The whole p i c tu re , t e l l s much of the character of De Bardi and h i s daughter before they a re revealed to us . His love of the ancients , of t he i r ar t and l i t e r a t u r e , his family pride and severe d isc ip l ine of mind are a l l imperceptibly conveyed in the "atmosphere" of the room. The fac t , also that there are no signs of a feminine touch in the room shows the complete mastery of his will over that of his duaghter. I t i s apparen-t, therefore, in reviewing the early novels from the stand-point of t h e i r se t t ing that George El iot i s much more than a psychological nove l i s t . I t i s t rue that she i s in teres ted in the workings of the mind, but she i s also keenly aware of the subtle influence of the s e t t i ng upon her charaoter. The defects of her h i s t o r i c a l se t t ing Being admitted, she i s unsurpassed in the success-ful weaving of a se t t ing into the texture of her novel so that the characters are explained and enriched by i t , gathering from i t s tone greater significance and r e a l i t y . (1) Eomola, P. 51 . 9 - 90 -CHAPTEB VI. Concluding Estimate of George E l i o t ' s Cont r ibu t ion to F i c t i o n . In t h e preced ing chapters we have s tud ied George E l i o t ' s method of c h a r a c t e r - a n a l y s i s as i t i s developed by h e r ph i losophy , her humor and her use of s e t t i n g . I t now remains to ga ther up what she has accomplished in the i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of human na tu re and es t imate what spec i f i c c o n t r i b u t i o n s she has made t o f i c t i o n . The aim of f i c t i o n , a s she expressed i t in her essays , i s "to give imaginative express ion to a c t u a l expe r i ence . " There are r e a l l y th ree p rocesses involved in i t . The n o v e l i s t must f i r s t ga ther h i s m a t e r i a l by the accura te observat ion of f ac t s in t h e same manner as t he s c i e n t i s t . Having systemat ized h i s f a c t s , he then proceeds to study them in the l i g h t of h i s exper ience , comparing and c o r r e l a t i n g them u n t i l he i s able to bu i ld up a s t r u c t u r e of b e l i e f - a phi losophic t h e o r y . The t h i r d s t ep i s t he t r u e t e s t of the a u t h o r ' s g e n i u s . I t c o n s i s t s in the p r e sen t a t i on of h i s philosophy in such a way t h a t i t w i l l i l l u s t r a t e concre te ly the t r u t h s which he has d i scovered . These s c i e n t i f i c , phi losophic and a r t i s t i c elements a re to be found to a g r e a t e r or l e s s degree in every novel , and the au tho r who comes nea res t to blending a l l t h r e e g ives t h e f ines t r ep re sen t a t i on of t r u t h . - 91 -How then does George Eliot work out these three processes in her character studies? She gathers her mater ia l by a keen observation of the actual fac t s of experience, as evidenced by the biographical nature of Adam Bede, Mill on the gloss and Scenes from Cler ical Life* Her natural cur ios i ty has deepened her i n t e r e s t in the most commonplace things of l i f e , so that nothing is too prosaic for her consideration^ ' She deplores the portrayal of "lofty and fashionable society" with which the author i s not always familiar , and encourages the use of what i s simple, natural and unaffected for l i t e r a r y mater ia l . "You would gain unspeakably," she says in the beginning of Amos Barton, "if you would learn with me to see some of the poetry and the pathos the tragedy and the comedy, lying in the experience of a human soul that looks out through dull grey eyes, and that speaks in a voice of quite ordinary tones . " ^ The f inest a r t must have i t s basis in exper-ience, she i n s i s t s , and must be an expression of r e a l i t y . But how does her work measure up, i f judged by her own standard? That the early novels are the resul t of actual experience, there i s no question, but in ffelix Holt and Deronda and to a great extent in Bomo la t the reader looks in vain for th i s element. She has derived her material for these from an en t i re ly di f ferent source, and they are (A) Scenes of Clerical l i f e , P . t* (1) Westminster Review: S i l ly Novelists, fat*/-- 92 -based on her philosophy ra ther than on actual experience. In the material for her early books, she has kept close to her theory of the novel, and covers only the narrow section of society which she actual ly knows aid under-s tands . Her delineation of peasant and vi l lage l i f e i s amongst the f ines t in our l i t e r a t u r e , because although she has not a wide range actual ly in view, she i s aware of i t s wider r e l a t i o n s . "We are on a pet ty s tage ," says Si r Leslie Stephen, "but not in a s t i f l i ng atmosphere."*1 ' In the cor re la t ion of these facts of experience with her acquired knowledge, George Eliot develops her phi los-ophy. She has adopted positivism and the sc ien t i f i c be-l i e f in evolution as a definite reaction against the ex-cesses of idealism. She brings into prominence those facts of l i f e which idealism had neglected. Idealism had ex-aggerated the capacity and p o t e n t i a l i t i e s of man for indiv-idual achievement, i t was for pos^itivism to s t r e s s the other side of l i f e , and emphasize the inevitable laws of evolution by which man is res t ra ined by the pas t and re -sponsible for the fu tu re . She s t resses the moral value of conduot and r ight ly so, but in the emphasis which she puts, upon i t , she completely ignores any other values in l i f e . That control of human actions i s necessary is un-questioned, but that i t i s the only consideration of l i f e (1) Leslie Stephen; Hours in a Library, V o l . I I I . , P. 207*. - 93 -i s an impossible postulate* There i s a suppressed at tack upon individualism a l l through the novels of George E l i o t , and unfortunately the development of her characters does not convince one of the soundness of her theory. She in-dividual izes Maggie and Eomola only to show in the end how t h e i r ind iv idua l i ty is warring against t h e i r happiness. Their only salvat ion seems to be in the surrender of the i r own personal i ty for the sake of the greater good. Eomola made i t c l ea r to Savonarola that she was leaving T i to ' s household, not to seek her own pleasure, but to break a meaningless bond, and find some work in which she could give fu l l e r expression to her own personali ty and leave her best to the world. The ascetic bids her perform her Duty, even i f i t i s an empty form. As a resul t of t h i s theory of renunoiation, she makes l i f e hard, sad and ful l of cons t ra in t . Arising out of her bel ief in renunciation i s the doctrine of humanitarianism ufaich becomes the ruling passion of George E l i o t ' s l i f e . Her theory is that only by the sacr i f ice of the individual wi l l humanity r i se to i t s grea tes tperfee t ion . All h is tory , she points out, is bu i l t up on renunciation of the individual . Much of our his tory i s , but i t i s also bu i l t upon the individual achievements of great minds. The greates t ages of pro-gress have been those in which the individual mind asserted i t s e l f and gathered vigor and energy for i t s task. George - 94 -El iot holds, however, t h a t social progress wi l l come, not from the individual who s t r i ves for " r igh t s , " hut from the masses who are learning to submerge their own in te res t in that of t h e i r fellow-men. The faot remains tha t social progress is no t achieved in that way* Consequently the theme upon which Felix Holt i s based is en t i re ly impract-i c a l , and Felix Holt himself, instead of being a l iv ing "radica l" with a conviction, is merely a t h e s i s . Renunciation, then, i s capable of shap ing character to a ce r t a in extent* I t teaches courage and stoicism, but i t does not develop the individual powers of v i r i l i t y and personal confidence. I t i s such a biased view of l i f e as t h i s of George El io t that Matthew Arnold attacks in Culture and Anarohy. He admits that "Helfbraism" has great moral value in control l ing and moulding character, but he also asser t s that "Hellenism" i s being neglected, whereby the individual learns the p o s s i b i l i t i e s of his own nature, and by culture develops them to the i r fu l les t significanoe. "For if a par t of ourselves ra ises us to abnegation and v i r t u e , " says Taine, "another part leads us to enjoyment and pleasure*" Another l imit ing influence upon her philosophy i s her agnosticism which is the direct resul t of her pos i t -i v i s t theory. She stands in contrast to the other radical thinkers of her time. Oarlyle, Ruskin and Browning, although (1) Taine; History of English Lite rat ure, 5Tol.HI., P.344, Renaissance Edition, Colonial Press, Uew York. - 95 -they adopted the sc ien t i f i c theory of the day, believed in a s p i r i t u a l realm environing man from which he drew insp i ra t ion . Arnold believed in a "tendency not our own which makes for r ighteousness." George El iot does not be-l ieve in such a tendency except in the mind of man. The s p i r i t u a l force of l i f e i s subjective, she says, and i s therefore l imited by man's capaci ty . Therefore, although her novels are powerful, they lack the inspira t ion which a bel ief in the s p i r i t u a l would give them. I t i s merely the human side of rel igion which in te res t s her, i t s moral influence, and i t s power to sympathize and to comfort. In the Mill on the gloss she defines i t as "that knowledge of the i r r evers ib le laws within and without the mind, which, governing the hab i t s , becomes morality, and developing the feelings of submission and dependence, becomes re l ig ion ." l -So much for her philosophy of l i f e , i t s strength and i t s l im i t a t i ons . The ultimate estimate of the author de-pends on the a r t i s t i c presentat ion of i t . In f i c t ion we find two methods of revealing the t ru th of human l i f e as the author has conceived of i t . The romanticist looks forward from his conception of l i f e towards an adequate means of presenting i t . Taking his philosophy as a basis , he crea tes characters to f i t into i t and by t he i r actions i l l u s t r a t e i t s t r u t h . There i s no precess of development (1) Mill on the Floss, Bk.4, Gh. I I I . , P. 3o t . - 96 -in the mental a t t i t u d e of his characters to l i f e . He works by deduction from the general t ru ths to par t i cu la r f a c t s . Stevenson i l l u s t r a t e s t h i s method in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as Thackeray does in Vanity Pai r . The other method, adopted by the r e a l i s t , develops by induction from the p a r t i c u l a r to the general t r u t h . The difference between the two methods i s at once apparent. Both r e a l i s t and romanticist arr ive by the same method at the i r ph i l -osophy, but while the romanticist i s in teres ted primarily in the a r t i s t i c presentat ion of i t , the r ea l i s t centres h i s i n t e r e s t upon the process by which he arrived at the conception. Consequently ill his presentation, he t races h i s characters through a ser ies of imaginary events, showing the i r mental developments and react ions. The character i s no longer s t a t i c . The author i s proving his theory as he proceeds, so that from a body of pa r t i c -ular facts he draws general t r u t h s . This i s obviously George E l i o t ' s method and has been used by Hardy and Conrad of our day with signal success. In her f i r s t four books, George Eliot shows her a r i s t i c qua l i t i es in producing a t r ansc r ip t of l i f e which has the impress of r e a l i t y . She has the faculty of piercing to the t ru th under the surface of f a c t s , and reconstructing her p ic ture of l i f e so that i t wi l l c lea r ly reveal her meaning. The art of the novelist l i e s not in reproducing facts only, for some facts are contrary to universal t r u t h s . - 97 -He must crea te the i l lus ion , so tha t the s i tua t ion which he chooses to reveal his theme wil l have the a i r of r e a l i t y . In t h i s George Sl io t has admirably succeeded in her early novels , working into t h e i r moral texture the fundamental ideas of her philosophy. Bomola and Lliddlemarch lack, t h i s r e a l i t y to some extent and show a decided change of method. When we come f i n a l l y to ITelix So I t and Deronda there i s evidence of a d i s t i n c t f a l l ing away from a r t i s t i c express-ion. She has reproduced the "improbable possible" which does not bear the stamp of t r u t h . She is absorbed and carr ied away hy her theory which she is incapable of blending with the fac t s of experience and recasting in a form that has the semblance of t r u t h . She frequently leaves Deronda and j?elix Holt helplessly waiting on the s tage, while she herself comes forward to s ta te her be-l i e f s empirical ly. Because of t h i s weakness, her l a t e r books are unsuccessful in thei r appeal and lack any l a s t -ing q u a l i t i e s . In the f ina l analysis , the greates t t e s t of an au thor ' s a b i l i t y i s in the independence of h i s charac ters . If they are drawn to the l i f e , they wi l l stand out as c lear -cut actual people who l ive and act in accordance with the inherent qua l i t i es of t he i r nature . By the force of the i r personal i ty , they will be able to work out the i r own plot independently and inevi tably. Adam Bede i s of t h i s type, Mrs. Poyser, and Maggie, besides - 98 -numbers of minor characters in a l l the novels. But Lydgate i s not so de f in i t e . He waits for the author to suggest his ac t ions , ffelix Holt has no warmth of personali ty, no independance of act ion, and i s u t t e r ly untrue to his character as a "radical.1 1 I t i s impossible to picture Deronda afi anything more tangible than a "tendancy which makes for a l t ru ism." Yet with all these l a t e r l imi ta t ions to her a r t , George Eliot stands as a landmark in the h is tory of the novel in the,nineteenth century, and the power of her genius wi l l inevi tably be f e l t by a l l who read her early books and study her l i f e . Never before has she been more adequately or more sympathetically described than in the words of Swinburne's sonnet: -"One whose eye could smite the Hight in sunder, Searching if l ight or no l igh t were thereunder, And found in love and loving kindness l i g h t . Duty divine and thought with eyes of f i r e S t i l l following Righteousness with deep desire Shone sole and stern before her and above Sure s t a r s and sole to s teer by; but more sweet Shone lower the love l ies t lamp for earthly feet , The l igh t of l i t t l e children, and the i r love ." • BIBLIOGRAPHY. Bettany. G. T. - Darwin, Walter Scott, London, 1887. Browning. Osoar - George Eliot, W. Scott, ^ London, 1890! Cooke, George W. - George Eliot, J. R. Osgood & Co., Boston, 1883. Dowden. Edmund - Studies in Literature, K. Paul, Irench & Co., London, 1882. Eliot. George - Hovels - Connoisseur Ed., Univ. Library Assoc., Phil. Hamilton. Clayton - Manuel of Prose Fiction. Mill. J. S. - Comte and Positivism, Trubner & Co., London, 1891. Hewman, J. H. - Apologia, Longmans, Green & Co., London, 1908. Perry. Bliss - A Study of Prose Fiction, Houghton, Mifflin & Co., New York, 1902. Phelps. W. L. - Development of the Hovel, Dodd, Mead & Co., Hew York, 1916. Stephen. Leslie - George Eliot, Maomillan & Co., Ltd., London, 1902. Taine. H. A. - History of English Literature, Colonial Press, New York, 1900. * 


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