Thesis

Patterns of disillusionment and insight in The mill on the floss, Middlemarch, and Daniel Deronda

This essay will study George Eliot's three major heroines, Maggie Tulliver in The Mill on the Floss, Dorothea Brooke in Middlemarch, and Gwendolen Harleth in Daniel Deronda. All three women undergo dramatic disillusionments, brought about by their failure to appraise accurately the nature of their own feelings and desires, those of others, and the limitations placed by society on their role as women. In studying the source, nature and outcome of these heroine's disillusionments, my thesis will provide some criteria for evaluating their motivation and provide insight into what George Eliot intended their struggles to represent. I will also comment on how echoing patterns of disillusionment in other characters within these novels reflect on the larger actions of the heroines. Do they all have the same misconceptions and expectations? Are they all disillusioned in the same way and to what purpose? Finally, I will study the extent to which characters are able to act on their insights and whether they are able to make the necessary adjustments to their life goals and roles within their society.

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