Daniel Deronda, Book Four

Serial Reading Guide for Daniel Deronda: Book Four (chs. 28-34)
Page numbers are indicated for the Barnes and Noble edition (2005) and the Penguin Classics edition (1995). For example, “107bn/123p” refers to page 107 in the Barnes and Noble edition and page 123 in the Penguin edition.

1. How often is Gwendolen described as “acting” throughout the novel? What might this signify for her future? Notice the play of other references as well (which recall earlier chapters): Gwendolen is a “Diana,” a hunter, a horsewoman, and a manager. Watch as the novel shows Gwendolen gaining and/or losing these qualities.

2. Note that the last few pages of chapter 28 provide key insight into Grandcourt’s character.

3. Does foreshadowing only happen in fiction, or does it occur in real life? If both, what might be the relationship between art and life?:
“Her anger toward Deronda had changed into a superstitious dread—due, perhaps, to the coercion he had exercised over her thought—lest the first interference of his in her life might foreshadow some future influence. It is of such stuff that superstitions are commonly made: an intense feeling about ourselves which makes the evening star shine at us with a threat, and the blessing of a beggar encourage us. And superstitions carry consequences which often verify their hope or their foreboding.” (ch. 29, 287-88bn/329p)

4. Be sure to consider any of the themes and issues mentioned in the second study guide. Eliot is keeping them all going.

5. How do the details of Lydia Glasher’s story compare to other characters, so far?

6. Key paragraph: “Gwendolen, in fact . . . ” start of ch. 31 (310-11bn/354-55p). And prepare for a very dramatic conclusion to chapter 31.

7. The opening pages of chapter 32—some key insight into Daniel’s character (“It is one thing to see your road, another to cut it”).

8. How does Mirah’s singing (ch. 32) compare with Gwendolen’s? In what other ways could you compare Mirah and Gwendolen? What does Mirah need from Daniel? What does Daniel need from Mirah?

9. How does Eliot want us to view ordinary, everyday events?:
“Here undoubtedly lies the chief poetic energy:—in the force of imagination that pierces or exalts the solid fact, instead of floating among cloud-pictures. To glory in a prophetic vision of knowledge covering the earth, is an easier exercise of believing imagination than to see its beginning in newspaper placards, staring at you from the bridge beyond the corn-fields; and it might well happen to most of us dainty people that we were in the thick of the battle of Armageddon without being aware of anything more than the annoyance of a little explosive smoke and struggling on the ground immediately about us” (ch. 33, 335bn/381p).

10. New fodder for family comparisons: the Meyricks, the Glashers, the Davilows, and now—the Cohens!

Next: Daniel Deronda: Book Five (chs. 35 – 40) >

Daniel Deronda Main Page
Serial Reading Main Page

© Steven J. Venturino 2018