Serial Reading Guide for Daniel Deronda: Book Seven (chs. 50-57)
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. As this installment of the novel begins, be sure to notice Eliot’s continuing habit of preparing us for a scene. For example, the last few pages of chapter 50 offer images (clock, footsteps, cathedral bells) and remarks on familiar themes (change, sacrifice, duty) all to set the stage—emotionally and imaginatively—for the “big scene” to come.
2. Note how imaginative expectation meets reality in chapter 51. In that chapter, consider how the novel’s themes of inheritance, rescue, and even acting are extended.
3. How is Leonora (the Princess) like and unlike Gwendolen? How is she like and unlike Mirah?
4. “Oh, this finding out relationships is delightful!” (574bn/654p). Once again, little Mab has a great line, and speaks like she knows she’s in a novel. What do you think of the convergence of characters and relationships in chapter 52?
5. What is the relationship between an inheritance and a curse? Can someone do harm and yet mean well? How about vice-versa—can someone with bad motivation do a good thing?
6. Chapter 54—oh my.
7. In chapter 56, note the exploration of how, even in the absence of actual action, people are influenced by thoughts and desires. (By the way . . . would “the rope” have helped?)
8. Notice how the narrator seems to increasingly describe scenes as if they were seen and interpreted by strangers or groups (rather than by other characters, as we’ve seen in much of the novel), such as the concluding line of chapter 57. What might this suggest?