English, Department of

 

Date of this Version

1996

Document Type

Article

Citation

The George Eliot Review 27 (1996) Published by The George Eliot Fellowship, http://georgeeliot.org/

Comments

The George Eliot Review 2018 (27)

Abstract

In a letter to Martha Jackson of March 1841 the young Marian Evans, at the age of twenty- one, reflects on the way that a person's immediate surroundings help determine the impression that he or she makes on others:

I suppose we are all loved (or despised) a little for the sake of our circumstances as well as for our qualities .... What extrinsic charm have /, to make people care for me a little more then my qualities might deserve? Certainly none from the landscape about me, and as little from the carpets and curtains and other recommendations of an elegant interior which have often helped to fix a man's choice of his partner for life - (for who will pretend that a woman who is reached through a spacious entrance hall with Indian matting can appear as utterly commonplace as Miss Jackson seen through the open parlour-door as you enter the passage?)

That she should be thinking of herself in relation to carpets and curtains at this point in her life is hardly surprising, since she and her father were undergoing what she defines later in the same letter as 'one of the chief among the minor disagreeables of life, that of moving'. As she goes on to describe it, the move from Griff House to Coventry seems to be more than just a minor inconvenience:

To me it is a deeply painful incident - it is like dying to one stage of existence, henceforth nothing will have the charm of old use and wont which makes the days pass so easily - at least until novelty has merged once again into habit.

To me it is a deeply painful incident - it is like dying to one stage of existence, henceforth nothing will have the charm of old use and wont which makes the days pass so easily - at least until novelty has merged once again into habit.

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