English, Department of



Margaret Harris

Date of this Version


Document Type



The George Eliot Review 47 (2016)


Published by The George Eliot Review Online https://GeorgeEliotReview.org


In Middlemarch, chapter 20, as Dorothea Casubon sits musing in Rome, George Eliot presents one of the most traumatic honeymoons in fiction . With decorum, but unmistakably, Dorothea's sexual confusion is conveyed: however, she will live through widowhood to fulfilment as Dorothea Ladislaw. In contrast, George Eliot denies such fulfilment to Gwendolen Grandcourt in her next novel, Daniel Deronda. Where Dorothea's acceptance of Casaubon's proposal arises from idealistic ignorance, Gwendolen's decision to marry Grandcourt is morally flawed because of her awareness of his liaison with Lydia Glasher. There is no question about the physical consummation of the Grandcourt marriage, unlike that of the Casaubons: Grandcourt's sadistic brutality in and out of bed is apparent. Gwendolen experiences even deeper guilt than Dorothea in her release into widowhood, although her consciousness of the murderous thoughts she has harboured is tempered by contrition