Date of this Version
The George Eliot Review 44 (2013)
On Saturday 1 December 2012, the Sixteenth Annual Convention of the George Eliot Fellowship of Japan was held at Kansai University of Foreign Studies.
The morning session started with an opening address by Chizuko Watari (Kansai University of Foreign Studies). Three papers were presented in the morning session. The first two were commented upon by Midori Niino (Kobe University of Foreign Studies) and the third by Masayuki Kato (Kobe University).
The first speaker was Ayako Tani (Fukuoka University), whose subject was 'The Idea of a Double in Daniel Deronda: Grandcourt's Death and Gwendolen's Rebirth'. Grandcourt's death has been often criticized as an expedient part of the plot. What Tani focused on in her argument was the idea of a double, as seen in Gwendolen's relationship with Grandcourt. When Gwendolen struggles with Grandcourt's aggressive behaviour and overcomes her hardships, her domineering husband (her double) dies. Tani argues that Eliot constructs a relationship of cause and effect between Gwendolen's moral progress and Grandcourt's death as the epitome of male domination. It is interesting to see the adoption of a motif in a story which subtly overturns the conventional idea of male domination. Refuting the critical views of his seemingly coincidental death, Tani analyzed Grandcourt's death from the perspective of Gwendolen's moral progress.
The second speaker was Eri Yoshimura (Kobe College) who discussed 'The Gazes of Female Characters in Daniel Deronda: Centring on Gwendolen and Mirah'. Central to her argument were the competitive power struggle between Gwendolen and Grandcourt, the conflicting and resisting way Gwendolen gazes upon Deronda, as seen most characteristically in the scene at the gaming table, and finally the way that Mirah's black eyes enchant Deronda. Her insightful argument sheds light on the male convention of the time, which is sometimes overturned by Eliot's female characters represented here by Gwendolen and Mirah: in short, female characters like Gwendolen and Mirah do not thoroughly submit to male domination.
The third speaker was Yoshiaki Okada (Nihon University), who tackled 'The Competing Ideas of Reason and Passion in Adam Bede in Relation to Milton 's Paradise Lost'. Okada pointed out that in Adam Bede (1859), Eliot adapted ideas on reason and passion from Milton's Paradise Lost (1667) while also taking some philosophical ideas from Spinoza's Ethics (1677) and Feuerbach. Okada focused on the meaning of 'nature' in the text and, using some excerpts from Paradise Lost, revealed that Hetty Sorrel embodies the ideas of passion and low nature while Dinah Morris embodies reason and high nature.