Daniel Deronda Steps Out of the Closet: Examining the Queer/Jewish Strategies of Identity-Formation

Publication Date


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Arts in English



Major Advisor

Carol A. Martin, Ph.D.


Daniel Deronda, published in 1876, was George Eliot's last novel. It's a brilliant work, choppy and conflicted, brimming with the socially minded humanism nearly synonymous with the Eliot brand, and full of beautifully rendered portraits capturing her characters' inner lives. It's a book of transitions: from Victorian to modem, from philosophy to psychology, from masculine to feminine, from Christian to Jew, from Occidental to Oriental, and from the normative to non-normative. Although the book is distinctly (and famously) split between two characters, Daniel Deronda and Gwendolen Grandcourt nee Harleth, it is not the separation of these two characters, or the separation of any of the above dialectical binaries that drives this novel. Instead, this work is propelled forward by the possibilities of influence inherent in the shared liminality between seemingly opposite forces. This mayor may not be one of George Eliot's "forgotten" novels. No matter; its relevancy lies in its power to challenge normative structures. In this sense, it seems perfectly suited for a queer reading.

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