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Flashcards in George Eliot Deck (20):

How old was George Eliot when her first novel was published?



What is George Eliot's real name?

Marian Evans


When did George Eliot live?



What other notable literary figures were born in the same year, 1819, as George Eliot?

- Walt Whitman
- Herman Melville


In what context did George Eliot's essays appear?

She worked as an assistant editor of the Westminster Review, where the essays were published.


What was scandalous about George Eliot?

She was in love with a married man - George Henry Lewes - who could not obtain a divorce. They chose to live together in a common-law marriage, which alienated her from some social groups.


What was the name of Eliot's common-law husband?

George Henry Lewes


What author was Eliot reading when she began writing fiction?

Jane Austen


When in her career did Eliot's essays appear?

Fairly early on, beginning in the 1850s. It was through her work on the journal that published her essays that Eliot made many of her literary connections, including meeting Lewes. It was only later in life that she turned to fiction.


What popular 19th century topic does Eliot address in her essay "Margaret Fuller and Mary Wollstonecraft"?

"The woman question"


Margaret Fuller and Mary Wollstonecraft: Who are Margaret Fuller and Mary Wollstonecraft?

Margaret Fuller was an American essayist and advocate for women who Eliot admired. She died in 1850 - so was a contemporary of Eliot's.

Mary Wollstonecraft was the British author of "The Vindication of the Rights of Woman," who had died in 1797.


Margaret Fuller and Mary Wollstonecraft: What is the argument of this essay?

Eliot offers a retrospective book review of Fuller's "Women in the Nineteenth Century" and Wollstonecraft's "A Vindication of the Rights of Woman." She points out points they have in common, as well as arguments she finds particularly compelling.


What was Eliot's stance on "the woman question"?

She was sympathetic with feminist causes, but was not politically active. She was interesting in exploring women's issues, but also believed in adherence to duty and loyalty to one's past, which made her views a little more complex than we might initially think.

(It seems to me that she was a woman doing her own thing, and while she largely agreed with writers like Fuller and Wollstonecraft, she may not have been super concerned because her own life wasn't affected by many of these issues.)


Margaret Fuller and Mary Wollstonecraft: What, in general, does Eliot praise about these authors?

They don't exaggerate women's virtues or capabilities, but rationally set forth an argument that would remove restrictions to women's improvement.


Margaret Fuller and Mary Wollstonecraft: What is an idea that Eliot thinks Fuller addresses particularly well?

That there is no one definition of what a woman is or can be. Tastes and occupations, even for pastimes "improper" for girls, should be indulged because it leads to a better disposition.

"The difference would be that all need not be constrained to employments for which some are unfit."


Margaret Fuller and Mary Wollstonecraft: What opinion do the women share about those who claim women are equal to men?

Eliot says that this is a "sentimental" argument neither writer falls victim to. According to her, to claim that women are equal to men would be to suggest that there is a "state of slavery" (i.e., the condition of women) that promotes virtue, which is logically impossible and might suggest things should continue as they are. It is exactly because women and men are unequal that society must change.


Margaret Fuller and Mary Wollstonecraft: Should women or their "position" (rights, place in society) be the first to improve?

According to Eliot, both must be improved little by little - otherwise there is endless argument about whether society must improve for women to get better, or if women must get better in order for it to be worth changing their position.


Silly Novels by Lady Novelists: What does Eliot argue in this essay?

Eliot takes to task a large body of work by women who only write "silly" novels with unrealistic heroines, false impressions of upper-class life (and lower-class is eschewed altogether), poor diction, or didacticism.

These silly ladies make serious women novelists look bad, and make others question the value of women's education. It might even make obtaining education for women harder. (Can easily be tied back to her statements about "the women's issue" in "MF & MW" -- believes that women have a long way to go before they are *equal* to men.


Silly Novels by Lady Novelists: What are some lady novelists she praises?

Currer Bell (Charlotte Bronte) and Elizabeth Gaskell


Silly Novels by Lady Novelists: What is Eliot's name for religious or philosophical novels?