by George Eliot
Daniel Deronda Chapter 20 Summary
- We're at the Meyricks' house again. Mirah is clean and rested. Mab and the family gush about how beautiful and delicate she is.
- Mab grumbles that Mrs. Meyrick will get to spend the day with Mirah and learn everything about her. Mrs. Meyrick figures that Mirah's backstory is a sad one and that she needs to hear it.
- Mirah starts telling her story. She was seven when she was taken away from her mother. She has sweet, happy memories of her mom singing to her. She says she knows she would recognize her mom if she saw her ever again.
- Mirah says that she thought for a long time that her mom was dead, but that when Daniel gave Mirah a second chance at life, she suddenly hoped that her mom was still alive, too.
- Mrs. Meyrick asks how Mirah was separated from her mom and brother. Mirah says that her father told her one day that he was taking her on a trip. She was excited, but then it seemed to go on forever.
- The next thing she knew, they were in America. Mirah asked her dad if she could write to her mom and brother, but her dad told her that they were both dead. We find out that Mirah barely remembers her brother.
- Mirah's dad was an actor who knew many languages. We learn also that an Italian lady lived with Mirah and her dad for a long time.
- When Mirah was nine, her dad made her begin a life on the stage. She hated it. And you thought stage moms today had a bad rap – what about stage dads?
- Mirah developed a reputation as a really talented singer, even as a kid, but she really hated it when people clapped for her. She didn't think that kind of love was sincere. She saw the difference between women being good and beautiful onstage and then ugly and coarse backstage.
- Mrs. Meyrick asks Mirah if she kept up with her religion in America. Mirah says her dad sort of hid it from her, but that she remembered going to the synagogue with her mother. One day, Mirah snuck out and tried to find a synagogue but got lost. A peddler brought her back to her dad, who was really mad about it.
- Then one day Mirah asked her landlady, who was Jewish, to take her to the synagogue with her. Getting in touch with her religion helped Mirah to feel like she was closer to her mother.
- As Mirah got older, she realized that if her dad was such a good actor, it was probably possible that his behavior toward her was an act, too.
- We learn that Mirah's dad changed their last name to Lapidoth, but it was really Cohen.
- One day, Mirah overheard a gentleman say that Mirah's dad was a "clever Jew" and a "rascal," and wondered what he intended to become of Mirah. Mirah started to wonder if she was unhappy because she was Jewish.
- They moved around, spending most of their time in Hamburg and Vienna.
- Mirah's dad used to make fun of Jewish ways and customs, which really upset Mirah.
- Sometimes Mirah's dad would start crying, and in those moments Mirah felt really sorry for him.
- Mirah realized one day that her voice was getting worse, and that her acting was only good when it "wasn't really acting" – that is, when she would play someone sad onstage and could just act like her normal, sad self.
- In the middle of this whole mess, Mirah's dad was arrested. He gave Mirah and address and told her to go see a Count who would be able to help him get out of prison.
- Mirah met this Count, recognizing him as a man she had seen at the theater. He skeezed her out by the way he kissed her hand and checked her out.
- Mirah's dad talked up a big game about the Count. Then one day, the Count came over and proposed to her. Mirah told him that she'd rather stay on the stage. She realized that he was in cahoots with her dad against her. Her dad told her that if she didn't marry the Count that they'd starve.
- Mirah felt really suspicious of her dad. She sold some of her things. One morning she got up at four o'clock and got on a train to Dresden. Her only fear was that her father would follow her.
- When Mirah arrived in London, she asked for directions to her old street. Nobody knew what she was talking about. It turns out everything was torn down and then rebuilt.
- Mirah basically lost all hope and started thinking about killing herself.
- She ends her story by telling Mrs. Meyrick that she probably already knows the rest. Her story ends there.
- Later on, Mrs. Meyrick talks to Daniel about how wonderful Mirah is.
- Daniel asks her if she thinks it's a good idea to try to find Mirah's mom. Mrs. Meyrick says that she's sure that Mrs. Mirah must have been good, but that she may be dead.
- Mrs. Meyrick hopes that Mirah can become independent one day, but she promises to take care of her in the meantime.
- In the meantime, Mirah sits with Kate, Mab, and Amy in the other room. They tell her all about how great Daniel is. Mirah says she's glad that Daniel is of high social rank, because, before him, she has only disliked such people.
- Daniel says his goodbyes – he's going to go to Leubronn with Sir Hugo and Lady Mallinger for two months.
- The narrator tells us that we're now at the point where the novel started – we've caught up to the point in time when Gwendolen and Daniel meet.
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