Daniel Deronda
Daniel Deronda
by George Eliot
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Daniel Deronda Theme of Choices

Let's face it: we all hate having to make decisions. Well, the characters of Daniel Deronda are no different. Choosing one course of action over another is one of the biggest dilemmas that they face. Of the titles of the eight books of the novel, two contain the word choice: Book III is called "Maidens Choosing," and Book IV is called "Gwendolen Gets Her Choice." Everyone in this novel is affected by the decisions that others make. Daniel has to seek out his identity because his mother made the choice of giving him up when he was a kid; Rex tries to move to Canada because Gwendolen refuses to marry him. Other characters struggle with their own decisions, none so much as Gwendolen does. Her choice to marry Grandcourt is an extremely difficult one, and she does it ultimately to save her family. Still, she chooses to marry him fully aware of the existence of his mistress, Lydia Glasher, and her children. This decision haunts Gwendolen from the second she makes it until the second we close the book.

Questions About Choices

  1. Do you think Gwendolen harms Lydia by choosing to marry Grandcourt, or do you think Gwendolen's feelings of guilt just make her think she did something bad?
  2. Do you think Gwendolen chose not to save Grandcourt from drowning, or do you think his death was beyond her control?
  3. What are some choices that the characters of the novel make that they later regret?
  4. Do you think Daniel chooses to be identified as Jewish, or does his identity choose him?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Gwendolen is forced to make choices that she does not want to make.

Gwendolen gets what she wants through the choices she makes; it's just that she later realizes that the things she wanted aren't actually that great.

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