by George Eliot
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
Hmm, a story of someone finding out he's Jewish and going on to fight for the rights of his people, even though he didn't totally relate to them before. Sound familiar? Well, this story didn't just begin with Daniel Deronda. If you're even a little familiar with the Torah or the Old Testament of the Bible, or seen a little (as in three hours long) Charlton Heston movie called The Ten Commandments, then you've probably heard the story of Moses. If not, here's a quick version of Biblical history:
Way, way back in the day, the Pharaoh of Egypt (that is, the big guy in charge – the Egyptians believed that the Pharaoh was both part king and part god) heard a prophecy that a Hebrew child was going to be born who would deliver all of the Jews, who were at the time forced into slavery, out of Egypt. The Pharaoh was like, "Oh man, this is not good for me." Then he had an idea: if he made sure that all the male Hebrew children were murdered, then nobody would grow up to deliver the Hebrew nation, and the Pharaoh would still have plenty of slaves to do everything for him. Bingo.
Moses' mom didn't want her newborn son to be murdered, so to give him a chance at life she sent him down the Nile River in a basket (which we assume was very waterproof). The Pharaoh's daughter found him and raised him as the Prince of Egypt. Moses was raised alongside his sort-of cousin, the Pharaoh's son, who would go on to inherit the throne – the Grandcourt to Moses' Daniel if you will. Later, Moses' real identity was revealed. He was actually not Egyptian, but Hebrew (that is, Jewish). When the big secret came out, the Pharaoh cast Moses out. After wandering in the desert for a long time, Moses then came back and delivered the Jews out of slavery and out of Egypt. (Of course, this is just a quick version of the events as they're written.)
OK, so back to Daniel Deronda. While Daniel's mom didn't give him up to save his life, she did partially give him up in order to make sure that he didn't live his life with a Jewish identity – just like Moses' mother did with her own son. Like Moses, Daniel wasn't raised to sympathize with the Jewish faith or the people who practice it. Still, both men become leaders of a sort – Moses leads the Jews out of Egypt; Daniel plans to travel east in order to try to start a Jewish nation. From their hidden births to their mysterious identities to the huge tasks they take on, Moses and Daniel definitely resonate with one another.