by George Eliot
Daniel Deronda Religion Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
Of learned and accomplished Jews [Daniel] took it for granted that they had dropped their religion, and wished to be merged in the people of their native lands. Scorn flung at a Jew as such would have roused all his sympathy in griefs of inheritance; but the indiscriminate scorn of a race will often strike a specimen who has well earned it on his own account, and might fairly be gibbeted as a rascally son of Adam. (19.3)
Before he starts learning about and appreciating Jewish religion and culture, Daniel's understanding of Jewish people is based largely on assumptions. He assumes that more accomplished Jewish people want to become part of a Christian society. It makes you wonder what he actually knew about Jewish culture before meeting Mirah and Mordecai.
"I think my life began with waking up and loving my mother's face: it was so near to me, and her arms were round me, and she sang to me. One hymn she sang so often, so often: and then she taught me to sing it with her: it was the first I ever sang. They were always Hebrew hymns she sang; and because I never knew the meaning of the words they seemed full of nothing but our love and happiness." (20.9)
For Mirah, appreciating Jewish culture is a way for her to connect to her long-lost mother. She doesn't know the meaning of the words of the hymns her mother sang, but they evoke memories of love and contentment.
"But after Signora left us we went to our rooms where our landlady was a Jewess and observed her religion. I asked her to take me with her to the synagogue; and I read in her prayer-books and Bible, and when I had money enough I asked her to buy me books of my own, for these books seemed a closer companionship with my mother: I knew that she must have looked at the very words and said them. In that way I have come to know a little of our religion, and the history of our people, besides piecing together what I read in plays and other books about Jews and Jewesses; because I was sure that my mother obeyed her religion." (20.22)
Again we see Mirah seek out a connection with her mother by deepening her relationship with her religion.