Study Guide

Daniel Deronda Chapter 2

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Chapter 2

  • We read the letter that Gwendolen gets from her mom, Fanny Davilow. It basically says that a business venture has totally failed and that she and Gwendolen's aunt are both totally ruined. She begs Gwendolen to come home.
  • Gwendolen can't believe it. She had never expected her life to be anything but totally comfortable.
  • She stares at herself in the mirror. This means she's thinking deep thoughts, probably.
  • She rereads the letter a couple more times and then throws it on the ground. She can't cry; she doesn't feel sorry for her mom. We learn that if Gwendolen were able to feel any pity at this moment, she would only feel it for herself.
  • Gwendolen's really upset with herself for having lost roulette the night before. (There's a lesson here, you guys: don't gamble.)
  • She thinks about how to get more money – should she sell her jewelry? Should she stay a couple more days in Leubronn and gamble what's left of the money in her purse?
  • Gwendolen stays up all night packing and weighing her options. She considers staying and playing more roulette, but she keeps thinking about how Daniel Deronda will probably be there watching her.
  • She stays up past sunrise and decides not to go to bed at all.
  • Gwendolen goes to Mr. Wiener's shop to sell her necklace.
  • Mr. Wiener says it's a nice necklace, but in Gwendolen's eyes, he underpays her for it. She thinks how he's cheap because he's Jewish.
  • When Gwendolen gets back to the hotel, one of the servants brings in a package for her that was left for her at the door. It contains Gwendolen's necklace, wrapped in a handkerchief with the corner torn off, and a note with this message: "A stranger who has found Miss Harleth's necklace returns it to her with the hope that she will not again risk the loss of it" (2.5).
  • Gwendolen has a hunch that the "stranger" returning the necklace was actually Daniel Deronda. She's kind of pissed about it – and humiliated. She feels powerless to confront him, because if she does, she runs the slight risk that it wasn't him who sent it…and then what will she do?
  • She's also mad because nobody has ever treated her with "irony and contempt" before (2.6). Still, is that the way you think the sender sees this act, or merely the way that Gwendolen perceives it?
  • Gwendolen decides not to go through the humiliation of seeing Daniel Deronda again at the roulette table. She decides to skip town ASAP.

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