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The Spinozist Freedom of George Eliot's Daniel Deronda

From: Philosophy and Literature
Volume 34, Number 1, April 2010
pp. 65-81 | 10.1353/phl.0.0072



George Eliot's Daniel Deronda advances a conception of freedom with clear Spinozist affinities. The development of Eliot's characters, and of their relationships to one another, can be understood fruitfully in terms of growth toward freedom or contraction to bondage, where the notions of freedom and bondage are very much in accord with Spinoza's views in the Ethics. A close reading of specific scenes and an analysis of the title character's arc in the novel discloses a view of human freedom which is at once an attractive interpretation of Spinoza and a significant component of Eliot's ethics.