Abstract

George Eliot’s concern with the mental condition of her St. Ogg’s characters is best understood in the context of Victorian beliefs about habit. Viewed as allied to instincts because of their durable and unconscious nature, habits, paradoxically, also were described as flexible dispositions, capable of being retrained through conscious effort. Thus, for Victorian culture, one’s habitual regimes were intensely moralized. When George Eliot represents habit’s cumulative effects in The Mill on the Floss, she makes a significant claim for novel reading: that not only lived experience but also imaginative experience contributes to the brain’s development and the making of moral character.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1522-9270
Print ISSN
0039-3657
Pages
pp. 831-852
Launched on MUSE
2010-12-03
Open Access
No
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