Although George Eliot wrote Daniel Deronda with a great enthusiasm for Zionism and sympathy for the Jewish people, its hero Daniel rings hollow in the opinion of most critics. He is especially weak insofar as he is a Jew and a Zionist. Magically morally insightful like George Eliot's "angelic" heroines, he strikes most critics as priggish instead of inspiring. He was raised as a privileged Gentile, unaware of his Jewish heritage. Eliot substitutes his bloodlines for the morally sensitizing experiences of oppression that give her heroines mimetic realism. Eliot makes Daniel a Jew in the interests of her nontheistic ethics, which require local or patriotic affections to avoid chilly, deracinated abstract morality. Daniel abandons English culture to take on a Judaism that is hardly cultural, much less religious; Eliot creates a "sympathetic," purely racial Jew, stripped of Jewish culture, and neither religious nor cognizant of the political realities of Zionism.

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pp. 105-115
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