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GEORGE ELIOT'S SENSE OF MORAL VALUES IN HER EARLY NOVELS

Title
GEORGE ELIOT'S SENSE OF MORAL VALUES IN HER EARLY NOVELS
Authors
임영애
Issue Date
1965
Department/Major
대학원 영어영문학과
Publisher
이화여자대학교 대학원
Degree
Master
Abstract
As George Eliot put hey end of writing mostly in teaching, her novels are accused of being didactic. In Adam, Bede and The Mill on the Floss there are too many and too long didactic essays which explain the characters or teach the virtues. But she had a deep sympathy with human beings, and it kept her from being a pedant. George Eliot once said, "If art does not enlarge men's sympathies, it does nothing morally. I hare had heart-cutting experience that opinions are a poor cement between human souls: and the only effect I ardently long to produce by my writings is, that those who read them should be better able to imagine and to feel the pains and the joys of those who differ from themselves In everything but the broad fact of being struggling, erring, human creatures. "I George Eliot was not interested In presenting morally perfect characters but in presenting ordinary human beings 'liable to error' who would arouse our sympathy. Therefore, her novels make us feel with her characters and increase our understanding and compassion. And another time she wrote, "Art Is the nearest thing to life: it is a mode of amplifying experience and extending our contact with our fellow-.Bien beyond the bounds of our personal lot." Such was the goal of George Eliot's art. In pursuing her goal she was very earnest and serious. She said in her letter to her publisher, "I will never write anything to which my whole heart, mind and conscience don't consent, so that I may feel that It was something--however small--which wanted to be done In this world, and that I am just the organ for that small bit of work." While George Eliot was painting the lives of ordinary people around her and describing their joys and sorrows, their successes and failures, she wished to teach, "by insisting on the deep importance of this world, to hinder as little as possible the good which is burgeoning around us." "Science and. religion came into violent opoosition, and men's beliefs became shattered. It was here that George Eliot's calm judgment was so useful. She seemed to take the ordinary life and convert its ordinariness into something bigger and better. She did not controvert, but she showed that there was truth above the struggles, and also showed that there was a spiritual element running through all the events of life with-out which they would be incomprehensible." And George Eliot had a great influence over many souls. She inspired them with hope for the struggle of life and made them see "the honour of a humble task and an obscure function" George Eliot's sense of moral values is said to harm her artistic writings, Anne Fremantle says, "Her (George Eliot's) attempt to carry ethical purpose and erudition into art nearly destroyed. art." However, it is also true that George Eliot's sense of moral values gives her writing a purpose and streagth, a direction and a standard of right and wrong by which she makes a judgment or draws a conclusion. Virginia Woolf says, "Yat if you could delete the whole sisterhood you would leave a much smaller and a much inferior-world, albeit a world of greater artistic perfection and far superior jollity and comfort." V. S. Pritchett also says, "But It is precisely because she was a mind and because she was a good deal of school-mistress that she interests us now. Where the other Victorian novelists seem shapeless, confused and without direction, because of their melodramatic plots and subplots and the careless and rich diversity of their characters, George Eliot marks out an ordered world, and enunciates a constructed judgments." F. R, Leavis says, "Without her (George Eliot's) Intense moral preoccupation she wouldn't have been a great novelist." And David Cecil says, "George Eliot's concentration on the moral side of human nature is the chief source of her peculiar glory, the kernel of her precious unique contribution to our literature." "Yet after all George Eliot is what we value most in a novelist -- one who lives and understands human beings and their relations and tells us how they live their daily lives and what they think and say." Leslie Stephen says, "I can not doubt that she had powers of mind and a richness of emotional nature rarely equalled, or that her writings-- whatever their shortcomings -- will have a corresponding value in the estimation of thoughtful readers." with all her moral teachings, sympathy with human beings, intellect, and sensibility George Eliot remains and will remain a great novelist in English literature.
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