George Eliot’s Byronic Heroes II: Later Works

  • Sarah Wootton


Edward Dramin, in his article ‘Romanticism in the Late Novels of George Eliot’, argues that ‘Eliot’s ambivalence toward Romanticism in her late novels differs from the typical Victorian response in its intensity and complexity: finding more reasons for criticizing the Romantics than do other Victorians, she also finds more ways in which the Romantics are appealing’.1 The ‘intensity and complexity’ of Eliot’s divided response to Romanticism is best illustrated, for Dramin, in her last novel: ‘Daniel Deronda presents Eliot’s […] fullest examination of Byron. The growth of Eliot’s fiction from Felix Holt to Daniel Deronda shows the evolution of her view of Byron from bemused disdain to a broader, more ambivalent image which acknowledges the complexity and attractive dimensions of his creations and of Byron himself’ (‘Romanticism in the Late Novels’, p. 292). Put another way, Eliot’s preoccupation with Byron’s poetry and his reputation, not to mention his compelling politics, becomes more pressing in, and elemental to, her work. The persistent and intriguing presence of Byron in Daniel Deronda (1876) will be examined in Part II of this chapter. It is necessary, however, to pause over Dramin’s comment about Eliot’s earlier novel, given the number of direct references to Byron, and specifically the Byronic hero, in Felix Holt: The Radical (1866).


Original Emphasis Innate Authority Romantic Poet Male Protagonist Title Character 
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Copyright information

© Sarah Wootton 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarah Wootton
    • 1
  1. 1.Durham UniversityUK

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