George Eliot Books
George Eliot is actually the pen name of author May Anne Evans. She was an English journalist, poet, and novelist of the Victorian era. The use of a pen name may be attributed to her desire to avoid female stereotypes (although other female authors from this era, like Mary Shelley, used their real name and were still taken seriously) or as an attempt to separate her private life from her public life.
Eliot lived with her mentor, George Henry Lewes, a married man whose wife refused a divorce. She considered him her husband, an implied criticism of the existing marriage and divorce laws in many of her works. When Lewes died in 1878, Eliot married John Walter Cross in May of 1880. Sadly, she died less than a year later.
Major Works of George Eliot
She wrote many works of literature, including translations, poems, and novels. George Eliot's books focused on social outcasts, rural society, and politics. She was popular in her own era, and in recent criticism, Eliot and her books are cited as important works of English literature.
- Adam Bede: George Eliot's first book was Adam Bede. It depicts the lives of four characters in a rural community. The plot revolves around the relationships between these characters and the social consequences of their actions.
- Silas Marner: Silas Marner, on the surface, is the tale of a lonely and miserly weaver. Silas has had a hard life, first framed by his best friend, then ostracized from his community, then robbed. He finds new meaning, however, by raising a bastard child, Eppie.
- Middlemarch: Frequently cited as one the greatest works in the English language, Middlemarch is the most widely known of George Eliot's books. It touches upon themes of marriage, religion, and politics. It follows the lives of the citizens of the eponymous town.
The voice of Middlemarch rings with Eliot's value of altruism, men and women working together in marriage, and outside marriage to help others. The voice also speaks of her value of duty and work, a characteristic so well defined in Brooke Casaubon. Ultimately, George Eliot's beliefs about marriage, despite her own radicalism for her time, emerge as rather traditional. She believes in marital fidelity. She advocates the importance of doing one's duty in marriage. And she reveres women who are good wives and mothers. Mary Garth Vincy, along with her parents, stands as the best marital role model in Middlemarch. She lacks physical beauty, perhaps reflecting Eliot's own rather plain appearance. Eliot treatment of Brooke and Rosamond may give us a glimpse of her mixed feelings on the female appearance. The beautiful Rosamond receives very foul treatment, perhaps a reflection of Eliot's subconscious jealousy. But Brooke, also beautiful, receives excellent treatment for her altruism and decision to Landislaw. But Mary Garth, with her idealism, compassion for others, and concern about bringing out the best in her spouse, form the foundation of George Eliot's views on marriage. She seems to have definitely believed in the institution of marriage, and its place in her writing as a vehicle to judge ethics.