Encountering the foreign : the educative effect of the foreign in George Eliot's novels of English life
This thesis investigates the ways in which the encounter of the self with the other enlarges both individual characters and English life in George Eliot's fiction. The role of the foreign in her novels of English life gradually increases in general from novel to novel, and hence the chapters of my thesis are chronologically structured, and each chapter is devoted to one particular novel. The Introduction consists of a brief history of George Eliot's own awakening through her foreign experiences, as her letters and journals reveal. In addition, critical and theoretical background material, particularly Foucault and Habermas, is briefly introduced. Chapter One is devoted to the first indications of the foreign in Scenes of Clerical Life. Chapter Two considers the foreign in terms of sympathy in the rural world of Adam Bede. The next chapter examines the attitudes of the dominant culture towards the foreign in The Mill on the Floss. Chapter Four centres on different forms of the alien inserted into English life in Silas Marner, 'Lifted Veil' and 'Brother Jacob'. Chapter Five focuses on the ambiguous representation of Harold Transome's anglo-oriental identity, and English attitudes towards the Orient in Felix Holt. The last two chapters study Middlemarch and Daniel Deronda, in which the encounter with the foreign is experienced beyond the borders of England. Chapter Six introduces the conflict between the conditions obtaining 'here-now in England' and those in the metropolitan city of Rome. In the last chapter, a synthesis of various encounters, which connects England to Europe and the Orient, is examined. My thesis concludes by appreciating the complexity of identity, and the broader horizons achieved by the encounter with the foreign in George Eliot's novels of English life.