Off-campus South Dakota State University users: To download campus access theses, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your South Dakota State University ID and password.

Non-South Dakota State University users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this thesis through interlibrary loan.

Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department / School


First Advisor

Jerry W. Yarbrough


In Eliot's novels the female suffers more than the male because women are more restricted by society. Yet as Wollstonecraft points out in A Vindication of the Rights of Women, women are ill-equipped to make decisions because of the inequities of society (213). Women, she says, cannot develop their virtues until they are independent of men and men discontinue viewing women solely as objects of beauty (213-214). Wollstonecraft believes that women dependent on husbands are "cunning, mean, and selfish" and fail in their duty of being good wives and mothers (213). There is no proof that George Eliot read Mary Wollstonecraft 's essays, but some of the women in Eliot's novels exemplify Wollstonecraft's position. Gwendolen, in Daniel Deronda, is an example of a woman whose beauty purchased houses, horses, carriages, and position. Grandcourt considers Gwendolen an object of beauty that he can control because she fears poverty. Dorothea, who envisions a life useful to the poor, is trapped by Casaubon's sterility. Maggie, who tries to define herself according to Tom's constraints, discovers that she cannot live by Tom's rules despite her greatest effort. The tension created between characters in George Eliot's novels carries forward her psychological plots.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Eliot, George, 1819-1880 -- Criticism and interpretation
Eliot, George, 1819-1880 -- Characters -- Women
Women in literature



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University