Abstract

Because George Eliot's aim in writing fiction was to persuade her readers to love one another, she wanted to create loveable characters. This she does by an objective and ingenious method of determining whether her characters are, for herself, likable. Endowing Biblically-named characters, such as Elisabeth and Thomas, with traits of their Biblical namesakes, she invites us to compare the two sets of characters. The first part of the article compares a number of George Eliot's characters to their namesakes. The result is that most of her fictional characters, being mirror images of the namesakes, who are all likable, are themselves likable. By likable, I do not mean that they are necessarily very virtuous; rather, they are pleasing—persons whom George Eliot, at any rate, would like as friends. (Victorian readers often thought Maggie Tullliver wicked, but many readers like her.) The last part of the article, by a brief comparison of George Eliot's hundreds of Biblically-named characters to their namesakes, proves that all of the former are, to some extent, like the latter.

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