While leading the just and good life in the Western tradition has long been premised on an aversion to chance, much of the fiction of the nineteenth century suggests that setting up an antagonistic relationship between risk and morality doesn’t simply deny contingency, it also stunts the eventuality of personal/moral growth deriving from both failed and successful risk-taking and denies as well the possible harm caused by conformity and inaction. George Eliot demonstrates throughout Daniel Deronda that the real dangers for Gwendolen Harleth reside with “the risks that lie within,” the ease of acquiescing to moral complacency and self-limiting models of aesthetic experience. She implies that the potential for harm is far greater when her protagonist relies on beauty as a safe bet for achieving her aims and to this end utilizes experiences of the sublime throughout the novel to act as a vital counterforce to the complacency and stagnation that threaten to dominate Gwendolen’s future.

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