After Viewing Questions
- Look over the list of words created to describe the main characters. Which character changes or grows most over the course of the film? Which characters remain unchanged? Is the change in Gwendolen believable? How is Deronda transformed by the end? Discuss whether Daniel Deronda is a coming of age story. (For more on the coming of age genre, go to The Coming-of-Age Story: Questions and Activities.)
- Gwendolen, Mirah, and Mordecai all see Daniel Deronda as a savior. What draws each of these characters to Daniel, and what motivates him to "save" them? What is Daniel himself searching for, and what does he find? How well does he understand his own motives and actions? Is he too good to be true? Discuss why Mary Ann Evans, who published her work under a man's name (George Eliot), chose the perspective of a male protagonist in her last novel.
- In 1919, Virginia Wolf wrote of Eliot, "But it is upon the heroines that we would cast a final glance." Who is the heroine of Daniel Deronda, Gwendolen or Mirah? How is each woman a foil for the other? Compare their social positions, their characteristics, and their life choices. If you could spend an hour with either Gwendolen or Mirah, whom would you rather meet? Why?
- How does Daniel Deronda reveal the limits faced by women in Victorian England? Refer back to your character list. How much freedom does each female character have to determine her own future? What role does marriage play for these women? Can you find 21st century equivalents (in films or novels) to Gwendolen, Mirah, Lydia Glasher, or Deronda's mother? Explain who and why.
- Many of George Eliot's readers were surprised that she chose to write about Jewish characters. Why might this have been the case? What did you like or dislike about her portrayal of Jewish people? Compare Daniel with other Jewish characters in British literature of the time (Fagin in Oliver Twist, for instance). For a brief chronology, direct students to Judaism in Nineteenth-Century England: A Chronology
- Which scene would you cite as the climax of the film, and why? Did Daniel Deronda end as you expected? Was the ending satisfying? Why did Eliot have Daniel marry Mirah instead of Gwendolen? Compare the ending to that of other 19th century films and novels and to modern story endings. Is Daniel Deronda the best title for this work? Suggest alternate titles or endings.
Teaching Daniel Deronda:
Before Viewing Questions | After Viewing Questions
Classroom Activities and Investigations | Suggested Resources
Teacher's Guide Credits | eNewsletter Sign-up
Essays + Interviews | Who's Who/Cast + Credits
Story Synopsis | Novel to Film | Russell Baker
Links + Bibliography | Teaching Daniel Deronda | The Forum
About The Series |
The American Collection |
Schedule & Season |
Feature Library |
Learning Resources |