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Daniel Deronda
updated 12.08.2003

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I am so frustrated. I generally record the PBS showings of Masterpiece Theatre (except that lately it has been hard to find.) As such I had a recording of the first part of the luscious and beautiful Daniel Deronda but, alas, never got the second part. My library has no video copy of this. Help! I'm on a cliffhanger here for a whole season. How can I get to see the rest of this?

Beth M. Horowitz
Tucson, AZ

At this time, Daniel Deronda is not scheduled for a repeat showing. It can be purchased however, from

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I am only 13 and I have found this production of Daniel Deronda to be fascinating and engaging. I didn't want it to end. I believe it to be the best of the Masterpiece Theatre productions. The cast is incredible and they give a performance unlike any other that I've ever seen. Also, the landscapes make it seem all too real and the view of London exposes the levels in society in the 1800s. I can't wait to read the book as soon as I can get my hands on it.

Kate Aldez
Boston, MA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I have been a Masterpiece Theatre fan for decades now. I know many viewers look back on classic series such as Town Like Alice, I, Claudius, and Jewel in the Crown, but I have to say I feel Daniel Deronda ranks right up there. It was an amazing adaptation of the book. My inclination would be to just buy rights to air anything that Andrew Davies does the screenplay for and you can't go wrong.

The cast standout for me was Hugh Bonneville who so often plays the nice guy. It was quite clear he enjoyed the challenge of Grandcourt and more than obvious that he was actor enough to play such a complex personality with both subtlety and tension. Wonderful.

Kelly James
Union, NJ

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I studied Victorian literature in graduate school and George Eliot was my most favorite author. That profoundness and power manifest in many of her works was superbly rendered in the Masterpiece Theatre production of Daniel Deronda, and is still haunting me. I rarely watched Hollywood and commercial network movies. So Masterpiece Theatre provides wonderful alternatives that are both enjoyable and intellectually satisfying. Thank you Masterpiece Theatre!

Joy Chen
Rockville, MD

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I, as a thirteen year old, do not normally indulge in Masterpiece Theatre, but for the case of a show I just happened to begin watching called Daniel Deronda, I can surely say that I am now hooked. Since I have not read the novel that this stunning adaptation was based on, I could never truly compare the two, but it will not stop me from relaying the splendor and absolute grandeur that Daniel Deronda expresses. The introduction of each new character (who were as brilliant as the story they told) gave me the chance to begin to truly love and respect, pity and sympathize with, or loathe and glower at them when they appear on the screen. Every new development kept me on my toes, squinting at the horizon of each character, and even then I was taken by surprise. The entire tale evokes such emotion and response that it can be witnessed over and over again with every gasp in place, every giggle timed just right, and every tear on time.

Jessica Jernigan

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Many thanks for bringing such a wonderful adaptation of one of George Eliot's lesser-known novels to America, and congratulations for producing such a gem! I absolutely loved the story, the characters, the settings and the costumes -- all of those qualities which make watching such a treat.

I truly enjoyed watching the characters, particularly how well the actors portrayed them and how they reacted to adversity and to the changes in their lives. The highest praise deservedly goes to the leads, Hugh Dancy and Romola Garai, for their portrayals of Daniel Deronda and Gwendolen Harleth. At first, I was prepared to find Daniel a little too good to be true, but he kept my interest in the character by presenting him with a subtleness that hinted at more than just the emotionally and financially supportive friend that he was. Romola Garai faced even more challenges as Gwendolen. When viewers are first introduced to her she is a spoiled, selfish, self-centered, young and beautiful society girl. Yet, I found that I felt sorry for her because no one, no matter how spoiled or insensitive she is, deserves Henleigh Grandcourt as a husband!

The supporting actors and actresses did equally well, making their characters fit seamlessly with the leads and making their lives fit seamlessly with the stories of the two leads. I also liked how the issue of Jews in Victorian England was treated, and particularly how Daniel handled the issue when he learned of his true heritage.

I thought that the program illustrated Eliot's feelings about the role of women in society, particularly how restricted their lives became once they married. The usual social commentary that viewers (and readers) of Eliot's novels expect was also very well done, emphasizing the importance of the class system, how it truly governed the lives of Victorians in everything, for example how they lived, whether they worked for a living or not, whom they married, etc.

The only issue that puzzled me was the way one of the inheritance issues was handled. Sir Hugo Mallinger's estate would go to Henleigh Grandcourt after Sir Hugo's death because Sir Hugo does not have any male children. (He has daughters, and he adopted Daniel, but none of these people can inherit -- the daughters, because females could not inherit, and Daniel because he is not an "heir of his, i.e., Sir Hugo's body".) This kind of estate is commonly called a fee tail or entailment (entailed estate). What it essentially means is that the entire estate (the land, the house on the land, the chattel in the house, farm buildings if any, animals, etc.) is passed from father to oldest son. Or, if there are no male descendents, the estate goes to the next closest male blood relative to the current holder of the fee tail; in this case, Henleigh. Illegitimate children cannot inherit property from their fathers. Fee tails cannot be sold, nor devised (i.e., given to another person in a will). So, how is it that Henleigh was able to make a will, which gave the property to his illegitimate son by Lydia Glasher? This son would not be able to inherit so much as a farthing from his father because his parents were never married. He is also not able to inherit the entailed estate because of his illegitimacy. The will devising the estate to this child would be null and void because a will does not govern how fee tails are passed on to the next possessor of the estate. Legally, the estate would go to the next nearest male blood relative of Sir Hugo's, because Henleigh predeceased Sir Hugo. Was the will devising the estate to Henleigh's illegitimate son merely done for dramatic reasons, to further illustrate how cruel Henleigh could be?

MaryBeth Lizek

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Like so many others, I too, enjoyed the superb broadcast of Daniel Deronda. The acting, costumes and locations were all great. I was taken with the story of finding one's heritage and using that as guidance for the future. The subtle (?) use of water in the imagery, as well as in the story, was interesting: Mirah's rescue from drowning, Gwendolyn gaining freedom by her husband's drowning and the journey to Israel. Kudos to the cast and crew!

Sophia Meuleman
Gainesville, FL

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