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George Eliot as a Psychological Novelist
A psychological novelist analyses the motives, impulses and mental processes which move his characters to act in a particular way. The psychological novelist depicts the inner struggles of his characters and thus lays bare their souls before his reader. Thus in psychological novel there is much soul-dissection. George Eliot is one of the pioneers of psychological novels.
George Eliot is one of the most feminist novelist of the Victorian Age. Novel got a new look on her hand. Her contribution in Psychological novel is praiseworthy.
George Eliot as a Psychological Novelist
George Eliot is an 'intellectual novelist' and she brought to bear on the art of the novelist an exceptionally well-cultivated and trained intellect and extraordinary powers of observations and reasonings. Her concerns are primarily serious and intellectual; she is more concerned with the inner drama, the inner action, than with the presentation of the externals of character and action. She goes behind the external action, analysis the thought-processes, the motives, the springs of that action. Her all novels are of moral conflict, and the scene of that conflict is not the external world but the soul of the character concerned. Her novels are remarkable for their psychological realism, and this her peculiar contribution to the English novel.
She goes deep into the obscure recesses of human nature and deals elaborately and in great variety with those spiritual conflicts and moral disorders which bring about the ruin and downfall of an individual. The tragedies which take place in her novels are all tragedies caused by some moral lapse or weakness, and George Eliot shows how that moral weaknesses slowly but inexorably operates within the human soul, ultimately driving the individual to his doom. Each individual thus is shown to bear his own fate within him. She rationalizes life and character, bringing the obscure into clear daylight, with her zeal of truth applying the most rigorous logic to the resolution of each problem, working it out with the accuracy and solemnity appropriate to a judicial inquiry and issuing verdicts as irrefutable as the results of a scientific experiment. This was to view life tragically and the novel had to be reshaped to bear the stress of the new conception.
Lord David Cecil examines her psychological approach I some detail and studies its impact on her act of characterization. Her psychological insight into the springs of human action is best seen in her delineation of her serious characters. She does not begin with the personality that appeared to the out-world, but with the psychological elements underlying that personality. And this meant that her portrait is pre-eminently concerned with these elements. She may clothe them in outward idiosyncrasies, but this idiosyncrasy is never the principal thing about them. She really exhibits characters struggling together as on the stage. The drama is internal, it is the drama of moral conflict. The conflict is that of egocentric impulses, good or bad, with an opposing environment, and the antagonistic forces take many forms. Her portraits are all primarily portraits of the inner man.
Eliot’s grip on psychological essentials enables her to draw complex characters much better than her predecessors. It is her psychological insight into the springs of human action, the subtle analysis of character and motive accompanying the external action, which gives her peculiar and individual place among the Victorian novelists. She is one of them and yet how very different and original. She is the first of the great modern novelists who have a high conception of their art, who regard the novel as a serious art form, and who are given to the probing of the human psyche, to the subtle analysis of the subconscious and even the unconscious.
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