Letter: Of frogs and heroines

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The Independent Online
Sir: Emma Bagnall ('Dear Dorothea Brooke', 20 January) misses the point about Dorothea - and about George Eliot, too.

Dorothea Brooke may have been described as 'the greatest heroine in Victorian literature', but I think that would have made her creator laugh. George Eliot didn't believe in heroes and heroines, she believed in people, with their mixture of good and bad, consistencies and contradictions. Dorothea is confused; she may be on the brink of being a feminist, but she is also saddled with her milieu and cannot conceive of doing good works in ways beyond those that immediately present themselves. In other words, her idealism is not matched by her courage or imagination.

George Eliot may have lived outside 'respectable' society, but she kissed a few frogs before deciding to live with George Lewes. Who knows? She may, had they asked her, have married one of those frogs and lived to question the value of what she had done - just like Dorothea.

I am surprised that you recommend Dorothea to adjust her decollete, because 'using sex got Scarlett O'Hara where she wanted to be'. Does acting in this way make women post-feminists? If so, we have not changed since Rosamund Vincy]

Yours sincerely,


London, N22

20 January