Katherine Dunagan Osborne, "Inherited Emotions: George Eliot and the Politics of Heirlooms" (pp. 465––493)
This essay removes George Eliot's heroines from heterosexual dyads to focus on the roles that things play in women's autonomous moral and sexual development. Because Eliot's female protagonists can adapt heirlooms for their own private and emotional purposes, they can replace traditional inheritance based on bloodlines with a non-familial, emotional inheritance, thus illustrating the subtlety of Eliot's family and gender politics. This reading of Eliot contextualizes specific heirlooms in Middlemarch (1871––72) and Daniel Deronda (1876)——including miniature portraits, emeralds, turquoises, and diamonds——to reveal the surprising politics embedded in Eliot's heirlooms that her nineteenth-century readers would certainly have recognized.