Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Dr. John Ferns
A critical study which links George Eliot to George Sand is not a new idea. While considerations of social thought, art, feminism and the imagery used by the two novelists have formed much of the comparative criticism to date, this study examines another vital link between the French and the British novelist. "Two Georges and the Dragon" focuses on the psycho-spiritual evolution, the individuation process, experienced by four Sand0Eliot heroines. The nineteenth century's concern wiith "Soul-Making" (Keats, 334), its search for self and certitude in the face of social, religious and technological change, fostered a widespread artistic renovation of both pagan and Christian myth. Thus, while Carl Jung's terminology for the stages of individuation was not yet available to either Sand or Eliot, the mythic archetypes essential for Jungian exploration of the psyche were. It is from this archetypal perspective that the sequence of "the heroine's journey" is developed. Maureen Murdock's "The Heroine's Journey" (1990) depicts the twentieth-century version of the feminine quest for individuation. Despite separation by a century-and-a-half, the Sand-Eliot protagonists' struggles to attain an "informed sympathy" are strikingly similar to the contemporary "heroine's journey" toward an integrated consciousness. Murdock's archetypal sequence illustrates precisely how "history [becomes] incarnate" in these nineteenth-century heroines. A progression through a series of initiatory stages marks the individuation process. To be sure, some measure of ego deflation and subsequent renewed perspective do occur for many characters in both Sand's and Elliot's novels. In these cases, shadow aspects of the unconscious emerge and are assimilated. However, our concern is with the heroines who undergo a complete cycle of individuation. In Jungian terms, these heroines not only acknowledge personal shadow content, they also undergo an ultimate ego deflation in depth. The process involves an encounter with, and assimilation of, the collective historical values inherent in the imago Dei, central archetype of the psyche's unconscious aspect. As a result of her personal individuation, the heroine, in turn, effects an elevation of consciousness in those around her. George Sand's "Consuelo" offers the ninteenth century's first depiction of a complete individuation process for the feminine. This study proposes that the same process marks the experiences of the heroines in George Eliot's "The Mill on the Floss", "Romola" and "Middlemarch"
Williamson, D. A., ""Two Georges and the Dragon" -- The Heroine's Journey in Selected Novels of George Sand and George Eliot" (1998). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 1067.