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“Alien Invaders”: Jewish Figures in Deronda’s Britain

“Alien Invaders”: Jewish Figures in Deronda’s Britain

Daniel Deronda introduces the Jewish characters Herr Klesmer and Mirah Lapidoth in ways that reflect the dilemmas of modern Jewry.

Daniel Deronda introduces the Jewish characters Herr Klesmer and Mirah Lapidoth in ways that reflect the dilemmas of modern Jewry. Some in the novel regard Judaism as a social disadvantage to overcome; others see it as a precious inheritance that endows its carriers with inner strength and moral conviction. The same character may experience each of these feelings at different times. The Jews also provoke ambivalence in the English society they enter. One learns about the people in the novel from their reactions to the “foreigners” in their midst.