“Daniel Deronda”¯ by George Eliot is the novel that conveys the story of the main character, Daniel, who is the orphan. The main character is in search of his family and the entire book reveals the importance of his search because it is only when he finds his true parents and learns the true story of his birth and early life before becoming the orphan, only after that he can be happy and live in harmony with his internal world. In such a way, the author conveys the idea that being the orphan is a great challenge for any person. Regardless of the social standing of the orphan, he or she still needs to know who his or her parents are. In such a way, through the fate of the orphan Daniel, George Eliot stresses the importance of family and, therefore, the orphan becomes the character who helps the author to persuade readers in the significance of basic family values and family itself in the life of any individual.
First of all, George Eliot focuses his attention on Daniel as a person who suffers from the lack of knowledge about his origin and his true family. In fact, Daniel is constantly searching for his true parents and he cannot live a normal life as long as he remains ignorant of his true parents. As Geroge Eliot states “ignorance gives one a large range of probabilities”¯ (Eliot, 184). The ignorance of Daniel about his parents evokes his imagination and he develops different ideas concerning his origin and his true parents, including the most improbably ones. At the same time, he is raised by Sir Hugo, a rich man who is very concerned and sympathetic to Daniel, whom he treats as his son.
However, the public believes that Sir Hugo is the biological father of Daniel but he hides this fact because Daniel is supposed to be his illegitimate son. However, this hypothesis has nothing in common with the true origin of Daniel and people are just gossiping because they envy to Sir Hugo, his wealth and his social standing.
At first glance the strife of Daniel for searching his family seems to be a kind of fancy of a young man. He does need to take care of himself because Sir Hugo has provided for him so Daniel can lead a careless life. His desire to learn who his parents are seem to be just a natural interest of a person who has never known his parents, but, in the course of the novel it becomes, clear that it is not just a natural desire but it is almost an obsession that absorbs all the thoughts of Daniel. In such a way, the author stresses the importance of being a part of the family and, what is more important, the authors stresses that neither wealth nor care of other people but biological parents of a child can replace the love and care of biological parents. At least, this is the case of Daniel who keeps searching for his parents even though he has money to afford living of a representative of the upper class and he has Sir Hugo who treats him as a son but it is enough for Daniel.
Daniel is conscious of the fact that, in search of his parents, he can reveal some tragic story or reveal a very unpleasant truth about his origin and his parents. Nevertheless, he comes prepared to learn whatever the truth about his past is because he stands on the ground that “there’s no disappointment in memory, and one’s exaggerations are always on the good side”¯ (Eliot, 204). In fact, this means that, in spite of certain apprehensions, Daniel still hopes for better and he has good expectations in regard to his biological parents, even though he has never known them. His desire to learn the truth about his parents shows the importance of the family for the orphan. At this point, it is important to lay emphasis on the fact that, through such strife of the orphan to find his family, the author again reminds readers that family is the most important thing in the life of any person and orphans, being deprived of their family, can never be happy whatever the conditions of their life are.
Moreover, Daniel cannot be happy as long as he fails to finds his parents. Even when he fails in love with Mirah, he still does not give up his searches of his parents because he cannot be happy even along with his beloved. The reason is obvious ”“ the family, parents, comprise an important part of his life and he cannot feel being calm and happy as long as he does not know his parents and the true story of his origin and birth. In such a way, the author shows that the orphan is very different from other people. Obviously, any other person, who grew up in his or her family, would be happy to feel the support of Sir Hugo and to have a beloved like Mirah. It would be enough for any person but an orphan. Daniel is constantly suffering from the internal struggle because the lack of knowledge about his past distracts him from his present. Thus, his past becomes an unbearable burden for him that prevents him from happiness in the present as long as he fails to learn the truth about his parents.
In such a context, it is quite symbolic that the life of Daniel changes consistently when he eventually learns the truth about his parents and his birth. When he learns the truth he changes his life totally. Firstly, he finally feels been happy. He can love Mirah and he can live a normal life as other people do. At the same time, he changes his life as he learns that he is of the Jewish origin. He grows more and more interested in the Jewish culture and religion to the extent that he decides to go to Palestine. In such a way, the author shows that orphans can change their cultural identity when they learn the truth about their parents.
Thus, George Eliot shows that the orphan Daniel is a person who is in permanent search of his parents. He cannot lead a normal life until he learns the truth about his origin that proves the importance of family in the life of any person. After that, the orphan Daniel changes his cultural identity dramatically for he learns that he is not an Englishman but a Jew. In such a way, the orphan Daniel has two different lives or identities before he learns the truth and after that. The latter proves that orphans are deprived of their true cultural identity and are raised up under the impact of the dominant culture.