Murphy, Hannah. “Buried Under Interpretation”, Boston College, 2022. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/bc-ir:109422.
This thesis examines the layers of interpretation that encase the female characters of George Eliot’s early fiction, and work through the seemingly contradictory ways in which Eliot intends for their status as created objects to be understood. Chapter 1 focuses on Caterina Sarti, Dinah Morris and Hetty Sorrel, and their depiction as both artists and art objects. Chapter 2 examines Maggie Tulliver and the way being a controlled object is embedded into her character, despite the appearance of freedom. What is puzzling about Eliot’s portrayal of these characters is that it is never clear how their attempts to be objects are meant to be understood. Eliot’s characterization of these young women is best understood in light of the association between becoming an object and “coming of age” as an adult woman. She sees no escape from this association, so these characters must be presented through layers of interpretation and objectification.