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date: 20 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Despite its ostensible focus on romance, the Victorian novel is more intensely preoccupied with money, a preoccupation that almost universally helps determine each novel’s texture and form. The moral crisis of capitalism manifests itself everywhere as novelists struggled, like their readers, to find ways to reconcile capitalist pursuit of wealth with the moral ideals of traditional Christianity. Reading the Victorian novel against Max Weber’s thesis and analysis in The Protestant Ethic and the “Spirit” of Capitalism, this essay examines the contradictions, deceptions, and self-deceptions that develop in Victorian realist fiction when the fundamental necessity of money to secular well- being runs up against the ideals of moral goodness that the novels tend to affirm. To investigate more fully this intense conflict, the essay takes up as its central example George Eliot’s Silas Marner, a novel in which the Weberian paradox is strikingly visible.

Keywords: Money, Wealth, Middle Class, Secularism, Capitalism, Protestantism, George Eliot, Max Weber, Adam Bede, Silas Marner

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