It is often thought that George Eliot’s refusal to campaign actively for feminist goals indicates that she was no feminist. But there were several reasons that make the charge mute. She disliked dealing with practical matters, especially legislative ones. Proselytizing was particularly repugnant to her because she knew that her scandalous liaison with Lewes could only make her discussion of controversial matters a liability. Furthermore, she thought that the factors facilitating success were so complicated that one could say little that would be helpful to the aspiring woman. Actually, she thought of herself as an activist, “teaching the world through books.” Thinking that she could more forcefully present her views by maintaining the persona of a neutral observer in her fiction, she objected to the role of political activist, who presents ideas in her own person. Finally, as a shy woman who cared only for her husband and her writing, who was often ill, and who hated publicity, she had neither the taste nor energy for public life.
Szirotny, June Skye
Why George Eliot was not a Political Activist.
Journal of International Women's Studies, 13(3), 184-193.
Available at: http://vc.bridgew.edu/jiws/vol13/iss3/13