George Meredith: The Egoist

(2461 words)

George Meredith's 1879 novel The Egoist is one of the major comic novels in the language. In telling the story of Clara Middleton's struggle to extricate herself from her engagement to Sir Willoughby Patterne, the novel presents an ironic subversion of texts that had shaped the pattern of Victorian femininity. Clearly situated as an apparently realist novel in an English country house, this ‘Gothic romance' (as Judith Wilt calls it) embodies in its language the monstrosity of an unequal relationship between man and woman as endorsed by the prevailing attitudes of the time. Clara has been pressured into an engagement with the eligible Sir Willoughby and the dynamic of the novel is carried by her dawning realisation …

Please log in to consult the article in its entirety. If you are a member (student of staff) of a subscribing institution (see List), you should be able to access the LE on campus directly (without the need to log in), and off-campus either via the institutional log in we offer, or via your institution's remote access facilities, or by creating a personal user account with your institutional email address. If you are not a member of a subscribing institution, you will need to purchase a personal subscription. For more information on how to subscribe as an individual user, please see under Individual Subcriptions.

Zlosnik, Sue. "The Egoist". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 08 October 2004
[, accessed 30 September 2016.]