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Critics have struggled for centuries with the sexual politics of Eliot’s fiction, wondering how a woman, possessed of extraordinary powers of observation, empathy, and expression, who lived openly with a married man and who dared to have a vocation of her own, could so consistently glorify submission to a patriarchal imperative. Others have argued that her cartography of the ways patriarchy traps both men and women, regarding love, desire, and vocation, is an invaluable precursor to feminism. Eliot’s female characters have consistently been the locus of this debate among critics, and now, in Masterpiece Theatre’s televised serials, they re-‐present this debate through a dominantly visual medium. With one foot in the past, print, and patriarchy and another in the present, televised serials, and feminist criticism, “Eliot Adapted,” considers the process and challenge of adapting George Eliot’s most polarizing female characters to the screen, impossibly virtuous heroines and monstrous narcissists alike.
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