George Eliot Quotes 💬

From wise words said through characters in her novels, to those attributed directly to her from her letters and interviews, George Eliot has used many avenues to spread words that inspire, teach and incline one’s mind towards her ideals of realism and empathy.

George Eliot

aka Mary Ann Evans(1819-1880), English. Novelist, poet, translator, and critic.

George Eliot has many quotes to her credit that range from lengthy appeals to witty short phrases. Here are some of her quotes that address a variety of issues and values.


Art is the nearest thing to life; it is a mode of amplifying experience and extending our contact with our fellow men beyond the bounds of our personal lot

The Natural History of German Life (1856)

This is an excerpt from one of Mary Ann Evans’ essays written before she published any of her novels. It talks about the importance of art in building connections and empathy among people who otherwise have nothing in common. Mary Ann Evans had been a preacher of love and togetherness in the shared fate of our humanity before she found fame as a novelist.

If art does not enlarge men’s sympathies, it does nothing morally… The only effect I ardently long to produce in my writings is that those who read them should be better able to imagine and to feel the pains and the joys of those who differ from them in everything but the broad fact of being struggling erring human creatures

Again this quote from her statement in the year 1859, is an expression of George Eliots’ hope that art would be an instrument of empathy among humans. At the time of this quote, she had written her first novel, Adam Bede and was expressing what she hoped the novel would achieve in her readers.

Do not impose on us any aesthetic rules which shall banish from the region of Art those old women scrapping carrots with their work-worn hands.

Adam Bede

This quote from Adam Bede was Eliot’s stance against the conventional standards of beauty often projected through art and a mandate to find beauty in the ordinary things.

Therefore, let Art always remind us of them, let us always have men ready to give the loving pains of a life to the faithful representing of commonplace things–men who see beauty in these commonplace things and delight in showing how kindly the light of heaven falls on them

Adam Bede

This quote is from an authorial aside in Chapter XVII of Adam Bede where Eliot actively appeals to artists to depict the beauty of mundane and commonplace things in their art.

Flaws and Perspective

It’s easy finding reasons why other folks should be patient

Adam Bede

This quote was said by Eliot through the Adam Bede character Bartle Massey. It means that we easily have high expectations of virtue from other people when we are not in their shoes. Bartle Massey tries to tell Adam not to be agitated by the situation as Adam’s betrothed is arrested for a crime. Adam replies that is easier said when one is not affected and Bartle Massey concedes with that reply, admitting that he might not react better if he was in the same situation.

If you would maintain the slightest belief in human heroism, you must never make a pilgrimage to see the hero

Adam Bede

The quote is trying to explain that for us to maintain the ideals of perfection in humans, then we must only know them from a distance because if we get close, we are bound to find flaws in those humans that would crush our expectations.

Selfish– A judgement readily passed by those who have never tested their own power of sacrifice

Here, Eliot is trying to say that calling someone selfish is usually a hypocritical statement from people who are selfish themselves.

Blameless people are always the most exasperating

This quote is saying that people who believe they are without blemish are usually very judgmental of others.

Opportunity and Initiative

It’s them that take advantage that get advantage in this world

Mrs Poyser in Adam Bede

This quote is trying to say that only those that take initiative and go after their interests are the ones who get what they want. Mrs Poyser made this reply to Squire Donnithorne in Adam Bede when the miserly man claimed he brought a proposal to the Poysers that would be to their advantage. Mrs Poyser tells him that people do not go about seeking to do things that would benefit others and not their own selves.

It will never rain roses: when we want more roses we must plant more roses

This quote is trying to say that our desires can only be fulfilled when we work towards them and are never handed to us on a platter of gold. This was said in one of Eliot’s personal statements.

Actions and Consequences

Pity that consequences are determined not by excuses but by actions

This simply means that excuses do not prevent the consequences of our actions.

Consequences are unpitying. Our deeds carry their terrible consequences, quite apart from any fluctuations that went before– Consequences that are hardly ever confined to ourselves

Adam Bede

These quotes say that no matter the excuses we give, we must reap the consequences of our actions. And that often, the consequences of our actions do not affect us alone.

Words and Silence

Blessed is the man who having nothing to say, abstains from giving us wordy evidence of the fact

Impressions of Theophrastus Such

This here suggests that one should keep silent when one has nothing to say that to say meaningless things and make a fool of one’s self. it was said in one of George Eliot’s short stories that was first published in 1857.

Least said, soonest mended

Adam Bede

This means that the less hurtful words said out, the easier it is to remedy a situation. It was said by Mr Martin Poyser to Adam in Chapter XXXVIII of Adam Bede when Adam pleaded that they desist from broadcasting Hetty’s disappearance until they get enough information to understand the situation.

I like not only to be loved but also to be told that I am loved. I am not sure that you are of the same mind. But the realm of silence is large enough beyond the grave. This is the world of light and speech and I shall take leave to tell you that you are very dear.

This quote is attributed to one of George Eliot’s letters. It suggests that love should be expressed in words and reassurances because loving someone and keeping silent about it makes room for a wide range of assumptions that may be wrong. Also that there is enough time to remain silent after one dies, therefore one should use the opportunity of being alive to express love in words.


What is George Eliot known for?

George Eliot is a pen name used by a British writer also known as Mary Ann Evans. She is known for her writings, especially the novels she published in the Victorian era. George Eliot wrote and published a total of seven novels in her lifetime with Adam Bede, Silas Marner, and Middlemarch being among the most popular ones. She is also known as a translator who translated two notable philosophical books from German to English. The books she translated are Das Leben Jesu kristisch bearbeitet by David Strauss to the English version The Life of Jesus, Critically Examined. The second translation she did from German to English is Ludwig Feuerbach’s The Essence of Christianity.

What was George Eliot’s education?

George Eliot was well educated for a girl in her time. She began her education at the age of five, attending several boarding schools in Attleborough, Nuneaton, and Coventry where she learned Literature, French, Italian, and many fine accomplishments until she was aged sixteen. The further formal education she got after the age of sixteen was in 1850-1851 when she took Mathematics classes at Ladies College in Bedford Square(now known as Bedford College London).

Why did George Eliot lose her faith?

George Eliot lost her religious faith in her twenties when she was introduced to radical philosophies by some agnostic friends. She made became friends with Charles Bray who had a circle of friends that debated religion and she got acquainted with agnostic philosophers like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Herbert Spencer, and their arguments made her question the veracity of some Christian beliefs which made her lose her faith.

What did George Eliot translate?

George Eliot translated two sensational philosophical books written in German. Her first translation was a German book titled, Das Leben Jesu, kritisch bearbeitet written by David Friedreich Strauss and published in 1935. It was a criticism that questioned the truth of the life and miracles in the Biblical account of Jesus. George Eliot translated it into English after Elisabeth Brabant abandoned the project. The completed translation was published in 1846 with the title, The Life of Jesus, Critically Examined.
The second of George Eliot’s translation was Das Wesen des Christentums by Ludwig Feuerbach published in 1841. It was a book that argued that God in religion is a concept created by man himself to fulfill human needs. It posed many arguments on materialism and humanism. George Eliot translated the book to English which was later published in 1854 with the title, The Essence of Christianity.

Onyeka Osuji
About Onyeka Osuji
Onyeka is a lecturer of Public Administration and a Literature enthusiast. After gaining accreditation in English Literature, Onyeka analyzes novels on Book Analysis, whilst working as an academic and writing short stories.
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