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I think that one of the ways that Eliot was unconventional in her pursuits was because she worked with rather "evolved" men. Starting from her father who was principled and competant in the world of real estate, a man who helped to impart a just and fair background within her, all the way to her love and relationship with George Henry Lewes. Eliot was the benefactor of working and loving men who were sources of encouragement for her, not seeking to stifle her talent, but actually cultivate and stoke it. I think that this was unconventional for a couple of reasons. The first is that Eliot did not have to endure the repression that was so common for women of the time period. This might be a reason why this is not a dominant theme in her work, but rather something we do see in the Victorian time period. At the same time, Eliot's background with men is unconventional because it allowed her to be able to articulate a position of realism that does not lock women into stratified roles. When the artist is defined by Eliot as one to increase one's humanity and sense of emotional compassion, it is aimed at all humanity, seen as a collective unit. This is unconventional in the world of social stratification in Victorian England.
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