Read at The Nation
George Eliot criticized the genre of novels that portrayed marriage as the ultimate aim and achievement for women, arguing that they reinforced societal prejudices against women's education.
...novels that posit marriage as a woman's ultimate aim and achievement only confirm the popular prejudice against the more solid education of women.
In her own life and writing, George Eliot challenged the conventions of the 19th-century marriage plot. She lived with a married man, George Henry Lewes, and viewed marriage as an open question. This unconventional stance allowed her to explore the complexities of married life in her novels.
Her radical departure from the expected scripts of a 19th-century woman's life made her a pariah in the eyes of many, yet it also spurred her to embrace new literary possibilities.