Life in Middlemarch is a study in provincial life, indeed. Young Dorothea Brooke has high hopes in life, but soon settles in marriage. As it turns out, her much older husband is not what she really needs to accomplish her noble deeds in life.
Meanwhile, a young doctor moves to town but has a hard time fitting in. He finds himself settling in marriage, too. It begs the question, why marry at all, or why not wait for love?
All is not lost; Dorothea finds friendship in her husband’s cousin, but jealousy ensues. What will happen when her husband dies but leaves a provision in his will, causing Dorothea to lose her inheritance if she marries the cousin? Can she live happily ever after?
WE MORTALS, MEN AND WOMEN, DEVOUR MANY A DISAPPOINTMENT BETWEEN BREAKFAST AND DINNER-TIME; KEEP BACK THE TEARS AND LOOK A LITTLE PALE ABOUT THE LIPS, AND IN ANSWER TO INQUIRIES SAY, “OH, NOTHING!” PRIDE HELPS; AND PRIDE IS NOT A BAD THING WHEN IT ONLY URGES US TO HIDE OUR HURTS— NOT TO HURT OTHERS.
Middlemarch is THAT bitch.
For a start, it is bloody long. At 800 or so pages, Middlemarch is a behemoth that I probably wouldn’t have tackled if it weren’t for my Literature and Medicine modules at university forcing me to. Touted as one of the GOATs of literature, Middlemarch is a beautiful novel that you can easily get lost in. Yet, it is also a bit of a slog at times.
Middlemarch suffers from having a really packed cast of characters. Some are electric. Rosamund is absolutely horrid, but incredibly captivating. One can’t help but be engrossed whenever she pops up on the page. There’s also the whole Casaubon-Dorothea-Ladislaw affair! I was absolutely gripped by the drama of it all. Nobody does dramatic like Will Ladislaw. Characters like Fred and Mary, while wholesome, fall flat and get lost in this colorful world of opulence and melodrama.
While the romance and theatrics of Middlemarch are hugely entertaining, Eliot’s exploration into science and reform is one that I am particularly fascinated by. One character who I’ve spent more time pondering than normal is Teritus Lydgate, Middlemarch’s bright, cutting-edge handsome new doctor. I must say, I’ve gained a new found appreciation and sympathy for Tertius Lydgate after analysing the death out of him. His wide-eyed ambition and passion for change made him such a breath of fresh air at the novel’s start. It was such a tragedy to watch the reluctant mindset of the Middlemarchers and his marriage with Rosamund destroy him.
Completing Middlemarch is very much an accomplishment in itself, but I can wholeheartedly say that I did actually enjoy Eliot’s novel. A truly spellbinding study of people and small town living.