Form and Content (Masterplots II: Women's Literature Series)
In the context of postrevolutionary England’s sluggish attempts at political reform, George Eliot details in Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life the range of a tradition-bound provincial mentality unable to comprehend and unwilling to accept change. She begins by uniting two narratives begun separately, both about self-deluded idealists, Dorothea Brooke of the landed gentry and Tertius Lydgate, newly arrived in insular Middlemarch, the quintessential country town of petty snobberies, power plays for social status, and gossipmongering. Integrating additional plots, Eliot embodies her theme: a narrow medium of ignorance, prejudice, and bigotry limits individual opportunity and growth; persons with “great souls,” such as Dorothea, Will, Garth, and Farebrother, may transcend that medium to contribute to social improvement and partially realize their own potential. Noble motives may be frustrated, however, by those trapped in self-interest, such as Casaubon and Rosamond, or thwarted by provincial minds unequipped by knowledge or training to evaluate new ideas and approving only of those who “do as their neighbors do,” or limited by the dead hand of the past—outmoded customs and laws, especially those governing property inheritance.
Eliot’s portrayal of marriage issues treats what the nineteenth century called “the Woman Question”—controversies about the “nature of women,” their proper education, whether young ladies should...
(The entire section is 838 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!
Places Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Places)
Middlemarch. Fictional English village in which much of the novel’s action is centered. The book opens on the Middlemarch estate of the Brooke family, Tipton Grange, home to the orphaned sisters, Dorothea and Celia Brooke, and their uncle. The adjoining estate of Sir James Chettam, Freshitt Hall, whose land lies close to Tipton Grange, attaches property and money to the novel’s purpose. For this reason, Sir James is the logical suitor for the elder sister, Dorothea. Her interest lies, however, in the scholarly Reverend Edward Casaubon, of Lowick, five miles away. Again, property and prosperity make Lowick significant, insofar as no reform is needed in this affluent neighborhood. The novel’s action, however, moves skillfully to nearby Middlemarch as well as abroad, always returning to Middlemarch as the heart of the tale.
The moral center of the novel is located in the rambling, homely house with an orchard in front of it, a little way outside the town, where the Garth family resides. They are of the kind and quality that Eliot considered the true source of Britain’s strength. Their farmhouses, their family, and their family relationships play a significant role in shaping the atmosphere and tone of this novel.
Stone Court. Estate near the center of Middlemarch in which another drama of money and property is played out by the miserly uncle Featherstone, who holds the purse...
(The entire section is 539 words.)
Context (Masterplots II: Women's Literature Series)
Consistent with Eliot’s avowed realism, Middlemarch offers no easy solutions for women who aspire beyond the limits set by their world; it also does not suggest that those who accept the role prescribed for them should do otherwise. To have done so would have been to simplify complex issues at a time when even to raise the questions this novel treats was to threaten the order affirmed by God and nature. The mind of George Eliot could not do the first, and her artistic creed would not allow her to do the second. As an artist, Eliot cultivates her readers’ sympathies for the oppression of Dorothea by an unfeeling, selfishly demanding husband; similarly, in Lydgate’s defeat by Rosamond’s politely obstinate refusal to feel for him, Eliot shows the possible consequences for a man who trusts the popular stereotype.
Many, but not all, contemporary readers understood that Eliot was addressing questions that concerned Victorian feminists and satirizing popular generalizations about women as she portrayed a variety of individuals. Because Eliot remained aloof from the heated public controversies, however, because she and George Henry Lewes deliberately cultivated her public image as that of the Victorian Sybil above partisan stances, and because of a half-ironic allusion by her first male narrator to his “conservative-reforming” spirit, the weight of critical tradition accepted Eliot’s realistic portrayals of her society as a conservatism...
(The entire section is 347 words.)
Eliot deliberately locates the action of this novel in the three years that culminated with the passage of the Reform Bill of 1832. Following the American and French Revolutions, demands for political reform increased in England. There was a growing belief in the rights of all Englishmen to participate in government, whether they were property holders or not. Anglican clergy and landowners were the two groups staunchly opposed to this development. Against weakened Tory (conservative) opposition and rising agitation outside Parliament, the first of three nineteenth-century reform bills was passed in 1832. The Reform Act eliminated so-called rotten boroughs (voting districts that had far fewer residents than others yet had equal political representation), redrew voting districts in light of current population distribution, and extended the franchise further into the property-owning middle class. With the passage of this act the aristocracy's political monopoly was broken forever, and about half of all land-owning, middle-class Anglican men received the right to vote.
Writing in the early 1870s with the clarity of hindsight regarding a time forty years earlier, Eliot knew how medical science evolved during the middle decades of the nineteenth century. Her novel touches on several issues and discoveries that were important during those years. First, as a result of land enclosures, populations suddenly increased in mill and...
(The entire section is 548 words.)
Mary Ann Evans Lewes Cross lived in a time of new and revolutionary ideas. Raised with Evangelical piety under the influence of the principal governess, Maria Lewis, at Mrs. Wallington's School between 1828 and 1832, she was also influenced by Charles Bray, her neighbor in Coventry. He was a self-taught Freethinker (agnostic or one who doesn't know if God exists), and campaigned for radical causes. At the Brays' home, she was exposed to political ideology at variance with her father's Toryism, in addition to different religious views. Bray's extended family read Greek and German with Ms. Evans and discussed theology with her. From this and her own studying, she was able to present issues of morality and philosophy in her novels, which reflected nineteenth-century England's growing agnosticism, spiritual despair, and growing interest in psychology, history, and science.
At Charles Bray's home, Ms. Evans observed first hand an open marriage (both partners having agreed to the other having affairs), between Bray and his wife, Cara. George Sand (the nom de plume of Amandine Dudevant), through Ms. Evans' reading "of her writing, led Ms. Evans to be anti-marriage in her youth. Later, Mr. Lewes registered his wife's child with Thorton Hunt under the Lewes surname, and remained friendly with both his wife and her lover, opening another view to Ms. Evans. The marriage laws were slanted so that a man could not be sued for divorce on the grounds of adultery unless...
(The entire section is 363 words.)
Epigraph and Allusion
Each chapter in Middlemarch begins with an epigraph that has relevance, sometimes ironic, to surrounding text. For example, the epigraph that heads chapter X is a quotation from Thomas Fuller: "He had catched a great cold, had he no other clothes to wear than the skin of a bear not yet killed." This statement points humorously to Casaubon's vulnerability to criticism; he is so filled with suspicion and self-doubt he needs to use the prospect of writing a great work to compensate for his inadequacies. Thus, he uses the promise, writing a definitive work to bolster his self-image. He also holds himself above others by talking about a work he in fact will never write. The enormous demands of this magnum opus (or great achievement) are a screen or defense mechanism that insulates him from experiencing life directly and from being intimate with fellow human beings. Casaubon reads without overview, gets lost in details, and thus avoids writing the book. Will labels the problem this way: "the … long incubation producing no chick." Fear reinforces procrastination: Casaubon privately believes critics would be harsh if they reviewed even his research. He senses a scholarly "chilling ideal audience which crowd[s] his laborious uncreative hours." Even Mr. Brooke can spot some trouble. When he asks Casaubon how he organizes his documents, Casaubon replies: "In pigeon-holes partly," to which Brooke replies, "Ah, pigeon-holes...
(The entire section is 1625 words.)
Prelude and Book One: Miss Brooke Questions and Answers
Prelude and Chapters 1-6
1. What is the reason Celia wants to divide their deceased mother's jewelry with Dorothea?
2. Who are the guests at dinner?
3. What gift does Chettam bring Dorothea?
4. What does Brooke bring Dorothea from his visit to Casaubon?
5. For what purpose does Casaubon want to marry Dorothea?
6. What is Dorothea's reason for marrying Casaubon?
7. What attempts does Brooke make to dissuade Dorothea from her decision?
8. In what way does Dorothea respond to Casaubon's proposal?
9. In what manner does Chettam express his dismay at Dorothea's engagement?
10. Why is Mrs. Cadwallader so disappointed in Dorothea's choice?
1. Celia would like to wear some of the jewelry left to her and her sister by their mother. Certain pieces would now be acceptable even to the most religious people. At Dorothea's request, they put the jewelry box away, upon receiving it, six months ago.
2. Brooke's dinner guests at Tipton Grange are to be Chettam- young baronet and neighbor who is in love with Dorothea and Casaubon, Brooke's old friend and near contemporary.
3. Chettam brings Dorothea a small, white Maltese puppy. She suggests he give the puppy to Celia.
4. Brooke brings some religious pamphlets, a letter to Dorothea, and a marriage proposal from his...
(The entire section is 445 words.)
Chapters 7-12 Questions and Answers
1. What is the first indication that Dorothea and Casaubon may have decided to marry too hastily?
2. For what reasons does Brooke allow Dorothea to accept Casaubon's proposal?
3. What is Chettam's purpose in asking Cadwallader to intervene?
4. When do Dorothea and Ladislaw first meet?
5. Why is Tucker answering all the questions about Lowick?
6. What is Mrs. Vincy's argument against Mary?
7. How are both the Vincys and the Garths related to Featherstone?
8. Why are all Featherstone's siblings gathered at Stone Court?
9. What is it that Featherstone discusses with Fred?
10. What evidence do we have that Rosamond and Lydgate are falling in love?
1. During her six-week engagement, Dorothea wants to learn to read Greek and Latin so that, once she is married, she may read to Casaubon in order to save his failing eyesight. He wants her to learn to write these languages, which indicates he would prefer to do the reading himself, alone.
2. Brooke is delighted that Casaubon may become a bishop and has money. He offers several reasons for Dorothea not to marry Casaubon, but she refutes each. She prefers a scholarly existence and thinks to have one as Casaubon's wife. She has always seemed to know her opinion. Brooke feels he cannot object to her having what it is she thinks she wants: marriage to...
(The entire section is 478 words.)
Book Two: Old and Young Questions and Answers
1. Why does Bulstrode mention Tyke in discussing the new fever hospital with Lydgate?
2. What is Farebrother's rationale for disliking Bulstrode?
3. Explain Bulstrode's reluctance to write the letter Featherstone requested.
4. How are Lydgate and Farebrother alike?
5. What need is there for Farebrother to play whist and billiards?
6. Why is Lydgate determined to avoid romantic attachments?
7. What are Mary's objections to marrying Fred?
8. What are Lydgate's reasons for voting for Tyke?
9. How would you summarize the debate about coroners at Vincy's dinner party?
10. As a mother, what does Mrs. Farebrother have to say about her son?
1. Bulstrode mentions Tyke because the new hospital is to be located in Farebrother's parish. Bulstrode wants no other spiritual guide than Tyke to have the chaplaincy of the hospital.
2. Farebrother thinks Bulstrode dislikes him due to their being of different parties. Bulstrode and his cronies adopt a "holier-than-thou" attitude towards those not of their party.
3. Bulstrode thinks Fred borrowed money on the promise of Featherstone's inheritance, as Mrs. Waule reported. Bulstrode thinks it will curb his nephew's extravagance and strengthen his character if he doesn't write the letter.
4. Lydgate and Farebrother both enjoy scientific...
(The entire section is 501 words.)
Chapters 19-22 Questions and Answers
1. Why is Dorothea at the Vatican?
2. What is Naumann's reaction when he first sees Dorothea?
3. How does Ladislaw respond to Naumann on seeing Dorothea?
4. For what reason does Ladislaw refuse to ask Dorothea to sit for the portrait?
5. When she is alone, why does Dorothea sob?
6. What is it that prompts the argument between the Casaubons?
7. How would you describe the differences between Ladislaw's and Casaubon's outlooks on the world?
8. What is the purpose of Ladislaw's offer to return the next day?
9. For what reason does Ladislaw refer to Casaubon's refusal to learn German?
10. What prompts Ladislaw to say he will not come again?
1. Dorothea is in the sixth week of her honeymoon in Rome with Casaubon. She is looking at art while he pursues his studies at the Vatican.
2. When Naumann first sees Dorothea, he runs to find Ladislaw to show him this example of beauty in life and convince him that the rich, older husband will certainly pay handsomely for her portrait.
3. Ladislaw tells Naumann that she will not want to be painted and that she is married to his second cousin. They argue because of Naumann's single-minded failure to understand why anyone would not want to be painted by him.
4. Ladislaw doesn't want to ask her to sit for the portrait because Naumann...
(The entire section is 472 words.)
Book Three: Waiting for Death Questions and Answers
1. What does Diamond have to do with Fred repaying the loan?
2. Why does Mrs. Garth become so angry?
3. What is Mary's reaction to Fred's news?
4. What is Fred's purpose in declaring Mary will never have to speak to him again?
5. After Fred leaves, why does Caleb go to Stone Court?
6. What is Wrench's mistake when Fred becomes ill?
7. In what manner does Rosamond involve Lydgate in Fred's illness?
8. How do Rosamond and Lydgate become well acquainted?
9. Why isn't Mrs. Vincy watching out for her daughter's interests?
10. What were the circumstances under which Celia and Chettam become engaged?
1. In order to raise money to repay his debt, Fred was going to use his horse plus 30 pounds to buy Diamond, then sell him for the 80 pounds he was worth.
2. Mrs. Garth is so angry because she knew nothing of her husband's co-signing the loan. Now that Diamond has lamed himself, her family is going to have to repay Fred's loan.
3. Mary is distraught that Alfred's tuition and her parents' savings will have to be used to repay the debt. She professes not to be upset that her own savings will have to be used also.
4. Fred believes Mary thinks the worst of him and wants nothing to do with him. He loves her, so he intends to leave her alone....
(The entire section is 405 words.)
Chapters 29-33 Questions and Answers
1. About what do Dorothea and her husband argue?
2. In what way does Casaubon put a stop to the dispute?
3. For what reason are all his siblings at Featherstone's home?
4. In what manner do Featherstone's siblings treat Mary?
5. What is the purpose of Mrs. Vincy's presence at Stone Court?
6. How has it happened that Lydgate is Casaubon's physician?
7. In private, about what does Lydgate speak to Dorothea?
8. What request does Featherstone make of Mary?
9. What is Featherstone's objective in wanting his iron chest?
10. To what resolution does this last conflict between Mary and her uncle come?
1. Casaubon receives a letter, from Ladislaw, with another letter in it to Dorothea. As he is giving this to her, Casaubon tells her in no uncertain terms he is not interested in having Ladislaw visit. Dorothea takes offense that her husband thinks she might want to do something annoying to him, such as this visit.
2. Casaubon pleads the need to get back to his work.
3. Featherstone's brothers and sisters, even the rich ones, are eager to make certain their names are in his will. He is dying, so this may be their last chance.
4. Most of Featherstone's relatives are unkind to Mary. They seem not to realize all the extra demands they make on her. Some of them seem to accuse her...
(The entire section is 410 words.)
Book Four: Three Love Problems Questions and Answers
1. Who is conducting Featherstone's funeral?
2. Which people have gathered at Lowick Gate?
3. Why has Brooke come there?
4. What are the provisions of the will Featherstone's lawyer thought he would be reading?
5. Why are these terms revoked?
6. What is Fred's reaction when the latest will is read?
7. What is Vincy's purpose in wanting Rosamond to wait to be married?
8. What is Lydgate doing while unaware of Vincy's decree?
9. What prompts Ladislaw to visit Dorothea?
10. In what manner does Casaubon respond to Ladislaw's latest visit?
1. Cadwallader is conducting Featherstone's funeral at Lowick. Featherstone disliked the other clergymen for various reasons.
2. Mrs. Cadwallader, Dorothea, and the Chettams (including Chettam's mother) have gathered at Lowick Manor. They can see the funeral train from the window.
3. Brooke says he has come to see about Casaubon's health. He also wants to say he invited Ladislaw to stay with him and will be offering him a job.
4. The provisions of the last will Featherstone's lawyer wrote are: small bequests to his relatives (including the Vincys but not Mary), Fred to have 10,000 pounds in specified investments, and all else to Rigg when he takes the name Featherstone.
5. The unexpected will...
(The entire section is 430 words.)
Chapters 38-42 Questions and Answers
1. What is Brooke planning to do?
2. Why are Chettam and the Cadwalladers opposed to this plan?
3. What proposal does Chettam bring to Brooke?
4. What attempts does Chettam make to convince Brooke to do as he wants?
5. About what does Ladislaw speak to Dorothea?
6. For what reason does Brooke leave with Dorothea?
7. In what manner does Dagley treat Brooke?
8. How is Mary saved from taking a position of which she is not fond?
9. What is Farebrother's message to the Garths from Fred?
10. For what purpose has Raffles come to Stone Court?
1. Brooke has decided to stand for Parliament and is using the Pioneer, under Ladislaw's editorship, as his political voice.
2. Chettam and the Cadwalladers are opposed to Brooke's plan. He is being publicly denounced, through the Trumpet, as a poor landlord. They fear he doesn't realize he is exposing his private life to public scrutiny.
3. Chettam proposes that Brooke rehire Caleb, who was dismissed 12 years ago, to manage Tipton. Chettam will also hire Caleb to manage his estates.
4. Chettam has Dorothea visit Brooke and speak as if it were a foregone conclusion that he will repair and improve the cottages he rents to his tenants.
5. Ladislaw tells Dorothea that Casaubon has written him a letter saying Ladislaw is no...
(The entire section is 350 words.)
Book Five: The Dead Hand Questions and Answers
1. What does Dorothea's asking Lydgate about her husband's condition further weakens her marriage?
2. Why is Ladislaw distressed that Dorothea finds him visiting with Rosamond?
3. What request does Lydgate make of Dorothea?
4. What is the local opinion of the new doctor?
5. How is Bulstrode harming Lydgate's progress in Middlemarch?
6. Farebrother offers Lydgate what advice?
7. Ladislaw decides he must take what course of action?
8. Why isn't Ladislaw readily accepted in his new home?
9. How does Ladislaw spend his time?
10. Why does Lydgate withhold information from Rosamond?
1. Casaubon suffers not only from heart disease, but also from self-doubt. He already feels his wife is attracted to Ladislaw's personality. Casaubon now suspects she shows affection for him only because he may die at any time.
2. Lydgate is at the hospital when Dorothea goes to his home to seek information about her husband's condition. Rosamond and Ladislaw are alone. Ladislaw is afraid the woman he worships, Dorothea, will think the less of him for being entertained by another woman without the proper chaperon present.
3. Lydgate explains the financial difficulties in starting the new hospital and asks for Dorothea's support. She readily agrees to donate 200 pounds a...
(The entire section is 448 words.)
Chapters 48-53 Questions and Answers
1. What is Casaubon's usual method of having his wife work with him?
2. What are the circumstances of Casaubon's death?
3. Casaubon adds what codicil to his will?
4. What warning did Dorothea have of this codicil?
5. For what reason does Ladislaw think he should leave Middlemarch?
6. What is Brooke's motive in resisting the idea of sending Ladislaw away?
7. What is the purpose in Farebrother's going to see Mary?
8. Of what is it that Mary has a fleeting impression?
9. Why is Bulstrode at Stone Court?
10. What astounding information do we know of Bulstrode's past?
1. Casaubon has Dorothea do the necessary writing in the library, then she reads to him in bed as he selects information for his books.
2. Casaubon dies the day after complaining of discomfort while trying to sleep. He'd gone for a walk in the garden, sat on a bench, and simply expired.
3. Casaubon adds the codicil that Dorothea would lose her sizable inheritance from him if she marries Ladislaw.
4. The night before his death, Casaubon had asked Dorothea to promise to carry out the terms of his will. He refused to tell her what the terms are.
5. Ladislaw resolves to leave Middlemarch for five years to make his mark upon the world with his writing and speaking, but not until Dorothea knows...
(The entire section is 438 words.)
Book Six: The Widow and His Wife Questions and Answers
1. What motive does Dorothea have in rejecting the suggestion to have a companion once she returns to Lowick Manor?
2. Why isn't Dorothea disturbed by the discussion about remarriage before the end of the year of a widow's mourning?
3. For what reason is Caleb at the site of the fracas?
4. How is it that Fred happens to be nearby when the farm laborers threaten the railway workers?
5. For what does Fred ask Caleb?
6. What are Mrs. Garth's initial objections?
7. What is Fred's purpose in going to the parsonage?
8. In what manner did Rosamond lose her baby?
9. After Ladislaw leaves, what news does Lydgate give his wife?
10. What response does this news elicit from Rosamond?
1. Dorothea wants no companion because she wants to be alone at Lowick Manor, to make her peace with her deceased husband and to see Ladislaw.
2. Dorothea takes no offense at the discussion of remarriage before the end of a year of mourning because she plans never to marry again.
3. Caleb has been hired by Dorothea and is on his way to meet some railway people to sell some of her land to them.
4. Vincy sent his son riding on this fine day. Fred was just deciding which way to go when he saw Caleb and the fracas.
5. Fred wants Caleb to hire him permanently...
(The entire section is 369 words.)
Chapters 59-62 Questions and Answers
1. What has happened to the siblings?
2. Why does Lydgate tell Rosamond not to mention the codicil to Ladislaw?
3. For what reason does Rosamond tell Ladislaw about the codicil?
4. What are the circumstances under which Ladislaw and Raffles meet?
5. About what does Raffles question Ladislaw?
6. What is the purpose in Raffles seeking Bulstrode?
7. What is Bulstrode's motive in sending for Ladislaw?
8. What response does Ladislaw have to Bulstrode's proposition?
9. Why does Ladislaw want to see Dorothea?
10. How do Ladislaw and Dorothea accidentally meet?
1. There is a distance between the siblings since Fred announced his engagement to Mary and gave up all thoughts of entering the clergy.
2. Lydgate knows Ladislaw cares for Dorothea. That would make this codicil even more painful to Ladislaw. He cautions Rosamond not to mention it to their friend.
3. Rosamond thinks Ladislaw knows of the codicil and has stayed because he and Dorothea are so in love that they will marry. She is also bored and wants to stir him up.
4. Trumbull invites Ladislaw to an auction in order to bid on some paintings. Raffles manages to be there at the same time.
5. Raffles questions Ladislaw about his mother's name, whether his father had been ill, and if his parents still live....
(The entire section is 322 words.)
Book Seven: Two Temptations Questions and Answers
1. What do the Middlemarch locals have to say about Lydgate on New Year's Day?
2. Of what does Farebrother speak privately to Lydgate?
3. What is Lydgate's plan as a partial solution to his money woes?
4. In what way does Rosamond thwart her husband's plan?
5. For what reason has his uncle sent Lydgate a nasty letter?
6. What is the purpose of Fred's being at the Green Dragon?
To convince Lydgate to leave the Green Dragon, Fred uses what lie?
8. What is the content of Farebrother's discussion with Fred?
9. Lydgate receives what news from Bulstrode?
10. After their latest argument about finances, for what does Lydgate implore Rosamond?
1. The locals are discussing Lydgate's debt, his medical practice, his marriage, and the new hospital. The locals seem severely disapproving of Lydgate.
2. Lydgate is discreetly drawn aside and offered a loan by Farebrother, who is well aware of Lydgate's spending habits and financial condition.
3. Lydgate plans to have Trumbull sell his house and furniture to Ned Plymdale, who is marrying and will have need of these. This will not solve his problem, but by moving to a smaller house on Bride Street, the Lydgates will have less outlay each month.
4. Rosamond visits Ned's mother and neglects to mention...
(The entire section is 483 words.)
Chapters 68-71 Questions and Answers
1. Why has Raffles returned to Stone Court?
2. For what reason does Caleb decline to work for Bulstrode?
3. Lydgate has left what instructions concerning Raffles?
4. In what manner does Bulstrode fulfill these instructions?
5. What has Mrs. Abel to do with Raffles' death?
6. What motive does Bulstrode have in changing his mind about the loan to Lydgate?
7. Farebrother has what purpose in stopping Lydgate to speak with him privately?
8. What is Hawley's logic in piecing together what he thinks has happened?
9. What happens to Bulstrode at the town meeting?
10. How is Lydgate further implicated in Bulstrode's guilt during the meeting?
1. Raffles is very ill and needs more money. Bulstrode offers him money for the rest of his life if he is silent and disappears. The only other option is no more money from Bulstrode and the chance of being called a liar when Raffles attempts to besmirch Bulstrode's reputation by telling what he knows.
2. Caleb picked up the ill Raffles on the road and brought him to Stone Court at Raffles' request. During the ride, Raffles told Caleb about Bulstrode's past.
3. Lydgate instructs Bulstrode to keep liquor from Raffles and offer him only the specified foods. When he returns and sees that Raffles' condition has taken a turn for the worse, he gives...
(The entire section is 513 words.)
Book Eight: Sunset and Sunrise Questions and Answers
1. What is foremost in Dorothea's mind when he hears of Lydgate's troubles?
2. In sending for Lydgate, what is Dorothea's supposed purpose?
3. Why hasn't Lydgate told Rosamond of his troubles yet?
4. What has happened to Bulstrode?.
5. How is Rosamond made even more distraught?
6. In what manner has it happened that the Lydgates' maid doesn't know Ladislaw is at their home?
7. What does Dorothea bring with her to the Lydgates' home?
8. Why doesn't Dorothea stay to speak with Rosamond as she had promised?
9. When Dorothea arrives at the Farebrothers' what happens?
10. How is it that Rosamond and Lydgate still have not discussed the latest troubles he has, even though Rosamond knows of them through her father?
1. Dorothea is determined that Lydgate's friends must act to clear his name despite Chettam's insistence that a man must act to clear his own name.
2. Dorothea sends for Lydgate, supposedly to determine strategy for keeping the new hospital separate from the old one.
3. Lydgate is so angry with and feels so distant from his wife that he simply decides to let her hear of his latest troubles. He hopes the news reaches her through someone else. He doesn't want to face her selfishness and coldness while telling her himself.
(The entire section is 449 words.)
Chapters 81-86 and Finale Questions and Answers
1. For what reason does Rosamond see Dorothea?
2. What is Dorothea's method in convincing Rosamond that Lydgate is the injured party?
3. What does Dorothea have to say about the Lydgates' relationship?
4. During her meeting with Rosamond, why is Dorothea so sad?
5. In what way does Rosamond try to help Dorothea?
6. What is the purpose in Miss Noble's coming to Lowick Manor?
7. What information does Ladislaw give Dorothea?
8. What reaction did Chettam have to the news of Dorothea's impending marriage?
9. How is the reconciliation between the former Brooke sisters achieved?
10. How did Fred and Mary come to live at Stone Court?
1. Rosamond is afraid to refuse to see Dorothea. It is Lydgate who asks her to do so. She fears Dorothea may explain why she left the previous day.
2. Dorothea carefully explains that Lydgate's friends firmly believe he knew nothing of who Raffles was or what was done to him. He honestly believed Bulstrode thought he'd been too hasty in refusing the loan and changed his mind.
3. Dorothea reassures Rosamond that Lydgate had not explained this to her because it pained him too much to bring the matter up to her.
4. Dorothea is so sad because she thinks she is saving three lives, none of them her own. She still thinks Rosamond loves Ladislaw, and...
(The entire section is 473 words.)
Compare and Contrast
- 1832: Doctors are not paid for their time and their services. Rather, their income derives from the profits they obtain through selling drugs.
Today: Doctors charge for their time, their services, and their medical opinions. Patients obtain medicine with a doctor's prescription from a licensed pharmacy. In addition, in the United States, pharmaceutical companies advertise directly to consumers, and their sales representatives canvass doctors' offices, distributing free samples of new drugs to be given out to patients.
- 1832: A candidate with no credentials other than money and influence may run successfully for election to the House of Commons.
Today: In Britain, as in many democracies in the world, the most important factor in the success of a candidate is his party affiliation. A candidate for the House of Commons stands little chance of being elected unless he is adopted by one of the three major parties, Labour, Conservative, or Liberal Democrat.
- 1832: Many middle-class, educated young men enter the clergy, seeking a sinecure (a permanent, respectable job requiring little work and providing a steady income).
Today: The Church of England finds it increasingly difficult to recruit suitable candidates for the clergy. A similar problem is faced by the Catholic Church in the United States, and many churches share priests. There is a debate among Catholics in...
(The entire section is 221 words.)
Chronology of George Eliot's Works
1844-1846 translated Strauss's Das Leben Jesu
1852-1854 secret editor of Westminster Review
1854 translated Feuerbach's Das Wesen des Christenthuns
1855-1856 translated Spinoza's Ethics
1857 Scenes of Clerical Life published in Blackwood's Magazine
1859 Adam Bede 1859 short story: "The Lifted Veil"
1860, The Mill on the Floss
1861 Silas Marner
1862–1863 Romola published in Cornhill Magazine
1866 Felix Holt the Radical
1868 The Spanish Gypsy
1869-1871 poems: "How Lisa Loved the King," "Agatha," "The Legend of Jubal," and "Armgart"
1871-1872 Middlemarch 1876 Daniel Deronda
1879 essays: Impressions of Theophrastus Such
(The entire section is 79 words.)
Topics for Further Study
- Select a footnote in the Norton Critical Edition of Middlemarch on an historical person or event and conduct further research on this subject. Then write an essay on the passage in the novel which the footnote helps to elucidate, explaining how your research increases your understanding of the passage and its relevance to the novel as a whole.
- Read about the Renaissance thinker Isaac Casaubon (1559–1614) and his cosmology (theory of the universe), then write a compare and contrast paper on him and Edward Casaubon. Conclude your paper by theorizing about how this comparison gives a reader fuller understanding of Edward Casaubon's research topic and his character.
- Consult books on the history of fashion and photo histories that contain pictures of people in Victorian dress. Use photocopies of some of these photographs to create a poster. Choose pictures that may approximate what Eliot's characters wear in certain scenes: for example, a morning dress worn by a middle-class woman at home, riding outfits for a woman and for a man, mourning attire for a formal funeral, a servant's dress, and the dress of a parish priest and rector. Make a presentation to your class on fashion during the Victorian period, contrasting it with dress in the early 2000s. Include discussion of how clothing styles influence behavior.
- Read about medical developments in England between 1830 and 1870. You may want to begin by checking relevant...
(The entire section is 317 words.)
What Do I Read Next?
- Readers who enjoy Middlemarch may find Eliot's Mill on the Floss (1860) also interesting, especially regarding insights on the schooling of children according to gender rather than ability and the way fashion in clothing affects female behavior. This novel also deals with bankruptcy and the ways in which a love relationship can sabotage aspirations.
- Charlotte Brontê's romantic novel Jane Eyre (1847) traces the education and professional development of a young woman without family or financial support.
- Tim Dolin's 2005 biography George Eliot, part of Oxford University's Authors in Context series, studies Eliot's life within its larger social and intellectual context. The final chapter of this book comments on television adaptations of Middlemarch.
- For a contrast to Middlemarch in so many ways, readers may enjoy the American study of small town life provided in Sherwood Anderson's brief novel, Winesburg, Ohio (1919).
(The entire section is 137 words.)
Bibliography and Further Reading
Colvin, Sidney, Review of Middlemarch, in Middlemarch, Norton Critical Edition, Norton, 2000, pp. 575-78; originally published in Fortnightly Review, January 19, 1873, pp. 142-47.
Eliot, George, Journals, in Middlemarch, Norton Critical Edition, Norton, 2000, p. 535; originally published in George Eliot's Life as Related in Her Letters and Journals, Vol. 3, edited by J. W. Cross, Blackwood, 1885, pp. 191-92.
―――――――, Letter to Charles Bray, dated July 5, 1859, in Middlemarch, Norton Critical Edition, Norton, 2000, p. 526; originally published in The George Eliot Letters, Vol. 3., edited by Gordon S. Haight, Yale University Press, 1954–1955, pp. 110-11.
―――――――, Middlemarch, Norton Critical Edition, Norton, 2000.
James, Henry, "George Eliot's Middlemarch," in Middlemarch, Norton Critical Edition, Norton, 2000, pp. 578-81; originally published in Galaxy, March 1873, pp. 424-28.
Review of Middlemarch, in Middlemarch, Norton Critical Edition, Norton, 2000, pp. 573-75; originally published in Saturday Review, December 7, 1872, pp. 733-34.
Review of the Norton Critical Edition of Middlemarch, in Contemporary Review, Vol. 277, No. 1617, October 2000, p. 255.
Beer, Gillian, Darwin's Plots:...
(The entire section is 319 words.)
Bibliography (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Anderson, Quentin. “George Eliot in Middlemarch.” In George Eliot: A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by George R. Creeger. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1970. Provides a thorough discussion of Eliot’s background and preparation of the novel, the provincial panorama she creates, and the plot development that proceeds in an interplay between public opinion and self-regard. Also includes a bibliography.
Barrett, Dorothea. Vocation and Desire: George Eliot’s Heroines. New York: Routledge, 1989. Examining the conflicts between women’s needs for creative fulfillment and limitations imposed by nineteenth century England, this book offers helpful insights into the struggles of Dorothea.
Beer, Gillian. George Eliot. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986. This critical biography reviews in detail “the Woman Question” in nineteenth century publications and explains several allusions in Middlemarch. Includes historical background, a bibliography, and an index.
Blake, Kathleen. “Middlemarch and the Woman Question.” Nineteenth-Century Fiction 31 (1976): 285-312. This article treats the novel as Eliot’s response to contemporary ideas about the “nature of women.”
Bellringer, Alan W. George Eliot. New York: St....
(The entire section is 544 words.)