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George Eliot, whose real name was Mary Anne Evans was born in 1819 into a rapidly industrializing, and therefore rapidly changing England and Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life is similar to an epic, with one major difference: where the epic usually follows one or two heroes, Eliot/Evans has focused on an entire village of people in an effort to accuragtely depict life in an entire village at this time. In some ways, the novel functions like the dying American soap opera form; there are many characters woven into a tapestry of connections, with no appreciable emphasis on one character over another. If one had to pick a "main character" it would probably be Dorothea, whose ill-fated love life was known to make many readers unhappy at the time the novel was first released. However, when deconstructing the various books that comprise the novel, no fewer than twenty characters emerge, all with their own place in the novel, and with connections that severed would disrupt other storylines.
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