Considered Eliot’s masterpiece, Middlemarch develops a complex web of relationships in a provincial community shortly before the 1832 Reform Bill. The author’s perspective from 1871 suggests that the hoped-for results from that legislation have not been achieved, just as the youthful hopes of her characters are not fully realized, perhaps for similar reasons lying with human limitations beyond correction by legislation.
Dorothea Brooke, a young heiress, is compared to Saint Theresa of Avila, whose “passionate, ideal nature demanded an epic life” and found it in reforming a religious order. For Dorothea, however, a “later-born” Theresa, philanthropic aspirations are “helped by no coherent social...
(The entire section is 837 words.)