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Analysis

Literary Devices in Middlemarch

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

The portrait of Will's grandmother comes up again and again. Dorothea associates it with Will, because it looks like him, but it could also be seen as a symbol for unhappiness in marriage. It seems...

Setting

The novel is set in the fictional town of Middlemarch, England in 1830-1832. (For more on why it's set in 1830, when it was written in 1870, check out the "In a Nutshell"; for more on the town of M...

Narrator Point of View

The narrator of Middlemarch doesn't just know everything about everybody in the novel (that's what "third person omniscient" means), she seems to know everything about everybody, ever. The narrator...

Genre

Middlemarch falls into the category of literary fiction pretty tidily: it's a novel, it's written in prose, and the third-person narrator is concerned with developing characters that have psycholog...

Tone

Middlemarch is, as we learn from the subtitle, a "Study of Provincial Life." Sounds scientific, doesn't it? And science calls for objectivity. It's important for the narrator to look at the charact...

Writing Style

We're using a five-dollar word to describe the style of Middlemarch because that's the kind of vocabulary Eliot uses for most of the novel. "Erudite" means extremely well educated, and that's what...

What's Up With the Title?

Middlemarch is the name of the town where almost every scene of novel takes place. It's a pretty average place, as the "middle" part of the name suggests. It's a fictional town, but one that is sup...

What's Up With the Epigraph?

There isn't an epigraph to Middlemarch, but there is a "Prelude" to the story, so we'll think about that here. (You can read the Prelude here.) Eliot spends a couple of pages on Saint Theresa, a Ca...

What's Up With the Ending?

The ending of Middlemarch is a problem for a lot of readers and critics: is it a happy ending? This is an honest question – we learn in the "Finale" chapter what happens to all the major char...

Plot Analysis

Dorothea marries Mr. Casaubon; Lydgate marries RosamondAlready, the plot of Middlemarch goes against traditional Victorian plots. Usually, the protagonist gets married at the very end, but here, th...

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis: Comedy

Dorothea marries Mr. Casaubon; Mr. Lydgate marries RosamondThe reason Dorothea marries Mr. Casaubon is that she assumes that Mr. Casaubon's scholarly research is a great and noble task, and that he...

Three Act Plot Analysis

Dorothea's marriage to Casaubon, his death, and her discovery of the codicil in his will forbidding her from marrying Will Ladislaw.ends when Dorothea walks in on Will Ladislaw and Rosamond Lydgate...

Trivia

George Eliot is not a man! It was just a pen name for Marian Evans.Eliot had a live-in lover. True story: George Henry Lewes was Eliot's long-term romantic partner, as well as her agent. He was mar...

Steaminess Rating

There's not a lot of sex going on in Middlemarch. It is, after all, a Victorian novel, and the Victorians were all about repressing sexual desire. There is, however, a lot of jealousy and suspicion...

Allusions

Beaumont and Fletcher, The Maid's Tragedy (epigraph to Chapter 1)Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote (epigraph to Chapter 2)Sir Humphry Davy, Agricultural Chemistry (1.2.1)Adam Smith (1.2.8)Robert Sou...
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