Religion in general plays a very important role in Middlemarch, but the actual form that that religion takes (Catholicism, Anglicanism, Methodism, other –isms…) isn't as important as the internal effect the religious feeling has on a character. We're calling this kind of general religious feeling "spirituality." It can apply to personal belief or moral sense, but not to organized or institutionalized religion.
Questions About Spirituality
- How does Dorothea's spiritual life compare with Mr. Bulstrode's?
- Why does Dorothea give up horseback riding?
- Does the novel as a whole seem to push a particular morality?
- Is there a difference in the novel between "spirituality" and "morality"? If so, what? And for whom?
Chew on This
Dorothea's spiritual life is intense but vague. Because she isn't able to put a name to her spiritual longings, she mistakes the prospect of a marriage with Mr. Casaubon for a spiritual mission.
Mr. Bulstrode's public piety isn't entirely a hypocritical act. He does have an intense personal faith, but he has managed to persuade himself that his previous misdeeds were part of a Providential plan, while the peccadilloes of his fellow Middlemarchers are more condemnable.