Middlemarch
Middlemarch
by George Eliot

Middlemarch Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Marriage

Ah, marriage – wedding bells and then happily ever after, right? Close the book, because marriage is the end of the romance? Maybe in Hollywood romantic comedies or Jane Austen novels, but no...

Compassion and Forgiveness

Compassion, Forgiveness, Sympathy – these are big ideas in Middlemarch. Part of Dorothea's problem is that she feels too much. Both "compassion" and "sympathy," if you look at the root words...

Women and Femininity

For a female novelist, George Eliot sure didn't think too highly of female writers (or readers, for that matter). She even wrote an essay called "Silly Novels by Lady Novelists," and chose to write...

Science

Science and scientific progress was a big deal in the 19th century – just look at all the new discoveries and inventions of the period! The steam engine, oxygen (yes, the element), Darwin's t...

Dissatisfaction

A lot of grand and lofty plans are made in Middlemarch (see the "Dreams, Hopes, Plans" theme), but not a lot of them get carried through. In fact, most dreams in this novel are crushed by the munda...

Dreams, Hopes, Plans

There are a lot of ambitious characters in Middlemarch. Casaubon wants to discover something fundamental about how all the mythologies in the world are related; Dorothea wants to do something grand...

Society and Class

The title of the novel is the name of the town, which is a hint that this isn't a novel about one or two individuals: it's a novel about the entire society of this small town and the surrounding ar...

Literature and Writing

George Eliot was a very controlled writer – just look at how neatly all the pieces of the plot fall together at the end. But she was also a very self-conscious writer. She frequently calls at...

Spirituality

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 th...

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