Page 3 of 4 FirstFirst 1234 LastLast
Results 31 to 45 of 46

Thread: Middlemarch Discussion

  1. #31
    Ecurb Ecurb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Eugene, OR
    Posts
    1,191
    I grant that Dorothea grows during the novel. And I think that final paragraph is meant to indicate that she grows even more after the novel - renouncing some of her ideals and becoming more like Celia or Mary.

    Mary, of course, becomes an author. Is she the George Eliot (Mary Evans) surragate? In the love scene I quoted above, she says, "I don't think either of us could spare the other, or like any one else better, however much we might admire them. It would make too great a difference to us -- like seeing all the old places altered, and changing the name for everything." I like the "changing the name for everything" -- as if, especially for a writer, words are magical incantations, and changing the name for things changes the world.

    By the way, I think some the final scenes between Celia and Dorothea (and the one between Rosumund and Dorothea) are far more moving than any scene involving Ladislaw. Also, I don't want anyone to think I'm dissing the book -- I love it.

  2. #32
    the beloved: Gladys's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    1,499
    Quote Originally Posted by Ecurb View Post
    ...she [Dorothea] grows even more after the novel - renouncing some of her ideals and becoming more like Celia or Mary.
    All Dorothea renounces are juvenile and simplistic ideas about love for neighbour. Her raging river of love is, by necessity, wonderfully diverted into many rivulets (channels) with much enhanced effect. Neither Celia or Mary are visionary like her (and like Mary Ann Evans would likely wish to be).

    Quote Originally Posted by Ecurb View Post
    Mary, of course, becomes an author.
    There is more to life than being a visionary. Mary perhaps represents the goodness that is inherent in the best of honest pragmatism (a goodness Mary Ann Evans would likely wish for herself).

    Quote Originally Posted by Ecurb View Post
    By the way, I think some the final scenes between Celia and Dorothea (and the one between Rosumund and Dorothea) are far more moving than any scene involving Ladislaw.
    Reading those final scenes, I was reminded of the early, happier days of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina.

    I too adore Middlemarch. It was a pleasant change after battling through Henry James' woeful novel, also about young women, The Awkward Age. I've read a dozen James novels in the last couple of years but that stands alone.
    "Love does not alter the beloved, it alters itself"

  3. #33
    George Eliot's style reminds me of Henry James in its verbosity.

    I think that Ladislaw is a bit two-dimensional and it's hard to see the attraction (apart from him being pretty). His love for Dorothea is more like an infatuation.

  4. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by Gladys View Post
    Reading those final scenes, I was reminded of the early, happier days of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina.
    I can see similarities between Middlemarch and Anna Karenina- unintended of course as Middlemarch predates Anna Karenina and I doubt Tolstoy read Middlemarch.

  5. #35
    the beloved: Gladys's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    1,499
    Quote Originally Posted by kelby_lake View Post
    George Eliot's style reminds me of Henry James in its verbosity.

    I think that Ladislaw is a bit two-dimensional and it's hard to see the attraction (apart from him being pretty). His love for Dorothea is more like an infatuation.
    I too find something mildly distasteful about Ladislaw: his brashness perhaps. Still, he's way better than Edward Casaubon. Our marital choices are always very limited!

    I have an even more uncomfortable feeling about brother and sister, Tom and Maggie Tulliver, just before that fateful collision on the river in flood at the end of The Mill on the Floss. Life is never straightforward and by these dissonances, George Elliot shows her subtle genius - as subtle in her way as Henry James.
    "Love does not alter the beloved, it alters itself"

  6. #36
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    The Middle East, UK, The Philippines & Papua New Guinea.
    Posts
    1,742
    Blog Entries
    1
    The point about limited marital choices is well made, or is it more a question of not learning from the relationships we have gone through? Dorothea, to me at least, comes across as either too intense or playing the martyr, neither of them desirable traits in any woman. Hence her initial attraction to Casaubon and later transient emotional purgatory with Ladislaw. Genteel ladies in those days were not exactly in a position to undertake the female equivalent of “sowing their oats!”

  7. #37
    What I really didn't get was all that fuss about the codicil. Seeing as Dorothea was already rich, she didn't need the money or the property. Yes, Casaubon might have been being spiteful, but you'd be annoyed if your cousin was sniffing around your wife.

    At least Casaubon recognised that Dorothea was intelligent and she got an education, even if it was ultimately to be his secretary. I can't help feeling that her marrying Ladislaw is a regression. Ideally, she should have got together with Lydgate.

  8. #38
    the beloved: Gladys's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    1,499
    Quote Originally Posted by kelby_lake View Post
    What I really didn't get was all that fuss about the codicil. Seeing as Dorothea was already rich, she didn't need the money or the property. Yes, Casaubon might have been being spiteful, but you'd be annoyed if your cousin was sniffing around your wife.

    At least Casaubon recognised that Dorothea was intelligent and she got an education, even if it was ultimately to be his secretary. I can't help feeling that her marrying Ladislaw is a regression. Ideally, she should have got together with Lydgate.
    Dorothea was well off rather than rich. Casaubon's codicil made manifest the extent of his narcissistic detachment from reality, a reality that Dorothea embraces energetically. The "fuss" was all in the claustrophobic mind of Casaubon; his was a pathetic life in many ways.

    As for Lydgate, he was already taken. Life is like that sometimes. And Dorothea makes the best of her situation in marrying Ladislaw - it's hardly love at first sight.
    Last edited by Gladys; 10-03-2012 at 05:15 AM. Reason: typo
    "Love does not alter the beloved, it alters itself"

  9. #39
    Scrum half maybe JonathanB's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Somewhere in the South East of England
    Posts
    276
    I'm very surprised nobody seems to have mentioned Rosamund Vincey - I find her the most interesting character. GE doens't really do villains - there's always a bit of pity or sympathy even for the baddies (Casaubon or Bulstrode.)

    Rosamund seems just an immature pretty charmer, but turns out to suck the life out of Lydgate bit by bit. Quite chilling when you think of it.

    (And she seems to indicate a difference between Jane Austen and GE. Mr Bennett's life has been blighted by his marriage to a selfish woman, but there's still comedy whereas Lydgate's life is a tragedy.)
    The more I read, the more I shall covet to read. Robert Burton The Anatomy of Melancholy Partion3, Section 1, Member 1, Subsection 1

  10. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by Gladys View Post
    Dorothea was well off rather than rich. Casaubon's codicil made manifest the extent of his narcissistic detachment from reality, a reality that Dorothea embraces energetically. The "fuss" was all in claustrophobic mind of Casaubon; his was a pathetic life in many ways.
    I don't think he detatched himself from reality because he was narcisstic. He devoted himself to his studies but became narcissistic to distract himself from the failure of his work. Admitting failure in his studies would be tantamount to saying his life was a complete failure.

  11. #41
    the beloved: Gladys's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    1,499
    Quote Originally Posted by kelby_lake View Post
    I don't think he detached himself from reality because he was narcissistic. He devoted himself to his studies but became narcissistic to distract himself from the failure of his work.
    Isn't Casaubon's narcissism - or selfishness - rather more complicated, as indicated by his relationship with Ladislaw's mother and later Ladislaw himself, way before Dorothea arrives?
    "Love does not alter the beloved, it alters itself"

  12. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by Gladys View Post
    Isn't Casaubon's narcissism - or selfishness - rather more complicated, as indicated by his relationship with Ladislaw's mother and later Ladislaw himself, way before Dorothea arrives?
    Could you explain?

  13. #43
    the beloved: Gladys's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    1,499
    Early in MiddleMarch Dorothea visits Casaubon's house for the first time and is attracted by an old miniature of his aunt (his mother's elder sister). The aunt, according to Casaubon made an unfortunate marriage, disappeared entirely from view and, as we later learn, had a grandson named Ladislaw. Much later, her own marriage less rosy, Dorothea comes again to the miniature:

    Here was a woman who had known some difficulty about marriage. Nay, the colors deepened, the lips and chin seemed to get larger, the hair and eyes seemed to be sending out light, the face was masculine and beamed on her with that full gaze which tells her on whom it falls that she is too interesting for the slightest movement of her eyelid to pass unnoticed and uninterpreted. The vivid presentation came like a pleasant glow to Dorothea: she felt herself smiling, and turning from the miniature sat down and looked up as if she were again talking to a figure in front of her. But the smile disappeared as she went on meditating, and at last she said aloud—

    "Oh, it was cruel to speak so! How sad—how dreadful!"

    We eventually learn that the aunt, acting with integrity, has left the family in the aftermath of a financial scam involving her father, the benefits eventually flowing to Casaubon himself - a man with gnawing feelings of guilt and shame. Casaubon's cool attitude and behaviour towards Ladislaw is a legacy of this tawdry past.

    And later:

    And now, since her conversation with Will, many fresh images had gathered round that Aunt Julia who was Will's grandmother; the presence of that delicate miniature, so like a living face that she knew, helping to concentrate her feelings. What a wrong, to cut off the girl from the family protection and inheritance only because she had chosen a man who was poor!
    "Love does not alter the beloved, it alters itself"

  14. #44
    Ah yes, I forgot that Casaubon would have inherited the dirty money.

  15. #45
    Registered User kev67's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Reading, England
    Posts
    1,327
    Quote Originally Posted by Gladys View Post
    Unlike Dorothea, Celia nature readily aligns her views with the mediocre prejudice of her influential friends, foremost among them (the rather self interested) Sir James Chettam (Sir James never liked Ladislaw). For instance, Celia is happy to prejudge the motives of Ladislaw and Lydgate. Dorothea mistakes are not those of ethical mediocrity, but those inherent in the forgiveable idealism and naivete of youth.

    Does Dorothea forsake her ambition for love? She marries Ladislaw...for love. And lives happily every after it seems.

    Your interpretation of the closing paragraph of Middlemarch seems at odds with the literal meaning of the text.

    Her finely touched spirit had still its fine issues, though they were not widely visible. Her full nature, like that river of which Cyrus broke the strength, spent itself in channels which had no great name on the earth. But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.

    I understand the text to say that Dorothea retained all her ambition for love but that societal opposition, reduced wealth and the subservient role of women redirected her once grander efforts into a myriad of small, yet noble, channels. As Lydgate, Ladislaw, Farebrother and Rosamund had been blessed but Dorothea's angelic touch, so her future loving but unhistoric acts would make things not so ill with you and me. She was born and remains an angel.
    I understood it this way too. I found Celia almost as shallow as Rosamund, except that she does love her nearest and dearest. I was glad Dorothea married Ladislaw. I wondered whether she might think she could do more good by spending her money on philanthropic works than by renouncing her dead husband's property and marrying Ladislaw. Who would have got the property, I wonder? Presumably Mr Casaubon had relatives not mentioned in the book. Anyway, I am sure Dorothea was as much a help in her husband's career as a reformist Member of Parliament as she had hoped to be to her first husband. That sounds sexist, but hey. Unless you were a truly exceptional woman like Florence Nightingale or an author like Elliot herself, that was about as much as an ambitious woman could hope for. Lydgate may have been forced to give up his ideals and make the best of an unhappy marriage, but Dorothea did not.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

Page 3 of 4 FirstFirst 1234 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. D.H. Lawrence's Short Stories Thread
    By Virgil in forum Lawrence, D.H.
    Replies: 3248
    Last Post: 12-26-2011, 08:27 AM
  2. "The Great Gatsby" share us the discussion
    By Ranoo in forum The Great Gatsby
    Replies: 18
    Last Post: 10-19-2010, 07:44 PM
  3. Novel Study and Discussion Underway
    By mea505 in forum The Possessed
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 11-10-2008, 08:07 PM
  4. Book discussion suggestion =).
    By JediFonger in forum The Literature Network
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 10-27-2004, 02:33 PM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •