View Poll Results: Middlemarch by George Eliot

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Thread: Middlemarch by George Eliot

  1. #31
    Registered User Aylinn's Avatar
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    I'm almost halfway through this book. Actually Fred does not seem to be so bad. He thought about repaying Garth, of course he being...well himself... expected that Peter Featherstone would leave him an opulent inheritance.

    As for Rosamund, she is simply foolish, though in another way then her brother. She is in love with the prospect of being married to a man form an upper-class background who can elevate her standing in society. I cannot fathom how that marriage can not go wrong without her sweeping personality with someone else or Lydgate throwing away his idealism to a dust bin. At least Fred is in love with Mary and not some illusion of Mary like his sister.

    If it wasn't for the Garth subplot, the overiding message of the novel would seem to be that all marriages are unhappy and doomed unless you're too dim to question it.
    I would say that the message of the novel is that you are bound to be unhappy if you have some unrealistic expectations and/or instead of seeing the other person for who they really are see what you want to see. Dorothea sees Mr. Casaubon as a stepping stone for her own enlightenment and she creates a false image of Casaubon, she thinks of him as a second Milton and someone who will help her to acquire knowledge, which is very far away from reality and of course turns out to be unhappy. The same thing I suppose will happen to Rosamund. I haven't read all the book, but I guess that Fred succeeds in making a good match, because he sees Mary for who she really is and is not disillusioned like Rosamund or Dorothea. If I am right, Celia Brooke and James Chettam should also be proved to be a good match at the end of the book.
    Last edited by Aylinn; 11-13-2012 at 05:24 PM.

  2. #32
    Registered User kelby_lake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ruggerlad View Post
    You seem to suggest, kelby, that if you don't think your partner is perfect all the time, then the marriage is doomed. I think Gladys had a more realistic view of relationships.
    I suppose it's the carelessness that annoys me- that it is okay for Fred to be useless because he's just a bit of a scamp. I guess I just don't see much depth in the characterisation- fair enough because Mary and Fred aren't major characters, but he doesn't seem repentent enough, considering.

  3. #33
    Registered User kelby_lake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aylinn View Post
    I would say that the message of the novel is that you are bound to be unhappy if you have some unrealistic expectations and/or instead of seeing the other person for who they really are see what you want to see.
    Yes, this is definitely the real meaning of the novel. However if you simply had the two central unhappy marriages, it would seem to be saying that marriage is unhappy. The Fred/Mary relationship clarifies the position on marriages: Dorothea and Rosamond marry hastily and repent at leisure. Casaubon and Lydgate marry because they feel that society expects it of them. Fred and Mary love each other more than those couples but wait until Fred grows up a little.

  4. #34
    the beloved: Gladys's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ruggerlad View Post
    And far, far more sensible girls than Mary have married far, far more selfish men than Fred on the basis that they are a bit of hunk ... I still think Rosamund is the most interesting character in the book, and no one seems to have mentioned her.
    Mary will only marry Fred when he has proven he can hold down a job. Being a hunk is beside the point: Mary chooses Fred because, like her angelic father, she sees the good in him, which we see more clearly later in the novel. Rosamond is most interesting in that the character of others is revealed in dealings with her - particularly of Ladislaw and his relatives, Dorothea, and Mr and Mrs Vincy.

    Quote Originally Posted by ruggerlad View Post
    The most moving moment I found in the book when I first read it is an example of married love, when Mrs Bulstrode hears indirectly of her husband's disgrace, and changes into a simpler dress and goes to comfort him with the one word "Nicholas". I used to weep when I read that.
    As did I. Moreover, a sister of the cold and self-centred Mr. Nicholas Vincy, the newly elected mayor of Middlemarch, is our Mrs Harriet Bulstrode! More brilliancies bearing out Virginia Woolf's assessment of the novel.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aylinn View Post
    Actually Fred does not seem to be so bad. He thought about repaying Garth, of course he being...well himself... expected that Peter Featherstone would leave him an opulent inheritance.
    Fred seems pretty woeful here too, as I see it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aylinn View Post
    If I am right, Celia Brooke and James Chettam should also be proved to be a good match at the end of the book.
    The ending is rather more interesting than that.

    Quote Originally Posted by kelby_lake View Post
    I guess I just don't see much depth in the characterisation- fair enough because Mary and Fred aren't major characters, but he doesn't seem repentant enough, considering.
    The depth and subtlety here lies precisely in Fred's inability to even understand repentance, let alone repent. Mary and Mr Garth, with full knowledge, take him as he is.

    Quote Originally Posted by kelby_lake View Post
    The Fred/Mary relationship clarifies the position on marriages: Dorothea and Rosamond marry hastily and repent at leisure. Casaubon and Lydgate marry because they feel that society expects it of them. Fred and Mary love each other more than those couples but wait until Fred grows up a little.
    I'm not at all sure that saintly Dorothea, after her initial shocks, does repent of her decision to marry in the weeks approaching the death of Casaubon. All things work together for good for resilient Dorothea throughout the novel. Nevertheless, she get even greater shocks soon after her husband's death.

    Rosamond only repents because Lydgate can't long maintain her lush standard of living. She can be faithful to no one, ever, as Ladislaw is well aware! As for Lydgate, his teenage liaison with the murderous siren is more or less repeated in Rosamund, showing his tragic character flaw. Lydgate's ending is sad, whereas Rosamund is happy enough - as happy as she could ever be!
    Last edited by Gladys; 11-16-2012 at 01:09 AM. Reason: Nicholas Bulstrode married Mr. Vincy's sister, Harriet.
    "Love does not alter the beloved, it alters itself"

  5. #35
    Registered User kelby_lake's Avatar
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    I don't think Dorothea openly repents but she is certainly dissatisfied.

  6. #36
    the beloved: Gladys's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kelby_lake View Post
    I don't think Dorothea openly repents but she is certainly dissatisfied.
    Yes, but what exactly dissatisfies her in the last months of Casaubon's life?

    I don't believe that her decision to marry is at issue here. Dorothea is fully reconciled to a choice freely made, however ill-advised. Her dissatisfaction lies in the bizarre state of mind that increasingly afflicts her husband and is reflected in grimly negative body language, tone and behaviour. Surely, this would leave any loving wife anxious and dissatisfied, for her husband's sake!

    By contrast, when doting husband Lydgate is distraught over disastrous debts brought about though his wife's greed, Rosamond is anxious and dissatisfied for herself alone.
    "Love does not alter the beloved, it alters itself"

  7. #37
    Registered User kelby_lake's Avatar
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    Rosamond is anxious and dissatisfied for herself but Lydgate is not blameless. For Rosamond- and indeed the reader- he falls short of our expectations.

  8. #38
    the beloved: Gladys's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kelby_lake View Post
    Rosamond is anxious and dissatisfied for herself but Lydgate is not blameless.
    What blame can you attach to Lydgate?

    Certainly his choice in women is appalling - his first a murderer, his second with narcissistic personality disorder. He errs in keeping rapacious Rosamund in the luxury to which she has been accustomed, to the point of bankruptcy. And he perhaps might have been a little less zealous in tending the sick.
    "Love does not alter the beloved, it alters itself"

  9. #39
    Registered User kelby_lake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gladys View Post
    What blame can you attach to Lydgate?

    Certainly his choice in women is appalling - his first a murderer, his second with narcissistic personality disorder. He errs in keeping rapacious Rosamund in the luxury to which she has been accustomed, to the point of bankruptcy. And he perhaps might have been a little less zealous in tending the sick.
    Basically this. For all his progressive views on medicine, he doesn't exactly have a progressive attitude towards women.

  10. #40
    Registered User Aylinn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kelby_lake View Post
    Basically this. For all his progressive views on medicine, he doesn't exactly have a progressive attitude towards women.
    I wouldn't say that his not being progressive is a problem. His problem stems from the fact that he is a terrible judge of character, so he hasn't realised how spoiled she is. It isn't his fault that it is impossible to have a normal relationship with Rosamund. He talks about problems with Rosamund, who however does whatever she wants anyway. Like when she writes the letter, in which she asks for a financial help, to his cousin. Lydgate isn't the kind of man who dominates in a relationship with attitude "Listen to me woman, I'm your master." If he did, Rosamond would curse the day she agreed to marry him.
    Last edited by Aylinn; 04-19-2013 at 12:36 PM.

  11. #41
    the beloved: Gladys's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aylinn View Post
    It isn't his fault that it is impossible to have a normal relationship with Rosamund.
    Lydgate is miserably jarred in a no-win marriage and finally suffocates in London. Is it irreverent to deem his premature death a blessing?

    I'm sure Rosamund will live on into her nineties, with many friends, but none close.
    "Love does not alter the beloved, it alters itself"

  12. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by ruggerlad View Post

    I love Dickens, but I'd never say he was organised.

    Viginia Woolf said of it ""the magnificent book that, with all its imperfections, is one of the few English novels written for grown-up people." By which I suspect she meant among other things, it has a mature attitude to sexual relations, although hardly spelt out. All those irritiating, drippy, saintly, sexless angels in the house which male Victorian novelist liked (Dickens' Amy, Thackery's Amelia Sedley, Trollope's Lily Dale) are mercifully absent.
    That is a major flaw in Dickens. But Martin Amis once said that the interesting thing about Dickens is that he is almost impossible to categorize. He is not a 'realist' and yet he can be brilliantly realistic. It would also be too limited to call him a 'comic' writer. Amis thought the best way to describe Dickens' novels were as fairy tales.

    I've never understood why Middlemarch is considered the best novel in the English language.

  13. #43
    Registered User Jackson Richardson's Avatar
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    When I wrote "Dickens' Amy" I meant "Dickens' Ada Clare in Bleak House" Dicken's Amy is Little Dorrit herself who is actually tough, like Esther in BH. I'm reading Bleak House at the moment, and I'm being a bit unfair. Far from being sexless, I can see how many men would find Ada attractive with her vulnerability. And in sticking by the feckless Richard Carstone, Ada has backbone too.

    There's nothing particularly sexist about Lydgate. Men may often exercise unfair power over women, but this is a clear case of a woman exercising unfair power over a man.
    Previously JonathanB

    The more I read, the more I shall covet to read. Robert Burton The Anatomy of Melancholy Partion3, Section 1, Member 1, Subsection 1

  14. #44
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    Ah, memories of Middlemarch. I began reading that book years ago and did not finish it. I don't know if I ever shall.

    That said, Eliot (Evans) is one of my favorite writers.
    Last edited by Der Prozess; 08-06-2013 at 04:58 AM.

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