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George Elliot wrote Middlemarch in the year 1871. Middlemarch is the town where the novel takes place. George Elliot’s incentive for having started writing was to create a new, different kind of writing which distanced itself to the melodramatic novels which female authors were writing at the time.
Middlemarch is a novel about a character called Dorothea, who is an inhabitant of the town and stands out for her striking beauty and surrealistic views on life. The author first described Dorothea’s character and then conveyed her attitude towards Dorothea through the use of literary techniques. She used the town of Middlemarch as the background of the plot to help portray Dorothea’s life path.
Dorothea (otherwise known as Miss Brooke) is immediately portrayed as the main character that had striking beauty, which was “thrown into relief by a poor dress.” Her figure was very feminine; from her hands, wrists, to her stature and profile create a delicate feminine figure. This property she has separates her from the average towns person. Dorothea is an exceptional woman: she is smart, pious, and beautiful, and the governing principle of her character is her desire to help the needy. She is also quite intelligent. However, despite all of Dorothea’s good properties she is always viewed in comparison with her sister Celia. Celia’s wit and “common sense” seemed more normal than Dorothea’s.
Hence people were often suspicious of Dorothea. This is also due to the fact that Dorothea’s strong willed personality leads her to diverge from the common ideas of marriage that others have tried to inflict on her, such as marrying an older man. Dorothea is clearly an independent woman that seeks a man with strong values. She does not want a marriage with “good looks, vanity, and merely canine affection.” What Dorothea wants is a marriage with substance and love. Dorothea is always trying to help others in her town and wherever she goes. Her presence is described as her big brown eyes in comparison with her simpler sister.
George Eliot’s perception in the novel is conveyed from the point of view of a woman writing about a woman. George Eliot clearly prefers the character of Dorothea describing her as a much more beautiful, intelligent and all round good person in the book as opposed to her sister. He uses compound sentences within the structure to convey this. Eliot doesn’t fail to use this technique to portray the elaborate Dorothea. The author highlights Dorothea’s unwillingness to compromise with the world through humor, and in doing so reveals Dorothea’s naivety. This can be understood when Eliot writes “riding was an indulgence which she allowed herself in spite of conscientious qualms,” Which was started to stress Dorothea’s unconventional methods and attitude to a simpler minded individual.
Even though Dorothea is the main character in the novel, Eliot seems to be very interested in her fate whilst she makes fun of her character and the rest of the world. It seems as if Eliot is also trying to persuade the readers of the book to be fond of Dorothea. This turns out to be successful, even though she is a dull character, Dorothea compensates for her lack in ingenuity thanks to her fellow residents of Middlemarch and her ability to overlook the ordinary and her authenticity, when she is her greatest enemy. This gives readers a positive reflective view of Dorothea’s character.
Middlemarch is a small town that has been chosen for the main setting of the novel (hence the title). Middlemarch is a fairly typical story, which consists of a character in a small town that creates a plot out of a young woman’s life, and not following a character around throughout the book. Middlemarch is a small town, which is strikingly similar to the town where Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen takes place. The two novels have similar properties as well, in terms of marriage.
In the end it seems that Middlemarch took points and values out of the novel Pride and Prejudice as it was written afterwards. Due to the kinds of mentality these small towns in the 19th century hold in novels, we can see that Dorothea will most likely choose the wrong husband. However, the realization of her mistake in marring the man she chose would allow her to mature and become more sensible, and with her new point of view she will be able to lead her life in a more mature manner.
In conclusion, we can see that George Eliot’s main focus in the novel Middlemarch is to portray women in context of a rural society, and their views on marriage. She uses marriage to show woman’s position in society during that century in such a small rural town. Dorothea is a exceptionally beautiful woman which has “childlike ideas about marriage” and is the main focus of the story which contrasts from her sister. This also shows what would happen when a woman in that century had different views on a topic such as marriage. This passage from Middlemarch, which was previously compared to Pride and Prejudice, confronts the way society reacts towards Dorothea and portrays the themes of marriage and feminism, in both cases from a female point of view