Faith Bradham's Reviews > Middlemarch

Middlemarch by George Eliot
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Dec 26, 11

bookshelves: i-love, british-literature, victorian
Read in November, 2011

** spoiler alert ** I do love Middlemarch - it's always been my favorite Eliot, so I was quite happy to find out it was on the reading list for my Victorian Lit class. We read it by book, just as it would have come out in serial form (although we didn't take a month between each book :P).

In Middlemarch, Eliot does a wonderful job of questioning the role of individual agency in Victorian society, particularly as regards women. She uses each of her women - even despicable Rosamond - to explore the various ways women can break out of the cage of Victorian society, and the consequences for doing so. I find that she has an ultimately hopeful view of the situation, since, while Rosamond never breaks free of the cage, Dorothea is eventually able to retain her individuality and the use of her intellect, even amidst all of the strictures placed on women by society.

I greatly admire Eliot for clearly and rationally expressing all of this in her work, although at times I do think she breaks out in anger against the patriarchy, inserting herself into the text and railing against the unfairness of it all. But I think she makes a big step here by creating a novel that stands alone as a work of art and genius, and that interrogates the ways that Victorian society work.
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10/20/2011 page 200
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