March in December discussion

1. Chapter I - Chapter XXI

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message 1: by Kamil (new)

Kamil (coveredinskin) | 17 comments Mod
Please discuse Chapter I - Chapter XXI of Middlemarch here.

message 2: by Kamil (new)

Kamil (coveredinskin) | 17 comments Mod
;-) I'm just opening the book Becky and you made my laugh out loud, will see how much of a 'ninny' I think of her:) JUST TAKE THE DAMN DOG! :)

Has anybody else started already?

message 3: by Dawn (new)

Dawn I have started reading. Dorothea doesn't seem to live in the real world, but rather in her head. She doesn't see things that are right in front of her that everyone else sees. I think she's setting herself up for a rather unfortunate marriage.

message 4: by Paper (new)

Paper Tams (TamsWright) | 2 comments I have read the first 33 pages. Agree with above. What person in their right mind wouldn't love a dog? I do love the language. A fun read so far.

message 5: by Kate (new)

Kate Howe | 6 comments It looks like I'm in the minority here but I can't help but like Dorothea. She is such a thinker which is refreshing in a classic portrayal of a woman and she seems to have such steadiness of character.

message 6: by Marie (new)

Marie | 15 comments Mod
I like her too!! Such an complex character. I have read a little over 200 pages and she developes in a very interesting way I think :) Give her time... :)

message 7: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen (kathleenvaldes) | 4 comments I read the first few chapters yesterday and laughed out loud at what Becky commented as well. Take the white, fluffy dog Dorothea ;) I am enjoying the book so far and look forward to further character development.

message 8: by Kamil (new)

Kamil (coveredinskin) | 17 comments Mod
Dorothea starts as very idealistic but quite naive, however in my case, the prelude sets a bit, let me say realistic, if not the darker tone to the story and affects certain expectation regarding Dorotheas development as for her character. As Marie said, give her time:-)

message 9: by Marie (new)

Marie | 15 comments Mod
Yes, it is a little bit difficult to say anything more specific because I dont want to add any spoilers, but she really does develope away from the naïve and idealistic traits and into much darker and more complex things.. :) But of course - even complex persons sometimes just need a fluffy little dog ;)

message 10: by Kate (new)

Kate Howe | 6 comments So I think Tertius Lyndgate is going to be one of my favorite characters. I love how much he lives his profession and wants to keep learning. He's definitely an idealist and will learn but I'm looking forward to seeing him evolve.

message 11: by Kamil (last edited Dec 06, 2015 06:24AM) (new)

Kamil (coveredinskin) | 17 comments Mod
The social standing of women, and those comments by guys of what woman should be or not to be, this is making me feel a bit uneasy. The getting in and out of carriage as part of great female education was probably the best part.

message 12: by Marie (new)

Marie | 15 comments Mod
This, Kamil, I think opens up a very interesting discussion - one that I often think about when people are reviewing books etc. It concerns how you sort of read and value a novel. I often hear people say that they find this or that problematic (for instance mysogonistic comments/structures in books) and that that made it a bad experience to read the novel. This is quite different from how I read books, which may be why I notice it :) When I read - say - mysogonistic things in a novel it means absolutely nothing to me personally (which of course it would if I faced it in real life), on the contrary I completely accept it as part of a characterization of this or that character or society (as in this particular instance) and as such it can even be delightful to read about - this that I would normally hate - because it gives way to very interesting elements. An example of this is Dorothea's developement as a character within these very confined limits of her 'self-realization'. The backdrop of the social standing of women at the time simply makes it possible for Eliot to create a character like that, which it wouldnt be if 'modern standards' (however lacking) had been applied.

I dont know.. I just thought I would mention it because it is, as I said, something that I sometimes think about.. I might feel different if it was a comtemporary author whose novels were mysogonistic - that might somehow feel different - okay, I'll stop here because i havent thought it through haha :) Just throwing this out there! :)

message 13: by Dawn (new)

Dawn I agree with Marie and Victoria in the fact that I don't usually have a problem reading about misogyny in fiction especially if it's classic fiction. It does bother me sometimes if it feels too heavy as if it's the author's feelings rather than the character. Because it could be the characterization, and characters are allowed flaws. This might not be the popular opinion, but it's mine.

Dorothea has a lot of room for growth. I finished this section last night. Her eyes are starting to open to what is going on around her. I'm wondering what's happening with Celia, and whether Chetham decided to set his sights on her. I feel bad for, I think it's Mary, because she seems to be at the mercy of Mr. Featherstone. He doesn't seem to treat her very well, but there's no acceptable future with Fred who loves her because he won't take a job. I think another thing to discuss here might be the difference between classes. Clearly Fred believes he should have been born wealthy and wants and thinks he will inherit some from Featherstone.

These are just some thoughts I had while reading.

message 14: by Kamil (last edited Dec 06, 2015 08:36AM) (new)

Kamil (coveredinskin) | 17 comments Mod
Victoria wrote: "Marie wrote: "This, Kamil, I think opens up a very interesting discussion - one that I often think about when people are reviewing books etc. It concerns how you sort of read and value a novel. I o..."

I also think it's a set up for further development, and kind of a wink from George Eliot to the reader, since knowing her biography one can be sure it's absolutely nothing she stood by. This particular comment was about Rosemund's education, made by Lyndgate.

I don't mind it here, since obviously it's a set up. In other situations when I read XIX century or earlier classic, (it doesn't happen that often) and see racist or misogynistic comment, I treat it as a part of historical scenario. That's how world thought back then unfortunately. It bugs me, pisses me off often but most of the time it wouldn't stop me from reading a book if I find it good. However it would definitely affect the way I see the writer.

message 15: by Marie (new)

Marie | 15 comments Mod
I think I feel much like Victoria do in this aspect - that the difference is whether the the misogynistic (boy did I misspell that earlier ;)) elements are on the part of the characters/social standards or coming from the author. In that sense, Kamil I quite agree with you about the enraging part of a racist author (not likely to happen as much today as earlier luckily). Although in this novel - as you write Kamil - Eliot is only portraying an environment and that makes it really a rather interesting insight into the world of the little village.

The class differences are also very interesting here - could you elaborate on that, Dawn? :)

message 16: by Dawn (new)

Dawn In the beginning Dorothea wanted to build better homes for people of lower status that lived or worked for Chetham, I'm not completely sure that's his name. But that was one of the things she was trying to get people to do. Then we get the Vincys, Fred and Rosemund in particular. They are of a lower status then those around them, and Fred thinks he should have been born rich. Mary, the girl he loves, and her family are of a lower status as well. I wouldn't say these people are poor, but they certainly don't have the money Fred wants to spend. There's also Will Ladislaw, Mr. Causaubon's cousin, who is dependent on Causaubon to provide for him. I'm sure there's more, but these are things that are popping up in my head at the moment.

message 17: by Kate (new)

Kate Howe | 6 comments My heart is just breaking for Dorothea going into marriage with such lofty ideals about marriage and Casaubon.

In regards to the misogyny observation, I agree with Marie that a wrong view from a character or even a detestable character won't ruin the story for me. Hence my live for "Wuthering Heights" and "Vanity Fair".

message 18: by Louise (new)

Louise (atrixa) Just finished this section. I'm finding the writing to be much more accessible than I expected. Is it a character narrating the book or is it meant to be the author? I haven't read a book narrated like this in a while.

I think I'll like Dorothea more later in the novel, if her character evolves the way I think it will. Lydgate is interesting. I liked all the parts about his love for science and the medical profession. It's fascinating to see him deal with country politics while he's practising medicine. Overall, I'm very glad I picked up this novel!

message 19: by Kamil (new)

Kamil (coveredinskin) | 17 comments Mod
I've finished this section yesterday and the further I go the more I enjoy it.
I feel a bit sorry for Causaubon. Dorothea was blinded by her dream of a husband not seeing he was not the men she dreamed of regardless of everybody's opinion, and now the old chap has to suffer because she is going to be more and more disillusioned with him.
What I love the most is how amazingly Eliot is able to portrait emotions, all kinds of them, and to show so accurately, how they affect our relations. I am reading it with a smile on my face thinking, yes, that is great, and so to the point. Great psychological study.
What I find interesting and a bit nostalgic, is the standard of behaving, savoir vivre. It’s fascinating all those conveyance, I’d love some of them, self-control, self composure to be still around a bit more nowadays.

message 20: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen (kathleenvaldes) | 4 comments I'm falling behind but am loving this book. Eliot captures the insular, political nature of village life perfectly with everyone up in everyone e else's business. I love all of the characters and how they are starting to intertwine with more to come. I really like the character of Dorothea and knew she was heading for disappointment and now she's having to face the choice she made and it is devastating. Women had so few choices that I respect her for going with her head and trying to make a serious choice but she was really signing up to be a scholar's secretary and didn't realize it.

message 21: by Marie (new)

Marie | 15 comments Mod
Louise, I agree with you, this narrator is quite different from normal narrators - its like she/he shifts in and out of just describing what happens and the psychological state of the characters and then she/he sort of comments on it sometimes and speaks directly to the reader.
It works very well - but Im not so much into 'narrators' so as to know anything else about it than what is obvious.. Any of the litterature students here know more about it? :)

Lydgate is also a very interesting character, I think - I really loved the part where he had to decide which doctor to support, and how he tried to justify to himself that he was making the right decision even though it is obvious that he didnt - that was a great characterization of him and really made it clear both how he works and how society works :)

message 22: by Marie (new)

Marie | 15 comments Mod
Thank you, Victoria for clearing that up! :)
And yes, Lydgate - it is so true, that his 'inner struggles', the conclusion he came to and what this says about him doesnt ring true to the general picture we get of him. This is really what makes this novel a great experience - the characterization is so nuanced and it plays perfectly along with the psychological insights Eliot shows in general :)
I didnt quite get the same feeling with Mary Garth and the wills - she actually seems to me to be one of the less developed characters.. what do you guys think? :)

message 23: by Louise (new)

Louise (atrixa) I quite like Mary, I think there's certainly some room for character development as we get deeper into the novel. Out of interest, has anyone else read The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling? That's meant to be a modern take on Middlemarch and I'm certainly seeing where she was influenced here.

message 24: by Kate (new)

Kate Howe | 6 comments Louise, I had never heard that! It would definitely be an interesting follow up read. I've never been that interested in it but that piques my interest.

message 25: by Kamil (last edited Dec 21, 2015 09:36AM) (new)

Kamil (coveredinskin) | 17 comments Mod
First Thank you Victoria for this bit of analytical approach, that clears it up, thanks indeed. I'm not much into Ledgate, he is a bit too arrogant and also quite naive for my taste, especially not being able to see what type of girl Miss Vincy is. My favourite characters are Dorothea and Will.
I like Mary but agree with the fact that she definitely needs a bit of development, and psychological depth.
Luis, that is also something I never heard about, haven't read anything by Rowling yet, maybe someday should pick up The Casual Vacancy.

message 26: by Marie (new)

Marie | 15 comments Mod
Ohh, I also really like Will! And that part of the story is SO great - Like cliff-hanger-exciting! :)

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