19th Century Epic Romances discussion

Middlemarch - May/June 2015 > Middlemarch BOOK 1: Miss Brooke May 1-7

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message 1: by Angela (new)

Angela Rohde (angelarohde) | 72 comments BOOK 1: Miss Brooke
Friday, May 1-7, pages 3 to 114 (111 pages)

message 2: by Kimberly (new)

Kimberly “Since I can do no good because a woman,
Reach constantly at something that is near it.”

Excerpt From: Eliot, George. “Middlemarch.”

This so accurately describes Dorothea -- it amazes me how strikingly different the sisters are. Celia says exactly what she likes, and Dorothea seems a bit more constrained.

Terry ~ Huntress of Erudition | 504 comments Just a note - you can write within these threads without using spoilers, as long as you keep to the specific chapters in each thread.

message 4: by Trudy (new)

Trudy Brasure | 95 comments I thought Dorothea was terribly heartless in her treatment of her sister concerning their deceased mother's jewelry. When her sister seems interested in an heirloom she makes a rather self-righteous remark about how she would not wear such jewelry herself.
I was really baffled by this tactless behavior. Is Dorothea just completely unaware that other people have emotions and may feel and think differently than herself?
Why does the author put this scene in the book? I'm wondering what this is meant to convey about the main character.

message 5: by Deborah (new)

Deborah (morebooksplease) | 22 comments The author is setting up the ideas to follow in regard to Dorothea's character. Even though she seems somewhat heartless and unforgiving (as many young people can be) she actually changes her decision about the jewels. And she is affecionate with Celia. She also can't seem to resist the clear beauty of the emeralds.

message 6: by Trudy (new)

Trudy Brasure | 95 comments Thanks for your softening perspective. My reaction to Dorothea is probably extreme. I can't seem to warm up to her at all and I'm certain Eliot meant for her readers to sympathize with the main character.

message 7: by Kimberly (new)

Kimberly A thread I can see, thus far, is the opinions of others are constantly voiced throughout this book ---- and life in general.

Why do we give so much weight to the concerns of others? I kind of like Dorothea for dismissing the concerns of others and marrying that horrible man

message 8: by Deborah (new)

Deborah (morebooksplease) | 22 comments Good question Kimberly! Seems like most people are going to do whatever they want anyway! Of course, in those days a woman was so dependent. She usually had to care what others thought.

message 9: by Phoebe (new)

Phoebe | 3 comments I wouldn't say I was frustrated with Dorothea, though it is painful to watch her make this bad decision, because it fits the youthful idealism of her age (19). And though her idealism involves sublimating her own intelligence in service of Mr. Casaubon, and devoting herself to a man who doesn't appreciate her, I think Eliot is making a very feminist point, obviously, that women of the era were constrained and undervalued, even in their own estimations.

I'd love to discuss the humor. This section, as most of the book, had me laughing out loud. I particularly enjoy Mrs. Cadwallader and the narrator. For example, Sir James, on news of Dodo's engagement: "Good God! It is horrible! He is no better than a mummy! (The point of view has to be allowed for, as that of a blooming and disappointed rival.)"

I'm curious what readers think about the narrator's passage in the second paragraph of Chapter 10. It appears the narrator is chastising us for rushing to judgment of Casaubon, and mounting a defense for him, yet it reads rather tongue-in-cheek. Or maybe she is merely pointing out that, yes, he is self-centered, but who isn't? So shouldn't he therefore "claim some of our pity."

message 10: by Deborah (new)

Deborah (morebooksplease) | 22 comments Absolutely! So much humor! And yes, I think a bit of sarcasm is being displayed in regards to Casaubon. I love the character of Dorothea's sister and how her nick name for Dorothea is Dodo.

message 11: by Phoebe (new)

Phoebe | 3 comments I read an article that said when asked about the real-life inspiration for Casaubon, Eliot indicated herself. Again, this may be her sense of humor, but I think she does actually sympathize with him, and with the experience of insecurity and failure. But I absolutely despise him, and I'm not sure how she couldn't.

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