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Middlemarch, A Study of Provincial Life is a novel by English author George Eliot, first published in eight installments during 1871–2.

Background and setting of Middlemarch

Middlemarch, A Study of Provincial Life is a novel written by George Eliot. Published in eight installments, all published between 1871 and 1872, the novel is set the fictional down of Middlemarch in the Midlands of England. The first is about Dorthea Brooke, stuck in a loveless marriage with a controlling man. She falls for another man but remains faithful to her husband. When he dies, she discovers that his will dictates that if she marries the man she loves, she will lose her inheritance. The second plotline is about Tertius Lydgate. Tertius develops a friendship with the town financer, Mr. Bulstrode, through whom he meets the lovely Rosamond Vincy.

They fall in love and marry, but in an effort to please her, Tertius falls into debt and must rely on Mr. Bulstrode for help. The next is about Fred Vincy, Rosamond’s brother. Fred wants to marry Mary Garth. In debt, Fred takes out a loan guaranteed by Mary’s father. When the loan defaults, Mary’s father’s finances are compromised. Fred is inspired to reassess his life and instead trains as a land agent under Mary’s father. The final plot is about the disgrace of Mr. Bulstrode. There is particularly interest on the life of Dorthea and the career of Lydgate and all of the plots are happening at the same time.

Marriage as a theme

Marriage is considered to be a major theme of Middlemarch. The main plotlines, Dorthea’s and Lydgate’s, center on unsuccessful marriages. These two characters are involved in catastrophic marriages and are unfulfilled because of it. In addition to these two unhappy marriages, the stories also touch on the meaningless marriage of Dorthea’s sister and the relationship between Fred and Mary. Mary will not marry Fred until he abandons the Church and settles on a career that she deems more acceptable. The majority of the relationships in this story are not always considered storybook romances. The story is a bildungsroman- a genre that focuses on the psychological growth and development of the protagonist- and Dorthea must mature and grow before she can achieve happiness. Once she does this, she is able to be with the man she truly loves without caring about her inheritance, and spend the rest of her live fulfilled and happy.

Closure for characters of Middlemarch

The story contains a ‘Finale, featuring details of the characters’ lives after their stories end. Fred and Mary Vincy have married and produced three sons with whom they live contently. Tertius Lydgate comes to own and operate a small practice outside of Middlemarch, but if not fortunate enough to find any fulfillment in his life, which ends at the age of fifty. When he dies, Rosamund moves on with a very wealthy physician. For Dorthea, upon reading her husband’s will, the man she loved began to keep his distance. While he loved her, too, he did not want to involve her in a scandal or be responsible for her disinheritance, so he kept his distance. Before long, Dorthea decided that she did not want to live without him, and announced to her family that she would marry the man, despite the consequences. Dorthea enjoyed the rest of her life as a wife and mother while her son inherited her late first husband’s estate.

The book is not always categorized as a historical novel, but Middlemarch possesses an unprecedented attention to detail and historical accuracy. Set about forty years before it was written, the story offers an accurate and detailed account of social and political history of the time. Eliot has been called an imaginative and generous victorian historian who assumed almost the role of an investigator in his writings for Middlemarch.

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