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1. What conflicts do characters
experience between their ideals and their realities? How do these
conflicts relate to marriage? Consider the role of gender and the
contradictions between the public and private worlds.
2. Several characters want to
be reformers. What do they want to reform? Why? Do they succeed?
Do they fail? Why? Consider the contradiction between the characters'
ideals and their realities. Consider the contradiction between public
and private worlds. Consider the social classes the characters occupy.
3. How does Middlemarch represent
the rise of the middle class? Consider the theme of choice of vocation.
Consider the significance of money. Consider the rise of the Protestant moral
4. Why is money powerful? Why
is money a burden? Consider the characters of Dorothea, Lydgate,
Ladislaw, Bulstrode, and Casaubon.
5. Why does Lydgate's marriage
fail? Why does Dorothea's marriage fail? Why did they get married
to Rosamond and Casaubon, respectively? Consider the contradictions
between what they need and what they think they want in a spouse. How
does self-determined choice play a role? How does chance play a
6. How do secrets drive the plot
of Middlemarch? Consider Will Ladislaw's family
history. Consider Bulstrode's sins.
7. Why might George Eliot have
written such a detailed novel about provincial life? Why does she
describe the society of Middlemarch as a web? Consider the role
of marriage. Consider the role of money. Consider the role of secrets.
8. Why doesn't Middlemarch have
a central hero or heroine? Consider the frequent use of the metaphor
of the web to describe Middlemarch society. Is Dorothea a heroine?
Why or why not? Compare Dorothea to Rosamond.
9. Why is Rosamond manipulative
and vain? How does George Eliot make the reader sympathize with
Rosamond? Consider Rosamond's education and upbringing. Consider
10. How do ordinary people do
extraordinary things? How can quiet tragedies, unhistoric acts of
courage, and unrecognized acts of dignity be more poignant than
those of famous, historical people? How are the trials and successes
of ordinary, unknown people more human?
Ace your assignments with our guide to Middlemarch!