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Middlemarch

George Eliot
Summary

Prelude and Book I: Chapters 1-6

Summary Prelude and Book I: Chapters 1-6

There are hints that Dorothea can better effect good works by concentrating on the everyday and the ordinary. Her cottage plans, for instance, work well on Sir James's estate. It is through practical measures rather than epic, high-flown theories that she alleviates some of the world's misery. Against the background of large, national reforms, Dorothea's small-scale plans bring about actual change. Despite this, she sets her ambitions on the horizon by dreaming of grand social reform. Her social reality and her idealism do not coincide, and Dorothea will be forced to undergo a process of disillusionment. In part, this arises from the restrictions placed on women's access to the public social world, but it also occurs because her dreams are simply unrealistic.