The subtitle of the novel Middlemarch is A Study of Provincial Life. It is a very interesting novel written by George Eliot. She used a male pen name Mary Anne Evans because during that time female authors were not so popular. It is noteworthy to find that this novel came in installments. It was published in eight installments during 1971 and 1972. There are several characters in this novel and their stories are intersecting which results in making the plot of the novel more complex. In this novel several important issues like condition of women, marriage, religion, self interest and idealism have been highlighted by the author. Historical events have been beautifully blended in this novel and it provides a sense of realism for which the author was best known. This novel has been considered as one of the best novels written by George Eliot.
Summary and Critical analysis
Middlemarch is a fictitious town where almost all the important incidents of the novel take place. In this novel there are four sub plots in which characters are involved so much that readers are confused in making a connection between the main plot and the sub plot. Dorothea Brooke is a young and promising girl who has all the virtues of a Victorian girl. In Middlemarch she lives with her sister Celia and her unmarried uncle Mr. Brooke. Sir James Chettam is interested in marrying her but she rejects his proposal because she wants to work for farmers. She wants to build shelter for them. Sir James Chettam is disappointed but he shifts his attention to Celia and both of them are soon married. Readers are astonished to find that Dorothea chooses Edward Casaubon as her husband because she thinks that her husband is a very intellectual person who will indulge her into his research work. Casaubon is a person who is twenty years older than Dorothea. After marriage they go for honeymoon to Rome. Casaubon is writing a book on mythology and Dorothea thinks that she will assist her husband in this research work. She gets disappointed that her husband hardly cares for her and he does not want to indulge her into his research work. So it seems to her that her married life has become a failure. In this novel there are four stories having loose connection to each other. This is one of the reasons that we find characters scattered in these four stories. The second story in this novel is the story of Dr.Lydgate. He is a very qualified doctor who has come to Middlemarch to serve people. In Middlemarch he falls into an affair with Rosamond. She has a brother whose name is Fred. He was very ill and Rosamond came to visit Dr.Lydgate for treatment of his brother. With the advancement of time there relationship turned into marriage. Rosamond was a very extravagant girl and Dr.Lydgate felt helpless in his married life. Rosamond has married Dr.Lydgate only for gaining financial freedom and status in the society. She understood that Dr.Lydgate was not a wealthy person and she is also not happy in her married life. Now, we find a very interesting character in the novel whose name is Will Ladislaw. He was the cousin of Edward Casaubon. He also knew Dr Lydgate and in fact Doctor Lydgate and Will Ladislaw were good friends. Dorothea and Ladislaw also became good friends. Ladislaw grew an affinity for Dorothea. Although Dorothea was not happy in her married life but she could never think to cheat her husband. Casaubon feels jealous after watching the growing relationship between his cousin and his wife. Casaubon becomes ill because of working very hard for completing his research work. When he returned from his honeymoon then he was affected from a minor heart attack and Dr. Lydgate has advised him to take rest. Casaubon understood that he is not going to live more. He made his will that after his death if his wife marries his cousin then she will be disinherited from his wealth and property. One day it happens and Casaubon dies. When Dorothea reads her husband’s will then she decides not to marry Will Ladislaw. Their relationship is limited to friendship. With the advancement of time Dorothea thinks that Will has started liking Rosamond. Actually there was a kind of prejudice in her mind which was later made clear by Rosamond. She made it clear that Will Ladislaw was always in love with Dorothea. As a result Will Ladislaw and Dorothea married each other. Dorothea knew that she will not inherit any single penny from her first husband if she marries Ladislaw. This is the purity of love which Dr.Lydgate was devoid of. Later we find that at the age of fifty Dr.Lydgate dies and Rosamond becomes free. He imposes no rules on Rosamond like Casaubon. She was free to marry again in her life with man of her choice. It shows that Dr.Lydgate truly loved his wife but he was not lucky enough to get back the same love. There are two other stories which bring complexity in the novel. Third story is of Fred who is the brother of Rosamond. He is a lazy fellow who has very cool approach towards life. He is never serious and he believes that he will inherit some wealth from his uncle Mr. Featherstone. In the town of Middlemarch nobody likes Mr. Featherstone but he is a rich man. By virtue of his wealth people respect him or he compels people to have good behavior with him. Fred has so many bad habits and on the credit of his uncle he has borrowed money from so many people. He loves Mary who is his childhood friend. He wants to marry her. It is noteworthy to find that Fred has also failed in his university exams. His condition in life is not good and it seems that he has ruined his own life. He wants to gain some money by selling his horse. This idea also does not work because even his horses were lame. When Mr. Featherstone was about to die then all of his relatives came to visit him not because they loved him but because they were interested to know about his will. Fred was disappointed to know that all the wealth and property of Mr. Featherstone was inherited by his illegitimate son whose name was Joshua Rigg Featherstone. In Middlemarch nobody was awre about the illegitimate affair and Son of Mr. Featherstone. Fred understood that there is no shortcut in life and one has to struggle hard to prove his existence. He tried once more in his university exams and this time he got the success. He was awarded the degree and he wanted to render his services to the holy church as a clergyman. Mary said him that she will not Mary him if he chooses a life at the church. Finally Fred got a job as an apprentice. A very interesting incident occurs and a character whose name is Bulstrode gives his house to Fred because he is leaving the city of Middlemarch. The story or the fourth story is about this character whose name is Bulstrode. His full name is Nicholas Bulstrode and he is a wealthy banker. He was born in Middlemarch but he went outside to earn bread and butter. Later he returned to Middlemarch and opened a Hospital in collaboration with Dr Lydgate. Drand Bulstrode wanted to open a medical school in the city of Middlemarch. Their intention was pious. Unfortunately they could not manage the hospital well and people started losing faith on the medical facility provided at the hospital. Mr.John Raffles was a person who came at the city of Middlemarch only to disturb Bulstrode. It is mysterious to find that Bulstrode has committed something wrong in his past life and Raffles wanted to blackmail him because he knew his secrets. It was lucky for Bulstrode that Raffles died soon because of alcohol poisoning. Bulstrode thought that now nobody will know about his past life and he will still have a clear image in the town of Middlemarch. However, this could not happen because before death Raffle has opened the secrets of Bulstrode to someone and as a result everybody knew about the mysterious past of Bulstrode. Mr.Bulstrode wanted to commit suicide but he thought it would be better to leave Middlemarch. While leaving Middlemarch he gave his house to Fred.