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MIDDLEMARCH: Book IV (Three Love Problems)

This thread is for discussion through Book IV (Three Love Problems) in Middlemarch. Please remember to include page and/or chapter numbers in the subject line and please remember to add a *SPOILER* alert to the subject line if necessary.
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Re: MIDDLEMARCH: Book IV (Three Love Problems): The Imperfections of Marriage

[ Edited ]
The 'imperfection of marriage' is one of the central themes in Middlemarch and this essay has some interesting analyses:-

http://www.wischik.com/marcus/essay/m-march1.html

This comment about Lydgate's marriage to Rosamund is an unusual one:-

'It is a combination of the fact that Dorothea is already married, and that Lydgate is more concerned with outward appearances that he chooses Rosamond. He has turned away from the "Gift of the Gods" (Dorothea), and chosen the "Rose of the World" (Rosamond). This represents the choice between, as John Stuart Mill would have put it, higher and lower pleasures. This is reflected in Lydgate's name - he is given the name of Tertius Lydgate, which points toward John Lydgate's Fall of Princes, whose third book suggests that physicians delight in the possessions of material things.'

The author's also comments that '[Eliot's]desire to analyse and compare probably came from her studies of both natural sciences and psychology.'

SparkNotes also have some useful comments on GE's theme of the 'imperfection of marriage', which is contrary to the usual Victorian perception:-

'Most characters in Middlemarch marry for love rather than obligation, yet marriage still appears negative and unromantic. Marriage and the pursuit of it are central concerns in Middlemarch, but unlike in many novels of the time, marriage is not considered the ultimate source of happiness. Two examples are the failed marriages of Dorothea and Lydgate. Dorothea’s marriage fails because of her youth and of her disillusions about marrying a much older man, while Lydgate’s marriage fails because of irreconcilable personalities. Mr. and Mrs. Bulstrode also face a marital crisis due to his inability to tell her about the past, and Fred Vincy and Mary Garth also face a great deal of hardship in making their union. As none of the marriages reach a perfect fairytale ending, Middlemarch offers a clear critique of the usual portrayal of marriage as romantic and unproblematic.'

Message Edited by Choisya on 12-14-2007 01:39 AM
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Mr. Vincy and Rosamond (end of chapter 36) vs. Mr. Garth and Mary (end of chapter 25)

These two father-daughter conversations contrast wonderfully.

Mr. Vincy is beginning to object to Rosamond's engagement to Lydgate ("What has he got to marry on? You'd much better give up the engagement. I've told you so pretty plainly before this. What have you had such an education for, if you are to go and marry a porr man? It's a cruel thing for a father to see." p 335). He knows that Rosamond could not abide being a poor man's wife having paid for all the pretty things Rosamond wanted growing up. But Rosamond is determined to marry a "perfect gentleman" and cannot see farther into the future than the pretty house in Lowick Gate; she will not be dissuaded. Mr. Vincy concedes on condition that Lydgate get life insurance.

Contrasting this scene is an earlier conversation between Mr. Garth and Mary. Mr. Garth has come to borrow money out of Mary's savings to pay off Fred Vincy's debts and he voices his concern about Mary's possible understanding with Fred ("What I'm thinking of is - what is must be for a wife when she's never sure of her husband, when he hasn't got a principle in him to make him more afraid of doing the wrong things by others than of getting his own toes pinched....You have more sense than most, and you haven't been kept in cotton-wool: there may be no occasion for me to say this, but a father trembles for his daughter." p 245). Mary eased his mind by saying though Fred is at heart a good man, she would never marry a man who could not provide for a family.

The conversations seems to underscore what has already been noted by other Middlemarch characters. Rosamond is spoiled, Mary is practical.
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Re: Mr. Lydgate in Book 4, Chapter 36

[ Edited ]
It seems to me that the following passage about Dr. Lydgate and his expected furnishings say a lot about his relationship with himself and with the people and communities around him:

"He did this in an episodic way, very much as he gave orders to his tailor for every requisite of perfect dress, without any notion of being extravagant. On the contrary, he would have despised any ostentation of expense; his profession had familiarized him with all grades of poverty, and he cared much for those who suffered hardships. He would have behaved perfectly at a table where the sauce was served in a jug with the handle off, and he would have remembered nothing about a grand dinner except that a man was there who talked well. But it had never occurred to him that he should live in any other than what he would have called an ordinary way, with green glasses for hock, and excellent waiting at table. In warming himself at French social theories he had brought away no smell of scorching. We may handle even extreme opinions with impunity while our furniture, our dinner-giving, and preference for armorial bearings in our own ease, link us indissolubly with the established order. And Lydgate's tendency was not towards extreme opinions: he would have liked no barefooted doctrines, being particular about his boots: he was no radical in relation to anything but medical reform and the prosecution of discovery. In the rest of practical life he walked by hereditary habit; half from that personal pride and unreflecting egoism which I have already called commonness, and half from that naivete which belonged to preoccupation with favorite ideas."

{Bold added.} What are the French social theories that Lydgate flirted with without getting burned? (Unlike his fate with Rosamund?) Primarily those challenging the authority of the monarchy?

The passage also provides a definition of "commonness" in the opinion of GE/MAE, i.e., "personal pride and unreflecting egoism"! LOL? Now, does "commonness" here refer to widely held or to lack of being elite?

Message Edited by Peppermill on 12-18-2007 01:22 AM
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Re: Mr. Lydgate in Book 4, Chapter 36 : 'French social theories'

[ Edited ]
Potted history of French 'social theories': These appertain to the 18C Age of Enlightenment and were primarily led by Voltaire, Diderot and Rousseau. Voltaire and Diderot promoted free speech, civil rights and toleration - both were extremely anticlerical and wished to separate church from state (French catholic priests had a great deal of political power at this time). Voltaire was not a liberal in many ways. He praised Louis XIV and thought Enlightened Despotism was the best government, as a monarchy could keep down the Church and the aristocracy.

GE very much admired Rousseau and said that 'his Confessions was the first book to awaken her to deep reflection'. There was a sort of cult around him and his women readers. He spread respect for feelings and the common people (despite the way he treated his own children) and it has been said that his ideas led to the beginning of modern humanitarianism. The basic thrust of his thought was a concern with virtue - Adam Smith wanted people to be prosperous, Rousseau wanted to make them good. He first became well known with his Essay on the Progress of the Arts and Sciences in which he argued against progress as it removed men from their natural state. In the later influential Social Contract he posited that a 'contract' existed not between government and people, but between people themselves, therefore the best society was a participatory democracy, like ancient Athens. Rousseau wrote that the basic law of society was the Social Contract. He believed that liberty was obedience to the law you have accepted, and equality meant that all are equally dependent on society and not upon any other individual. Rousseau's society depended upon public spiritedness, compared with Locke and Smith for whom the most important part of life was private. In general Rousseau was out of tune with individualistic liberalism and greed. However, his idea of the General Will, which is not the same as majority vote, has encouraged those who believe in Vanguards of Revolution, and provided a framework for totalitarianism in its modern sense. It has real totalitarian implications, especially in the idea that the people may not know their own will.

GE was also interested in the theories of August Comte's Positivism and Lydgate's belief in 'medical reform and the prosecution of discovery' may have hinted at a belief in Comte's theory that the 'goal of knowledge is simply to describe the phenomena experienced, not to question whether it exists or not':-

http://www.blupete.com/Literature/Biographies/Philosophy/Comte.htm

Comte also wrote 'humans have neither divinely implanted innate ideas nor imposed categories of perception - the contents and modes of consciousness are entirely the product of evolution and experience' and it has been commented that GE's own ideas of society, as a result of reading Comte (and others) was as a slowly evolving organism, possessing a collective identity, a shared culture and shared traditions - what in Middlemarch the O.Narrator calls 'the train of causes' and comments 'Any one watching keenly the stealthy convergence of human lots sees a slow preparation of effects from one life on another'.

It may be a criticism of Lydgate's character (and his upper class effetism) to refer to him being influenced by French social theories because both GE and Lewes are said to have been more influenced by the German Feuerbach and the Dutch Spinoza. GE wrote 'with the ideas of Feuerbach I everywhere agree' and, perhaps significantly, she started writing fiction after reading Feuerbach and Spinoza. Feuerbach's belief that benevolence, sympathy and love are innate qualities natural to humans are also similar to those put forward by Rousseau in L'Enfant Savage - the 'noble savage'. Spinoza believed that 'the highest form of knowledge was intuition' and in that he was at odds with the more objective views of Comte. This was the dichotomy between rationality and romanticism with which many Victorians struggled.

I hope this precis makes some sense!

Message Edited by Choisya on 12-18-2007 06:08 AM
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Re: Mr. Lydgate in Book 4, Chapter 36 : 'French social theories'

Choisya -- THANKS for this tour de force -- or, as you put it, "potted history" -- and comments on Marian Evans own possible evolution of thought!

Choisya wrote:
Potted history of French 'social theories': These appertain to the 18C Age of Enlightenment and were primarily led by Voltaire, Diderot and Rousseau. Voltaire and Diderot promoted free speech, civil rights and toleration - both were extremely anticlerical and wished to separate church from state (French catholic priests had a great deal of political power at this time). Voltaire was not a liberal in many ways. He praised Louis XIV and thought Enlightened Despotism was the best government, as a monarchy could keep down the Church and the aristocracy.

GE very much admired Rousseau and said that 'his Confessions was the first book to awaken her to deep reflection'. There was a sort of cult around him and his women readers. He spread respect for feelings and the common people (despite the way he treated his own children) and it has been said that his ideas led to the beginning of modern humanitarianism. The basic thrust of his thought was a concern with virtue - Adam Smith wanted people to be prosperous, Rousseau wanted to make them good. He first became well known with his Essay on the Progress of the Arts and Sciences in which he argued against progress as it removed men from their natural state. In the later influential Social Contract he posited that a 'contract' existed not between government and people, but between people themselves, therefore the best society was a participatory democracy, like ancient Athens. Rousseau wrote that the basic law of society was the Social Contract. He believed that liberty was obedience to the law you have accepted, and equality meant that all are equally dependent on society and not upon any other individual. Rousseau's society depended upon public spiritedness, compared with Locke and Smith for whom the most important part of life was private. In general Rousseau was out of tune with individualistic liberalism and greed. However, his idea of the General Will, which is not the same as majority vote, has encouraged those who believe in Vanguards of Revolution, and provided a framework for totalitarianism in its modern sense. It has real totalitarian implications, especially in the idea that the people may not know their own will.

GE was also interested in the theories of August Comte's Positivism and Lydgate's belief in 'medical reform and the prosecution of discovery' may have hinted at a belief in Comte's theory that the 'goal of knowledge is simply to describe the phenomena experienced, not to question whether it exists or not':-

http://www.blupete.com/Literature/Biographies/Philosophy/Comte.htm

Comte also wrote 'humans have neither divinely implanted innate ideas nor imposed categories of perception - the contents and modes of consciousness are entirely the product of evolution and experience' and it has been commented that GE's own ideas of society, as a result of reading Comte (and others) was as a slowly evolving organism, possessing a collective identity, a shared culture and shared traditions - what in Middlemarch the O.Narrator calls 'the train of causes' and comments 'Any one watching keenly the stealthy convergence of human lots sees a slow preparation of effects from one life on another'.

It may be a criticism of Lydgate's character (and his upper class effetism) to refer to him being influenced by French social theories because both GE and Lewes are said to have been more influenced by the German Feuerbach and the Dutch Spinoza. GE wrote 'with the ideas of Feuerbach I everywhere agree' and, perhaps significantly, she started writing fiction after reading Feuerbach and Spinoza. Feuerbach's belief that benevolence, sympathy and love are innate qualities natural to humans are also similar to those put forward by Rousseau in L'Enfant Savage - the 'noble savage'. Spinoza believed that 'the highest form of knowledge was intuition' and in that he was at odds with the more objective views of Comte. This was the dichotomy between rationality and romanticism with which many Victorians struggled.

I hope this precis makes some sense! 06:08 AM

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Re: Mr. Lydgate in Book 4, Chapter 36


Peppermill wrote:

{Bold added.} What are the French social theories that Lydgate flirted with without getting burned? (Unlike his fate with Rosamund?) Primarily those challenging the authority of the monarchy?

The passage also provides a definition of "commonness" in the opinion of GE/MAE, i.e., "personal pride and unreflecting egoism"! LOL? Now, does "commonness" here refer to widely held or to lack of being elite?

Message Edited by Peppermill on 12-18-2007 01:22 AM




I believe the "French social theories" were those pertaining to living in the best style. The British often thought of the French being extravagant people. [I know that the English wanted to live in the best fashion at the time- just look at Mrs. Vincy (and thus the Vincy family). But Eliot has placed Lydgate in a country setting where most people are living moderate, comfortable lives.]
Lydgate calls the way he lives "ordinary", but we can clearly see from his purchases that he is frivolous and wants to live in high style. He takes a house that is much to big for them, especially considering his income, and begins to stock it with items he purchases on whims- without a thought towards how they are to be paid for. He has to have the best of everything. He buys an the first (expensive) dinner-service he sees because he hates ugly crockery. He justifies that that must just be how much they cost, and it's only a one time purchase... you just have to hire help that doesn't drop things! Which brings us to his 'commonness'. The first definition Eliot refers to was also in regards to Lydgate:

"Lydgate's spots of commonness lay in the complexion of his prejudices.....: the distinction of mind which belonged to his intellectual ardour, did not penetrate his feeling a judgment about furniture, women, or desirability of its being known (without his telling) that he was better born that other country surgeons. He did not mean to think about furniture at present, but whenever he did so, it was to be feared that neither biology nor schemes of reform would lift him above the vulgarity of feeling that there would be an incompatibility in his furniture not being the best." [.... was a part I didn't feel like typing :smileyhappy:]
We also learn in the quote Pepper supplied that he was comfortable being in poorer surroundings. It is because of his vanity that he must surround himself with the best.

So, I think "In warming himself at French social theories he had brought away no smell of scorching" was a bit of beautiful sarcasm. While it might be completely true, it is no compliment to Lydgate. He wasn't scorched because he already had the vanity, the commonness, to live immoderately.

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Re: Mr. Lydgate in Book 4, Chapter 36 : 'French social theories'

Thank you Choisya! :smileyhappy: I was thinking of Rousseau and Voltaire, but forgot about the others.



Choisya wrote:
Potted history of French 'social theories': These appertain to the 18C Age of Enlightenment and were primarily led by Voltaire, Diderot and Rousseau. Voltaire and Diderot promoted free speech, civil rights and toleration - both were extremely anticlerical and wished to separate church from state (French catholic priests had a great deal of political power at this time). Voltaire was not a liberal in many ways. He praised Louis XIV and thought Enlightened Despotism was the best government, as a monarchy could keep down the Church and the aristocracy.

GE very much admired Rousseau and said that 'his Confessions was the first book to awaken her to deep reflection'. There was a sort of cult around him and his women readers. He spread respect for feelings and the common people (despite the way he treated his own children) and it has been said that his ideas led to the beginning of modern humanitarianism. The basic thrust of his thought was a concern with virtue - Adam Smith wanted people to be prosperous, Rousseau wanted to make them good. He first became well known with his Essay on the Progress of the Arts and Sciences in which he argued against progress as it removed men from their natural state. In the later influential Social Contract he posited that a 'contract' existed not between government and people, but between people themselves, therefore the best society was a participatory democracy, like ancient Athens. Rousseau wrote that the basic law of society was the Social Contract. He believed that liberty was obedience to the law you have accepted, and equality meant that all are equally dependent on society and not upon any other individual. Rousseau's society depended upon public spiritedness, compared with Locke and Smith for whom the most important part of life was private. In general Rousseau was out of tune with individualistic liberalism and greed. However, his idea of the General Will, which is not the same as majority vote, has encouraged those who believe in Vanguards of Revolution, and provided a framework for totalitarianism in its modern sense. It has real totalitarian implications, especially in the idea that the people may not know their own will.

GE was also interested in the theories of August Comte's Positivism and Lydgate's belief in 'medical reform and the prosecution of discovery' may have hinted at a belief in Comte's theory that the 'goal of knowledge is simply to describe the phenomena experienced, not to question whether it exists or not':-

http://www.blupete.com/Literature/Biographies/Philosophy/Comte.htm

Comte also wrote 'humans have neither divinely implanted innate ideas nor imposed categories of perception - the contents and modes of consciousness are entirely the product of evolution and experience' and it has been commented that GE's own ideas of society, as a result of reading Comte (and others) was as a slowly evolving organism, possessing a collective identity, a shared culture and shared traditions - what in Middlemarch the O.Narrator calls 'the train of causes' and comments 'Any one watching keenly the stealthy convergence of human lots sees a slow preparation of effects from one life on another'.

It may be a criticism of Lydgate's character (and his upper class effetism) to refer to him being influenced by French social theories because both GE and Lewes are said to have been more influenced by the German Feuerbach and the Dutch Spinoza. GE wrote 'with the ideas of Feuerbach I everywhere agree' and, perhaps significantly, she started writing fiction after reading Feuerbach and Spinoza. Feuerbach's belief that benevolence, sympathy and love are innate qualities natural to humans are also similar to those put forward by Rousseau in L'Enfant Savage - the 'noble savage'. Spinoza believed that 'the highest form of knowledge was intuition' and in that he was at odds with the more objective views of Comte. This was the dichotomy between rationality and romanticism with which many Victorians struggled.

I hope this precis makes some sense!

Message Edited by Choisya on 12-18-2007 06:08 AM


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Re: MIDDLEMARCH: Book IV (Three Love Problems): The Imperfections of Marriage

And as such, shows the wonderful honestly to the slice of life Eliot set out to present.





Choisya wrote:
The 'imperfection of marriage' is one of the central themes in Middlemarch and this essay has some interesting analyses:-

http://www.wischik.com/marcus/essay/m-march1.html

This comment about Lydgate's marriage to Rosamund is an unusual one:-

'It is a combination of the fact that Dorothea is already married, and that Lydgate is more concerned with outward appearances that he chooses Rosamond. He has turned away from the "Gift of the Gods" (Dorothea), and chosen the "Rose of the World" (Rosamond). This represents the choice between, as John Stuart Mill would have put it, higher and lower pleasures. This is reflected in Lydgate's name - he is given the name of Tertius Lydgate, which points toward John Lydgate's Fall of Princes, whose third book suggests that physicians delight in the possessions of material things.'

The author's also comments that '[Eliot's]desire to analyse and compare probably came from her studies of both natural sciences and psychology.'

SparkNotes also have some useful comments on GE's theme of the 'imperfection of marriage', which is contrary to the usual Victorian perception:-

'Most characters in Middlemarch marry for love rather than obligation, yet marriage still appears negative and unromantic. Marriage and the pursuit of it are central concerns in Middlemarch, but unlike in many novels of the time, marriage is not considered the ultimate source of happiness. Two examples are the failed marriages of Dorothea and Lydgate. Dorothea’s marriage fails because of her youth and of her disillusions about marrying a much older man, while Lydgate’s marriage fails because of irreconcilable personalities. Mr. and Mrs. Bulstrode also face a marital crisis due to his inability to tell her about the past, and Fred Vincy and Mary Garth also face a great deal of hardship in making their union. As none of the marriages reach a perfect fairytale ending, Middlemarch offers a clear critique of the usual portrayal of marriage as romantic and unproblematic.'

Message Edited by Choisya on 12-14-2007 01:39 AM


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Re: MIDDLEMARCH: Book IV (Three Love Problems): The Imperfections of Marriage

As one whose failed to have her own satisfactory experience of marriage, it's not surprising that she has difficulty conceiving of a happy marriage to write about. This isn't unique to Middlemarch.

AJ981979 wrote:
And as such, shows the wonderful honestly to the slice of life Eliot set out to present.





Choisya wrote:
The 'imperfection of marriage' is one of the central themes in Middlemarch and this essay has some interesting analyses:-

http://www.wischik.com/marcus/essay/m-march1.html

This comment about Lydgate's marriage to Rosamund is an unusual one:-

'It is a combination of the fact that Dorothea is already married, and that Lydgate is more concerned with outward appearances that he chooses Rosamond. He has turned away from the "Gift of the Gods" (Dorothea), and chosen the "Rose of the World" (Rosamond). This represents the choice between, as John Stuart Mill would have put it, higher and lower pleasures. This is reflected in Lydgate's name - he is given the name of Tertius Lydgate, which points toward John Lydgate's Fall of Princes, whose third book suggests that physicians delight in the possessions of material things.'

The author's also comments that '[Eliot's]desire to analyse and compare probably came from her studies of both natural sciences and psychology.'

SparkNotes also have some useful comments on GE's theme of the 'imperfection of marriage', which is contrary to the usual Victorian perception:-

'Most characters in Middlemarch marry for love rather than obligation, yet marriage still appears negative and unromantic. Marriage and the pursuit of it are central concerns in Middlemarch, but unlike in many novels of the time, marriage is not considered the ultimate source of happiness. Two examples are the failed marriages of Dorothea and Lydgate. Dorothea’s marriage fails because of her youth and of her disillusions about marrying a much older man, while Lydgate’s marriage fails because of irreconcilable personalities. Mr. and Mrs. Bulstrode also face a marital crisis due to his inability to tell her about the past, and Fred Vincy and Mary Garth also face a great deal of hardship in making their union. As none of the marriages reach a perfect fairytale ending, Middlemarch offers a clear critique of the usual portrayal of marriage as romantic and unproblematic.'

Message Edited by Choisya on 12-14-2007 01:39 AM





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Re: MIDDLEMARCH: Book IV (Three Love Problems): The Imperfections of Marriage

Interesting perspective. I'm actually looking more at the text itself and the story it's trying to tell. As the whole world of Middlemarch is being presented to us completely unvarnished - from Mr Garth's money problems to Bulstrode's attitude issues - I think this presentation of marriage fits in perfectly with the tone of the story. Here's this fabulous little snapshot of society, in complete honesty.




Everyman wrote:
As one whose failed to have her own satisfactory experience of marriage, it's not surprising that she has difficulty conceiving of a happy marriage to write about. This isn't unique to Middlemarch.

AJ981979 wrote:
And as such, shows the wonderful honestly to the slice of life Eliot set out to present.





Choisya wrote:
The 'imperfection of marriage' is one of the central themes in Middlemarch and this essay has some interesting analyses:-

http://www.wischik.com/marcus/essay/m-march1.html

This comment about Lydgate's marriage to Rosamund is an unusual one:-

'It is a combination of the fact that Dorothea is already married, and that Lydgate is more concerned with outward appearances that he chooses Rosamond. He has turned away from the "Gift of the Gods" (Dorothea), and chosen the "Rose of the World" (Rosamond). This represents the choice between, as John Stuart Mill would have put it, higher and lower pleasures. This is reflected in Lydgate's name - he is given the name of Tertius Lydgate, which points toward John Lydgate's Fall of Princes, whose third book suggests that physicians delight in the possessions of material things.'

The author's also comments that '[Eliot's]desire to analyse and compare probably came from her studies of both natural sciences and psychology.'

SparkNotes also have some useful comments on GE's theme of the 'imperfection of marriage', which is contrary to the usual Victorian perception:-

'Most characters in Middlemarch marry for love rather than obligation, yet marriage still appears negative and unromantic. Marriage and the pursuit of it are central concerns in Middlemarch, but unlike in many novels of the time, marriage is not considered the ultimate source of happiness. Two examples are the failed marriages of Dorothea and Lydgate. Dorothea’s marriage fails because of her youth and of her disillusions about marrying a much older man, while Lydgate’s marriage fails because of irreconcilable personalities. Mr. and Mrs. Bulstrode also face a marital crisis due to his inability to tell her about the past, and Fred Vincy and Mary Garth also face a great deal of hardship in making their union. As none of the marriages reach a perfect fairytale ending, Middlemarch offers a clear critique of the usual portrayal of marriage as romantic and unproblematic.'

Message Edited by Choisya on 12-14-2007 01:39 AM








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Re: MIDDLEMARCH: Book IV (Three Love Problems): The Imperfections of Marriage

[ Edited ]
Aren't we also observing a movement from the "romantic" to the "realistic" novel? While these marriages are not unqualified bliss, they are also not tales of abuse or total dysfunction.

An underpinning of scientific progress was (is) accurate observation of things as they are.

Although GE's relationships were unconventional and certainly marriage eluded her, I am not certain but what the relationship she did have with Lewes provided some positive experiences that influenced the portrayals she created of marriages. (As well as identifying some of the points of stress.)

Everyman wrote:
As one whose failed to have her own satisfactory experience of marriage, it's not surprising that she has difficulty conceiving of a happy marriage to write about. This isn't unique to Middlemarch.

AJ981979 wrote:
And as such, shows the wonderful honestly to the slice of life Eliot set out to present.

Choisya wrote:
The 'imperfection of marriage' is one of the central themes in Middlemarch and this essay has some interesting analyses:-

http://www.wischik.com/marcus/essay/m-march1.html

This comment about Lydgate's marriage to Rosamund is an unusual one:-

'It is a combination of the fact that Dorothea is already married, and that Lydgate is more concerned with outward appearances that he chooses Rosamond. He has turned away from the "Gift of the Gods" (Dorothea), and chosen the "Rose of the World" (Rosamond). This represents the choice between, as John Stuart Mill would have put it, higher and lower pleasures. This is reflected in Lydgate's name - he is given the name of Tertius Lydgate, which points toward John Lydgate's Fall of Princes, whose third book suggests that physicians delight in the possessions of material things.'

The author's also comments that '[Eliot's]desire to analyse and compare probably came from her studies of both natural sciences and psychology.'

SparkNotes also have some useful comments on GE's theme of the 'imperfection of marriage', which is contrary to the usual Victorian perception:-

'Most characters in Middlemarch marry for love rather than obligation, yet marriage still appears negative and unromantic. Marriage and the pursuit of it are central concerns in Middlemarch, but unlike in many novels of the time, marriage is not considered the ultimate source of happiness. Two examples are the failed marriages of Dorothea and Lydgate. Dorothea’s marriage fails because of her youth and of her disillusions about marrying a much older man, while Lydgate’s marriage fails because of irreconcilable personalities. Mr. and Mrs. Bulstrode also face a marital crisis due to his inability to tell her about the past, and Fred Vincy and Mary Garth also face a great deal of hardship in making their union. As none of the marriages reach a perfect fairytale ending, Middlemarch offers a clear critique of the usual portrayal of marriage as romantic and unproblematic.'




Message Edited by Peppermill on 01-10-2008 12:23 AM
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Choisya
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Re: MIDDLEMARCH: Book IV (Three Love Problems): The Imperfections of Marriage

[ Edited ]
That is true Peppermill - We are seeing a transition from the romantic to the realistic in MM. GE lived with Lewes for 17 years and their relationship was only terminated by his death so this could surely be equated with a marriage. (Two of my four children are in long term 'partnerships' and two in marriages and it is the marriages which have failed:smileysad:.)

By all accounts GE and Lewes were very happy and the only reason they did not marry was because Lewes condoned an adulterous relationship of his wife's and the law prevented them from divorcing. GE eventually looked after his three sons and apparently was a devoted mother to them. When John Cross offered her marriage only two years after Lewes death she seemed anxious to become a respectable wife and it was only her own death a year later which foreshortened this relationship. Her attitudes towards marriage therefore seems positive. A number of her friends had difficult and broken marriages and it may be that she was using their experiences in MM rather than her own.



Peppermill wrote:
Aren't we also observing a movement from the "romantic" to the "realistic" novel? While these marriages are not unqualified bliss, they are also not tales of abuse or total dysfunction.

An underpinning of scientific progress was (is) accurate observation of things as they are.

Although GE's relationships were unconventional and certainly marriage eluded her, I am not certain but what the relationship she did have with Lewes provided some positive experiences that influenced the portrayals she created of marriages. (As well as identifying some of the points of stress.)

Choisya wrote:
The 'imperfection of marriage' is one of the central themes in Middlemarch and this essay has some interesting analyses:-

http://www.wischik.com/marcus/essay/m-march1.html

This comment about Lydgate's marriage to Rosamund is an unusual one:-

'It is a combination of the fact that Dorothea is already married, and that Lydgate is more concerned with outward appearances that he chooses Rosamond. He has turned away from the "Gift of the Gods" (Dorothea), and chosen the "Rose of the World" (Rosamond). This represents the choice between, as John Stuart Mill would have put it, higher and lower pleasures. This is reflected in Lydgate's name - he is given the name of Tertius Lydgate, which points toward John Lydgate's Fall of Princes, whose third book suggests that physicians delight in the possessions of material things.'

The author's also comments that '[Eliot's]desire to analyse and compare probably came from her studies of both natural sciences and psychology.'

SparkNotes also have some useful comments on GE's theme of the 'imperfection of marriage', which is contrary to the usual Victorian perception:-

'Most characters in Middlemarch marry for love rather than obligation, yet marriage still appears negative and unromantic. Marriage and the pursuit of it are central concerns in Middlemarch, but unlike in many novels of the time, marriage is not considered the ultimate source of happiness. Two examples are the failed marriages of Dorothea and Lydgate. Dorothea’s marriage fails because of her youth and of her disillusions about marrying a much older man, while Lydgate’s marriage fails because of irreconcilable personalities. Mr. and Mrs. Bulstrode also face a marital crisis due to his inability to tell her about the past, and Fred Vincy and Mary Garth also face a great deal of hardship in making their union. As none of the marriages reach a perfect fairytale ending, Middlemarch offers a clear critique of the usual portrayal of marriage as romantic and unproblematic.'


Message Edited by Choisya on 01-10-2008 08:34 AM