The Preconceived Romance
This paper uses textual analysis to discuss George Eliot’s depiction of marriage in her novel `Middlemarch.`
This paper examines how the marriages Eliot describes are unhappy disasters, and are necessary for the characters’ personal growth. It explores the complexity of the portrait of provincial society as reflected in the characters. The paper describes the contradictions in the character of the individual person are evident in the shifting sympathies of the reader.
“Marriage is a major life choice in Middlemarch, which George Eliot takes very seriously. She defies the common romance novel that makes marriage its conclusion, and instead takes marriage as a starting point to further examine her characters and their personal developments. Her analysis suggests that marriages fail due to personality differences, unrealistic gender ideals, and the process of self-deception that seems to mark all human activity. Dorothea and Casaubon struggle continually because Casaubon attempts to make her submit to his control. The same applies in the marriage between Lydgate and Rosamond. In both of these relationships, men and women are characterized by unrealistic, stereotypical ideals. Dorthea imagines a “great soul” (220), and not a man, whereas Casaubon wants an utterly submissive servant. Lydgate pictures a beautiful ornament, while Rosamond expects their relationship to be like a romance novel. All of these ideals are produced by conventional gender roles. Men and women do not often relate to one another as individuals, but rather through the distorting lens of social expectations and their own self-delusion. Eliot’s examination of these relationships is a study of marriage gone wrong, but it also holds suggestions for what can make them go right.”