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READERS GUIDE

Questions and Topics for Discussion

1. Discuss the relationship between religious and secular, spiritual and worldly, in the novel. Is it conflicted or not? Why?

2. What is Eliot’s view of ambition in its different forms-social, intellectual, political? How is this evident in the novel?

3. In her introduction, A. S. Byatt contends that Eliot was "the great English novelist of ideas." How do you interpret this? How do you think ideas-human thought-inform the plot of Middlemarch?

4. George Eliot is a pseudonym for Mary Ann Evans. How does Eliot’s femaleness-and her concealing of it-add resonance to the novel, if at all? Do you see Dorothea’s character differently in this regard? Do you see Middlemarch as a "women’s" novel?

5. Middlemarch was originally published in serial form, a single book at a time. What kinds of concerns affected Eliot’s narrative in this regard? How do these discrete segments differ from the whole?

6. Discuss the convention of marriage in the novel. Do you feel it ultimately restricts the characters? Or is it the novel’s provincial setting that proves more oppressive?

7. Discuss the metaphor of Dorothea as St. Theresa. What is Eliot saying here?

 
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