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Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life is a novel by English author Mary Anne Evans, who wrote under the pen name George Eliot. It appeared in eight installments (volumes) between 1871 and 1872. Set in Middlemarch, a fictional English Midlands town, in 1829 to 1832, it follows distinct, intersecting stories with many characters. Issues include the status of women, the nature of marriage, idealism, self-interest, religion, hypocrisy, political reform, and education. Despite comic elements, Middlemarch uses realism to encompass historical events: the 1832 Reform Act, early railways, and the accession of King William IV.
The novel revolves around the lives of two main characters, Dorothea Brooke and Dr. Tertius Lydgate. Dorothea, a young woman of wealth and social standing, seeks a life of meaning and purpose. She eventually marries Mr. Edward Casaubon, an older scholar who is working on a vast but unfinished key to all mythologies. However, Dorothea soon realizes that Casaubon is a pedantic and self-absorbed man who is more interested in his work than in her.
After Casaubon's death, Dorothea inherits his fortune and is free to pursue her own interests. She falls in love with Dr. Lydgate, a young and idealistic doctor who is determined to reform the medical profession. However, Lydgate's idealism is soon challenged by the realities of debt, bureaucracy, and professional rivalries.
The novel also follows the lives of several other characters, including:
Middlemarch explores a wide range of themes, including:
Middlemarch is a complex novel with a large cast of characters. Each character is well-developed and has their own unique story to tell. The characters are often flawed and make mistakes, but they are also hopeful and resilient.
Middlemarch is considered one of the greatest novels ever written. It is praised for its realism, its complex characters, and its insightful exploration of human nature. The novel has been adapted into several films and television series.
Some of the novel's most famous quotes include: