CliffsNotes on Eliot's Middlemarch

CliffsNotes on Eliot's Middlemarch

CliffsNotes on Eliot's Middlemarch

CliffsNotes on Eliot's Middlemarch

Synopsis

This is a story of the search for happiness, occurring in the maze-like microcosm of 19th-century England. Middlemarch provides a very thorough picture of life in provincial England.

Excerpt

BOOK ONE

CHAPTER 1

Summary

The two sisters, Dorothea and Celia Brooke, both of good family and neither yet twenty years old, live with their uncle, Mr. Brooke, at Tipton Grange near the town of Middlemarch. The elder, Dorothea, is an intense young lady who is interested in improving her intellect and has several ideas about how to better the conditions of the cottagers in the area. She is the heiress of Mr. Brooke’s estate and should normally have been a sought-after prospective wife for any young gentleman of the community. Her ideas about her own capacities and functions, however, are exalted to the degree that they have discouraged men who are looking only for a wife who can take care of domestic chores. Celia, on the other hand, is a more normal girl whose unambitious attitudes and unpremeditated friendliness make her well liked in the community. Mr. Brooke is an easygoing, talkative man who would rather avoid trouble than make his older niece conform to the more general standards regulating women around 1830.

Early one day when Dorothea returns from an infant school which she has started in the village, Celia asks if they cannot take a look at their mother’s jewels and divide them equally between them. Dorothea at first says that she has no use for such vain trinkets, and she asks Celia to keep them all. But trying on an emerald ring, Dorothea realizes the beauty of the gem. Feeling that the ring has a supernatural, religious beauty, she consents to keep it, together with a matching bracelet. Celia is happy that her sister wants to keep them, but when she asks her if she will wear them, Dorothea betrays a shamefaced consciousness of her own weakness. She makes her sister understand that she wants no more questions about jewels and goes back to her architectural plans. Celia silently resists Dorothea’s strict attitude, but her good humor prevents her from saying anything openly hostile to her sister.

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