Explore BrainMass

Main themes in George Eliot's novels

This entry explains how the characters in Ms. George Eliot's Middlemarch mirror others in the novels Silas Marner, and Mill on the Floss, which she also wrote. Understanding of this entry requires a student to already have some background on Silas Marner and Mill on the Floss. It was specifically written for students who are holistically studying the work of author George Eliot.

Solution Preview

The complex characters and plots of George Eliot novels all make for interesting reads and challenge readers to think more seriously about choices in love, their personal ambitions and deepest inhibitions. The three mentioned in this excerpt are Middlemarch, Silas Marner, and Mill on the Floss. We only briefly touch on these three novels to explain how the character traits of our protagonists parallel each other, but nevertheless, the piece is still valuable.

Ms. George Eliot, Mary Ann (Marian) Evans, intricately weaved several underlying themes in Middlemarch, like love, duty and jealousy. Getting married is "almost" every girl's dream, but the novel questions people's reasons for justifying marriage and explains what can happen when those reasons involve selfish pursuit. What's interesting about this novel, in particular, is that the main female characters marry for what we call "all of the wrong reasons:"
-Social Status

But is there really anything wrong with marrying for reasons other than love? Money may not be able to buy love, but Eliot proves that it does bring happiness in many ways. We see this with Silas Marner (the main character of Ms. Eliot's Silas Marner novel) who is framed and then robbed of his wealth, which is later returned. We also see this in Rosamund Vincy from Middlemarch, who initially marries for money, but later faces hardship and embarrassment when her husband, Tertius Lydgate, isn't able to maintain their lavish lifestyle. Lydgate has tons of bad debt owed to well-to-do individuals in his community, but when he's later relieved of having to pay anything back, things begin to work out between the two, and they live happily ever after. Of course Lydgate has a few other issues to deal with like his cases with Nicholas Bulstrode and John Raffles, and the fact that Ms. Vincy's parents think he's a ...

Solution Summary

The solution discusses what are the main themes that can be found in George Eliot's most popular novels, and how do they play a role in defining the characters.