Dorothea Brooke is an idealistic young woman who recognizes that her purpose in life is to marry, and she naively believes that her dearest wish is to wed an intelligent, purposeful man and become his companion, supporter, student and adorer. Her younger sister, Cecilia, recognizes that Dorothea is fooling herself when she decides to marry Causubon, an older man who has devoted his life to scholarly study; his ambition is to be recognized for his genius in discovering knowledge that no one ever knew before. After their marriage, Dorothea slowly begins to realize that Causubon is not the man she believed him to be; instead, he is a man who is too egotistic -- or is he too afraid? -- to realize that his theories and "discoveries" have long been disproven by others. The couple lives unhappily, she without the intellectual stimulation she desperately craves, he without the unquestioning devotion of an adoring and slightly stupid wife. The serious rift in their relationship begins almost as soon as Causubon's nephew, Will Ladislaw, enters their lives. Dorothea unconsciously begins to fall in love with Will. Causubon begins to resent Will not only for his ability to enthrall Dorothea, but also for a deep-seated sense of guilt Will's appearance stirs. As this drama unfolds, another marriage -- that of intelligent Dr. Lydgate and the beautiful but shallow Rosamond -- begins to fall apart. Rosamond is the complete opposite of Dorothea, and Lydgate the opposite of Causubon, which makes for an interesting comparison to the main couple of the story. These two of several threads come together dramatically in the end, when Dorothea's sense of justice and purpose finally prevail; while she is rewarded with true love and happiness, Lydgate is rewarded with the saving of his career and a new start to his marriage -- not a happy one, but a more honest one.
This report prepared by Cindy Dashnaw
Middlemarch is a small town, whose inhabitants' lives cross and cross again in an intricate and cleverly woven tale. Central to the plot is the beautiful gentlewoman Dorothea, who marries an older man, Casuabon and finds he is not all that she had imagined, worse yet, her affections are drawn towards Will Ladislaw - a young man of obscure origins and few prospects. Contrasted with this is the tale of Doctor Lydgate and his marriage to a bright young socialite who ruins him. Threaded through are many other lives, loves and intrigues. It is a superb and fascinating book with many plots and some strong romantic elements.
This report prepared by Bryn Pearson