A Season in Middlemarch, The End

Book VI: The Widow and the Wife, Book VII: Two Temptations, Book VIII: Sunset and Sunrise, and Finale

Well, I’ve finally finished. Not on schedule, mind you. But it’s done, and that’s all that matters. I did heavily skim large portions because there were just plots that I didn’t care about. Really, I wanted to see what would happen with two of the three main couples: Dorothea and Ladislaw and Mary and Fred. Everything else I just found boring. Even Lyndgate and Rosamund became tedious because they become so caught up in the politics of the town.

It had seemed to him as if they were like two creatures slowly turning to marble in each other’s presence, while their hearts were conscious and their eyes were yearning.

Chapter LIV

In my last post, I said I didn’t particularly like Ladislaw much. I don’t think he’ll ever be one of my favorite men in 19th-century literature, but I have come to like their relationship. We get to see them pining for each other a bit in these last few books. And really, who can resist that? And the scene where they finally get together is beautiful and romantic. It was easily my favorite scene in the book. So I ended up quite satisfied with that ending.

‘It is a pity for Mary, I think,’ said Mrs. Garth.

‘Why–a pity?’

‘Because, Caleb, she might have had a man who is worth twenty Fred Vincys.’

Chapter LVI

PREACH! Obviously, I was not quite as satisfied with other endings. Mary and Fred do get together, and they are quite happy according to the Finale. But it doesn’t change the fact that he is absolutely unworthy of her. She should have been with Mr. Farebrother. And that’s all I have to say on the subject.

. . . for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.

Finale

After establishing our characters’ fates, the finale brings us back to the ideas laid out in the prelude. Eliot concludes that it is actually the little, unknown lives that have done the most for our world rather than the ones who achieve greatness. This was yet another of my favorite parts. The final two paragraphs are simply gorgeous. I may have issues with how Eliot plots and paces her novels, but she truly is a phenomenal writer.

So I have come to the end of my Season in Middlemarch. Honestly, I can’t say I’m sorry it’s over. But it was necessary for my qualifying exams, and I’m ultimately glad I read it.

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